When St. Gregory the Great was pope, the government in Dalmatia ordained a bishop named Maximus to the See of Salona, setting aside the bishop who had been legitimately elected. The governor of the province wanted to be reconciled with the pope, but Gregory tells him that he can’t expect forgiveness while he’s still participating in the evil.
I have received your highness’s letter, in which you speak of having provoked my displeasure, and of wishing to be in favor with me through direct satisfaction.
Indeed, I have heard such things of your highness as should never have been done by a faithful man. Everyone says that you are responsible for that great mischief in the case of Maximus, and that the plundering of that church, and the loss of so many souls, and the audacity of that unheard-of presumption, can all be traced back to you.
As far as being in favor with me goes, what you need to do is satisfy your Redeemer with your whole heart and soul, and with tears, as becomes you. Until you make satisfaction to him, what good will my forgiveness or favor do you? But as long as I see that you are still implicated in the ruinous conduct of the pretenders, or advocating for those who have gone astray, I don’t see what sort of satisfaction you’re making either to God or to men.
Your highness may know that you satisfy God openly and obviously when you change corruption back to righteousness, and presumption to humility. If you do this, then you may know that you are in favor both with God and with men.
–St. Gregory the Great, Letter to Marcellus, Pro-Consul of Dalmatia
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Just in the past day, what have I done that I need forgiveness for?
What do I need to do to set things right before I ask for forgiveness?
Lord, help me understand the weight of my sin, and give me the strength to put right what I have made wrong.
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