Letter XCVIII. 2343
To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. 2344
1. After receiving the letter of your holiness, in which you said you would not come, I was most anxious to set out for Nicopolis, but I have grown weaker in my wish and have remembered all my infirmity. I bethought me, too, of the lack of seriousness in the conduct of those who invited me. They gave me a casual invitation by the hands of our reverend brother Hellenius, the surveyor of customs at Nazianzus, but they never took the trouble to send a messenger to remind me, or any one to escort me. As, for my sins, I was an object of suspicion to them, I shrank from sullying the brightness of their meeting by my presence. In company with your excellency I do not shrink from stripping for even serious trials of strength; but apart from you I feel myself hardly equal even to looking at every day troubles. Since, then, my meeting with them was intended to be about Church affairs, I let the time of the festival go by, and put off the meeting to a period of rest and freedom from distraction, and have decided to go to Nicopolis to discuss the needs of the Churches with the godly bishop Meletius, in case he should decline to go to Samosata. If he agrees, I shall hasten to meet him, provided this is made clear to me by both of you, by him in reply to me (for I have written), and by your reverence.
2. We were to have met the bishops of Cappadocia Secunda, who, directly they were ranked under another prefecture, suddenly got the idea that they were made foreigners and strangers to me. They ignored me, as though they had never been under my jurisdiction, and had nothing to do with me. I was expecting too a second meeting with the reverend bishop Eustathius, which actually took place. For on account of the cry raised by many against him that he was injuring the faith, I met him, and found, by Gods grace, that he was heartily following all orthodoxy. By the fault of the very men who ought to have conveyed my letter, that of the bishop was not transmitted to your excellency, and, harassed as I was by a multitude of cares, it escaped my memory.
I, too, was anxious that our brother Gregory 2345 should have the government of a Church commensurate with his abilities; and that would have been the whole Church under the sun gathered into one place. But, as this is impossible, let him be a bishop, not deriving dignity from his see, but conferring dignity on his see by himself. For it is the part of a really great man not only to be sufficient for great things, but by his own influence to make small things great.
But what is to be done to Palmatius, 2346 who, after so many exhortations of the brethren, still helps Maximus in his persecutions? Even now they do not hesitate to write to him. They are prevented from coming themselves by bodily weakness and their own occupations. Believe me, very godly Father, our own affairs are much in need of your presence, and yet once more you must put your honourable old age in motion, that you may give your support to Cappadocia, which is now tottering and in danger of falling.
Tillemont supposes the reference to be to Gregory of Nyssa. Maran, however (Vit. Bas. xxiv.), regards this as an error, partly caused by the introduction into the text of the word ἐμόν, which he has eliminated; and he points out the Gregory of Nyssa, however unwilling to accept consecration, never objected after it had taken place, and was indeed sent to Nazianzus to console the younger Gregory of that place in his distress under like circumstances. Moreover, Gregory of Nyssa was consecrated in the ordinary manner on the demand of the people and clergy with the assent of the bishops of the province. (cf. Letter ccxxv.) Gregory the younger, however, was consecrated to Sasima without these formalities.182:2346
Maran (Vit. Bas. xxiv.) notes that he knows nothing about Palmatius, and supposes that by “persecutions” are meant not persecutions in the ecclesiastical sense, but severities in the exaction of tribute. In Letter cxlvii. Basil calls Maximus “a very good man,” praise which he is not likely to have given to a persecutor. Maximus succeeded Elias, and probably inaugurated a new régime of strict exaction.
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