Monastic Ireland.

Letter from Stephen of Lexington to the Abbot of Suir (Letter 66)

Extract from Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229 (translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O'Dwyer), Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982

Letter 66

To the Abbot of Suir, greetings.

Being consoled in Christ who willingly endured so hard and so undeserved a death in shame contemptuous, do not absent yourself for any reason or go far away, especially in this new state of things, but always having God before your eyes, make no decisions in haste or precipitantly but [decide] everything with the counsel and the careful consideration of prudent and God-fearing men, and follow the counsel of Lord P. of Clonmel, seeking support and peace in gentleness and modesty in so far as you can from the bailiffs of the Lord Justiciar and also of the other English and Irish, returning harsh replies to no one. Deal with your community with kindly instruction rather than strictures on account of the long-standing disuse, endeavouring in so far as you can to be loved by them and by the men of the district, and while things are just beginning turn a blind eye to certain faults and disorders of theirs until such time as they can better understand and will be more capable. Do not receive Brother D., who was prior, into your house in future. If you consider it to be advantageous and if it will be for your peace, place old Brother J. in charge of the guest service, rejoicing always in the Lord that whatever befalls you or yours should be considered great gain, because you have been found worthy to bear reproach and hardship for the good of religious life. Farewell.
But, God willing and the route favourable, we shall come to your house with the grace of visitation around the feast of St. Michael. For the Justiciar will return from Connacht around that time. Do not disparage or speak badly of the Justiciar or his bailiffs or of the Irish in anything whatever, and do not allow them to be disparaged in your hearing, no matter what they say or do, lest perhaps they be incensed against you or yours on this account; but armed always with patience and kindness, overcome evil with good.

Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229, translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O'Dwyer (Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan) pp. 130 - 131
These extracts are reproduced with the kind permission of Liturgical Press:

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