FRIENDSHIP
in the Writings of
GREGORY the GREAT

 

 


Other Authors in Friendship
The following is chiefly adapted from Catry, see reference below.


 

1. THE  CONTEXT of  FRIENDSHIP

 

IN the Dialogues:

1) Gregory’s friendship with the Deacon Peter provides the setting for the book and the cure for Gregory’s despondency.

2) The friendship between Benedict and Scholastica is an occasion for sacra conloquia, a heart widened through metanoia, and the gateway to spiritual vision (contemplation).

3) Benedict’s friendship with the deacon Servandus occasions a fuller (anagogical) description of their sacra conloquia and the prelude to Benedict’s vision of the whole cosmos in a ray of light.

 

 

2. LOVING THE FRIEND IN GOD AND THE ENEMY FOR GOD
amicus in Deo; inimicus propter Deum

 

IN five texts Gregory borrows a distinction from St. Augustine, and describes the Christian as loving a friend IN God and an enemy FOR God[’s sake].

In Confessions 4, 9, 14, (PL 32, 699) Augustine writes,  Beatus qui amat te, et amicum in te, et inimicum propter te. Gregory echoes this:

three times in his Homilies on the Gospels  [(1) In Euang. 38, 11, PL 76, 1289 A: “Charitas autem uera est cum et in Deo diligitur amicus, et propter Deum diligitur inimicus”. (2) In Euang. 9, 6, PL 76, 1108 D: “Charitas autem uera est amicum diligere in Deo, et inimicum diligere propter Deum”; (3) In Euang. 27, 1, PL 76, 1205 B: “Qualiter autem ista dilectio tenenda sit, ipse (Dominus) insinuat, qui in plerisque Scripture suae sententiis et amicos iubet diligi in se, et inimicos diligi propter se. Ille enim ueraciter charitatem habet, qui et amicum diligit in Deo, et inimicum diligit propter Deum”];

and once each in the Homilies on Ezekiel [(4) In Ezech. 1, 10, 9, CC 142, 148, 140-141: “Amicum in Deo diligere, propter Deum et eus qui inimici sunt amare”] and the Moralia on Job [(5) Mor. 22, 11, 22, PL 76, 226 BC: “Quae nimirum dilectio si cor nostrum ueraciter replet, duobus modis ostendi solet, scihcet si et amicos in Deo, et inimicos diligimus propter Deum”.].

This formula is cited by later western authors, including: Prosper of Aquitaine [ Liber sent. 175, CC 68 A, 298: “Beatus qui diligit Deum, et amicum in Deo, et inimicum propter Deum”]; Smaragdus, [Via regia 1, PL 102, 936 D] ; Pseudo-Haimo of Halberstadt (Hemmo) [De uarietate librorum 2, 9, PL 118, 895 B (cf. A. Wilmart, Revue Bénédictine, 34, 1922, p. 236-238)]; ad Adma Scot [De tripartito tabernaeulo 3, 16, 176, PL 198, 782 D.]

 

 

3. THE FRIEND as CARETAKER of ANOTHER’S SOUL

 

IN two texts Gregory adapts a definition by St. Ambrose’s of piety as the guardian of friendship [“Pietatis custos amicitia est”,De officiis 3,22,132, PL 16, 182 A)] into a quasi-[pseudo-] etymology of the Latin word for friend: the friend, amicus, is the guardian/caretaker of the [other’s] soul, animae custos.

Homilies on the Gospels 27, 4, PL 76, 1207 A: “Amicus enim quasi animi custos uocatur”. Moralia on Job 27, 15,28, PL 76, 415 A: “Amicus quippe animae (var.: animi) custos dicitur”. This formula is repeated throughout the middle ages: Isidore, Etymologies. 10, 5, PL 32, 367 C: “Amicus per derivationem quasi aurai custos”; Alcuin, Letter 84, PL 100, 275 B; Hrabanus Maurus, Commentary on Ecclesiastes 2, 2, PL 109, 797 C; Aelred of Rievaux, On Spiritual Friendship 1, 20, CC Cont. med. 1, 292, 116; Rupert of Deutz, On the Blessed Trinity, In Exod. 4, 35, CC Cont. med. 22, 792, 1817­1818 ; Thomas of Perseigne, Commentary on the Song of Songs. 8, PL 206, 605 D & 606 D.


The best study of this theme is Patrick Catry’s article, “L’amour Du Prochain Chez Saint Grégoire Le Grand”, (Studia Monastica, 1978) pp. 287-347, esp. pp. 332-333. Aelred Squire looks more closely at sources cited by Catry in “A Note on Friendship in Gregory the Great”, Studia Patristica, pp. 106-111,


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