To Antony, Monk
Ad Antonium Monachum
While the disciples were disputing concerning precedence our
Lord, the teacher of
humility, took a little child and said: "Except ye be converted and
become as little children ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."
And lest He should seem to preach more than he practised, He
fulfilled His own precept in His life. For He washed His disciples'
feet, he received the traitor with a kiss, He conversed with
the woman of Samaria, He spoke of the kingdom of heaven with Mary
at His feet, and when He rose again from the dead He showed
Himself first to some poor women. Pride is opposed to humility,
and through it Satan lost his eminence as an archangel. The Jewish
people perished in their pride, for while they claimed the chief
seats and salutations in the market place, they were superseded
by the Gentiles, who had before been counted as "a drop of a
bucket." Two poor fishermen, Peter and James, were sent to
confute the sophists and the wise men of the world. As the Scripture
says: "God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble."
Think, brother, what a sin it must be which has God for its
opponent. In the Gospel the Pharisee is rejected because of his
pride, and the publican is accepted because of his humility.
Dominus noster humilitatis magister, disceptantibus de dignitate discipulis,
unum apprehendit e parvulis, dicens: Quicumque vestrum non fuerit conversus
sicut infans, non potest introire in regnum coelorum (Matth. 18).
Quod ne tantum docere, nec facere videretur, implevit exemplo: dum discipulorum
pedes lavat (Joan. 13): dum traditorem osculo excipit (Luc. 22):
dum loquitur cum Samaritana (Joan. 4): dum ad pedes sibi sedente
Maria, de coelorum disputat regno (Luc. 7): dum ab inferis
resurgens, primum mulierculis apparescit (Marc. 16). Satanas autem
ex Archangelico fastigio non aliam ob causam, nisi ob contrariam humilitati
superbiam ruit. Et Judaicus populus primas sibi cathedras, et salutationes in
foro vindicans, deputato antea in stillam situlae (Isai. 40),
Gentili populo succedente, deletus est. Contra sophistas quoque saeculi, et
sapientes mundi, Petrus et Jacobus piscatores mittuntur. Cujus rei causa
Scriptura ait: Superbis Deus resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam (1. Petr. 5. 5).
Vide, frater, quale malum sit, quod adversarium habet Deum. Ob quod in
Evangelio et Pharisaeus arrogans spernitur, et humilis Publicanus auditur.
Now, unless I am mistaken, I have already sent you ten letters,
affectionate and earnest, whilst you have not deigned to give me
even a single line. The Lord speaks to His servants, but you, my
brother servant, refuse to speak to me. Believe me, if reserve did
not check my pen, I could show my annoyance in such invective that
you would have to reply--even though it might be in anger. But since
anger is human, and a Christian must not act injuriously, I fall
back once more on entreaty, and beg you to love one who loves you,
and to write to him as a servant should to his fellow-servant.
Farewell in the Lord.
Decem jam, nisi fallor, Epistolas plenas tam
officii quam precum misi, cum tu ne mu quidem facere dignaris: et Domino
loquente cum servis, frater cum fratre non loqueris. Nimis, inquies,
contumeliose. Crede mihi, nisi styli verecundia prohiberet tanta laesus
ingererem, ut inciperes mihi rescribere, vel iratus. Sed quoniam et irasci
hominis est, et injuriam non facere, Christiani, ad antiquum morem
revertens, rursus precor; ut et diligentem te diligas, et conservo
sermonem conservus impertias. Vale in Domino.
- New Advent (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913), Fathers of the Church, Letters of St. Jerome -
Patrologiae, Hiedronimus -