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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Abelard’s Answer to Héloïse
Peter Abelard (1079–1142) and Héloïse d’Argenteuil (1090?/1100?–1164)
 
To Héloïse, his best beloved Sister in Christ,
        Abelard, her Brother in Him:
IF, since we resigned the world I have not written to you, it was because of the high opinion I have ever entertained of your wisdom and prudence. How could I think that she stood in need of help on whom Heaven had showered its best gifts? You were able, I knew, by example as by word, to instruct the ignorant, to comfort the timid, to kindle the lukewarm.
  1
  When prioress of Argenteuil, you practiced all these duties; and if you give the same attention to your daughters that you then gave to your sisters, it is enough. All my exhortations would be needless. But if, in your humility, you think otherwise, and if my words can avail you anything, tell me on what subjects you would have me write, and as God shall direct me I will instruct you. I thank God that the constant dangers to which I am exposed rouse your sympathies. Thus I may hope, under the divine protection of your prayers, to see Satan bruised under my feet.  2
  Therefore I hasten to send you the form of prayer you beseech of me—you, my sister, once dear to me in the world, but now far dearer in Christ. Offer to God a constant sacrifice of prayer. Urge him to pardon our great and manifold sins, and to avert the dangers which threaten me. We know how powerful before God and his saints are the prayers of the faithful, but chiefly of faithful women for their friends, and of wives for their husbands. The Apostle admonishes us to pray without ceasing…. But I will not insist on the supplications of your sisterhood, day and night devoted to the service of their Maker; to you only do I turn. I well know how powerful your intercession may be. I pray you, exert it in this my need. In your prayers, then, ever remember him who, in a special sense, is yours. Urge your entreaties, for it is just that you should be heard. An equitable judge cannot refuse it.  3
  In former days, you remember, best beloved, how fervently you recommended me to the care of Providence. Often in the day you uttered a special petition. Removed now from the Paraclete, and surrounded by perils, how much greater my need! Convince me of the sincerity of your regard, I entreat, I implore you.  4
  [The Prayer:] “O God, who by Thy servant didst here assemble Thy handmaids in Thy Holy Name, grant, we beseech Thee, that he be protected from all adversity, and be restored safe to us, Thy handmaids.”  5
  If Heaven permit my enemies to destroy me, or if I perish by accident, see that my body is conveyed to the Paraclete. There, my daughters, or rather my sisters in Christ, seeing my tomb, will not cease to implore Heaven for me. No resting-place is so safe for the grieving soul, forsaken in the wilderness of its sins, none so full of hope as that which is dedicated to the Paraclete—that is, the Comforter.  6
  Where could a Christian find a more peaceful grave than in the society of holy women, consecrated by God? They, as the Gospel tells us, would not leave their divine Master; they embalmed His body with precious spices; they followed Him to the tomb, and there they held their vigil. In return, it was to them that the angel of the resurrection appeared for their consolation.  7
  Finally, let me entreat you that the solicitude you now too strongly feel for my life you will extend to the repose of my soul. Carry into my grave the love you showed me when alive; that is, never forget to pray Heaven for me.  8
  Long life, farewell! Long life, farewell, to your sisters also! Remember me, but let it be in Christ!  9
 
 
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