Letter LXXXIX. 2300
To Meletius, bishop of Antioch.
1. The eagerness of my longing is soothed by the opportunities which the merciful God gives me of saluting your reverence. He Himself is witness of the earnest desire which I have to see your face, and to enjoy your good and soul-refreshing instruction. Now by my reverend and excellent brother Dorotheus, the deacon, who is setting out, first of all I beg you to pray for me that I be no stumbling block to the people, nor hindrance to your petitions to propitiate the Lord. In the second place I would suggest that you would be so good as to make all arrangements through the aforementioned brother; and, if it seems well that a letter should be sent to the Westerns, because it is only right that communication should be made in writing even through our own messenger, that you will dictate the letter. I have met Sabinus the deacon, sent by them, and have written to the bishops in Illyria, Italy, and Gaul, and to some of those who have written privately to myself. For it is right that some one should be sent in the common interests of the Synod, conveying a second letter which I beg you to have written.
p. 176 2. As to what concerns the right reverend bishop Athanasius, your intelligence is already aware of what I will mention, that it is impossible for anything to be advanced by my letters, or for any desirable objects to be carried out, unless by some means or other he receives communion from you, who at that time postponed it. He is described as being very anxious to unite with me, and to be willing to contribute all he can, but to be sorry that he was sent away without communion, and that the promise still remains unfulfilled. 2301
What is going on in the East cannot have failed to reach your reverences ears, but the aforementioned brother will give you more accurate information by word of mouth. Be so good as to dispatch him directly after Easter, because of his waiting for the answer from Samosata. Look kindly on his zeal strengthen him by your prayers and so dispatch him on this commission.
Placed in the year 372.176:2301
It is the contention of Tillemont that this cannot apply to the great Athanasius, to whom Meletius is not likely to have refused communion, but is more probably to be referred to some other unknown Athanasius. Maran, however, points out (Vit. Bas. xxii.) not only how the circumstances fit in, but how the statement that communion was refused by Meletius is borne out by Letter cclviii. § 3, q.v. Athanasius was in fact so far committed to the other side in the unhappy Antiochene dispute that it was impossible for him to recognise Meletius. cf. Newman, Church of the Fathers, chap. vii.