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III

To Malachy. 1143 or 1144.956956Mellifont had been founded a good while before the letter was written. Christian had returned to Clairvaux; and now after further instruction he was sent back, apparently as the bearer of the letter. The house had made good progress, but the buildings were still far from complete (§§ 2, 3).

(Epistle 357.)

To our most loving father and most revered lord, Malachy, by the grace of God bishop, legate of the Holy and Apostolic See, the servant of his holiness, Brother Bernard, called to be abbot of Clairvaux, health and our prayers, of whatever value they may be.

1. How sweet are thy words unto my taste,957957Ps. cxix. 103. my lord and father. How pleasant is the remembrance of thy holiness.958958Ps. xxx. 4. If there is any love, any devotedness, any good will in us, without doubt the charity of your belovedness claims it all as its due. There is no need for a multitude of words where affection blossoms abundantly. 135For I am confident that the Spirit which you have from God9599591 Cor. ii. 12. bears witness with your spirit that960960Rom. viii. 16. what we are,9619611 Cor xv. 10. however small it be, is yours.9629621 Cor. iii. 22. You also, most loving and most longed-for father, deliver not to forgetfulness the soul of the poor man, which cleaves to thee with the bonds of charity, and forget not the soul of thy poor man for ever.963963Ps. lxxiv. 19 (vg.); Jer. xx. 13. For neither, as it were anew, do we commend ourselves unto you9649642 Cor. v. 12. when now for a long time we glory in the Lord9659652 Cor. x. 17; 1 Cor. i. 31. that our littleness has been worthy to find grace in the sight of your holiness;9669661 Sam. i. 18, etc. but we pray that our affection, no longer new, may advance with new accessions day by day. We commend to you our sons, yea also yours, and the more earnestly because they are so far removed from us. You know that, after God, all our trust was in you, in sending them, because it seemed to us wrong not to fulfil the prayers of your holiness. See, as becomes you, that with your whole heart of love you embrace them and cherish them. In no wise for any cause let your earnest care for them grow cold, nor let that perish which thy right hand hath planted.967967Ps. lxxx. 15.

2. We have now indeed learned both from your letter and from the report of our brothers968968Apparently the returned brothers mentioned below. that the house is making good progress, [and] is being enriched both in temporal and spiritual possessions.969969Cp. the passage quoted p. 170. Wherefore we rejoice greatly with you and give thanks with our whole heart to God and to your fatherly care. And because there is still need of great watchfulness, because the place is new, and the land unaccustomed to the monastic life, yea, without any experience of it, we beseech you in 136the Lord,9709701 Thess. iv. 1. that you slack not your hand,971971Josh. x. 6. but perfectly accomplish that which you have well begun. Concerning our brothers who have returned from that place,972972The monks of Clairvaux seem to have been reluctant to undertake work elsewhere, when St. Bernard desired them to do so (V.P. vii. 52 f.); and we have one instance of an abbot of a daughter house—Humbert of Igny—who resigned his office and returned to Clairvaux against St. Bernard's will (Ep. 141). it had pleased us well if they had remained. But perhaps the brothers973973Printed text, fratrum. Read fratres. of your country, whose characters are less disciplined and who have lent a less ready ear to advice in those observances, which were new to them, have been in some measure the reason for their return.

3. We have sent back to you Christian, our very dear son, and yours. We have instructed him more fully, as far as we could, in the things which belong to the [Cistercian] Order, and henceforth, as we hope, he will be more careful concerning its obligations.974974Evidently Christian did not prove a satisfactory abbot. This may in part account for the return of the monks who went with him to Ireland. Do not be surprised that we have not sent any other brothers with him; for we did not find competent brothers who were ready to assent to our wishes, and it was not our plan to compel the unwilling. Our much-loved brother, Robert,975975Of this Robert, apparently the architect of Mellifont, we know nothing; for suggestions that he should be identified with one or other of the monks of Clairvaux who bore the same name are mere guesses. assented on this occasion also to our prayers, as an obedient son.9769761 Pet. i. 14 (vg., inexact quotation). It will be your part to assist him that your house may now be set forward, both in buildings and in other necessaries. This also we suggest to your fatherhood, that you persuade religious men and those who, you hope, will be useful to the monastery, to come into their Order, for this will be of the greatest advantage to 137the house, and to you they will pay the greater heed. May your holiness have good health, being always mindful of us in Christ.


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