Fiction Snippet #6

Brother Simon, could I trouble you for a small favor?” asked the Vicar.
“What would you have me do?”
“One of my young brothers is excessively troubled by his own feelings of unworth. His confessions are too frequent and too lengthy, and there is little occasion for such sin as he imagines himself guilty of. He supposes what little penance I do require to be too little, and then imposes such measures on himself that he will surely do himself harm. I have other duties, but I am not sure how to help him. Perhaps you could speak with him. You have not visited our order long, but I have heard you speak. Your compassion and your understanding of scripture are both deep. You should be an abbot yourself.
“I should certainly not be an abbot. I am not sufficiently orthodox. Were I to speak freely, I would be declared a heretic in very short order. Besides that, my own vows require me to travel. I cannot stay long enough in any one place to lead an order.”
“That’s an odd kind of vow, and I have not heard you say anything amiss, but never mind. Surely there is something you could say. Brother Luther is highly intelligent and devout. I would hate to lose him to madness, or if he neglects or harms himself. ”
“Perhaps you might give him something to occupy his mind, rather than dwell excessively on his own faults. And then…” Simon paused.
“You have thought of something. Tell me”.
“Before there was a Church, there was Christ. There were then no priests, no confession, no penance. What He taught was repentance. Perhaps you should help him to see that he cannot torment himself into perfection with penance. While God is just, he is also merciful. Even to those who consider themselves undeserving. Especially to those.”
“You astonish me. That’s not what I expected to hear at all.”
“Do you see why I might be considered heretical? But It’s not unscriptural, especially if you look at the epistles of Paul. I would be willing to talk to your monk, but I think such counsel would be better coming from you.”

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