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Saint Benedict, The Rule of St. Benedict 
The Rule of St. Benedict, translated into English. A Pax Book, preface by W.K. Lowther Clarke (London: S.P.C.K., 1931).
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Table of Contents
No one living in the world who receives an invitation to write an Introduction to an edition of the Rule of St. Benedict can consent without searchings of heart. Who is he that he should criticize, or patronize by his praise, the legacy of the great Father? But one thing would seem to justify him. Books are published in the hope of their being read and appreciated, and the present book may fall into the hands of some whose sympathies need to be stirred before they can do justice to an old-world document like the Rule. One who knows nothing of Benedictinism except as an outside observer may be able to interpret it to the world better than a monk or nun who is living the life laid down in the Rule.
Perhaps I may be allowed to approach it from the side of my own studies—by way, that is, of Egypt and Cappadocia. Seldom have the depths of the human heart been plumbed so deeply as by the monks of Egypt, whose wisdom Cassian has preserved to us in his Institutes and Conferences. Rarely, if ever, has God raised up a Saint of such many-sided grandeur as St. Basil, by whose side, in an epic of Christian love, stand his sister St. Macrina, his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, and his friend St. Gregory Nazianzen. But these treasures of Egypt and Cappadocia are unknown in their original form except to scholars. That they have influenced Christian thought and conduct in the West is due almost entirely to the Benedictine tradition, to which they have contributed, thanks to the founder’s recommendation, in the last chapter, to read the Conferences and Institutes (of Cassian) and “the Rule of our holy Father Basil.” This chapter should be carefully weighed, or the reader may at first feel a sense of disappointment. With all its incomparable sanity, the Rule may seem to be lacking in the higher spirituality. But the Saint only intends to draw up an elementary rule, suitable for all alike. When that has been mastered, “the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue” may be essayed with the help of loving study of the Scriptures and of the pioneers in the monastic life.
Mediæval history cannot be understood if monasticism is ignored, and at the base of all Western monasticism lies the Rule of St. Benedict. As we sit within the ruined walls of Fountains or Tintern, and wonder what manner of men once lived here, we shall be wise to draw out the Rule from our pocket and by its aid reconstruct in imagination their daily life and, what matters more, its motives and inspiration. Chaucer’s Prioress, again, is a gracious and lovable figure, with the quaintness of antiquity; but the real woman must be put in the background of the Rule if she is to be understood.
The second-century writer of the Epistle to Diognetus says that “what the soul is in the body, that the Christians are in the world”; and Aristides the Apologist writes: “I have no doubt but that the world stands through the intercession of Christians.” If we transferred these thoughts to the function of the “religious” in the Church today we should doubtless be guilty of exaggeration. But to a large extent we should be right. The ideals for which monasticism stands would be even more obscured than they are, if there were no specialists making them the primary means by which they live to God’s glory. The threefold vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience is a standing reminder that, in an age when economic considerations dwarf all else, some at least are renouncing possessions and making many rich; that, when self-indulgence and self-expression are preached as the duty of man, some are practising restraint without detriment to the fullness of their humanity; and that, when self-determination is the watchword both of nations and individuals, obedience is being preferred by vigorous wills.
But the characteristic vow of the Rule is even stranger than these three. Poverty, chastity, and obedience the modern world may understand—with an effort. But stability—the monk’s vow to continue in the monastery of his choice unto his life’s end—is indeed alien to us. Stabilitas is virtually enclosure, a downright terrifying idea. We are all agreed, clergy and laity alike, that constant change is good for us; to settle down to one place, one occupation, for life seems intolerably dull. But may it not be that mental and spiritual stability needs to be secured by outward and physical stability, that we cannot bear much fruit unless we stay long enough in one place for our roots to penetrate deep down into the surrounding soil?
Lastly, I should like to suggest some ways in which a detailed study of the Rule may help English Churchpeople, for whom this edition is mainly intended. The Communicants’ Guilds which flourished in the nineteenth century have fallen on evil days. This is a pity, for our parishes need bands of the devout, organized for progress in the spiritual life, as much as ever. But the form of organization most helpful today is some kind of “Third Order,” a branch of a fraternity associated with a monastery, supported by the prayers of the Community, and in its turn reinforcing the Community by its prayers and alms. If such a movement is to develop, the devout laity must first understand the basic principles of monasticism far more clearly than they do at present, and the first step to such understanding is to read this “elementary Rule.”
But the Rule contains much that applies to the needs of the ordinary Christian. Thus Chapter IV. would serve admirably as a basis for self-examination. The principles of conduct laid down for the Abbot apply in a measure to all who have to rule and lead their fellow-men. But I hope a parish priest will not seize too eagerly on Chapter III., as a guide to his conduct of the Church Council: “having listened to the counsel of the brethren, let him settle the matter in his own mind and do what seems to him most expedient.” For the Abbot himself is a Benedictine monk and has vowed to live as such. He is no autocrat, but must obey his holy Father St. Benedict, who, being dead, yet speaketh in the Rule.
Again—and here I am treading on delicate ground—the Rule will help us to a sense of proportion in our devotional life. The devout are coming to centre their prayer-life more and more around the Blessed Sacrament. The congregations at weekday Evensongs have dwindled sadly. Choir Offices are apt to be condemned as dull. And voices are heard suggesting that wordless prayer, the technique of which was perfected by the teachers of the Counter-Reformation, is the only true prayer. We must always beware of the swing of the pendulum. If we find the Bible dull, the Psalms, Te Deum and Magnificat uninspiring, there is something wrong with us, not with the Offices. The best mind of the Mediæval Church is reflected in the golden words of the Imitation: “Without these two I may not well live, for the word of God is the light of my soul, and this Sacrament is the bread of my life.” In the Rule the faithful observance of the Divine Office is shown as the chief work of the Community, nothing less than the opus Dei. And when we are distressed by our failure in mental prayer, we may comfort ourselves by remembering that for a thousand years the characteristic Benedictine piety was faithful repetition of the Church’s prayers supplemented by a loving prayerful study of God’s holy Word such as is within the capacity of the humblest Christian. This must not be taken as deprecating the higher flights of prayer or devotion to our Lord in His Sacrament. Rather I want to suggest that a certain solid Anglican piety, such as we find in the devotional life of Dr. Johnson, is spiritually akin to the Rule.
These are my words, framed with diffidence. Let me conclude with Cardinal Newman’s classic expression of the Benedictine spirit, in which the restless modern world could find, if it would, the things that belong to its peace.*
“To the monk heaven was next door; he formed no plans, he had no cares; the ravens of his father Benedict were ever at his side. He ‘went forth’ in his youth ‘to his work and to his labour’ until the evening of life; if he lived a day longer, he did a day’s work more. Whether he lived many days or few, he laboured on to the end of them. He had no wish to see further in advance of his journey than where he was to make his next stage. He ploughed and sowed, he prayed, he meditated, he studied, he wrote, he taught, and then he died and went to heaven.”[Back to Table of Contents]
In preparing for the press this English rendering of the holy rule, originally made from texts based on the textus receptus, advantage has been taken of the opportunity to incorporate several minor emendations which Dom Cuthbert’s edition of the text, published in 1927, has shown to be necessary.
Of late years there has been an increasing demand for an English translation sufficiently idiomatic to be read easily, yet sufficiently literal to be accurate. The issue of this translation is an attempt to supply what is demanded.
The reader is referred to The Cambridge Medieval History* for a brief but comprehensive survey of early monasticism, together with a suggestive explanation of how and why St. Benedict became the father of Western monasticism; and for a bibliography† that would prove a useful guide to a comprehensive study of the life of St. Benedict and of the circumstances in which he compiled the holy rule.
Here it will be sufficient to mention that the period he adorned was the end of the fifth century and the first half of the sixth, when Italy was suffering from barbarian invasions; that before the completion of his education—as we might say just before the normal time for taking his degree—he betook himself to the cave at Subiaco to live as a hermit; that for three years his solitude was not broken into seriously, but that at the end of that time he felt constrained to instruct the groups of devout men who had gathered round him; and that with them he eventually migrated to Monte Cassino and there wrote for them that rule that has had no equal in influence and fame.
When St. Benedict refers to Psalms by their numbers—e.g., in Chapter XII.—he uses the Greek-Latin, not the Hebrew-English, system of numbering. Psalms i. to viii. and Psalms cxlviii. to cl. correspond in both systems, each to each; but Psalm ix. in the Greek-Latin system comprises both ix. and x. of the Hebrew-English; thereafter Psalms x. to cxlv. of the Greek-Latin are Psalms xi. to cxlvi. of the Hebrew-English, except that Psalm cxiii. of the Greek-Latin comprises both cxiv. and cxv. of the Hebrew-English, while Psalm cxvi. of the Hebrew-English comprises both cxiv. and cxv. of the Greek-Latin. Psalm cxlvi. of the Greek-Latin consists of the first eleven verses only of Psalm cxlvii. in the Hebrew-English system, the remaining nine verses being Psalm cxlvii. in the Greek-Latin system; and thus it comes about that the last three psalms of the psalter—Psalms cxlviii. to cl.—are similarly numbered in both systems, as already stated.[Back to Table of Contents]
NOTE ON THE HISTORY OF THE TEXT
St. Benedict wrote his rule, as Dom Cuthbert Butler observes,* “in the language of the people, in a Latin already decadent and slipping into new forms: whence it appears that exact constructions of words and grammatical concordances were little observed.” Any treatise so written in the mid-sixth century would certainly have been copied with emendations by scribes desiring to adorn as well as transcribe the text on which they were engaged. If this was the case with treatises meant for individual study, much more was it the case when the text in question was a rule to be read aloud daily in chapter house and refectory, where the “solecisms” and “barbarisms” of a fluid Latin would be likely to strike the ear. Hence, as a matter of fact, there soon arose a textus reseptus of the rule of St. Benedict, from which the early printed editions were drawn later. This has continued in use to the present day; and that although early manuscripts afforded texts whose relationship with St. Benedict’s own words was much closer.
The history of the text of St. Benedict’s rule is, very shortly, as follows: St. Benedict died in 543; in 581, according to the author of the Historia Langobardorum, his monastery of Monte Cassino was laid waste and the monks fled for refuge to Rome, “taking with them the codex of the holy rule, which the aforesaid father, Benedict, composed.” Monte Cassino was restored in the year 717 and received from Pope Zacharias (741-752) “the rule which the blessed father Benedict wrote with his own hands.” In 787 Abbot Theodemar of Monte Cassino sent a copy of the rule to Charles the Great, with the words: “According to your request, we have sent to you a rule of our blessed father, which we have had transcribed from the manuscript which he wrote with his own hands.”
Neither the eighth-century manuscript thus sent to Charles the Great, nor that of Monte Cassino from which it was copied, is in existence; but there are two types of manuscripts whose pedigree can be traced back to them. The oldest manuscript of the Monte Cassino type goes back to the first years of the tenth century. Of the four best manuscripts of the type of that sent to Charles the Great, the earliest is the St. Gall codex 914, which belongs to the early years of the ninth century; it is therefore the manuscript of greatest single authority in the study of the text. It is this manuscript which has been the main foundation of Dom Cuthbert Butler’s emendations to the textus receptus; and for further description of the rules he has employed in using it the reader is referred to his own introduction.[Back to Table of Contents]
HERE BEGINNETH THE PROLOGUE TO A RULE FOR MONASTERIES
Hearken continually within thine heart, O son, giving attentive ear to the precepts of thy master. Understand with willing mind and effectually fulfil thy holy father’s admonition; that thou mayest return, by the labour of obedience, to Him from Whom, by the idleness of disobedience, thou hadst withdrawn. To this end I now address a word of exhortation to thee, whosoever thou art, who, renouncing thine own will and taking up the bright and all-conquering weapons of obedience, dost enter upon the service of thy true king, Christ the Lord.
In the first place, then, when thou dost begin any good thing that is to be done, with most insistent prayer beg that it may be carried through by Him to its conclusion; so that He Who already deigns to count us among the number of His children may not at any time be made aggrieved by evil acts on our part. For in such wise is obedience due to Him, on every occasion, by reason of the good He works in us; so that not only may He never, as an irate father, disinherit us His children, but also may never, as a dread-inspiring master made angry by our misdeeds, deliver us over to perpetual punishment as most wicked slaves who would not follow Him to glory.
Let us therefore now at length rise up as the Scripture incites us when it says: “Now is the hour for us to arise from sleep.” And with our eyes open to the divine light, let us with astonished ears listen to the admonition of God’s voice daily crying out and saying: “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” And again: “He who has the hearing ear, let him hear what the Spirit announces to the churches.” And what does the Spirit say? “Come, children, listen to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Run while ye have the light of life, that the shades of death envelop you not.”
And inquiring for His own labourer among the multitude of the people to whom He proclaims these things, the Lord says again: “Who is the man that wishes for life, and desires to see good days?” And if hearing this thou dost answer “I,” God then says to thee: “If thou dost wish for life true and eternal, refrain thy tongue from evil and let not thy lips speak guile. Turn aside from evil and do good; seek out peace and follow it. And when ye have done this, lo, My eyes are upon you and My ears open to your prayers. And before ye call, I will say, ‘Behold, I am here.’ ”
What, most dear brethren, could be more sweet to us than this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold the Lord points out the way of life to us by His own fatherly affection.
Let our loins then be girt with faith and the observance of good works, and let us, gospel-led, pursue His paths, that we may be worthy to see Him Who has called us unto His own kingdom.
But if our wish be to have a dwelling-place in His kingdom, let us remember it can by no means be attained unless one run thither by good deeds. For, with the prophet, let us ask the Lord, saying to Him: “Lord, who will dwell in Thy tabernacle, and who will rest in Thy holy mount?” After putting this question, brethren, let us listen to our Lord showing us in answer the way to that same tabernacle by saying: “He who lives blamelessly and does justice; he who speaks truth from his heart; he who has kept his tongue from guile; he who has done his neighbour no evil and has accepted no slander against his neighbour”: he who has brought to naught the malignant slanderer the devil, rejecting from his heart’s thoughts him and his efforts to persuade him; and who has taken hold of his suggestions or ever they be come to maturity and has dashed them against the Rock which is Christ. Those who fear the Lord are not puffed up by their own good observance of rule, but reckoning that the good that is in them could not be wrought by themselves but by God, magnify the Lord working in them and say with the prophet: “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name give glory.” Just as also the Apostle Paul attributed nothing to himself concerning his own preaching, but said: “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” And again the same Paul said: “He who glories, in the Lord let him glory.”
Whence the Lord also says in the Gospel: “He who hears these My words and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon a rock. There came torrents of rain and rushing winds, and they struck upon that house, but it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” As a consequence our Lord daily looks for it that we should respond by deeds to these His holy warnings. Thus it is on account of the need of correcting faults that the days of this life are prolonged for us, as by way of truce; and the Apostle says: “Art thou ignorant that the patience of God leads thee towards penitence?” For the Lord in His tenderness says: “I will not the death of a sinner, but that he may be converted and live.”
Since therefore, brethren, we asked of the Lord concerning the dweller in His tabernacle, we have heard, as a precept concerning dwelling there, “if we fulfil what is required of a dweller there.” Therefore must our hearts and bodies be prepared as about to serve like soldiers under holy obedience to these precepts; and whatsoever our nature does not make possible let us ask the Lord to direct that the help of His grace shall supply. And if we wish to escape the pains of hell and attain to eternal life we must hasten to do such things only as may profit us for eternity, now, while there is time for this and we are in this body and there is time to fulfil all these precepts by means of this light.
We have therefore to establish a school of the Lord’s service, in the institution of which we hope we are going to establish nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. But if, prompted by the desire to attain to equity, anything be set forth somewhat strictly for the correction of vice or the preservation of charity, do not therefore in fear and terror flee back from the way of salvation of which the beginning cannot but be a narrow entrance. For it is by progressing in the life of conversion and faith that, with heart enlarged and in ineffable sweetness of love, one runs in the way of God’s commandments, so that never deserting His discipleship but persevering until death in His doctrine within the monastery, we may partake by patience in the suffering of Christ and become worthy inheritors of His kingdom. Amen.[Back to Table of Contents]
HERE BEGINNETH THE TEXT OF THE RULE[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF MONKS
It is clear that there are four kinds of monks. The first is that of the Cœnobites, that is the monastic kind, who serve under a rule and an abbot.
Then the second kind is that of the Anchorites, that is the Eremites; and these are they who are not any longer in the novice-like fervour of the life of conversion, but by the daily discipline of the monastery have learnt to fight against the devil and are thoroughly experienced in the solace that being one of many affords; and who, as being well established for the lonely battle of the desert, beyond the fighting line of their brethren and already brave apart from the consolation of companionship, are competent to fight single-handed, God helping them, against the vices of flesh and mind. And the third kind of monks is that very disgraceful kind of the Sarabites, who have not been brought under discipline by any rule dictated by experience so as to become as gold refined by the heat of the furnace, but who, as soft as lead, while still by their works keeping faith with the world, are known by their tonsure to be lying to God. These are they who being by twos or threes, or indeed singly and without a pastor, enclosed not in the Lord’s but in their own sheepfolds, take for law their own whims, since whatever they think and choose they say is holy and whatever they dislike they esteem unlawful. And the fourth kind is that of the monks called Girovagi, who are all their lives guests for three or four days at a time in the different groups of cells through the various provinces. Always wanderers and never settled, they are slaves to their own pleasures and the snares of gluttony and in every respect worse than the Sarabites. Concerning the most miserable manner of life of all these, it is better to be silent than to speak. Leaving these out of our calculations therefore, let us come to arranging by the Lord’s help for this most stable kind, the Cœnobites.[Back to Table of Contents]
WHAT KIND OF MAN AN ABBOT OUGHT TO BE
An abbot who is worthy to preside over a monastery ought always to remember what he is called and to justify his title by his deeds. For he is deemed in the monastery the representative of Christ, since it is by His title he is addressed, for the Apostle says: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption of sons in which it is we cry out Abba, Father.” And so an abbot ought not to teach, establish, or order anything contrary to the spirit of the Lord’s revealed will, but let his commandments and teaching, as being the leaven of divine justice, sprinkle the minds of the disciples.
Let the abbot be always careful of his own teaching and of the obedience of his disciples, of both which matters examination will be made at the dreadful judgment of God; and let the abbot know that to the fault of the shepherd is accounted whatever the father of the family shall have found amiss in the sheep. Only so shall he be free of blame in proportion as the perfect diligence of a shepherd has been applied to the restless and disobedient flock and every careful attention has been manifested towards whatever was corrupt about them; and their shepherd, absolved at the judgment of the Lord, may with the prophet say to the Lord: “Thy justice have I not hidden away in my heart: Thy truth and Thy salvation I have told forth: but they have been despisers and spurned me.” And then at length let the punishment of the sheep who were disobedient in spite of his care be death itself prevailing over them.
Therefore when anyone receives the title of abbot he ought to preside over his disciples with twofold manner of teaching: that is, to show forth all that is good and holy by deeds even more than by words, so as by his words to set the commandment of the Lord before the more intelligent disciples: but to those hard of heart and to those of less capacity to show forth the divine precept by his deeds. And all things that he has taught the disciples are contrary to the divine precepts, let his own deeds indicate are things not to be done; lest preaching to others himself be found reprobate; and lest at any time God say to him in his sin: “Wherefore dost thou discourse of My justice and take My covenant upon thy lips, even thou who hatest discipline and hast cast My words behind thee?” And: “Thou who hast been in the habit of seeing a mote in thy brother’s eye, why hast thou not seen the beam in thine own?”
Let him show no favouritism in the monastery. Let not one be loved more than another, unless it be one whom he has found to excel in good deeds and obedience. Let not one of gentle birth be placed higher than one who was recently a serf, unless there be some other and reasonable cause. Let it be so however if it shall have seemed good to the abbot on just grounds; and so let him do concerning the place of anyone whomsoever: but otherwise let them keep their own places: for whether bondmen or freemen we are all one in Christ and under the one Lord bear equal rank of subjection, for there is no acceptation of persons with God. In His sight we are differentiated one from the other in respect to this only, namely, if we be found humble and to excel others in good deeds. Therefore let him have an equal love towards all; let one and the same discipline be meted out to all according to their merits.
For in his teaching the abbot ought always to keep to that apostolic formula in which it is said: “Convince, entreat, rebuke”: that is to say, mingling according to circumstances gentleness with severity, let him show the sternness of a master, the affection of a father: that is to say, he ought to convince the undisciplined and restless almost harshly: but to entreat the obedient, the meek and the patient, that they progress still better. But the negligent and the haughty we admonish him to rebuke and correct. And let him not close his eyes to the sins of those who do amiss, but almost as soon as they begin to appear let him cut them off at the roots and master them, mindful of the judgment against Eli the priest in Silo. The more dignified and the intellectually minded let him correct by word at their first and second admonition; but the froward, the hard, the proud and the disobedient, let him coerce at the very first offence by the stripes of corporal punishment, knowing it is written: “A fool is not corrected by words”; and again: “Strike thy son with the rod and thou wilt free his soul from death.”
The abbot ought always to remember what he is, to remember what he is styled and to know that to whom more is committed from him is more required; and let him know how difficult and arduous a matter he has undertaken, namely, to govern souls and to adapt himself to many dispositions. One with gentleness, another with rebukes, another with persuasion, so let him, according to the character and intelligence of each, mould and adapt himself, that not only may no injury accrue to the flock entrusted to him, but that he may actually have occasion to rejoice in the increase of his flock’s welfare.
Above all, let him not be too solicitous about things transitory, things earthly, things perishable, closing his eyes to, or too little weighing the salvation of, the souls committed to his care; but let him always have in mind that because he has undertaken to govern souls, he must one day render an account of them.
And that he may not complain of having too little worldly substance, as may hap, let him remember the Scripture: “First seek the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” And again: “Nothing is wanting to them that fear Him.” And let him know that he who has undertaken the government of souls must prepare himself for rendering an account. And however great the number of brethren he knows he has under his care, let him recognize for certain that he will have to account to the Lord for all their souls in the day of judgment and without doubt for his own soul in addition. And so, always duly fearful of the Chief Pastor’s future examination into the state of the sheep entrusted to him, while careful on others’ account he becomes solicitous on his own; and while by his admonitions he affords correction to others, he is also himself freed from his faults.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE CALLING OF THE BRETHREN TO COUNCIL
As often as any special business has to be transacted in the monastery, let the abbot convoke the whole community and himself state what is the matter in hand. And having listened to the counsel of the brethren, let him settle the matter in his own mind and do what seems to him most expedient. And we have thus said that all are to be called to council because it is often to a junior that the Lord reveals what is best. But let the brethren so give counsel with all subjection and humility that they presume not with any forwardness to defend what shall have seemed good to them; but rather let the decision depend upon the abbot’s discretion, so that he shall decide what is best, that they all may yield ready obedience: but just as it behoves the disciples to be obedient to the master, so also it becomes him to arrange all things prudently and justly.
In all things therefore let all follow the rule’s dictates and let it not be departed from by anyone. Let no one in the monastery follow the desires of his own heart, neither let anyone presume insolently to contend with his abbot either within or without the monastery. But if anyone shall have so presumed, let him be subject to the rule’s discipline. Let the abbot himself however do all in the fear of God and according to the rule; knowing that he will, beyond all doubt, have to render account of all his own judgments to God the most just Judge. And if any less important business has to be transacted on behalf of the monastery, let counsel be taken, but with the seniors only, as it is written: “Do everything with counsel and having so done thou wilt not repent.”[Back to Table of Contents]
WHAT ARE THE INSTRUMENTS OF GOOD WORKS
In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul and the whole strength.
Behold, these are the instruments of the spiritual art, the which, when they shall have been ceaselessly employed by us day and night and duly given back in the day of judgment, shall be recompensed to us by that reward from God which He promised: “That which the eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, and that hath not entered into the human heart, the things which God has prepared for them who love Him.”
And the cloister of the monastery and stability in the community are the workshop wherein we may diligently effect all these works.[Back to Table of Contents]
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This is becoming to those who value nothing as more dear to them than Christ, on account of the holy servitude they have professed, whether through fear of hell or on account of the glory of life eternal. As soon as any order has been given by a superior, as being the same as if the order were divinely given, they can brook no delay in carrying it out. Concerning these the Lord says: “As the ear heard, he obeyed Me.” And again He says to teachers: “He who hears you, hears Me.”
Therefore such as these, at once relinquishing what they are doing, desert their own will and quickly freeing their hands by leaving unfinished what they were about, proceed with the foot of ready obedience to carry out the order given; and it is as if, in the case of those upon whom rests the love of attaining to life eternal, both things, the command first spoken by the master and the perfected work of the disciple, were in a single moment, with a quickness due to holy fear of God, mutually unfolded with great swiftness. Thus do they seize the narrow way of which the Lord says: “Narrow is the way that leads to life”; so that not guiding themselves in life by their own judgment they obey not their own desires and wishes, but walking by the judgment and commands of another, pass their life in community and are more than content to have an abbot over them. Without doubt such as these reproduce that maxim of the Lord’s wherein He says: “I came not to do My will, but His Who sent Me.”
But this same obedience will only then be acceptable to God and pleasing to man when that which is ordered be carried out neither with trepidation nor tardily and lukewarmly, nor yet with murmuring and the back answer of one unwilling; for obedience yielded to superiors is an offering laid before God: for Himself He has said: “Who hears you, hears Me.” And with good-will should disciples yield it because it is the cheerful giver God loves. For if it is with ill-will the disciple obeys, if even he murmur in his heart and not only by actual word of mouth, though he fulfil the command, yet will he not now be accepted as obedient by God, Who regardeth the heart of the murmurer. And for such act he earns no reward; but rather he incurs the murmurer’s penalty, unless he amend and make satisfaction.[Back to Table of Contents]
Let us do what the prophet says: “I said, I will watch my ways, that I transgress not with my tongue. I set a watch upon my mouth, I became dumb and humbled and silent from good.” Here the prophet shows, if one ought sometimes to abstain from speaking good for the sake of keeping silence, how much more ought one to be deterred from evil words on account of the penalty of sin. Wherefore, even though it is always for good and holy converse that tends to edification, let but rare leave to talk be granted to fully trained disciples, on account of the importance of silence; because it is written: “In much speaking thou wilt not escape sin.” And elsewhere: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” For to speak and to teach becomes the master, to be silent and to listen beseems the disciple. And so if anything has to be asked of the superior let it be asked with all humility and with reverent subjection.
But all manner of buffoonery and idle, mirth-provoking words we adjudge should be perpetually restrained in every place; and for such discourse we permit not the disciple to open his mouth.[Back to Table of Contents]
Brethren, the sacred Scriptures cry out to us and say: “Every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and every one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In saying this it reveals that all exalting is a form of pride, against which the prophet shows that he is on his guard by saying: “Lord, my heart is not exalted nor mine eyes uplifted; and I have not concerned myself with great things nor with wonderful things above my reach.” But why? “If I have not been of humble mind, but exalted my soul, then as if a weaned child upon his mother’s breast, such let my soul’s retribution be.” Whence, brethren, if we wish to attain the highest point of humility and if we wish quickly to reach that heavenly exaltation which is attained through humility in this present life, we must by what we do to attain it set up that ladder which appeared in Jacob’s dream and by which angels were shown to be both descending and ascending; for without doubt we are not to understand that descending and ascending but as descending by exaltation and ascending by humility.
For that ladder set up is our life in this world which, when the heart has been humbled by the Lord, is set up to heaven. And we say that the sides of this ladder are our body and soul, into which sides God-given vocation has inserted sundry rungs of humility and discipline by which we may ascend.
The first step, then, of humility is if one set the fear of God always before his eyes and altogether avoid forgetfulness; and be always mindful of everything that God has ordered and always ponder over life eternal, which is prepared for those that fear God; and how hell will consume, for their sins, such as despise God; and if he keep himself at all times from sins and faults, alike of thought, of the tongue, of the eye, of the hand, of the foot, or of self-will; and moreover hasten to cut away the desires of the flesh.
Let him at all times account that he is a man beheld always by God in heaven and that whatsoever he does in any place is seen by the divine watchfulness and is at all times reported to God by the angels. The prophet makes this plain to us when he shows God always present in our thoughts, saying: “God, scrutinizing the hearts and reins.” And again: “The Lord knows men’s thoughts.” And again he says: “Thou hast understood my thoughts from afar.” And: “Since man’s thought will acknowledge Thee,” in order that he may be careful concerning perverse thoughts, let the humble brother always say in his heart: “Then shall I be spotless in His sight, when I shall have kept me from mine iniquity.”
But our own will we are thus forbidden to do, namely, when the Scripture says to us: “And from thy wishes turn away.” And again in prayer we ask God that His will may be done in us. We are therefore well taught not to do our own will when we avoid what the Scripture mentions: “Ways there are which to men seem right, but of which the end plunges down to the very depth of hell.” And again when we tremble at what is said of the careless: “They are corrupt and become abominable in their pleasures.” For amid the desires of the flesh let us know by faith that God is always present with us, as the prophet says to the Lord: “Lord, every one of my desires is before Thee.”
Thus therefore must one beware of evil desires, because death is stationed outside the entrance of delight. So Scripture gives command, saying: “Go not after thy fleshly desires.” Therefore, since the eyes of the Lord behold good men and bad and the Lord is always looking down from heaven upon the children of men to see if anyone have understanding and be a seeker of God; and since our acts and deeds are every day, day and night, reported to the Lord by the angels assigned to us; therefore, brethren, must one beware at all times, as the prophet says in the Psalms: “Lest God at any time should see us become unprofitable and turning aside in evil; and lest, though sparing us for the present because father-like He awaits our conversion to better ways, He should say to us hereafter: ‘These things thou didst and I held My peace.’ ”
The second step in humility is, if anyone, loving not his own self-will, delight not to fulfil his natural desires, but in his deeds reproduce that word of the Lord Who says: “I did not come to do My will, but His Who sent Me.” Again the Scripture says: “Self-will has punishment, but necessity acquires a crown.”
The third step in humility is that one for love of God subject himself in all obedience to his superior, imitating the Lord, of Whom the Apostle says: “Made obedient even unto death.”
The fourth step in humility is if in that same obedience, though things hard and contrary and even injuries, no matter of what kind, have been inflicted, he keep patience with a quiet conscience and enduring grows not weary nor gives in, for Scripture says: “He who perseveres to the end, the same shall be saved.” And again: “Let thy heart be comforted and wait for the Lord.” And showing that the faithful man ought for the Lord’s sake to wait patiently, seem all things never so contrary, it says in the name of the suffering: “For Thy sake we are afflicted all the day; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
And they, secure in their hope of divine retribution, gladly follow on and say: “But in all these things we overcome by Him Who loved us.”
And again in another place: “Thou, O God, hast tested us,” says Scripture, “Thou hast examined us with fire, as silver is examined with fire. Thou hast led us into the snare, Thou hast placed troubles upon our back.” And to show that we ought to be under a superior, it follows on, saying: “Thou hast placed men over our heads.” Moreover, fulfilling the Lord’s command by patience amid adversities and injuries those struck on the cheek offer the other also; with him who deprives them of their tunic they leave their cloak in addition; constrained to go a thousand paces, they go two thousand; with Paul the Apostle, they endure false brethren and bless those that curse them.
The fifth step in humility is if one shall have discovered to his abbot, by humble admission, any evil thoughts that come to the heart, or evil deeds done by him in secret. The Scripture makes exhortation concerning this matter, saying: “Reveal to the Lord thy way and hope in Him.” And again it saith: “Confess to the Lord since He is good and since His mercy is for ever.” And again the prophet saith: “My fault I made known to Thee and hid not mine unrighteousness. I said, Against myself I will denounce mine unrighteousness to the Lord, and Thou forgavest the unfilialness of my heart.”
The sixth step in humility is if a monk be content with the meanest and worst of everything and with respect to everything enjoined him adjudge himself a profitless workman and unworthy, saying to himself with the prophet: “I was brought to nothing and was ignorant: I became as a beast of burden before Thee and I am always with Thee.”
The seventh step in humility is if he not only with his mouth denounce himself as inferior to all and more worthless, but also believe it in his inner consciousness, humbling himself and saying with the prophet: “But I am a worm and not a man, a shame of men and an outcast of the people: I was exalted and humbled and confounded.” And again: “It is good for me that Thou didst humble me, that I may learn Thy commandments.”
The eighth step in humility is if a monk do nothing but what the common rule of the monastery and the example of his seniors suggest.
The ninth step in humility is if a monk restrain his tongue from speaking so as to keep silence and not speak till questioned, the Scripture showing that: “In much speaking sin may not be avoided”; and that “the talkative man will not be guided aright in the world.”
The tenth step in humility is if he be not easily and quickly moved to laughter, because it is written: “The fool lifts up his voice in laughter.”
The eleventh step in humility is if when a monk speaks he speak few and reasonable words, calmly and without laughter, humbly and with gravity; and be not noisy in speech, as it is written: “A wise man is known by the fewness of his words.”
The twelfth step in humility is if a monk not only be humble in heart, but also always in his very body evince humility to those who see him, that is, that in the Work of God, in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road, in the field or elsewhere, sitting, walking, or standing, his head be always bent, his eyes cast down, accounting himself at all times as one convicted of his sins; and likewise accounting himself to be already presented before God’s awe-inspiring judgment, always in his heart saying to himself what that publican in the Gospel said with eyes fixed upon the ground: “Lord, I, the sinner, am not worthy to lift up mine eyes to heaven.” And again with the prophet: “Bowed and humbled am I on every side.”
When then the monk shall have ascended all these steps in humility, he will presently arrive at that love of God which, being perfect, puts fear right outside; and by means of which all that formerly he could not observe but with much fearfulness he will begin to keep without any difficulty, as it were by habit become second nature, no longer through fear of hell, but for love of Christ and a certain good habit and delight in virtue, the which the Lord will deign to manifest by the Holy Spirit to His labourer now cleansed from vices and sins.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE DIVINE OFFICE AT NIGHT
In winter time, that is from the first of November until Easter as found by computation, let rising be at the eighth hour of the night, as seems reasonable, that there may be a moderately increased length of rest after midnight and that all may rise fully rested; and let what time remains after night office be devoted to thoughtful study by brethren who at all need it for the psalter or lections. But from Easter till the above-named first of November, let the time of night office be so arranged that after a very short interval during which the brethren can go out for the necessities of nature, the morning office, which is to be said at day-break, may at once follow.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW MANY PSALMS ARE TO BE SAID AT THE NIGHT HOURS
In the above-written time of winter, first, the verse, “O God, make speed to save us; O Lord, make haste to help us,” with Gloria, having been put first, there is to be said, secondly, “O Lord, open Thou my lips and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise” three times, to which is to be subjoined the third psalm and Gloria and after this the ninety-fourth psalm with antiphon should be said or indeed sung. After this let the Ambrosian hymn follow and then six psalms with antiphons; which said and the versicle said, let the abbot ask a blessing and, all sitting on the benches, let three lections be read in turn by the brethren from a book on the reading-stand, between which lections let there be also three responsories sung. Let two responsories be without Gloria, but after the third lection let him who sings begin the Gloria and when the singer begins it let all forthwith rise from their seats in reverence and honour of the Holy Trinity. But let it be the books of divine authority that are read at night office, alike of the Old Testament and of the New; and also those expositions of them which have been compiled by the most renowned of the orthodox catholic fathers. And after these three lections with their responsories, let there follow another six psalms to be sung with Alleluia. After these let a lection from the Apostle follow, to be recited by heart and a versicle and the supplication of the litany, that is Kyrie eleison. And so let the night office end.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW NIGHT PRAISE IS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED IN SUMMER TIME
But from Easter until the first of November as was mentioned above let every portion of psalmody be retained, not counting that lections from the book are by no means to be read, on account of the shortness of the nights, but instead of those three lections, let one from the Old Testament be recited from memory and be followed by a short responsory; and let all else as has been said be completed as usual, so that there may never be said a less quantity than twelve psalms at night office, not counting the third psalm and the ninety-fourth.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW NIGHT OFFICE IS TO BE SAID ON LORD’S DAYS
On the Lord’s day let there be somewhat earlier rising for night office, in which night office let this arrangement be kept: that is, when the six psalms as we assigned above have been sung and the versicle, all sitting down arranged in order in the stalls let four lections be read from the book as we said above with their responsories, when only in the fourth responsory let the singer recite the Gloria; and when he begins it at once let all rise with reverence.
After these lections let there follow six other psalms, in order, with antiphons in the same manner as before and a versicle. After these again let other four lections be read with their responsories, in the same order as above. After these let there follow three canticles from the prophets, appointed by the abbot; and let these canticles be sung with Alleluia. When the versicle also has been recited, the abbot asking a blessing, let another four lections be read from the New Testament in the same manner as above. But after the fourth responsory let the abbot begin the hymn “Te Deum laudamus”: and this being completed, let the abbot read a lection from the Gospel, all standing in honour and respect. The reading finished, let all answer Amen, and then let the abbot follow on with the hymn “Te decet laus”; and the benediction given, let them begin Lauds. And let this order of night office be observed on Lord’s days at all times, summer and winter alike, unless haply the rising be delayed too late, which be far from us, for then there must be some abbreviation of the lections or of the responsories. However, let every precaution be taken that this may not take place: but if it should happen, let fitting satisfaction for it be offered to God in the oratory by him through whose neglect it came to pass.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW THE OFFICE OF LAUDS IS TO BE SUNG
At Lauds on the Lord’s day, in the first place let the sixty-sixth psalm be recited without antiphon, straight through; after which let there be recited the fiftieth psalm with Alleluia; after which let there be recited the hundred and seventeenth and the sixty-second; then the Benedicite and Laudates, one lection from the Apocalypse by heart and responsory and hymn and versicle and Gospel canticle and litany; and that is the end.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW LAUDS ARE TO BE SAID ON FERIAS
But on ferias let the office of Lauds be thus recited, namely, in such wise that the sixty-sixth psalm is said without antiphon, somewhat slowly as on the Lord’s days, that all may assemble for the fiftieth which is to be said with antiphon. After it let other two psalms be said, as usual; namely, on Monday the fifth and thirty-fifth; on Tuesday the forty-second and fifty-sixth; on Wednesday the sixty-third and sixty-fourth; on Thursday the eighty-seventh and the eighty-ninth; on Friday the seventy-fifth and ninety-first; and on Saturday the hundred and forty-second and the canticle from Deuteronomy, which is to be divided into two Glorias, for on other days let a canticle from the prophets be said, each on its proper day, as in the psalter of the Roman Church. After this let the Laudates follow, then one lection from the Apostle to be recited from memory, responsory, hymn, versicle, Gospel canticle, litany: and that is the end.
But when it is Lauds or Vespers that are to be recited, let them not on any occasion conclude without the Lord’s prayer being said at the end, by the superior, audibly, on account of the thorns of scandal that are wont to arise, that those present may purge themselves of evil of this sort through that petition of the prayer in which they say: “Forgive us as we also forgive.” And when other offices are to be recited, let the past part of that prayer be said aloud, that by all answer may be made: “But deliver us from evil.”[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW NIGHT OFFICE IS TO BE SAID ON THE FEASTS OF SAINTS
On the festivals of saints and on other solemn days let office be said in such wise as we have explained it is to be said on the Lord’s day, except that there are to be said the psalms, antiphons and lections proper to such day. Their number, however, shall remain as we have appointed above.[Back to Table of Contents]
IN WHICH SEASONS ALLELUIA IS TO BE SAID
From the holy feast of Easter until Pentecost, without intermission, let Alleluia be said both with the psalms and with the responsories. Every night from Pentecost until the beginning of Lent let it be said at Matins with the six latter psalms only. But on every Lord’s day outside Lent let canticles, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext and None be said with Alleluia: Vespers however with antiphons: but responsories may never be said with Alleluia, except from Easter to Pentecost.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW THE WORK OF GOD IS TO BE CARRIED OUT DURING THE DAY
As says the prophet: “Seven times a day have I offered Thee praise.” The which sacred number of seven we fulfil in this way, if at Lauds Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline time we discharge the duties of our service. For concerning these hours the prophet said: “Seven times a day have I offered Thee praise.” For, again, concerning night office the same prophet says: “In the middle of the night am I wont to rise and praise Thee.” Therefore let us ascribe to our Creator praise for the judgments of His justice at these hours, namely, at Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline; and at night let us rise to praise Him.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW MANY PSALMS ARE TO BE SUNG AT THESE HOURS
We have already arranged the order of psalmody as regards night office and Lauds: now let us see about the other hours that follow. At Prime let three psalms be said separately and not under one Gloria: the hymn proper to this hour after the versicle “O God, make speed to save us” before the psalms are begun; and after the three psalms are ended let there be recited one lesson, the versicle and the Kyrie eleison and so to the end. And at Terce, Sext and None let the same order of office be kept: versicles, hymns proper of those hours, three psalms each, lesson and versicle, Kyrie eleison and so to the end. And let the psalms be sung with antiphons if the community be large, but straight on if it be small.
Let Vespers service however be arranged with four psalms and their antiphons, after which psalms a lesson is to be said, then a responsory, hymn, versicle, Gospel canticle, lesser litany and Lord’s prayer and so to the end.
But let Compline be arranged with the recitation of three psalms, which psalms are to be recited straight on and without antiphon. After the psalms the hymn proper to the hour, one lesson, versicle and Kyrie eleison and blessings and so to the end.[Back to Table of Contents]
IN WHAT ORDER THE PSALMS THEMSELVES ARE TO BE SAID
First of all let the verse be said: “O God, make speed to save us; O Lord, make haste to help us” and the Gloria. Next the hymn proper to each hour. Then, at Lord’s day Prime are to be said four parts of the hundred and eighteenth psalm. And at the other hours, that is at Terce, Sext and None, let three parts of the said hundred and eighteenth psalm be said. But at Prime on Monday let three other psalms be said, namely, the first, the second and the sixth. And thus at Prime day by day up to the Lord’s day let the psalms be said in order, three each day, up to the nineteenth psalm; in such wise however that the ninth psalm and the seventeenth be apportioned to two Glorias. And so let it come to pass that at night office on the Lord’s day a beginning is always made with the twentieth psalm.
For Terce, Sext and None on Monday are to be said the nine remaining parts of the hundred and eighteenth psalm, three such parts at each of those hours. The hundred and eighteenth being thus exhausted in two days, namely, the Lord’s day and Monday, let there be sung on Tuesday three psalms apiece for Terce, Sext and None, from the hundred and nineteenth to the hundred and twenty-seventh, that is to say nine psalms. And let these psalms be repeated always in this way at these hours until the Lord’s day, a uniform arrangement of hymns, lessons and versicles being likewise observed on all days, in such wise, that is to say, that always on the Lord’s day a beginning will be made with the hundred and eighteenth.
Let Vespers be sung daily with four psalms and let these psalms be begun with the hundred and ninth and continue up to the hundred and forty-seventh, those of them excepted which are set apart for the other hours, namely from the hundred and seventeenth to the hundred and twenty-seventh; and the hundred and thirty-third and the hundred and forty-second. All the rest are to be said at Vespers. And because the psalms come short by three, therefore those are to be divided which of those enumerated above are found somewhat long, namely the hundred and thirty-eighth, the hundred and forty-third and the hundred and forty-fourth. But let the hundred and sixteenth, because it is short, be joined with the hundred and fifteenth. The order of the Vesper psalms having thus been arranged, let the rest, namely, lessons, responsories, hymns, versicles and canticles, be recited as we have above explained. But at Compline let the same psalms be repeated daily; that is to say the fourth, ninetieth and the hundred and thirty-third.
The order of the day psalmody having been thus arranged, let all the rest of the psalms that remain over be equally distributed among the seven night offices, by means of dividing those of the psalms which are somewhat long; and let twelve be assigned to each night. We particularly advise however that if haply this distribution of the psalms be displeasing to anyone he set it in order, if he judge it to be better when arranged otherwise, so long as this be in any case attended to, namely, that every week the psalter be recited to the entire number of a hundred and fifty psalms and always be begun afresh at Lord’s day night office; because monks show great sloth in their devotional service if they recite less in the course of a week than the psalter with the accustomed canticles, seeing that we read our holy fathers strenuously accomplished in one day this which oh, that we tepid ones may fulfil in a whole week![Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE DISCIPLINE OF SAYING OFFICE
We believe that the divine presence is on all sides and that the eyes of the Lord behold all, both good and bad wheresoever they may be. Especially however let us believe this without any doubt whatever when we assist at the Work of God: and thus let us be always mindful of what the prophet says: “Serve the Lord in fear”; and again: “Sing wisely”; and: “In the sight of the angels will I sing to Thee.” Therefore let us consider how we ought to comport ourselves in the sight of God and His angels and let us so take our part in the office that mind accord with voice.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING REVERENCE IN PRAYER
If when we wish to seek any favour from men of influence we presume not to do so except with humility and reverence, how much more must supplication be made with all humility and purity of devotion to the Lord God of all? And let us bear in mind that it is not in much speaking that we are graciously heard but in purity of heart and tears of penitence. And so our prayer should be pure and short, unless haply it be prolonged as a result of the infusion of divine grace. In any case however let prayer in common be made short and at a signal from the superior let all keep time together in rising to a standing position.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE DEANS OF THE MONASTERY
If the community be large, let some of good character and holy life be chosen from among the brethren and made deans: and let them exercise careful guardianship over their deaneries in all things, in accordance with God’s commandments and their abbot’s precepts. And let such be chosen as deans upon whom the abbot may safely lay a share of his burdens; and let them not be chosen by seniority, but for meritorious life and soundness of wisdom. And these deans if any one among them by any chance puffed up by pride be found worthy of blame, if he will not amend though corrected once and again and a third time, let him be degraded from his deanship and let another who is worthy be put into his place. And we establish the same procedure as regards the provost.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW THE MONKS ARE TO SLEEP
Let them sleep singly in separate beds. Let them receive bedding suitable to their manner of life, at the discretion of the abbot. If it can be done, let all sleep in one room: but if their number does not allow of this, let them repose by tens or by twenties with their seniors who have charge of them. Let a candle burn continually in the dormitory until morning. Let them sleep clothed and girded with girdles or cords, but let them not have knives at their sides while they sleep, lest by chance while dreaming they wound a sleeper; and let them be monks always ready; and upon the signal being given let them rise without delay and hasten one after the other, yet with all gravity and decorum, to be ready in good time for the Work of God. Let not the younger brethren have their beds by themselves, but among those of the seniors: and let them be allowed gently to encourage one another as they rise for the Work of God, because some may feel drowsy and listless.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING EXCOMMUNICATION FOR OFFENCES
If any brother be found to be contumacious or disobedient or proud or murmuring or in any other way out of harmony with the holy rule and despising the precepts of his seniors, let such an one be admonished, in accordance with our Lord’s precept, once and again privately by his seniors. If he amend not, let him be publicly rebuked before all. But if even so he be not amended let him be subjected to excommunication, if he understand the nature of that penalty; but if he be obdurate, let him undergo corporal punishment.[Back to Table of Contents]
WHAT THE MEASURE OF EXCOMMUNICATION SHOULD BE
The degree of excommunication or punishment should be meted out according to the measure of the fault; and let the abbot adjudicate as to the comparative gravity of faults. If now any brother be found at fault in lesser degree let him merely be excluded from the common table: and for one excluded from the common table this shall be the rule: that in the oratory he does not intone psalm or antiphon, nor read a lesson, until satisfaction be made; and that he have his meal alone and after the brethren have had theirs, so that, for example, if the brethren eat at noon, that brother eat at three o’clock; if the brethren at three o’clock, he at six, until he obtain pardon by making due satisfaction.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING GRAVER FAULTS
But that brother who is found guilty of a grave fault, let him be excluded from the table and likewise from the oratory. Let not any of the brethren consort with him nor talk to him. When at the work assigned him let him be alone, continuing in penitence and sorrow, having in mind that terrible denunciation of the Apostle who says: “A man of such a kind as is this handed over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” And by himself let him partake of his food, in quantity and at the hour that the abbot may see to be suitable for him: and neither let him be blessed by anyone who happens to be passing him, nor yet the food that is given to him.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THOSE WHO WITHOUT THE ORDERS OF THE ABBOT CONSORT WITH THE EXCOMMUNICATE
If any brother shall have presumed to consort with an excommunicated brother without the abbot’s orders, in any way whatever, or to talk to him, or to send a message to him, let him incur the like punishment of excommunication.[Back to Table of Contents]
HOW SOLICITOUS THE ABBOT SHOULD BE FOR THE EXCOMMUNICATE
With all solicitude let the abbot be careful for offending brethren, because: “It is not the healthy that need a physician, but those that are ill.” And so he ought to use every means in his power like a wise physician and send colleagues, that is to say wise senior brethren, to console as it were hiddenly the wavering brother and incite him to make humble satisfaction; and console him that he be not swallowed up by over-much sorrow, but as the Apostle says: “Let love be strengthened in him”; and let prayer be offered for him by all.
For the abbot ought to be solicitous with much diligence and to take care, with all sagacity and industry, that not one be lost from among the number of the sheep entrusted to him; for he must know that he has undertaken a cure of weak souls, not a tyranny over strong ones: and let him fear the threat of the prophet through whom God says: “Ye took up that which ye saw to be sleek; and that which was sickly ye cast away.” And let him imitate the Good Shepherd’s example of love, for He, having left upon the mountains ninety-nine sheep, went away to seek one sheep that had strayed, whose infirmity He compassionated to such a degree that He deigned to place that sheep upon His sacred shoulders and so to carry it back to the flock.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THOSE WHO SHALL NOT HAVE AMENDED THOUGH SOMEWHAT OFTEN CORRECTED
If any brother shall not have amended though frequently corrected for some fault and even excommunicated, let a sharper correction befall him, namely, that the punishment of stripes accrue to him. But if even so he have not amended, or even, which be far from him, carried away by pride he have desired actually to justify his acts, then let the abbot proceed as a wise physician: if he has applied fomentations, if the unguents of exhortation, if the medicaments of divine Scripture, if at last the cauterization of excommunication, or stripes with the rod; and if he still see that his perseverance prevail nothing, let him further add what is still greater, namely, his own prayer for him and the prayer of all the brethren that the Lord, Who is omnipotent, effect deliverance for the sick brother. But if even by this means he have not been healed, then at last let the abbot make use of the blade that cutteth off, as says the Apostle: “Take away the evil from your midst”: and again: “If the unfaithful go away, let him go away”: lest one diseased sheep contaminate the whole flock.[Back to Table of Contents]
IF BRETHREN WHO GO OUT FROM THE MONASTERY OUGHT TO BE RECEIVED BACK AGAIN
If a brother who departs from the monastery through his own fault should desire to return, let him first promise complete amendment of the fault for which he departed and so let him be received back in the lowest grade, that by this means his humility may be proved. But if he go forth again, unto the third time let him be thus received back, but knowing now that henceforth all readmission will be denied him.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE YOUNGER BOYS, HOW THEY ARE TO BE CORRECTED
Every age and every stage of intellect ought to have its own appropriate degrees of discipline; and so as often as boys and youths and any who are hardly able to understand how great a punishment is that of excommunication commit faults, let all such be punished by means of rigorous fasts, or corrected with sharp stripes, that they may be cured.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE CELLARER OF THE MONASTERY, WHAT SORT OF A PERSON HE SHOULD BE
To be cellarer of the monastery let there be chosen from the community a wise man of mature character, sober, not greedy, not haughty, not turbulent, not unfair, not slothful, not wasteful, but God-fearing, one who may be as a father to the whole community. Let him take care of everything: let him do nothing without the abbot’s orders. Let him take heed to what is commanded him: let him not embitter the brethren. If by any chance any brother asks anything from him unreasonably, let him not embitter him by contemptuously refusing, but let him with reasoning and humility refuse him who is asking amiss. Of his own soul let him take heed, mindful always of that apostolic saying that: “He who shall have ministered well acquires for himself a good degree.” Let him take care of the sick, the children, the guests and the poor, with all solicitude, knowing without doubt that for all these he will have to render account in the day of judgment. Let him regard all the vessels of the monastery as if they were consecrated vessels of the altar; and so with the whole of its property. Let him appraise nothing as negligible, neither have regard to avarice, nor yet be wasteful and a squanderer of the property of the monastery: but let him do everything in moderation and according to his abbot’s orders.
Before all things let him have humility; and let him make kindly reply to any to whom he has no goods that he can give, as it is written: “A good word is above the best gift.” All that the abbot shall have assigned to him let him keep under his care: let him not presume to take anything the abbot shall have forbidden him. Let him distribute to the brethren the appointed allowance, without any arrogance or delay, that they be not scandalized, mindful of the divine word as to what he deserves who shall have scandalized one from among the little ones. If the community be large let helpers be given him, that with their assistance he may still fulfil with equanimity the duties entrusted to him. Let what has to be given out be given out and what has to be asked for be asked for at the suitable times, that nobody be disturbed and nobody embittered in the house of God.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE IRON TOOLS AND OTHER THINGS BELONGING TO THE MONASTERY
Let the abbot appoint brethren of whose life and character he is assured and to them, as he shall judge fit, let him assign the property of the monastery, the various iron tools and the articles of clothing and all other things whatsoever, to be kept by them and re-collected after use. And of these let the abbot keep a list, so that he may know what he gives and what he receives back when the brethren succeed one another in turn in the work assigned to each. And if anyone shall have treated the property of the monastery in a slovenly or neglectful manner let him be corrected; and if he shall not have then amended, let him be subjected to the discipline of the rule.[Back to Table of Contents]
WHETHER MONKS OUGHT TO HAVE ANYTHING OF THEIR OWN
Very specially is this vice of private ownership to be cut off from the monastery by the roots; and let not anyone presume to give or accept anything without the abbot’s orders, nor to have anything as his own, not anything whatsoever, neither book, nor writing-tablet, nor pen; no, nothing at all, since indeed it is not allowed them to keep either body or will in their own power, but to look to receive everything necessary from their monastic father; and let not any be allowed to have what the abbot has not either given or permitted. And let all things be common to all, as it is written: “Neither did any one of them say or presume that anything was his own.” But if anyone shall have been caught indulging in this most baneful vice, let him be admonished once and again: if then he shall not have amended, let him be subjected to correction.[Back to Table of Contents]
WHETHER ALL OUGHT TO RECEIVE NECESSARIES EQUALLY
As it is written: “They used to divide to each singly according as for him there was need”: and this we say not in order that there may be acceptance of persons, which be far from us, but consideration of infirmities. In the case of one who needs but little, let him give thanks to God and not be vexed; but as to him who needs rather more, let him be humbled on account of his infirmity and not puffed up on account of the consideration shewn him; and thus shall all the members be in peace. And, before all things, let not the evil of murmuring shew itself for any cause whatsoever, by any sign or word whatsoever. But if any shall have been found guilty of this fault let him be subjected to severe correction.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE WEEKLY KITCHENERS
Let the brethren serve in turn, in such wise that not one be excused from the office of kitchener, except either by reason of sickness, or if any be occupied in some other matter of special usefulness; for in such wise is charity acquired and greater merit. But to the weak let help be accorded, that they fulfil this office without sadness; and indeed let all have help according to the size of the community and the circumstances of the place. If the community be large, let the cellarer be excused from the kitchen; and also, as we have said, if there be any others who are occupied with important business.
But the rest, let them, in the name of charity, take turns in serving. On Saturday let him who is about to go out from his week of service clean up everything. Let him wash the towels with which the brethren dry their hands and feet: and let both him who goes out and him who is about to enter alike wash the feet of all. Let him reconsign to the cellarer the vessels of his service, clean and whole; and let the cellarer reassign them to the one who comes in, that he may know what he gives and what he receives.
And let the weekly kitcheners each receive, over and above the appointed portion, somewhat to drink and bread, one hour before refection, that they may serve their brethren at the hour of refection without murmuring or great labour: on solemnities however let them wait until after Mass. On Sunday let the in-coming and the out-going weekly officials prostrate themselves before all the brethren in the oratory at the end of Lauds and ask prayers for themselves; and let the one going out from the week’s work say this versicle: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, because Thou hast holpen me and comforted me”; and when this has been said thrice let the one going out receive his blessing. Then let the one coming in follow on and say: “O God, make speed to save me; O Lord, make haste to help me”; and let this likewise be repeated thrice by all and the blessing received let him enter upon his office.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE SICK AND INFIRM BRETHREN
Before all things and above all things care is to be had of the sick, that they may be so served as if they were in very deed Christ, because He Himself said: “I have been sick and ye have visited Me”: and: “What ye have done to one from among these My little ones, ye have done to Me.” But at the same time let the sick themselves have in mind that it is for God’s honour they are served and so let them not with unnecessary demands weary their brethren who serve them.
Yet they must be patiently borne with, because from such is acquired more abundant merit. Therefore let the abbot take very great care that they suffer no neglect. And for these sick brethren let a cell be set apart; and as servitor one who fears God and is diligent and solicitous. Let the use of baths be allowed the sick as often as is expedient; but to those in good health and especially to the young let it be conceded less readily. Moreover, let the eating of flesh meat be conceded to the sick and especially to those who are weak, for their recuperation; but when they shall have got better let them all abstain from flesh meat as usual. And let the abbot take the greatest care that the sick be not neglected by the cellarers and the servitors; for he is responsible for anything his disciples do amiss.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE OLD AND INFANTS
Although human nature of itself be drawn to feel pity towards these two times of life, namely that of the aged and that of infants, yet let the authority of the rule also provide for them. Let their weakness always have consideration and on no account let the strictness of the rule in respect to food be held to as regards them, but let there be gentle consideration exercised in their case and let them anticipate the regular hours for meals.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE WEEKLY READER
Reading ought not to be wanting to the brethren when they eat at table: and let not anyone presume to read there because he happens to have casually picked up the book, but let one who is to read for the whole week enter upon his office on the Lord’s day: and when he enters upon his office let him, after the Mass and Communion, beg of all prayers for himself that God avert from him the spirit of pride: and let this versicle be said in the oratory thrice by all, he himself however beginning it: “Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord; and my mouth shall shew forth Thy praise”; and so having received his blessing let him enter upon his office of reading: and let complete silence be kept so that the whispering of none be heard there, nor the voice of any but of him only who is reading: and let the brethren who are eating and drinking pass each other such things as they require so that no one may have to ask for anything; but if it should be necessary, it were better to make request by means of some sound-signal rather than by word of mouth: and let not anyone presume to ask any question there whether about the reading or otherwise, that occasion be not given for talking, unless by chance the superior wish to say anything briefly for the purpose of edification.
And let the brother who is weekly reader receive a “mixtum” before he begins to read, both because of the Holy Communion and also lest by chance it be too great strain upon him to keep his fast; and afterwards let him take his meal with the weekly kitcheners and the servitor. And let not all the brethren read or sing in order, but only those who may edify their hearers.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE QUANTITY OF FOODS
We believe that for the daily refection in all the months of the year, alike when it is at the sixth hour of the day as when it is at the ninth, two cooked dishes will avail, in consideration of the weakness of different individuals, that he who perchance cannot eat of one may be sufficiently catered for by the other; so for all the brethren let two cooked dishes suffice; and if there be fruit in addition or young vegetables let there be added a third dish also. Of bread let one pound by weight suffice, whether there be but one meal, or both dinner and supper, though if they are going to sup let a third part from that same pound be kept back by the cellarer and served when they sup. But if by chance any hard work shall have been done, it shall be within the discretion and power of the abbot to make some addition, if it be expedient, so long as all surfeiting be avoided and he take care that indigestion never overcome the monks; for nothing is so adverse to any Christian as surfeiting, as says our Lord: “See to it that your hearts be not weighed down with surfeiting.” And let not the same quantity be served to boys of tender age, but less than to their elders, moderation being observed in all cases. And let all abstain entirely from the eating of the flesh of quadrupeds, altogether excepting from this rule the weak and the sick.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE QUANTITY OF DRINK
Everyone has his own proper gift from God, one after this manner and another after that; and so it is with some misgiving we appoint the measure of other men’s living: however, duly considering the infirmity of the weak we believe that half a pint of wine per head per day suffices; but let those to whom God gives the power of the endurance of abstinence know that they shall have their due reward. But if the necessities of the place, or the work, or the heat of the summer should call for more, let it stand within the discretion of the superior to grant more, he taking all care that neither surfeiting nor drunkenness creep in. Although we read that wine is by no means for monks, yet because in our time monks cannot be persuaded to see this, at all events let us agree as to this, that we will not drink to satiety, but somewhat sparingly; because: “Wine makes even the wise to fall away.” But where the necessities of the place make it clear that not even the above mentioned measure can be found necessary, but less by far, or even none at all, let those who live there bless God and not murmur; for this especially is what we are admonishing, that they be free from murmuring.[Back to Table of Contents]
AT WHAT HOURS THE BRETHREN OUGHT TO HAVE THEIR MEALS
From holy Easter until Pentecost let the brethren dine at the sixth hour and sup about sunset; but on the Wednesdays and Fridays during the whole summer, from Pentecost, unless the monks have field work, or the excessive heat of the summer tries them, let them fast until the ninth hour; and on the other days let them dine at the sixth hour. And they should continue to dine thus at the sixth hour if they have been doing field work or if the heat of the summer be oppressive; and let this be within the discretion of the abbot; and similarly let him modify and arrange everything in such wise that both souls be saved and also that what the brethren do they may do without just cause for murmuring. From the fourteenth of September until the beginning of Lent let them always dine at the ninth hour; but in Lent until Easter let them dine at an evening hour; but let that evening hour be so ordered that when dining they may not require the light of a lamp, but may be quite finished while daylight still lingers. And indeed on all occasions let the hour, whether of supper or dinner, be so suitably arranged that everything be done by daylight.[Back to Table of Contents]
THAT NO ONE TALK AFTER COMPLINE
Monks ought to be zealous to keep silence at all times, but especially through the hours of the night. And so at every season, be it fast or non-fast: and when it is not a fast, soon after rising from supper, let them all go and sit down together and let one of them read the Conferences, or the lives of the fathers, or indeed anything that may be edifying to hear, but not the Heptateuch nor the Books of the Kings, because it would not be profitable for those of weak intelligence to hear this portion of Scripture at that hour of the day, though at other hours let them be read. But if it has been a fast day, then after Vespers and a short interval let them proceed to the reading of the Conferences as we have said; and let four or five pages, or as much as the time permits, be read, all meanwhile, during the reading, resorting to one and the same place, he even resorting thither who by chance has been occupied with some task that was assigned him. When then all are in their places, let Compline be said; and after coming out from Compline let no one be at liberty to talk to anyone again. But if anyone be found to have not strictly observed this rule of silence let him be subjected to severe punishment, except when there has been necessity of shewing hospitality, or when the abbot has given anyone an order; and let even that be carried out with the utmost gravity and moderation.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THOSE WHO COME LATE TO THE WORK OF GOD OR TO TABLE
At the hour of divine office, as soon as the signal has been heard, let the monk leave whatever he may have in hand and make great haste, but with due gravity, that levity find no occasion; for let nothing be preferred before the Work of God. But if anyone shall have come in to night office after the Gloria of the ninety-fourth psalm, which for this very reason we particularly wish shall be said in a drawn out and scrupulously careful manner, let him not take his proper place in choir, but last of all, or in a place set apart by the abbot for such as are thus guilty of negligence, that he may be visible to him and to all present until, the Work of God being finished, he has made satisfaction by this public penance.
And we have adjudged that they ought thus to be placed either in the last place in choir or else in a place apart by themselves, so as to be seen by all and that they may amend for very shame’s sake; for if they remain outside the oratory one of them perchance might be such as would return to his place in the dormitory and go to sleep, or at least sit himself down outside the door and while away the time with conversation, so that occasion would be given to the enemy; let him then enter so that he may not lose the whole of the office; and for the future let him amend. But at the day hours let him who shall have come to the Work of God after the versicle and Gloria of the first psalm said after the versicle stand last and not presume to take his place among those chanting in choir until he has made satisfaction according to the rule we have stated above, unless by chance the abbot shall have personally given him leave; but on the understanding that he do penance afterwards.
If anyone has not come to table before the versicle so that all may recite the versicle and say the prayer together, let him who through his own negligence and fault has not come in be corrected for this once and again: but if even then he has not amended let him not be permitted to share in the common table, but separated from the companionship of all let him have his meal alone and be deprived of his measure of wine until he has made satisfaction and amendment. And in like manner let him suffer who is not present at that versicle which is recited after a meal. And let not anyone presume to take food or drink before or after the appointed hour: but if the superior offers anything to anyone and he refuse to accept it, when the time comes that he desires this that he had previously refused or anything else, he shall on no account receive anything, until he has made suitable satisfaction.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING SUCH AS ARE EXCOMMUNICATED, HOW THEY MAY MAKE SATISFACTION
Let him who for grave faults is excommunicated from the oratory and table lie prostrate outside the door of the oratory, while the Work of God is proceeding within the oratory, saying nothing but only lying prone with head touching the ground and towards the feet of those leaving the oratory. And this let him continue to do until such time as the abbot shall adjudge satisfaction has been made: and when at length he comes in, at the abbot’s command, let him prostrate at the feet of the abbot and then at the feet of all the brethren that they may pray for him. And then, if the abbot have so ordered, let him be received in choir; but as to his place in choir let it be as the abbot may order, on the understanding however that he presume not to recite in the oratory psalm or lection or anything else, unless the abbot give further order: and at all the hours as soon as the Work of God is finished let him cast himself to the ground in the place where he stands and so let him make satisfaction, until the abbot give him further order to cease from this making satisfaction.
But as to those who for lighter faults are excommunicated from table only, let them make satisfaction in the oratory according as the abbot shall command and let them continue until he give them benediction and say, “It is enough.”[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THOSE WHO MAKE MISTAKES IN THE ORATORY
If anyone shall have made a mistake in psalm, responsory, or antiphon or lection and unless he shall have there and then humbly made satisfaction before all, let him be subjected to severe punishment as one who was unwilling to correct by humility what by negligence he had done amiss. But in the case of the children, let them, for the like fault, be whipped.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THOSE WHO DO AMISS IN ANY OTHER MATTERS
If anyone at any work, in the kitchen, in the cellar, in serving the brethren, in the bakery, in the garden, in working at any occupation or in any place, shall have done anything amiss, or broken or lost anything or transgressed at all and shall not have forthwith come before the abbot and the community to declare his fault and make full satisfaction, when it becomes known through some other member of the community let him be subjected to severe correction. But in a case of the fault upon the conscience being unknown to others, let him lay it open to his spiritual seniors or to the abbot only, since they know how to attend to their own wounds and how to avoid disclosing and making known those of others.[Back to Table of Contents]
OF NOTIFYING THE HOUR OF THE WORK OF GOD
As to notifying the hour of the Work of God by day and by night, let the abbot be careful either to notify it himself or else let him entrust the responsibility to a reliable brother, that all things be done at the appointed hours. And the psalms and antiphons let those intone, in their order, after the abbot, whom he shall have appointed. But let not any presume to sing or read but such as can do that work reasonably, that those who hear may be edified. And let it be done with humility and gravity and awe by those to whom the abbot has assigned it.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE DAILY MANUAL WORK
Idleness is inimical to the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be occupied, at fixed seasons, with manual work and again at fixed seasons with spiritual reading: and so we think the hours for each should be arranged on this plan: that is to say that from Easter to the first of October they go out in the morning from Prime and work at whatever has to be done until nearly the fourth hour: and from the fourth hour have time for reading until about the sixth hour. And when they rise from table after the sixth hour let them rest upon their beds in complete silence; or if by chance anyone should wish to read, let him so read as that he may not disturb anyone else. Let None be said in good time, about the middle of the eighth hour, and then again let them work at whatever has to be done, until Vespers. And let them not be distressed if poverty or the needs of the place should require that they busy themselves about gathering in the crops with their own hands; for then are they truly monks, when they live by the work of their own hands, as did our fathers and the apostles. Let everything be done in moderation however on account of the faint-hearted.
And from the first of October until the beginning of Lent let them have reading time until the end of the second hour; and at the second hour let Terce be said and then all go to work until None at whatever is assigned them. But as soon as the first signal for None is made, let each and all break off from their work and be ready by the time the second signal has sounded. And after dinner let them have time for their studies and for learning the psalms. But in Lent let them have time for their studies from morning until the end of the third hour; and let them go to work at whatever is assigned them until the end of the tenth hour. In Lent moreover let them each have a book from the library and read it straight through: and these books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent. And above all let one or two seniors be deputed to go round the monastery and keep observation during reading hours lest by chance any brother be found morose and idle, or chatting instead of intent upon his reading; and therefore be not only useless to himself but also a distraction to others. And if, which be far from us, such an one be found, let him be corrected once and yet again; and if then he be not amended let him be subjected to correction according to rule in such wise that others be put in fear. And let not brother associate with brother at times not appointed for that purpose.
Further on the Lord’s day let all have time for reading, except those who have been deputed for various duties; but if there shall be anyone so uninterested or so inert that through lack of will-power or of ability he can neither study nor read let there be some work assigned him that he may not be idle. To weak and delicate brethren let there be assigned such suitable occupation and duties that they be neither overcome of idleness nor so oppressed by exhaustion through work that they be driven to flight. Their weakness is to be taken into consideration by the abbot.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT
Although the life of a monk ought always to have a Lenten character, yet because few have the degree of strength requisite for that, we therefore exhort that at least during Lent he live his life with scrupulous care and that likewise during this holy season he do away with any departures from strictness that may have been permitted at other times: and this is then done worthily when we restrain us from all faults and give heed to prayer with tears, to reading and to heartfelt penitence and to abstinence. Therefore at this season let us betake to us, as some addition to the accustomed severity of our holy servitude, special prayers and abstinence from food and drink, so that each of his own free will, with joy of the Holy Spirit, may offer to God somewhat over and above the measure laid upon him; that is to say, let him deny himself in the matter of food, of sleep, of talking, of mirth; and let him look forward to holy Easter with the joy of spiritual longing. Let each one however confide to his abbot exactly what it is he is offering and let it be done with the help of his prayer and with his consent, because what is done without the consent of one’s spiritual father will not be accounted meritorious, but presumptuous and vain-glorious. Therefore it is with the abbot’s consent that all things are to be done.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING BRETHREN WHO ARE WORKING AT A DISTANCE FROM THE ORATORY, OR ARE ON THE ROAD
Let brethren who are at work quite a long way off or are on the road and cannot get to the oratory at the appointed time, the abbot having decided that such is the case, say their office there where they are at work, kneeling with all reverence. Similarly let not those who have been sent on a journey neglect an appointed hour but keep it, by themselves, and not fail to render the full measure of their holy servitude as they are able.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING BRETHREN WHO DO NOT GO FAR AWAY
Let not a brother who is sent out on any business but hopes to return to the monastery the same day presume to take food while out, even though he be frankly invited to do so by anyone, unless by chance it has been so ordered him by his abbot. And if he shall have done otherwise, let him be excommunicated.[Back to Table of Contents]
OF THE ORATORY OF THE MONASTERY
Let the oratory be an oratory and nothing else, nor let anything be kept or anything be done there that is incongruous. As soon as the Work of God is finished let all reverently leave the oratory, in complete silence, so that any brother who by chance wishes to pray individually may not be hindered by another’s misconduct. And if by chance one wishes to pray somewhat more privately, let him enter without affection and pray, not with audible outcry but by heartfelt penitence. Therefore he who is not so occupied, let him not be permitted to linger in the oratory after office, as has already been said, lest another’s hindrance ensue.[Back to Table of Contents]
OF HOW GUESTS ARE TO BE RECEIVED
Let all guests that happen to come be received as Christ, because He is going to say: “A Guest was I and ye received Me.” And let suitable honour be shewn to them all, especially to those who are of the household of the faith and to strangers. When therefore a guest shall have been announced, let him be met by the superior or by the brethren, with all due courtesy; and let them at once betake themselves to prayer together and so let them associate together in peace, because the kiss of peace may not be offered first, but only when preceded by prayer, so as to avoid the snares of Satan: and in the salutation itself let all humility be manifest. Whenever guests arrive or depart, let Christ be adored in them—for Him indeed we receive in them—by bowing of the head or by full prostration. And when the guests have been received let them be taken to pray and then let the superior, or whomsoever he shall have appointed, sit with them. Let the divine law be read in the presence of a guest, that he may be edified; and after this let all courtesy be shewn him. For hospitality’s sake the superior may break his fast, unless by chance it be a fast-day of obligation, the which cannot be violated: but let the brethren continue to observe their custom of fasting. Let the abbot serve water for the guests’ hands; and let both the abbot and also the whole community wash all the guests’ feet: and the washing finished let them say this versicle: “We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple.” And above all let care be scrupulously shewn in receiving the poor and strangers; for in them specially is Christ received. For the fear that the rich inspire itself secures deference for them.
Let there be an abbot’s and guests’ kitchen apart by itself, that guests arriving at unexpected times—and no monastery lacks guests—may not disturb the brethren’s quiet. To this kitchen let two brethren who are well able to do the work be appointed for the year; and let additional help be afforded them, when required, that they may serve without murmuring; and, on the other hand, when they have too little to occupy them let them go forth to other work wherever they may be bidden. And not only in respect to these, but in respect to all the duties of the monastery let the same point be taken into consideration, that when any want it help be afforded them; and, on the other hand, when they have time to spare that they be obedient to any commands given. And again let some brother whose soul the fear of God possesses have a guest chamber assigned him and there let beds be prepared in sufficient number; and let the house of God be wisely conducted by wise men. On no account let anyone to whom it has not been assigned associate with guests or enter into conversation with them; and if he come across or meet them, having saluted humbly as we have already said and asked them Godspeed, let him pass on, saying that it is not permitted him to enter into conversation with a guest.[Back to Table of Contents]
IF A MONK OUGHT TO RECEIVE LETTERS OR TOKENS
On no account let it be lawful for monks to receive, whether from parents or from other persons or from each other, letters, tokens, or any present whatsoever, nor yet to give them without the abbot’s permission; and if anything shall have been sent to a monk even from his parents let him not presume to receive it unless it shall first have been made known to the abbot; and even if he shall have ordered it to be received let it still be within his power as abbot to decide as to whom he will order it to be given; and let not the brother to whom by chance it had been sent be grieved, in order that occasion be not given to the devil. And if anyone shall have presumed to act otherwise, let him be subjected to the discipline of the rule.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE BRETHREN’S CLOTHES AND SHOES
Let there be given to the brethren clothing suitable to the character and climate of the place where they live, since in cold regions one wants more and in hot regions less; and this the abbot has to take into consideration: we however are of opinion that a cowl and a tunic each is sufficient for monks in temperate localities, in winter a cowl of shaggy stuff, in summer one of smooth stuff or one old and worn; together with a scapular for work; and, as covering for the feet, sandals and shoes. Concerning the colour or coarseness of all these things let not the monks trouble themselves, but let them be such as can be obtained in the province in which they live and that can be bought fairly cheaply: but as to the size of the garments let the abbot have a care that they be not too small, but of proper size for the wearers. When receiving new clothes let them always at the same time return the old to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor; for it suffices a monk to have two tunics and two cowls, two instead of one, to provide for having to wash them and for night-wear; for anything in excess of this ought to be taken away as superfluous. And similarly shoes and anything else that is old let them give back when they receive new ones. Let those who are sent on a journey receive drawers from the wardrobe and take them back washed on their return. And let there be cowls and tunics somewhat better than they usually have, which those going on a journey may receive from the wardrobe and take back on their return.
For bedding let a rush mattress, blanket, coverlet and pillow suffice; and these beds are to be frequently searched, by the abbot, for private property, lest any be found: and if anyone be found to have anything he did not receive from the abbot, let him be subjected to very severe discipline. But at the same time, that this vice of private ownership may be wholly uprooted, let there be provided by the abbot all things that are necessary; that is to say cowl, tunic, sandals, shoes, girdle, knife, pen, needle, handkerchief, writing-tablet, that all plea of wanting anything be taken away: yet let the abbot be always mindful of that statement in the Acts of the Apostles that: “Distribution was habitually made to them all separately according as each had need”; and in the like manner let the abbot have regard to the infirmity of those who feel want, not to the malevolence of the envious: and yet in all his judgments let him remember the retribution of God.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE ABBOT’S TABLE
Let the abbot’s table always be with the guests and strangers. Let it however be within his rights, as often as there are but few guests, to invite whom he will from among the brethren: yet for discipline’s sake let him always arrange for one or two of the seniors to be sent away from his table to be with the brethren.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING ARTIFICERS IN THE MONASTERY
Let artificers, if there are any in the monastery, with all humility work at their arts, if the abbot shall have given permission. But if any one of their number is puffed up by reason of his knowledge of his art, in that he seems to confer some favour upon the monastery, let such an one as this be removed from exercising that art and not engage in it anew unless by chance the abbot again order him to do so when he has become humble. And if any of the artificers’ work is to be sold, let those who are to effect the transaction see to it that they presume not to bring about any fraudulent act. Let them be mindful always of Ananias and Sapphira, lest haply the death which they incurred in the body they themselves and indeed all who shall have committed any fraud in regard to monastic property should suffer in the soul. And let not the evil of avarice creep in in the matter of the prices charged for the goods; but let them always be sold somewhat more cheaply than they can be sold by others who are seculars, that in all things God may be glorified.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE DISCIPLINE OF THOSE TO BE RECEIVED AS BRETHREN
In the case of anyone newly come to essay conversion of life, let not an easy entrance be accorded him; but as says the Apostle: “Prove the spirits, whether they are from God.” Therefore if anyone who comes shall have persevered in knocking for admission and after four or five days shall have been found patiently to bear all the injuries inflicted upon him and the difficulty of gaining entrance and shall be found to persist with his petition, let entrance be granted him and let him be in the guests’ house for a few days. After that, let him be in the novices’ cell where he may meditate and eat and sleep. And let there be deputed to take charge of him, a senior, such an one as is well fitted to win souls, to be solicitous for his welfare and to watch with scrupulous care, whether in very truth he seek God and be solicitous as to the Work of God, obedience and humiliations. Let there be set before him all the hard and the rough things through which lies the way to God; and if he shall have given promise of stability and perseverance let this rule be read right through to him after the lapse of two months and let this be said to him: “Behold the law under which thou dost wish to serve as a faithful soldier; if thou art able to keep it, enter; but if thou art not able, depart free.” If thus far he shall have stood firm, then let him be conducted to the aforenamed novices’ cell and be again tested in all patience; and after the lapse of six months let the rule be re-read to him that he may know upon what he is entering: and if thus far he stand firm, after four months let this same rule again be re-read to him: and if, having deliberated of the matter with himself he shall have promised that he will keep it all and observe everything ordered him, then let him be received into the community, knowing himself to be now established by the law of the rule so that it is not lawful for him from that day onwards to go forth from the monastery, nor to shake free his neck from beneath the yoke of the rule which it was permitted him after such prolonged deliberation either to refuse or to accept.
Let him then who is to be received, in the oratory, in the presence of all the brethren, make promise of stability, of conversion of life and of obedience, in the presence of God and of His saints, that if he should ever act otherwise he may know he will be condemned by Him Whom he mocks. And concerning that promise of his let him make petition, calling to witness the saints whose relics are there and the abbot there present: the which petition let him write with his own hand, or at the least, if he is unlettered, let another write it at his request and let him, the novice, make his mark and with his own hand place it upon the altar: and when he shall have placed it there let the novice himself immediately begin this versicle: “O stablish me according to Thy word, that I may live: and let me not be disappointed of my hope”; which versicle let the whole community repeat thrice, adding “Gloria Patri.” Then let him, the novice brother, prostrate at the feet of all that they may pray for him; and from thenceforth let him be accounted one of the community. If he has any property, let him either assign it beforehand to the poor, or else by formal donation confer it upon the monastery, reserving nothing at all for himself, as becomes one who must know that thenceforth he will hold no power even over himself. Forthwith therefore, in the oratory, let him also be stripped of the garments, his own property, with which he is clad and be clothed with such as are the property of the monastery: and let those garments of which he was stripped be put away to be kept in the wardrobe, that if at any time, by suasion of the devil, he should consent to go forth from the monastery, which God forbid, he may then be cast forth unfrocked. Let him not receive back that petition of his which the abbot took from upon the altar, but let it be kept in the monastery.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING NOBLEMEN’S SONS AND POOR MEN’S SONS WHO ARE OFFERED
If by chance anyone from among the nobility offers his son to God in the monastery, if the boy himself be in infancy let his parents make the petition that we mentioned above; and together with an oblation let them fold that petition and the boy’s hand in the altar cloth and so let them offer him. And concerning his property either let them promise on oath in the present petition that never of themselves, never through any deputy, nor in any way whatever will they give anything to him at any time, or afford him opportunity of possessing: or else, at the least, if they are unwilling to do this and wish to offer something as alms to the monastery so as to obtain merit, let them make a donation from the property that they wish to give to the monastery, having reserved to themselves if they so wish a life interest in it. Thus then let every precaution be taken, so that there may not linger in the boy’s mind any notions of possession, by which notions he might, to his ruin, be deceived, as experience has shewn to be possible, but which God forbid. Let those also who are poorer act similarly: but let those who have nothing at all simply make petition and with the oblation offer their boy before witnesses.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING PRIESTS WHO BY CHANCE SHALL WISH TO LIVE IN THE MONASTERY
If anyone in the ranks of the priesthood shall ask that he be received into the monastery, even to him let not consent be given too quickly; yet if he persist consistently in this his petition, let him know that he will have to keep the whole discipline of the rule and that nothing will be relaxed specially for him, according as it is written: “Friend, wherefore hast thou come?” Let it however be conceded to him to take his place next to the abbot and to bless and to say Mass provided the abbot so order him; but otherwise let him on no account in anywise presume, knowing himself subject to the discipline of the rule and that he may the better set an example of humility to all. If by chance there shall be in the monastery occasion to deliberate on any matter of regulation or on any kind of business, let him expect to occupy then that place which may be his by seniority, not that which was conceded to him out of reverence for his priesthood. And if any clerics with like desire wish to be incorporated into the monastery let them be allocated to an intermediate position, but only if each makes promise concerning his own stability and observance of the rule.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING MONKS WHO ARE STRANGERS, HOW THEY SHOULD BE RECEIVED
If any monk arrive a stranger from distant parts and if he wish to dwell, as a guest, in the monastery and be content with the customs of the place as he find them and does not by chance disturb the monastery with his superfluous wants, but is in simplicity content with what he finds, let him be received for as long as he likes. Indeed if in a reasonable manner and with the humility of charity he rebukes or points out anything amiss let the abbot prudently investigate the matter lest by chance God sent him for this very thing. And if afterwards he should wish to be strengthened by stability, let not such wish be refused and especially because the time he was a guest afforded opportunity of judging of his manner of life.
But if during his time as a guest he shall have been found burdensome or given to vice or unteachable, not only ought he not to be incorporated in the body monastic, but let it even be said to him frankly that he must go away, lest it should even happen that by his evil estate others be vitiated. But if he shall not have been found such as may deserve to be cast forth, let him not only if he himself so petition be received for association with the community, but even be persuaded to remain, that by his example others may be edified and because in all places obedience is rendered to one and the same Lord, loyalty to one and the same King; and when it is so that the abbot have found him to be such an one as this, let it be lawful to put him in a somewhat superior position. And the abbot has the right to set anyone, not only a monk, from the aforenamed ranks of priests and clerics in a position higher than that due by seniority, if he have perceived that his manner of life be such as this. But let the abbot beware lest he ever receive into residence a monk from any known monastery without letters commendatory or his abbot’s consent, because it is written: “What thou dost not wish to be done to thee, do not to another.”[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE PRIESTS OF THE MONASTERY
If any abbot should wish to provide a priest or deacon for his monastery, let him choose from among his own monks one who is worthy to exercise the priesthood. And let the one ordained beware of self-importance and pride; and let him not presume to do anything except it be ordered him by the abbot, knowing himself much more subject to the discipline of the rule. And let him not on account of his priesthood be forgetful of the obedience and discipline of the rule, but let him progress in the Lord more and more. And let him always take that place which is his by seniority in the monastery, except as regards his service of the altar and unless by chance the choice of the community and the will of the abbot be pleased to promote him for his meritorious life; and even so let him know that the rules appointed him by the deans and provosts must be kept. But if he shall have presumed to act otherwise, let him be judged not as a priest but as rebellious; and if oft admonished he shall not correct himself, let the bishop himself at length be notified: but if even so he have not amended, his faults being manifest, let him be cast forth from the monastery, but only provided his contumacy shall have been such that he will not be subject to nor obey the rule.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE ORDER OF THE COMMUNITY
Let all keep their relative places in the monastery according as the time of each one’s conversion or the merit of each one’s life determines, or as the abbot shall have decided. And let not the abbot disquiet the flock committed to him, nor let him make any unjust arrangement as if using an authority wholly unrestricted, but let him always bear in mind that concerning all his judgments and deeds he is going to render account to God. Therefore according to the places he shall have assigned them, or which they shall hold by seniority, so let the brethren proceed for the Pax, for Communion, for intoning a psalm, for taking their place in choir. And nowhere at all let the subject of age determine or even suggest their relative places, for Samuel and David when mere boys judged those advanced in years. Therefore, those excepted whom, as we have said, the abbot shall have promoted for weighty reason or shall have degraded for certain causes, let all the rest as they are one by one converted, so take their places, so that, for example, he who shall have come into the monastery at the second hour of a day shall know himself to be junior to him who came at the first hour of that day, of whatever age or dignity he may be. But the discipline of authority towards children is to be universally observed by all.
Let therefore juniors by position honour those placed above them: let those placed above love their juniors. In the matter of addressing one another by name let it be lawful for no one to address another simply by name, but let those placed above designate their juniors “Fratres,” and juniors call those placed above them “Nonnos” which is understood as in paternal reverence: but let the abbot, because he is seen to represent Christ, be called “Domnus” and “Abbas,” not as having taken it upon himself, but for honour and love of Christ. But let him be mindful and so behave himself that he be worthy of such honour. And wherever the brethren meet one another, let the junior seek blessing from the one placed above him: and when a senior pass along, let the junior rise and give him room to sit and let not the junior presume to sit together with him unless the senior so direct him, so as to carry out what is written: “In honour preferring one another.” Let the younger and elder boys alike go to their places in the oratory or at table in an orderly manner. And out of doors or indeed anywhere at all let them have proper care and discipline until they reach the age of understanding.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE ELECTION OF AN ABBOT
At the election of an abbot let this principle be always observed, that he be appointed whom the whole community, being of the same mind and in the fear of God, or even a part albeit a small part of the community shall with calmer deliberation have elected. And let him who is to be elected be chosen for his worthy manner of life and his fundamental wisdom, even if he be last in order of community seniority. But if even the whole community, which God forbid, should by agreement among themselves choose a person who is a consenting party to their faults and those faults somehow should come to the knowledge of the bishop to whose diocese that place belongs, or should be manifest to the abbots and faithful of the vicinity, let them not suffer the agreement of the wicked to prevail, but let them appoint a steward worthy of the house of God, knowing that for this they will receive a good reward if they do it of pure zeal for God, just as, contrariwise, they will receive punishment if they neglect to do so.
But let him who is elected abbot always bear in mind what manner of burden he has received, and Who it is to Whom he will have to render account of his stewardship; and let him know that it behoves him to be of service rather than to be served. It behoves him therefore to be learned in the divine law, that he may thence bring forth things new and old; to be chaste, sober, merciful; and let him always exalt mercy above judgment, that himself may attain it. Let him hate the faults, let him love the brethren. In the matter of correction let him act prudently and not too severely, lest while he desires to scrape off the rust too much the vessel be broken; and let him always keep an eye upon his own frailty and remember that the shaken reed must not be crushed, by which we do not mean to say that he is to permit faults to be nourished, but that he cut them off prudently and with charity, as he sees to be expedient for each, as we have already said; and let him take pains to be loved rather than to be feared. Let him not be full of commotion nor anxious, let him not be over-bearing nor obstinate, jealous nor too suspicious, because such an one is never at rest. In the matter of the commands he gives let him be provident and considerate before God and man. The work which he enjoins let him apportion with discretion, having in mind the discretion of holy Jacob who says: “If I shall have made my flocks over-travel, they will all die in one day.” Taking therefore these words and others bearing testimony to discretion as the mother of virtues, let him so apportion all things that there be something to which the strong may aspire and something the weak may not shrink from; and principally that he conserve this present rule in all things so that when he shall have fulfilled a good ministry he may hear from the Lord what the good slave heard who gave out wheat to his fellow-slaves in due season: “Verily I say unto you,” He says, “over all his goods will he set him.”[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE PROVOST OF THE MONASTERY
It happens and indeed somewhat often that grave scandals arise in monasteries through the appointment of a provost, since some there are who, puffed up with malignant spiritual pride, esteeming themselves to be second abbots and assuming to themselves tyrannical power, foster scandals and cause dissensions in the community and especially in those places where the provost himself also is appointed by the same prelate or by the same abbots who appoint the abbot. And it is easy to discover how absurd is such a method of appointment, because from the very first moment of his appointment there is presented to him an incentive to pride in that it is suggested to him by his own thoughts that he is now freed from the authority of his abbot, because “thou hast been appointed by the very same persons by whom the abbot also was appointed.” Hence are stirred up envies, quarrels, detractions, dissensions, jealousies, disorders; and while the abbot and the provost are at variance with one another their souls under this dissension are of necessity endangered; and those who are subject to them through taking sides travel the road to ruin. And the blame for this danger rests primarily upon the authors of such an arrangement.
And so we foresee that it is expedient, for the preservation of peace and charity, that the ordering of his monastery be within the abbot’s discretion. And if it can be done, let the whole of the activity of the monastery be organized through deans as we have above arranged, as the abbot shall appoint, so that since it is entrusted to many no one may become proud. But if either the needs of the place require it, or the community shall have asked reasonably and humbly and the abbot shall have judged it to be expedient, the abbot may himself appoint to be his provost whomsoever with the counsel of God-fearing brethren he shall have chosen. And let the said provost see with reverence to such things as shall have been enjoined him by his abbot, doing nothing contrary to the abbot’s wish or order; for, as much as he has been promoted over the others, by so much it behoves him carefully to observe the precepts of the rule. But if the said provost shall be found culpable, or deceived by the haughtiness of pride, or shall be proved a despiser of the holy rule, let him be admonished by words until the fourth time: if he shall not have amended, let the correction of the discipline of the rule be applied to him. But if even so he be not corrected, then let him be deposed from the rank of provostship and in his place let some other who is worthy be substituted. But if after this also he shall not be quiet and obedient in the community, let him even be expelled from the monastery.
Let the abbot however have in mind that concerning all his decisions he renders account to God, lest haply the flame of envy and jealousy enkindle his mind.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE PORTER OF THE MONASTERY
Let there be stationed at the monastery gate a wise and elderly monk who knows how to receive an answer and to give one and whose ripeness of years does not suffer him to wander about. This porter ought to have his cell close to the gate so that those who come may always find someone there from whom they can get an answer. And as soon as anyone shall have knocked, or any beggar have called out, let him answer “Thanks be to God” or bid him Godspeed; and with the gentleness of the God-fearing and with fervent charity let him make speed to answer. And let the porter, if he need help, receive it from a junior brother: yet the monastery ought to be so organized, if it can possibly be done, that all necessaries, that is, water, a mill-house, a garden and various crafts may be forthcoming within the monastery, so that there may be no necessity for the monks to go beyond the gates, because that is by no means expedient for their souls. And this rule we will to be somewhat often read in community, lest any of the brethren should hold himself excused on the plea of ignorance.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING BRETHREN SENT ON A JOURNEY
Let brethren about to be sent on a journey commend themselves to the prayers of the abbot and all the brethren; and let there always be a commemoration made of all absent brethren at the end of the prayer of the Work of God. And let brethren returning from a journey on the very day on which they return, lying prostrate on the floor of the oratory throughout all the canonical hours while the Work of God is being fulfilled, seek prayers from all on account of transgressions, lest perchance there shall have happened to any one of them on the way the seeing or hearing of any evil thing or idle word. And by no means let any one of them presume to relate to another anything whatsoever that he may have seen or heard outside the monastery, because it is very distracting. But if anyone shall have thus presumed, let him be subjected to the punishment prescribed by rule. Similarly let it be done to him also who shall have presumed to leave the monastery enclosure, or to go anywhere at all, or to do anything whatsoever, however small, without the abbot’s orders.[Back to Table of Contents]
IF IMPOSSIBILITIES BE ENJOINED UPON A BROTHER
If it happen that some very difficult or even impossible things be enjoined upon any brother, let him none the less receive with all gentleness and obedience the command of him who gives the order. But if the burden should seem altogether to exceed his powers, let him patiently and opportunely lay the reason of its being impossible for him to obey before him who is over him, but not in a spirit of pride, rebellion or argumentativeness. But if after this his representation of the matter the senior decides that his order shall still hold good, let the junior thereupon know that it is expedient for him; and of his charity let him obey, trusting in the help of God.[Back to Table of Contents]
THAT IN THE MONASTERY ONE PRESUME NOT TO CONSTITUTE HIMSELF THE PATRON OF ANOTHER
Precautions must be taken lest on any occasion one monk in the monastery presume to constitute himself the patron of another, or as it were to take him under his care, even although they be related by the tie of near kinship. Let no monk presume to do such a thing in any way whatever, because therefrom can arise very grave occasion of scandal. But if anyone shall have transgressed in this respect, let him be somewhat sharply punished.[Back to Table of Contents]
THAT NO ONE PRESUME TO STRIKE ANOTHER UNLAWFULLY
Let every occasion of presumption be prohibited in the monastery. We ordain that it is not allowed to any to excommunicate or to strike any one of his brethren, except to him to whom authority shall have been given by the abbot. And let those who offend be reproved before all, that the rest be put in fear of offending. But towards children up to fifteen years of age let watchful and diligent discipline be preserved by all, but even this with all moderation and reasonableness. And let anyone who shall have at all presumed in the case of those of greater age than fifteen years, or who shall have been indiscreetly angry in the case of the children, themselves be subjected to the discipline provided by the rule. Because it is written: “What to thyself thou dost not wish to be done, do not to another.”[Back to Table of Contents]
THAT THE BRETHREN BE OBEDIENT AMONG THEMSELVES
The excellence of obedience is not only to be shown by all towards the abbot, but likewise let the brethren also be obedient among themselves, bearing in mind that by this way of obedience they will be journeying Godwards.
Any command from the abbot therefore, or from the provosts who are appointed by him—to which we do not permit private commands to be preferred—having been put first, for the rest let all juniors be obedient to their seniors with most vigilant charity. But if anyone be found contentious, let him be corrected. And if any brother is corrected, it matters not in what way, by the abbot or by any other of those senior to him, or if he shall at all perceive that any senior’s mind is angered or moved against him, however slightly, at once without delay having prostrated on the ground let him lie at his feet, thus making satisfaction until that feeling be healed by giving of benediction. But if anyone should disdain to do so, either let him be subjected to corporal punishment, or else if he be contumacious let him be expelled from the monastery.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THE GOOD ZEAL WHICH MONKS OUGHT TO HAVE
Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life eternal. By most fervent love therefore let monks exercise this zeal, that is, let them see to it that in honour they prefer one another. Let them most patiently tolerate their infirmities whether physical or of character; let them compete in yielding obedience; let none follow what he judges convenient to himself, but rather what he judges convenient to another; in chaste love let them exercise fraternal charity; let them fear God; let them love their abbot with sincere and humble affection; on no account let them exalt anything above Christ; and may He bring us all alike to eternal life.[Back to Table of Contents]
CONCERNING THIS, NAMELY THAT NOT EVERY OBSERVANCE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS LAID DOWN IN THIS RULE
Now we have written out this rule in order that by observing it in our monasteries we may show ourselves to have, to some degree, integrity of life, or the beginning at least of conversion. For the rest, for those who hasten to the perfection of conversion, there are the teachings of the holy fathers, the observing of which brings a man to the height of perfection: and indeed what page or what text of the divine authority of the Old and the New Testament is not an unerring rule of human life? Or what book of the holy catholic fathers does not re-echo this, that by a straight course we may come to our Creator? Moreover also the conferences of the fathers and their institutes and their lives and also the rule of our holy father Basil, what else are they but store houses of the virtues of good-living and obedient monks? But to us, indolent, ill-living and negligent, belong shame and confusion. Whosoever therefore thou art who dost hasten to the heavenly country, fully carry out, Christ helping thee, this most elementary rule that we have written out; and then at last thou shalt come, God protecting thee, to the loftier heights of doctrine and of virtue which we have mentioned above.[Back to Table of Contents]
OTHER PAX BOOKS
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[* ]Historical Sketches, ii. 426.
[* ] Vol. i., cap. xviii.
[† ] At the end of that vol.
[* ]Sancti Benedicti Regula Monasteriorum, Editionem Critico-Practicam adornavit D. Cuthbertus Butler. Friburgi Brisgoviæ. 1927. Herder and Co.