Adhinnire

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Novem annos totos magna cura et diligentia vos audivi; nullus mihi electorum innotescere potuit, qui secundum haec praecepta non aut deprehensus in peccato aut certe suspicioni subditus fuerit. multi in vino et carnibus, multi lavantes in balneis inventi sunt. sed haec audiebamus. nonnulli alienas feminas seduxisse approbati sunt, ita ut hinc plane dubitare non possim. sed sit et haec magis fama quam verum. vidi ipse non solus sed cum his qui partim iam illa superstitione liberati sunt, partim adhuc opto ut liberentur, vidimus ergo in quadrivio Carthaginis, in platea celeberrima, non unum sed plures quam tres electos simul post transeuntes nescio quas feminas tam petulanti gestu adhinnire, ut omnium trivialium impudicitiam impudentiamque superarent. quod de magna venire consuetudine atque illos inter se ita vivere satis eminebat, quandoquidem nullus socii praesentiam veritus omnes aut certe paene omnes eadem teneri peste indicabat. non enim erant hi ex una domo, sed diverse prorsus habitantes, ex eo loco ubi conventus omnium factus erat, pariter forte descenderant. nos autem graviter commoti, graviter etiam questi sumus. quis tandem hoc vindicandum, non dicam separatione ab ecclesia, sed pro magnitudine flagitii vehementi saltem obiurgatione arbitratus est?
(Augustine, De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae et de Moribus Manichaeorum 2.68)

During nine full years that I attended you with great earnestness and assiduity, I could not hear of one of your elect who was not found transgressing these precepts, or at least was not suspected of doing so. Many were caught at wine and animal food, many at the baths; but this we only heard by report. Some were proved to have seduced other men’s wives, so that in this case I could not doubt the truth of the charge. But suppose this, too, a report rather than a fact. I myself saw, and not I only, but others who have either escaped from that superstition, or will, I hope, yet escape,—we saw, I say, in a square in Carthage, on a road much frequented, not one, but more than three of the elect walking behind us, and accosting some women with such indecent sounds and gestures as to outdo the boldness and insolence of all ordinary rascals. And it was clear that this was quite habitual, and that they behaved in this way to one another, for no one was deterred by the presence of a companion, showing that most of them, if not all, were affected with this evil tendency. For they did not all come from one house, but lived in quite different places, and quite accidentally left together the place where they had met. It was a great shock to us, and we lodged a complaint about it. But who thought of inflicting punishment,—I say not by separation from the church, but even by severe rebuke in proportion to the heinousness of the offence? (tr. Richard Stothert)

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