"And the Lord God called Adam and said to him, 'Where art thou?'"
"Bear doesn't know where Adam is, but Bear is here, Father."
"At least you didn't hide like Adam, Bear. But I see by your purpled muzzle that you have been up to mischief. Allow me to guess. You killed a pony."
"How many does that make this year, so far?"
"Bear cannot count that high."
"I can. Twenty. Do you think we have an unlimited supply of ponies to make up for your depredations?"
"Bear does not know. He stays away from Father's ponies. But Bear is ashamed. When he confesses he is truly sorry, and means not to be bad again. But, even so, he keeps coming back to tell you about the ponies, and he keeps going out to kill them. He thinks this is to no purpose. Perhaps Bear should just leave and be a Bear, and not disappoint Father."
"For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again," St. Corbinian said. "In other words, when you fall, you must be sorry, and come to me. No matter how many times. You should feel bad when you kill a pony. But you must never fear to come and confess, no matter how hard it is. I promise you, I do not think badly of you. It takes sincerity and courage to confess our sins. The Good God is merciful."
"But what if Bear cannot stop? He thinks, No ponies forever, and feels hopeless."
"Then don't think that," the saint said. "Think no ponies today. Or no ponies just this afternoon. Or for an hour. A quarter of an hour if need be. If you resolve not to give in for a quarter of an hour, and ask the Good God to help you, then you can worry about the next quarter of an hour, and so on. And don't stand there looking at a pony! Flee! Bears are very weak. But bears are very fast! Outrun the devil!"
"Everyone has one or more temptations that they are especially subject to," St. Corbinian continued. "If a man never fell, he would be perfect, and there is only one perfect Man. Do your best. Avoid near occasions of sin. But always, always come back and confess your sins, Bear. Often. Will you promise me that?"
"I guess, Father."
"I can see there is something else on your mind, Bear. What is it?"
"Bear is Bear. But sometimes he has a man's heart. It is confusing."
St. Corbinian studied the Bear for a long time, fur matted with blood and all. "I would like to quote from the best of books. St. Paul, from his epistle to the Romans."
"Rome," said Bear with a glint of recognition in his eyes. "That's where Father freed me. Although it seemed more like being bound to leave you."
The saint closed his eyes and recited from memory:
"There is always a conflict, a fight inside of us. Between our own bearishness, or flesh, and our man's heart, or mind. Every day, you must try to become more of a man and less of a Bear. Just day by day. A heart that can be ashamed of its sins, yet courageous and faithful enough to confess them, no matter how hard, or how often, is a good heart, whether it is a Bear's or a man's."I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
"Bear thanks you, Father. He wants to go to Heaven with you."
St. Corbinian's eyes misted over. "I am going to teach you a new prayer. There is nothing in it a Bear shouldn't be able to pray. It's to the Good God. Our Father. Go back to your den and pray it, Bear, after you have learned it."