O, man!

O, man!, what great responsibilities you bear
For all you do on earth
For all you say in writing or speech!
For the example you set for others
As it always guides many souls
Either toward hell or toward heaven.

How much care you need to have
In your life, from start to end,
For the thought you write or say
Is gone forever, it can’t be recovered
And someday you’ll gather its fruit
Either in life or in death.

You’ve said a word; your word,
Traveling by word of mouth,
Will bring either joy or sorrow
It will either cleanse or tarnish
Bearing fruit from the seed within
Either of love or of hatred.

You’ve written a text; your written text
Is a medicine or a poison.
You will die but everything you’ve written
Remains behind as a wide path leading
Either to condemnation or glory.

You’ve composed a song; your verses
Remain in your wake
As an encouragement to good or to evil
To purity or to debauchery
Leaving in many hearts your fruit
Either of grace or of shame.

You show a path; your path
Does not disappear behind you
It’s either good or it’s evil
It’ll either destroy or raise up
Souls will walk along it
Either to peace or to suffering.

You live a life; your life
Is one, only one
In any case, don’t forget
How you live it, you’ll earn
Either joy unto eternity, or everlasting torments.

O, man! What great responsibilities you bear!
You’ll leave this world,
But all you’ve said in writing or speech
Or in the example you’ve given others
Will always guide many, many souls
Either toward hell or toward heaven.

So, don’t forget: Be faithful!
With care and with fear
To shine a light in many hearts
A gesture, a thought, a beautiful path
Because you will, without a doubt
Answer one day for them all.

St. John Jacob the Chozebite