Stephen, Stephen, I say:
here is a place for goodness, here is a time for mercy,
here at least is an opportunity to show charity!
For I stand continually in danger
although I do not always recognize this,
and I am the more miserable and wretched
when I forget that it is so.
For God always sees my sins,
always his severe judgment threatens
the sinfulness of my soul,
always hell gapes and its torments are ready
to snatch my wretched soul away to that place.
Thus am I placed when I wake, thus when I sleep;
I am thus when I smile, thus when I jest;
thus when I am proud, thus when I am humiliated;
thus when angry, thus when vindicated;
thus, thus I am when I miserably love
the delights of the flesh.
Thus am I then always and everywhere.
So I pray you, Stephen, make haste
before I am condemned,
before the enemies of the human race
snatch me away to torment,
before the prison of hell swallows me up,
before the torments of eternal fire consume me.
Truly my need is great
when it impels me to ask for help
even of those by whom I deserve to be punished.
But you and all the saints are so full of such wealth
from the unending fount of all goodness,
that you delight rather to free by your goodness
those whom by justice you are able to condemn.
– St Anselm