Ego ita sum quasi a cuncto grege morbida aberrans ovis. quod nisi me bonus pastor ad sua stabula umeris impositum reportarit, lababunt gressus et in ipso conamine vestigia concident assurgentis. ego sum ille prodigus filius, qui omni, quam mihi pater crediderat, portione profusa necdum me ad genitoris genua submisi necdum coepi prioris a me luxuriae blandimenta depellere. et quia paululum non tam desivi a vitiis, quam coepi velle desinere, nunc me novis diabolus retibus ligat, nunc nova impedimenta proponens ‘maria undique circumdat et undique pontum’ [cf. Vergil, Aen. 3.193], nunc in medio constitutus elemento nec regredi volo nec progredi possum. superest, ut oratu vestro sancti spiritus aura me provehat et ad portum optati litoris prosequatur.
(Jerome, Ep. 2.3-4)
I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold, my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising my feet will give way. I am that prodigal son who wasted all the portion entrusted to me by my father. But I have not yet fallen at my father’s knees. I have not yet begun to put away from me the enticements of my former riotous living. And because I have not so much given up my sins as begun to wish a little to give them up, now the devil is trying to ensnare me in new nets. He puts new stumbling blocks in my way, he encompasses me on every side with the ocean’s waters and on every side with the ocean’s deep. I find myself in the midst of the element, unwilling to retreat and unable to advance. It remains that through your prayers the breath of the Holy Spirit waft me onward and bring me to the haven of the longed-for shore. (tr. Charles Christopher Mierow)