Gregory 1335

Chapter XXXV. How Those are to Be Admonished Who Do Bad Things Secretly and Good Things Openly, and Those Who Do Contrariwise.

1335 (Admonition 36). Differently to be admonished are those who do bad things in secret and good things publicly, and those who hide the good things they do, and yet in some things done publicly allow ill to be thought of them. For those who do bad things in secret and good things publicly are to be admonished to consider with what swiftness human judgments flee away, but with what immobility divine judgments endure. They are to be admonished to fix the eyes of their mind on the end of things; since, while the attestation of human praise passes away, the heavenly sentence, which penetrates even hidden things, grows strong unto lasting retribution. When, therefore, they set their hidden wrong things before the divine judgment, and their right things before human eyes, both without a witness is the good which they do publicly, and not without an eternal witness is their latent transgression. So by concealing their faults from men, and displaying their virtues, they both discover while they hide what they deserve to be punished for, and hide while they discover what they might have been rewarded for. Such persons the Truth calls whited sepulchres, beautiful outward, but full of dead menís bones (Mt 23,17); because they cover up the evil of vices within, but by the exhibition of certain works flatter human eyes with the mere outward colour of righteousness. They are therefore to be admonished not to despise the right things they do, but to believe them to be of better desert. For those greatly misjudge their own good things who think human favour sufficient for their reward. For when transitory praise is sought in return for right doing, a thing worthy of eternal reward is sold for a mean price. As to which price being received, indeed, the Truth says, Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward (Mt 6,2 Mt 6,5-6). They are to be admonished to consider that, when they prove themselves bad in hidden things, but yet offer themselves as examples publicly in good works, they shew that what they shun is to be followed; they cry aloud that what they hate is to be loved: in fine, they live to others, and die to themselves.

But, on the other hand, those who do good things in secret, and yet in some things done publicly allow evil to be thought of them, are to be admonished that, while what is good in them quickens themselves in the virtue of well-doing, they themselves slay not others through the example of a bad repute; that they love not their neighbours less than themselves, nor, while themselves imbibing a wholesome drought of wine, pour out a pestiferous cup of poison to minds intent on observing them. These assuredly in one way little help the life of their neighbour, and in the other greatly burden it, while they both study to do what is right unseen, and also, in some things in which they set an example, sow from themselves the seeds of evil. For whosoever is already competent to tread under foot the lust of praise commits a fraud on edification, if he conceals the good things he does; and he steals away, as it were, the roots of germination after having cast the seed, who shews not forth the work that is to be imitated. For hence in the Gospel the Truth says, That they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mt 5,16). But then there comes also this sentence, which has the appearance of enjoining something very different, namely, Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them (Mt 6,1).

What means then its being enjoined both that our work is so to be done as not to be seen, and yet that it should be seen, but that the things we do are to be hidden, lest we ourselves should be praised, and yet to be shewn, that we may increase the praise of our heavenly Father? For, when the Lord forbade us to do our righteousness before men, He straightway added, To be seen of them. And again, when He enjoined that our good works were to be seen of men, He forthwith subjoined, That they may glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mt 5,16). In what manner, then, they are to be seen, and in what manner they are not to be seen, He shewed in the end of His injunctions, to the effect that the mind of the worker should not seek for his work to be seen on his own account, and yet that on account of the glory of the heavenly Father he should not conceal it. Whence it commonly comes to pass that a good work is both in secret when it is done publicly, and again in public when it is done secretly. For he that in a public good work seeks not his own, but the heavenly Fatherís glory, hides what he has done, in that he has had Him only for a witness whom he has desired to please And he who in his secret good work covets being observed and praised has done this before men, even though no one has seen what he has done; because he has adduced so many witnesses to his good work as he has sought human praises in his heart. But when bad repute, so far as it prevails without sin committed, is not obliterated from the minds of lookers on, the cup of guilt is offered, in the way of example, to all who think evil. Whence also it generally comes to pass, that those who carelessly allow evil to be thought of them do not indeed commit wickedness in their own persons, but still, through those who may have taken example from them, offend in a more manifold way. Hence it is that Paul says to those who ate certain unclean things without pollution, but in this their eating put: a stumbling-block of temptation in the way of the imperfect, Take heed, lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak (1Co 8,9); and again, And by thy conscience shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died. But when ye so sin against the brethren, and wound their weak consciene, ye sin against Christ (1Co 2,12). Hence it is that Moses, when he said, Thou shalt not curse the deaf, at once added, Nor out a stumblingblock before the blind (Lv 19,14). For to curse the deaf is to disparage one who is absent and does not hear; but to put a stumbling-block before the blind is to act indeed with discernment, but yet to give cause of offence to him who has not the light of discernment.

Chapter XXXVI. Concerning the Exhortation to Be Addressed Many at Once, that It May So Aid the Virtues of Each Among Them that Vices Contrary to Such Virtues May Not Grow Up Through

1336 These are the things that a Bishop of souls should observe in the diversity of his preaching, that he may solicitously oppose suitable medicines to the diseases of his several hearers. But, whereas it is a matter of great anxiety, in exhorting individuals, to be of service to them according to their individual needs, since it is a very difficult thing to struct each person in what concerns himself, dealing out due consideration to each case, it is yet far more difficult to admonish innumerable hearers labouring under various passions at one and the same time with one common exhortation. For in this case the speech is to be tempered with such art that, the vices of the hearers being diverse, it may be found suitable to them severally, and yet be not diverse from itself; that it pass indeed with one stroke through the midst of passions, but, after the manner of a two-edged sword, cut theswellings of carnal thoughts on either side; so that humility be so preached to the proud that yet fear be not increased in the timid; that confidence be so infused into the timid that yet the unbridled licence of the proud grow not; that solicitude in well doing be so preached to the listless and torpid that yet licence of immoderate action be not increased in the unquiet; that bounds be so set on the unquiet that yet careless torpor be not produced in the listless; that wrath be so extinguished in the impatient that yet negligence grow not in the easy and soft-hearted; that the soft-hearted be so inflamed to zeal that yet fire be not added to the wrathful; that liberality in giving be so infused into the niggardly that yet the reins of profusion be in no wise loosened to the prodigal; that frugality be so preached to the prodigal that yet care to keep perishable things be not increased in the niggardly; that marriage be so praised to the incontinent that yet those who are already continent be not called back to voluptuousness; that virginity of body be so praised to the continent that yet fecundity of the flesh come not to be despised by the married. Good things are so to be preached that ill things be not assisted sideways. The highest good is so to be praised that the lowest be not despaired of. The lowest is so to be cherished that there be no cessation of striving for the highest from the lowest being thought sufficient.

Chapter XXXVII. Of the Exhortation to Be Applied to One Person, Who Labours Under Contrary Passions.

1337 It is indeed a serious labour for the preacher to keep an eye in his public preaching to the hidden affections and motives of individuals, and, after the manner of the palaestra, to turn himself with skill to either side: yet he is worn with much severer labour, when he is compelled to preach to one person who is subject to contrary vices. For it is commonly the case that some one is of too joyous a constitution, and yet sadness suddenly arising immoderately depresses him. The preacher, therefore, must give heed that the temporary sadness be so removed that the constitutional joyousness be not increased; and that the constitutional joyousness be so curbed that the temporary sadness be not aggravated. This man is burdened by a habit of immoderate precipitancy, and yet sometimes the power of a suddenly-born fear impedes his doing what ought to be done in haste. That man is burdened by a habit of immoderate fear, and yet sometimes is impelled in what he desires by the rashness of immoderate precipitancy. In the one, therefore, let the fear that suddenly arises be so repressed that his long-nourished precipitancy do not further grow. In the other let the precipitancy that suddenly arises he so repressed that yet the fear stamped on him by constitution do not gather strength. And, indeed, what is there strange in the physicians of souls being on their guard in these things, when those who heal not hearts but bodies govern themselves with so great skill of discernment? For it is often the case that extreme faintness weighs down a weak body, which faintness ought to be met by strong remedies; but yet the weak body cannot bear a strong remedy. He, therefore, who treats the ease gives heed so to draw off the supervening malady that the pre-existing weakness of the body be in no wise increased, test perchance the faintness should pass away with the life. He compounds, then, his remedy with such discernment as at one and the same time to meet both the faintness and the weakness. If, then, medicine for the body administered without division can be of service in a divided way, why should not medicine for the soul, applied in one and the same preaching, be of power to meet moral diseases in diverse directions: which medicine is the more subtle in its operation in that invisible things are dealt with?

Chapter XXXVIII. That Sometimes Lighter Vices are to Be Left Alone, that More Grievous Ones May Be Removed.

1338
But since, when the sickness of two vices attacks a man, one presses upon him more lightly, and the other perchance more heavily, it is undoubtedly right to haste to the succour of that through which there is the more rapid tendency to death. And, if the one cannot be restrained from causing the death which is imminent unless the other which is contrary to it increase, the preacher must be content by skilful management in his exhortation to suffer one to increase, to the end that he may keep the other back from causing the death which is imminent. When he does this, he does not aggravate the disease, but preserves the life of his sufferer to whom he administers the medicine, that he may find a fitting time for searching out means of recovery. For there is often one who, while he puts no restraint on his gluttony in food, is presently pressed hard by the stings of lechery, which is on the point of overcoming him, and who, when, terrified by the fear of this struggle, he strives to restrain himself through abstinence, is harassed by the temptation of vain-glory: in which case certainly one vice is by no means extinguished unless the other be fostered. Which plague then should be the more ardently attacked but that which presses on the man the more dangerously? For it is to be tolerated that through the virtue of abstinence arrogance should meanwhile grow against one that is alive, test through gluttony lechery should cut him off from life entirely. Hence it is that Paul, when he considered that his weak hearer would either continue to do evil or rejoice in the reward of human praise for well-doing, said, Wilt thou not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shall have praise of the same (
Rm 13,3). For it is not that good things should be done in order that no human power may be feared, or that the glory of transitory praise may be thereby won; but, considering that the weak soul could not rise to so great strength as to shun at the same time both wickedness and praise, the excellent preacher in his admonition offered something and took away something. For by conceding mild ailments he drew off keener ones; that, since the mind could not rise all at once to the relinquishing of all its vices, it might, while left in familiarity with some one of them, be taken off without difficulty from another.

Chapter XXXIX. That Deep Things Ought Not to Be Preached at All to Weak Souls.

1339 But the preacher should know how to avoid drawing the mind of his hearer beyond its strength, test, so to speak, the string of the soul, when stretched more than it can bear, should be broken. For all deep things should be covered up before a multitude of hearers, and scarcely opened to a few. For hence the Truth in person says, Who, thinkest thou, is the faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord has appointed over his household, to give them their measure of wheat in due season? (Lc 12,42), Now by a measure of wheat is expressed a portion of the Word, test, when anything is given to a narrow heart beyond its capacity, it be spill. Hence Paul says, I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. As it were to babes in Christ, I have given you milk to drink, and not meat (1Co 3,1-2). Hence Moses, when he comes on from the sanctuary of God, veils his shiningface before the people; because in truth He shews not to multitudes the secrets of inmost brightness (Ex 34,33 Ex 34,35). Hence it is enjoined on him by the Divine voice that if any one should dig a cistern, and not cover it, and an ox or ass should fall into it, he should pay the price (Ex 21,33-34), because when one who has arrived at the deep streams of knowledge covers them not up before the brutish hearts of his hearers, he is adjudged as liable to penalty, if through his words a soul, whether clean or unclean, be caught on a stumbling-stone. Hence it is said to the blessed Job, Who hath given understanding unto the cock? (Jb 38,36), For a holy preacher, crying aloud in time of darkness, is as the cock crowing in the night, when he says, It is even now the hour for us to arise from sleep (Rm 13,11). And again, Awake ye righteous, and sin not (1Co 15,34). But the cock is wont to utter loud chants in the deeper hours of the night; but, when the time of morning is already at hand, he frames small and slender tones; because, in fact, he who preaches aright cries aloud plainly to hearts that are still in the dark, and shews them nothing of hidden mysteries, that they may then hear the more subtle teachings concerning heavenly things, when they draw nigh to the light of truth.

Chapter XL. Of the Work and the Voice of Preaching.

1340 But in the midst of these things we are brought back by the earnest desire of charity to what we have already said above; that every preacher should give forth a sound more by his deeds than by his words, and rather by good living imprint footsteps for men to follow than by speaking shew them the way to walk in. For that cock, too, whom the Lord in his manner of speech takes to represent a good preacher, when he is now preparing to crow, first shakes his wings, and by smiting himself makes himself more awake; since it is surely necessary that those who give utterance to words of holy preaching should first be well awake in earnestness of good living, lest they rouse others with their voice while themselves torpid in performance; that they should first shake themselves up by lofty deeds, and then make others solicitous for good living; that they should first smite themselves with the wings of their thoughts; that whatsoever in themselves is unprofitably torpid they should discover by anxious investigation, and correct by strict animadversion, and then at length set in order the life of others by speaking; that they should take heed to punish their own faults by bewailings, and then denounce what calls for punishment in others; and that, before they give voice to words of exhortation, they should proclaim in their deeds all that they are about to speak.


1 In English Bible, 68,61.
2 Ibid. 30,6.
3 Ibid. 119,106.





Part IV. How the Preacher, When He Has Accomplished All Aright, Should Return to Himself, Lest Either His Life or His Preaching Lift Him Up.

1400 But since often, when preaching is abundantly poured forth in fitting ways, the mind of the speaker is elevated in itself by a hidden delight in self-display, great care is needed that he may gnaw himself with the laceration of fear, lest he who recalls the diseases of others to health by remedies should himself swell through neglect of his own health; lest in helping others he desert himself, lest in lifting up others he fall. For to some the greatness of their virtue has often been the occasion of their perdition; causing them, while inordinately secure in confidence of strength, to die unexpectedly through negligence. For virtue strives with vices; themind flatters itself with a certain delight in it; and it comes to pass that the soul of a well-doer casts aside the fear of its circumspection, and rests secure in self-confidence; and to it, now torpid, the cunning seducer enumerates all things that it has done well, and exalts it in swelling thoughts as though superexcellent beyond all beside. Whence it is brought about, that before the eyes of the just judge the memory of virtue is a pitfall of the soul; because, in calling to mind what it has done well, while it lifts itself up in its own eyes, it fails before the author of humility. For hence it is said to the soul that is proud, For that than art more beautiful, go down, and sleep with the uncircumcised (Ez 32,19): as if it were plainly said, Because thou liftest thyself up for the comeliness of thy virtues, thou art driven by thy very beauty to fall. Hence under the figure of Jerusalem the soul that is proud in virtue is reproved, when it is said, Thou wert perfect in my comeliness which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord, and having confidence in thy beauty thou hast committed fornication in thy renown (Ez 16,14-15). For the mind is lifted up by confidence in its beauty, when, glad for the merits of its virtues, it glories within itself in security. But through this same confidence it is led to fornication; because, when the soul is deceived by its own thoughts, malignant spirits, which take possession of it, defile it through the seduction of innumerable vices But it is to be noted that it is said, Thou hast committed fornication in thy renown: for when the soul leaves off regard for the supernal ruler, it forthwith seeks its own praise, and begins to arrogate to itself all the good which it has received for shewing forth the praise of the giver; it desires to spread abroad the glory of its own reputation, and busies itself to become known as one to be admired of all. In its renown, therefore, it commits fornication, in that, forsaking the wedlock of a lawful bed, it prostitutes itself to the defiling spirit in its lust of praise. Hence David says, (He delivered their virtue into captivity, and their beauty into the enemyís hands (). For virtue is delivered into captivity and beauty into the enemyís hands, when the old enemy gets dominion over the deceived soul because of elation in well doing. And yet this elation in virtue tempts somewhat, though it does not fully overcome, the mind even of the elect.

But it, when lifted up, is forsaken, and, being forsaken, it is recalled to fear. For hence David says again, I said in mine abundance, I shall not be moved for ever (Ps 29,7 Ps 2). But he added a little later what he underwent for having been puffed up with confidence in his virtue, Thou didst turn thy face from me, and I was troubled (Ps 5,8). As if he would say plainly, I believed myself strong in the midst of virtues, but, being forsaken, I become aware how great was my infirmity. Hence he says again, I have sworn and am stedfastly purposed to keep the judgments of thy righteousness (Ps 119,106 3). But, because it was beyond his powers to continue the keeping which he sware, straightway, being troubled, he found his weakness. Whence also he all at once betook himself to the aid of prayer, saying, I am humbled all together; quicken me, O Lord, according to Thy word (Ps 5,107). But sometimes Divine government, before advancing a soul by gifts, recalls to it the memory of its infirmity, lest it be puffed up for the virtues it has received. Whence the Prophet Ezekiel, before being led to the contemplation of heavenly things, is first called a son of man; as though the Lord plainly admonished him, saying, Lest thou shouldest lift up thy heart in elation for these things which thou seest, perpend cautiously what thou art; that, when thou penetratest the highest things, thou mayest remember that thou art a man, to the end that, when rapt beyond thyself, thou mayest be recalled in anxiety to thyself by the curb of thine infirmity. Whence it is needful that, when abundance of virtues flatters us, the eye of the soul should return to its own weaknesses, and salubriously depress itself; that it should look, not at the right things that it has done, but those that it has left undone; so that, while the heart is bruised by recollection of infirmity, it may be the more strongly confirmed in virtue before the author of humility. For it is generally for this purpose that Almighty God, though perfecting in great part the minds of rulers, still in some small part leaves them imperfect; in order that, when they shine with wonderful virtues, they may pine with disgust at their own imperfection, and by no means lift themselves up for great things, while still labouring in their struggle against the least; but that, since they are not strong enough to overcome in what is last and lowest, they may not dare to glory in their chief performances.

See now, good man, how, compelled by the necessity laid upon me by thy reproof, being intent on shewing what a Pastor ought to be, I have been as an ill-favoured painter pourtraying a handsome man; and how I direct others to the shore of perfection, while myself still tossed among the waves of transgressions. But in the shipwreck of this present life sustain me, I beseech thee, by the plank of thy prayer, that, since my own weight sinks me down, the hand of thy merit may raise me up).


Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great.

Book I. The Month of September, Indiction IX., Being the First Year of His Ordination.

20100

Epistle I. To All the Bishops of Sicily.

20101 Gregory, servant of the servants of God1 , to all the bishops constituted throughout Sicily.

We have plainly perceived it to be very necessary that, even as our predecessors thought fit to do, we should commit all things to one and the same person; and that, where we cannot be present ourselves, our authority should be represented through him to whom we send our instructions. Wherefore, with the help of God, we have appointed Peter, subdeacon of our See, our delegate in the province of Sicily. Nor can we doubt as to the conduct of him to whom, with the help of God, we are known to have committed the charge of the whole patrimony of our church.

This also we have plainly perceived to be a thing that ought to be done; that once in the year your whole fraternity should assemble, at Syracuse or Catana, receiving, as we have charged him, the honour due to you; to the end that, together with the aforesaid Peter, subdeacon of our See, you may settle with due discretion whatever things pertain to the advantage of the churches of the province, or to the relief of the necessities of the poor and oppressed, or to the admonition of all, and the correction of those whose transgressions may peradventure be proved. From which council far be animosities, which are the nutriment of crimes, and may inward grudges die away, and that discord of souls which is beyond measure execrable. Let concord well-pleasing to God, and charity, approve you as His priests. Conduct all things, therefore, with such deliberation and calmness that yours may most worthily be called an Episcopal Council.

Epistle II. To Justinus, Praetor of Sicily.

20102 Gregory to Justinus, Praetor of Sicily.

What my tongue speaks my conscience approves; since even before you had become engaged in the employments of any office of dignity, I have greatly loved and greatly respected you. For the very modesty of your deportment made certain incipient claims on affection even from one who had been loth. And, when I heard that you had come to administer the praetorship of Sicily, I greatly rejoiced. But, since I have discovered that a certain ill-feeling is creeping in between you and the ecclesiastics, I have been exceedingly distressed. But now that you are occupied with the charge of civil administration, and I with the care of this ecclesiastical government, we can properly love one another in particular so far as we do no harm to the general community. Wherefore I beseech you by Almighty God, before Whose tremendous judgment we must give account of our deeds, that your Glory have always the fear of Him before your eyes, and never allow anything to come in whereby even slight dissension may arise between us. Let no gains draw you aside to injustice; let not either the threats or the favours of any one cause you to deviate from the path of rectitude. See how short life is: think, ye that exercise judicial authority, before what judge ye must at some time go. It is therefore to be diligently considered that we shall leave all gains behind us here, and that of harmful gains we shall carry with us to the judgment the pleas only that are against us for them. Those advantages, then, are to be sought by us which death may in no wise take away, but which the end of the present life may shew to be such as will endure for ever.

As to what you write concerning the corn, the, magnificent Citonatus asserts very differently that no more has been transmitted than what was supplied for replenishing the public granary in satisfaction of what was due for the past indiction. Give attention to this matter, since, if what is transmitted be at all defective, it will be the death not of any one single person only, but of the whole people together2 .

Now for the management of the patrimony of Sicily I have sent, as I think under the guidance of God, such a man as you will be in entire accord with, if you are a lover of what is right, as I have found you to be. Moreover, as to your desire that I should remember you kindly, I confess the truth when I say that, unless any injustice should creep in from the snares of the ancient foe I have learnt thy Gloryís modesty to be such that I shah not blush to be thy friend.

Epistle III. To Paul, Scholasticus.

20103 Gregory to Paul, &c.


However strangers smile upon me on account of the dignity of my priestly office, thisI take not much account of; but I do grieve not a little at your smiling upon me on this account, seeing that you know what I long for, and yet suppose me to have received advancement. For to me it would have been the highest advancement, if what I wished could bare been fulfilled; if I could have accomplished my desire, which you have been long acquainted with, in the enjoyment of longed-for rest. Yet, since I am now detained in the city of Rome, tied by the chains of this dignity, I have something wherein I may even rejoice in addressing your Glory, seeing that, when the most eminent Lord the ex-consul Leo comes, I suspect that you will not remain in Sicily; and when thou thyself also, tied by thine own dignity, shalt come to be detained in Rome, thou wilt come to know what sorrow and what bitterness I suffer. But when the magnificent Lord Maurentius, the Chartularius, comes to you, I pray thee concur with him in regard to the present straits of the Roman city, since outside we are stabbed without cease by hostile swords. But we are still more heavily pressed by danger within through a sedition of the soldiers. Further, we commend to your Glory in all respects Peter our sub-deacon, whom we have sent to rule the patrimony of the Church.

Epistle IV. To John, Bishop of Constantinople3 .

20104 Gregory to John, Bishop of Constantinople.

If the virtue of charity consists in the love of oneís neighbour, and we are commanded to love our neighbours as ourselves, how is it that your Blessedness does not love me even as yourself? For I know with what ardour, with what anxiety, you wished to fly from the burden of the episcopate; and yet you made no opposition to this same burden of the episcopate being imposed on me. It is evident, then, that you do not love me as yourself, seeing that you have wished me to take on myself that load which you were unwilling should be imposed on you. But since I, unworthy and weak, have taken charge of an old and grievously shattered ship (for on all sides the waves enter, and the planks, battered by a daily and violent storm, sound of shipwreck), I beseech thee by Almighty God to stretch out the hand of thy prayer to me in this my danger, since thou canst pray the more strenuously as thou standest further removed from the confusion of the tribulations which we suffer in this land.

My synodical epistle I will transmit with all possible speed, having despatched Bacauda, our brother and fellow-bishop, immediately after my ordination, as the bearer of this letter, while pressed by many and serious engagements.

Epistle V. To Theoctista, Sister of the Emperor.

20105 Gregory to Theoctista, &c

With how great devotion my mind prostrates itself before your Venerableness I cannot fully express in words; nor yet do I labour to give utterance to it, since, even though I were silent, you read in your heart your own sense of my devotion. I wonder, however, that you withdrew your countenance, till of late bestowed on me, from this my recent engagement in the pastoral office; wherein, under colour of episcopacy, I have been brought back to the world; in which I am involved in such great earthly cares as I do not at all remember having been subjected to even in a lay state of life. For I have lost the deep joys of my quiet, and seem to have risen outwardly while inwardly falling down. Whence I grieve to find myself banished far from the face of my Maker. For I used to strive daily to win my way outside the world, outside the flesh; to drive all phantasms of the body from the eyes of my soul, and to see incorporeally supernal joys; and not only with my voice but in the core of my heart I used to say, My heart hath said unto Thee, I have sought Thy face, Thy face, Lord, will I seek (
Ps 26,8). Moreover desiring nothing, fearing nothing, in this world, I seemed to myself to stand on a certain summit of things, so that I almost believed to be fulfilled in me what I had learnt of the Lordís promise through the prophet, I will lift thee up upon the high places of the earth (Is 58,14). For he is lifted up upon the high places of the earth who treads under foot through looking down upon them in his mind even the very things of the present world which seem lofty and glorious. But, having been suddenly dashed from this summit of things by the whirlwind of this trial, I have fallen into fears and tremors, since, even though I have no fears for myself, I am greatly afraid for those who have been committed to me. On every side I am tossed by the waves of business, and sunk by storms, so that I may truly say, I am come into the depth of the sea, and the storm hath overwhelmed me (Ps 68,3 Ps 4). After business I long to return to my heart; but, driven therefrom by vain tumults of thoughts, I am unable to return. From this cause, then, that which is within me is made to be far from me, so that I cannot obey the prophetic voice which says, Return to your heart, transgressors (Is 46,8). But, pressed by foolish thoughts, I am impelled only to exclaim, My heart hath failed me (Ps 39,13 Ps 5). I have loved the beauty of the contemplative life as a Rachel, barren, but keen of sight and fair (Gn 29)., who, though in her quietude she is less fertile, yet sees the light more keenly. But, by what judgment I know not, Leah has been coupled with me in the night, to wit, the active life; fruitful, but tender-eyed; seeing less, but bringing forth more. I have longed to sit at the feet of the Lord with Mary, to take in the words of His mouth; and lo, I am compelled to serve with Martha in external affairs, to be careful and troubled about many things (Lc 10,39, seq.). A legion of demons having been, as I believed, east out of me, I wished to forget those whom I bad known, and to rest at the feet of the Saviour; and lo it is said to me, so as to compel me against my will, Return to thine house, and declare how great things the Lord hath done for thee (Mc 5,19). But who in the midst of so many earthly cares may be able to preach the wondrous works of God, it being already difficult for me even to call them to mind? For, pressed as I am in this office of dignity by a crowd of secular occupations, I see myself to be of those of whom it is written, While they were being raised up thou didst cast them down (Ps 72,18 Ps 6). For he said not, Thou didst east them down after they had been raised up, but while they were being raised up; because all bad men fall inwardly, while through the support of temporal dignity they seem outwardly to rise. Wherefore their very raising up is their fall, because, while they rely on false glory, they are emptied of trueglory. Hence, again, he says, Consuming away as smoke shall they consume away (Ps 36,20 Ps 7). For smoke in rising consumes away, and in extending itself vanishes. And so indeed it comes to pass when present felicity accompanies the life of a sinner, since whereby he isshewn to be exalted, thereby it is brought about that he should cease to be. Hence, again, it is written, My God, make them like a wheel (Ps 82,148). For a wheel is lifted up in its hinder parts, and in its fore parts falls. But to us the things that are behind are the goods of the present world, which we leave behind us; but the things that are before are those which are eternal and permanent, to which we are called, as Paul bears witness, saying, Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before (Ph 3,13). The sinner, therefore, when he is advanced in the present life, is made to be as a wheel, since, while falling in the things which are before, he is lifted up in the things which are behind. For, when he enjoys in this life the glory which he must leave behind, he falls from that which comes after this life. There are indeed many who knowhow so to control their outward advancement as by no means to fall inwardly thereby. Whence it is written, God casteth not away the mighty, seeing that He also Himself is mighty (Jb 36,5). And it is said through Solomon, A man of understanding shall possess governments (Pr 1,5). But to me these things are difficult, since they are also exceedingly burdensome; and what the mind has not received willingly it does not control fitly. Lo, our most serene Lord the Emperor has ordered an ape to be made a lion. And, indeed, in virtue of his order it can be called a lion, but a lion it cannot be made. Wherefore his Piety must needs himself take the blame of all my faults and short-comings, having committed a ministry of power to a weak agent


Gregory 1335