Daily Reading, May 26 • Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine, Bishop of the Church of Canterbury, sought advice on certain problems. The Pope answered his enquiries without delay, and I have thought it proper to record these replies in my history. . . .
The second question of Augustine: Since we hold the same Faith, why do customs vary in different Churches? Why, for instance, does the method of saying Mass differ in the holy Roman Church and in the Churches of Gaul?
Pope Gregory’s reply: My brother, you are familiar with the usage of the Roman Church, in which you were brought up. But if you have found customs, whether in the Church of Rome or of Gaul or any other that may be more acceptable to God, I wish you to make a careful selection of them, and teach the Church of the English, which is still young in the Faith, whatever you have been able to learn with profit from the various Churches. For things should not be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things. Therefore select from each of the Churches whatever things are devout, religious, and right; and when you have bound them, as it were, into a Sheaf, let the minds of the English grow accustomed to it.
From Bede’s A History of the English Church and People (Penguin Classics, 1968).