XVII. To the Deaconess Casiana.
Had I only considered the greatness of your sorrow, I should have put off writing a little while, that I might make time my ally in my attempt to cure it, but I know the good sense of your piety, and so I make bold to offer you some words of consolation suggested partly by human nature, and partly by divine Scripture. For our nature is frail, and all life is full of such calamities, and the universal Governor and Ruler of the World,—the Lord who wisely orders our concerns,—gives us by means of His divine oracles consolation of various kinds, of which the writings of the holy Evangelists and the divine utterances of the blessed prophets are full. But I am sure it is needless to cull these passages, and suggest them to your piety, nurtured as you have been from the beginning in the inspired word, ruling your life in accordance with them, and needing no other teaching. But I do implore you to remember those words that charge us to master our feelings, and promise us eternal life, proclaim the destruction of death, and announce the common resurrection of us all. Besides all this, nay, before all this, I ask you to reflect that He who has bidden these things so be is the Lord, that He is a Lord all wise and all good, Who knows exactly what is best for us, and to this end guides all our life. Sometimes death is better than life, and what seems distressing is really pleasanter than fancied joys. I beg your piety to accept the consolation offered by my humility, that you may serve the Lord of all by nobly bearing your pain, and affording to men as well as women an example of true wisdom. For all will admire the strength of mind which has bravely borne the attack of grief and broken the force of its violent assault by the magnanimity of its resolution. And we are not without great comfort in the living likenesses of your departed son; for he has left behind him offspring worthy of deep affection, who may be able to stay the excess of our sorrow.
Lastly I implore you to remember in your grief what your bodily infirmity can endure, and to avoid increasing your sufferings by mourning overmuch; and I implore our Lord of His infinite resources to give you ground of consolation.