XLVIIII (Maur. 59)
Ambrose to Severus, bishop
1. James, our brother and fellow presbyter, has come from distant Persia and chosen to find rest for himself in your fair countryside on the coast of Campania. Notice in what spot he hopes to enjoy a haven, as it were, from the storms of this world, where, after long toils, he may spend the remainder of his life.
2. That shore of yours, far removed from dangers and every disturbance, fills one's emotions with peace and draws the mind from frightening and raging seas of trouble to a beautiful repose, so that the words that David said of the Church and which apply to all in common appear to be especially suited and applicable to you: "He has founded it upon the seas, and has made it firm upon the waters." [Ps 23:2] The mind that is free of onslaughts of barbarians and the bitterness of war has time for prayer, is devoted to the service of God, cares for the things of the Lord, and cherishes the interests of peace and tranquility.
3. However, we who are exposed to the outbreaks of barbarians and the storms of war, are tossed in the midst of a sea of many troubles and can only infer from these labors and trials more grievious trials in the future. The saying of the Prophet seems to be in accord with our condition: "I saw the tents of the Ethiopians for their labors" [Hab 3:7] 4. Having now lived fifty-three years in the body, amid the shadows of this world which obscure the reality of the future perfection, and having already endured such heavy sorrows, am I not encamping in the tents of the Ethiopians and dwelling with the inhabitants of Madian? They, owing to their knowledge of the works of darkness, fear to be judged even by mortal men, "for the spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged by no man." [1 Cor 2:15]
Farewell, brother, and love us as you do, for we love you.
(trans. Beyenka 1954: 149-150; in the translation Letter 29)