|Reverendo in Christo patri, domino Bernardo, Dei gratia venerabili abbati Casinensi, frater Thomas de Aquino, suus devotus filius, se semper et ubique ad obedientiam promptum.
||To the Reverend Father in Christ, Dom Bernard, by God’s grace the Venerable Abbot of Cassino, Brother Thomas Aquinas, his devout son, pledges his swift obedience always and everywhere.
|Optaveram, pater venerande, quod convocatis fratribus, qui ex verbis illustris doctoris Gregorii scandalum patiuntur, satis facerem viva voce; sed hoc prolixitas divini officii et ieiunii prolongatio impedivit, et forte fructuosum erit, ut quod Scripturae mandatur, non solum praesentibus prodesse valeat, sed futuris. Nec absque divina dispensatione hoc gestum credo, ut me proficiscentem in Galliam vestrae litterae comprehenderant Aquini; ubi sanctissimi patris nostri Benedicti beatus Maurus, eius discipulus, ab eo transmissus in Galliam, recipere meruit litteras et sacra exenia tanti patris.
||I would have preferred, venerable Father, to discuss in person with the assembled brethren those illustrious words of Doctor Gregory which have led to some consternation amongst them. The length of the divine office and the obligations of Lent, however, have prevented this, and therefore it may perhaps be better to respond in writing, which may prove useful not just for present but also for future brothers. I take the fact that your letter arrived here in Aquino, just when I was about to leave for France, to be a sign of divine favour. It was from here also that the blessed Maurus, follower of our most holy father Benedict, was sent to France, and it was here that he was considered worthy to receive writings and sacred gifts from such an honourable father.
|Ut autem dubitantibus plenius satisfiat, inserenda sunt praesentibus verba beati Gregorii, quae ignorantibus dubitationem ingerunt et errorem: sciendum, inquit, quod benignitas Dei peccatoribus spatium poenitentiae largitur; sed quia accepta tempora non ad fructum poenitentiae, ad usum vero iniquitatis convertunt, quod a divina misericordia mereri poterant, amittunt; quamvis omnipotens Deus illud tempus uniuscuiusque praesciat, quo vita eius terminatur, nec alio in tempore quisquam mori potuit, nisi ipso quo moritur. Nam si Ezechiae anni additi ad vitam quindecim memorantur, tempus vitae crevit ab illo tempore, quo mori ipse merebatur: nam divina dispositio eius tempus tunc praescivit, quo hunc postmodum ex praesenti vita subtraxit.
||Hence, in order to put the mind of doubters at ease, the words of the blessed Gregory, which evoked suspicion and error amongst the ignorant, should be quoted here (Mor. XVI, 10): This should be known, he says, that the goodness of God accords sinners scope for repentance. If they do not turn in the time granted to them to the fruits of repentance (cf. Mt 3:8), but turn instead to the service of iniquity, they forgo on what they might have obtained through the mercifulness of God. The almighty God foreknows the time at which the life of each individual will come to an end, and no-one could die at any time, save at that time when he does die. For if we take into account the fifteen years that were added to the life of Hezekiah (2 K 20:1-11) then this increased the term of his life from that moment, in which, of himself, he had deserved to die: for God’s ordinance foreknew the time from which it would withdraw him out of the present life.
|In quibus verbis satis lucide doctor lucifluus duplicem uniuscuiusque hominis considerationem habendam determinat: unam quidem secundum se, aliam vero secundum quod ad divinam praescientiam comparatur. Secundum se quidem homo consideratus, in his, scilicet, quae circa eum accidunt, necessitati non subiacet; sed possibile est aliqua circa ipsum contingere, quae nullatenus sortiuntur effectum, quod expresse praemittit de peccatoribus, dicens: quia accepta tempora non ad fructum poenitentiae, ad usum vero iniquitatis convertunt, quod a divina misericordia mereri poterant amittunt. Si ergo mereri poterant non ex necessitate amittunt. Unde ea quae contra hominem accidunt, non ex necessitate eveniunt; eadem enim ratio est de morte, et de quibuscumque aliis quae homo agit aut patitur; omnia enim divinae providentiae supponuntur.
||In these words the Illustrious Doctor makes abundantly clear the need to consider every person from a two-fold perspective: one in accordance with the human person himself, and another one in accordance with divine foreknowledge. If we consider the human person in his own right, that is, in relation to things that befall him, he is not subject to necessity; for it is possible that some things befall him, which are not the result at all of destiny. Gregory says as much, when talking about sinners: ‘If they do not turn in the time granted to them to the fruits of repentance, but turn instead to the service of iniquity, they forgo on what they might have obtained through the mercifulness of God.’ If, therefore, they were in a position to obtain something in the first place, they could not possibly forgo out of necessity. Hence, all the adverse things that happen do not occur out of necessity. The same reasoning applies to death and all the other things that we do or suffer; for indeed all things are subject to divine providence.
|Si vero consideretur homo divinae providentiae comparatus, ea quae agit vel patitur, quandam necessitatem incurrunt, non quidem absolutam, ut omnino, secundum se considerata, non possint, ut dictum est, aliter evenire, sed conditionalem, quia scilicet haec conditionalis est necessaria: si Deus aliquid praescit, hoc erit. Non enim possunt ista duo simul stare, aliquid esse a Deo praescitum, et illud non esse; quia sic Dei praescientia falleretur. Est autem omnino impossibile, ut falsitatem veritas patiatur; et hoc significant verba sequentia beati Gregorii, quum subdit: quamvis omnipotens Deus illud tempus uniuscuiusque ad mortem praesciat, quo vita eius terminatur, nec alio in tempore quisquam mori potuit, nisi ipso quo moritur, scilicet quo a Deo praescitus est mori. Non enim possunt ista duo simul esse, quod Deus praesciat aliquem mori quodam tempore, et ipse alio tempore moriatur; alioquin Dei scientia falleretur.
||But if, however, we consider the human person in relation to divine providence, what he does or suffers acquires a certain necessity, not in an absolute sense, as if considered in their own right the things which occur could not happen in any other way, as I mentioned; but in a conditional sense, namely, when this conditionality is necessary: if God knows something beforehand, it will happen. For it cannot be possibly the case that God both knows something beforehand, and yet that it will not occur – for that would imply that God’s foreknowledge is inaccurate. And that the truth would be inaccurate is altogether impossible. This is what the words of the blessed Gregory refer to, when he adds: ‘The almighty God foreknows the time at which the life of each individual will come to an end, and no-one could die at any time, save at that time when he does die’, which means: the time of death that God foreknows. For it cannot be possibly the case that God both foreknows that someone will die at a certain time, and that he nonetheless dies at a different time, for that would imply that the knowledge of God is inaccurate.
|Secundum se autem consideratus homo, potuit alio tempore mori. Quis enim dubitat eum potuisse prius transfigi gladio, igne comburi, aut praecipitio aut laqueo vitam finire? Hanc et distinctionem sapiunt eius verba sequentia; subdit enim: nam si Ezechiae anni ad vitam quindecim memorantur, tempus vitae crevit ab illo tempore, quo mori ipse merebatur. Stultum autem est dicere, quod aliquis mereatur id quod impossibile est evenire. Ipse ergo, secundum se consideratus, poterat tempore illo mori; sed divinae scientiae comparatus, non poterant haec simul esse: ut ipse uno tempore moreretur, et alio tempore Deus praesciret moriturum, et (...) doctoris exprimunt, quasi oculata fide dubitantium animis ingeramus, considerare oportet differentiam divinae cognitionis et humanae. Quia enim homo subiacet mutationi et tempori, in quo prius et posterius locum habent, successive cognoscit res, quasdam prius et quasdam posterius: et inde est quod praeterita memoramur, videmus praesentia, et prognosticamur futura.
||Considered from the perspective of the human person in his own right, he could die at another time. For who could doubt that his life could be finished earlier, having been slain by the sword, burnt by fire, fallen into an abyss, or fallen into a trap? The words that follow illustrate that Gregory had this distinction in mind, when he adds: ‘For if we take into account the fifteen years that were added to the life of Hezekiah, then this increased the term of his life from that moment, in which, of himself, he had deserved to die.’ Now it is silly to claim that somebody deserves something which cannot possibly happen. Therefore, considered from the perspective of Hezekiah in his own right, he could have died some other time. But from the perspective of divine knowledge, it cannot possibly happen that he would die at one time, and that God would know beforehand that he would die at another time. [Text missing] We must therefore keep in mind that there is a difference in divine and human knowledge. Because we are subject to change and time, in which there is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’, we know things in succession, knowing some things first and others later. That is why we remember things past, consider the present, and anticipate future events.
|Sed Deus sicut liber est ab omni motu, secundum illud Malachiae: ego dominus et non mutor; ita omnem temporis successionem excedit; nec in eo inveniuntur praeteritum et futurum; sed praesentialiter omnia futura et praeterita ei adsunt; sicut ipse Moysi famulo suo dicit: ego sum qui sum. Eo ergo modo ab aeterno praescivit hunc tali tempore moriturum, ut modo nostro loquimur; cum tamen eius modo dicendum esset, videt eum mori, quomodo ego video Petrum sedere, dum sedet. Manifestum est autem, quod ex hoc, quod video aliquem sedere, nulla ingeritur ei necessitas sessionis. Impossibile est haec duo simul esse vera, quod videam aliquem sedentem, et ipse non sedeat; et similiter non est possibile quod Deus praesciat aliquid esse futurum, et illud non sit; nec tamen propter hoc futura ex necessitate eveniunt.
||But given the fact that God is free from change, as Malachi has it: For I am the Lord, and I change not (Ml 3:6), he is beyond all temporal succession. In him neither future nor past can be found, but all things future and past are with him in the present, as He himself says to his servant Moses: I am who am (Ex. 3:14). In our manner of speech we say that God has foreknown from all eternity that this man would die at a particular moment; but in God’s manner of speaking we would have to say, rather, that he sees him die, just as I see Peter sitting when he is seated. It is evident that the fact that I observe somebody sitting down does not render his sitting down necessary at all. It is indeed impossible that these two things are true at the same time, namely that I see him sitting down, and that he is not sitting down. Similarly, it is not possible that God knows beforehand a future event and that this event would not occur. Nonetheless, this does not imply that the future event must take place in a necessary fashion.
|Haec sunt, pater charissime, quae, vestrae iussioni obediens, ad errantium reductionem scripsi; quae si eis non sufficiunt dicta, rescribere vobis obediens non desinam.
||This then, dearest Father, is what I have written in obedience to your command, in order to recall those who have strayed. If my words do not suffice, I will not fail to write again in obedience to you.
|Valeat paternitas vestra diu.
||May you, Father, be well for a long time to come.
|Frater Raynaldus commendat se vobis.
||Brother Reginald commends himself to you.