He remembered confessing to Father Corbinian whenever he did something really bad. Father would not absolve a Bear, but he would counsel him. Sometimes the Bear would feel very, very bad and get discouraged after, for example, killing more sheep than he could even eat.
And now he had killed a pony. He felt like giving up. Pleasing the Good God was too hard for a Bear. However, Father Corbinian always said the same things when the Bear got discouraged.
"A Bear killed some sheep?" the old man would cry out in mock horror. "How is such a thing possible? Especially for you, Bear! You, my old friend, are the height of perfection of all God's creation! No. It is impossible. I will never believe that you, O Perfect Bear, could ever do anything bad!"
When he had finished his display of sarcasm, his voice would become gentle. "Bear, you are right to feel bad for what you did. But it is very bad to feel discouraged. That is the devil. It shows that you have the very worst of sins, Pride, in that you believe you cannot fall. Worse, you are also questioning the Good God's mercy.
"As the holy Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 'For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.'
"Father Benedict knew that even monks would struggle with sin, and wrote much in his rule about their punishment. If monks, who have extraordinary support all day and night can do evil - and they do, Bear - then so shall you, out in the wild world."
Then he would tell the Bear to make up for the farmer's sheep by leaving a large mess of fish at his door every Friday for six moons, and game every once in a while. Once again, the Bear would be carrying a burden from Father Corbinian, but sometimes it felt good.
"Be merciful, Bear. Have mercy on the poor farmers and herders who have little enough to begin with. The Evangelist says to be merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful.
"We must not let 'mercy' get a bad name because of certain misuses of it. The whole Christian religion is ultimately one of mercy. Of providing a way for immortal but imperfect creatures to escape the doom they deserve for their sins and live with God forever.
"Always remember the Good God is the source of mercy, Bear, but He has given you the power to be merciful, too. It would please Him if you could curb your worst instincts and learn to show mercy yourself."
That is hard for a Bear, thought the Bear. God made him fierce, with roars and growls for a voice. Sometimes the Bear envied humans, who are weak in flesh, but find it easy to be good, with no bear skin to shed.