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Had I not been unavoidably prevented, I should no sooner have heard that your great and glorious husband had fallen asleep than I should straightway have hurried to your side. I have enjoyed at your hands many and various kinds of honour, and I owe you full many thanks. When hindered, much against my will, from paying my debt, I deemed it ill-advised to send you a letter at the very moment, when your grief was at its height; when it was impossible for my messenger to approach your excellency, and when grief prevented you from reading what I wrote. But now that your reason has had time to wake from the intoxication of grief, to repress your emotion, and to discipline the license of sorrow, I have made bold to write and to beseech your excellency to bethink you of human nature, to reflect how common is the loss you deplore, and, above all, to accept the divine teaching, and not let your distress go beyond the bounds of your faith. For your most excellent husband, as the Lord Himself said,
is not dead but sleeps — a sleep a little longer than he was wont. This hope has been given us by the Lord; this promise we have received from the divine oracles. I know indeed how distressing is the separation, how most distressing; and especially so when affection is made stronger by sympathy of character and length of time. But let your grief be for a journey into a far country, not for a life ended. This kind of philosophy is particularly becoming to them that be brought up in piety, and it is of this philosophy that I beseech you, my respected friend, to seek the adornment. And I do not offer you this advice as a man labouring himself under insensibility; in truth my heart was grieved when I learned of the departure of one I loved so well. But I call to mind the Ruler of the world and His unspeakable wisdom, which ordains everything for our good. I implore your holiness to take these reflections to heart, to rise superior to your sorrow, and praise God who is the Master of us all. It is with ineffable providence that He guides the lives of men.
Source. Translated by Blomfield Jackson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2707069.htm>.
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