The Rule of St. Benedict
St. Benedict of Nursia
4 Good Works
8-19 Divine Office
21 Monastic Deans
31 The Cellarer
35 Kitchen Service
36 The Sick
37 Old Men/Children
38 The Reader
42 Night Silence
43 The Tardy
47 Call to Office
48 Manual Labor
50-51 Outside Monks
56 Abbot's Table
62 Priests of Monastery
63 Order and Rank
64 Abbot's Election
67 Before a Journey
68 Impossible Commands
71 Mutual Obedience
73 Matters not in Rule
Hearken O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart; willingly receive and faithfully comply with the admonition of thy loving father, that thou mayest return by the labor of obedience to Him from Whom thou hast departed by the sloth of disobedience.
To thee, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever thou art, who, renouncing thy own will, takest up the most powerful and brilliant armor of obedience in order to fight for the Lord Christ, our true King.
First of all, when beginning any good work, beg of Him, with most earnest prayer to perfect it, so that He Who has now deigned to number us among His children may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. For we ought at all times so to serve Him by means of the gifts He has entrusted to us that He may neither, as an angry Father, at any time disinherit His children, nor, as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil deeds, deliver us as most wicked servants to everlasting punishment for refusing to follow Him to glory.
Wherefore, let us at length arise, since the Scripture stirs us up, saying: "It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep." And our eyes being now open to the Divine Light, let us listen with reverent awe to what the Divine Voice admonishes us, as it cries out daily and says: "Today if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts." And again: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches." And what does He say? "Come, children, hearken to Me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord." "Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you."
And the Lord, seeking His own laborer in the multitude of the people to whom He addresses the foregoing admonitions, says again: "Who is the man that loves life, who desires length of days" in order to enjoy good things? Shouldst thou, hearing this, make answer, "I am he," God says to thee, "if thou wilt have true and everlasting life, keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips from words of deceit. Forsake evil and do good; seek after peace and pursue it." And when you shall have done these things, Mine eyes shall be upon you and Mine ears shall be open to your prayers. And before you shall call upon Me, I will say, "Lo, here I am."
What can be sweeter to us, beloved brethren, than this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold, in His loving kindness the Lord points out to us the way of life.
Having, therefore, our "loins girt about with truth" and the observance of good works, let us, with the Gospel as our guide, go forward on His paths, that we may deserve to see in His kingdom Him Who hath called us. And if we wish to dwell in the tabernacle of His kingdom, we can never attain to it unless we run thither by the practice of good works. But let us ask the Lord with the Prophet, saying to Him: "Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle; or who shall live on Thy holy mountain ?" After this interrogation, brethren, let us hear the Lord making answer and saying: "He who walks without sin, who acts with justice, who thinks truth in his heart, and slanders not with his tongue; who does no evil to his neighbor, nor casts slurs upon his neighbor"; he who hath brought to naught the malignant evil one with all his temptations, and hath repelled him together with his suggestions from his heart, and hath taken hold of his evil thoughts in the very beginning and dashed them against the Rock, which is Christ. These are they who, fearing the Lord, are not puffed up with their own good works, but knowing that the good that is in them is not of themselves, but from the Lord, they magnify the Lord working in them, saying with the Prophet: "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give glory." Thus it was that the Apostle Paul imputed nothing of his preaching to himself, saying: "By the grace of God I am what I am." And again he says: "He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord." Hence also the Lord says in the Gospel: "Everyone, therefore, who hears these My words and acts upon them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house on rock. And the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, but it did not fall, because it was founded on rock." And the Lord, in fulfillment of these His words, daily waits for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions. Therefore are the days of our life lengthened for the amendment of our evil deeds, according to that saying of the Apostle: "Dost thou not know that the goodness of God is meant to lead thee to repentance?" For the loving Lord says: "I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should be converted and live."
Having then, brethren, asked the Lord who it is that shall dwell in His tabernacle, we have heard what He commands to those who wish to dwell there; and if we fulfill those commands, we shall be heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, our hearts and our bodies must be prepared to fight under holy obedience to His commands; and let us beg of God to supply by the help of His grace that which by nature is lacking to us. And if we desire to escape the pains of hell and to attain to life everlasting, let us, whilst there is yet time, and we abide in this body, and are able to fulfill all these things by this way of light, let us, I say, do with speed now that which will profit us for all eternity.
We have, therefore, to establish a school of the Lord's service, in
the institution of which we hope to ordain nothing that is harsh or
difficult. But if anything somewhat severe be laid down, as reason
may dictate, in order to amend faults or preserve charity, do not
straightway depart full of fear from the way of salvation, which way
cannot be entered upon except by beginnings which are difficult. But
when one shall have advanced in this manner of life and in faith, he
shall run with his heart enlarged and with an unspeakable sweetness
of love on the way of God's commandments. Thus, never departing from
His guidance, but persevering in His teaching in the monastery until
death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ, that we
may merit to be partakers of His kingdom.
Of the various kinds of monks
It is plain that there are four kinds of monks. The first are the Cenobites, that is, those who live in a monastery, serving under a Rule and an Abbot. The second are the Anchorites, that is, the hermits; those, namely, who not in the first fervor of their conversion, but after long probation in the monastery, have long since learned by the help of many others to fight against the devil, and being well armed, are able to go forth from the ranks of their brethren to the singlehanded combat of the desert, safe now, even without the consolation of another, to fight with their own strength against the weaknesses of the flesh and their own evil thoughts, God alone aiding them.
The third kind of monks, a most detestable class, is that of the Sarabaites, who, not having been tried by rule or by experience, as gold is tried in the furnace, but, being softened like lead, by their works showing loyalty rather to the world, publicly by means of the tonsure profess their infidelity to God. These in twos or threes, or even alone without a master, shut up in the sheepfolds of their own choosing, not in those of the Lord, have as their law the gratification of their desires; since whatsoever they consider agreeable to their own will and fancy, this they call holy, and whatever is not to their choice they consider unlawful.
The fourth sort of monks, called Vagabonds, spend all their lives
wandering about through different provinces, dwelling three or four
days now in one monastery then in another, always roaming about with
no fixed abode, given up to their own pleasures and to the excesses
of gluttony, and in all things more vicious even than the Sarabaites;
of the most wretched manner of life of all these it is better to be
silent than to speak. Omitting all reference to these, therefore,
let us proceed with the help of the Lord to formulate a rule for the
Cenobites, who are the most steadfast kind of monks.
Of the qualities required in the Abbot
An Abbot who is worthy to govern a monastery ought always to be mindful of the name he bears, and make his works worthy of the name of a superior. For he is regarded as holding the place of Christ in the monastery, since he is called by that very name, according to those words of the Apostle: "You have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by virtue of which we cry, Abba! Father !" Therefore the Abbot ought not (which God forbid) to teach or ordain or command anything contrary to the law of the Lord; but let his commands and his doctrine be infused into the minds of his disciples as the leaven of divine justice. The Abbot should likewise remember that at the dreadful judgment of God an account will have to be given both of his teaching and of the obedience of his disciples; he should know, moreover, that the shepherd is responsible for any want of profit which the master may find in his flock. Only then shall he escape condemnation if he is able to show that he has used all pastoral diligence towards his restless and disobedient flock, and employed all manner of care to remedy their corrupt manner of life. Then the shepherd, being acquitted at the Lord's tribunal, can say to the Lord with the Prophet: "I have not hidden Thy justice within my heart; I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy help, but they have contemned and despised me." And finally, everlasting death shall be the portion of the flock which has been heedless of his ministrations.
Therefore, he who has taken the name of Abbot is obliged to govern his disciples by a twofold manner of preaching; that is, he should show forth all that is good and holy by his deeds rather than by his words, so that he may declare the commands of the Lord to his docile subjects by words; but to the hard of heart, however, and to the less intelligent, let him demonstrate the divine precepts by his deeds. And let him show by his own actions that those things ought not to be done which he has taught his disciples to be against the law of God, lest, while preaching to others, he himself should be rejected, and God should say to him in reproach for his sin: "Why dost thou declare My statutes and have My covenant in thy mouth, thou that hatest discipline and hast cast My words behind thee?" And again, "Why dost thou see the speck in thy brother's eye, and yet dost not consider the beam in thy own eye?"
Let him make no distinction of persons in the monastery. Let not one be loved more than another, unless he be found to excel in good works or in obedience. Let not one of noble birth be raised above him who was formerly a slave, unless some other reasonable cause intervene. If, however, justice should demand, and it should seem good to the Abbot to do so, he may promote a brother from any rank whatsoever; but otherwise let them all hold their respective places, because, whether bond or free, we are all one in Christ and bear an equal burden of service under one and the same master: "Because with God there is no respect of persons." Only for one reason we are distinguished in His sight: namely, if we are found to be eminent in good works and in humility. Therefore, let equal charity be shown by him to all, and an equal measure of punishment be meted out to all according to their respective deserts.
In his preaching let the Abbot invariably follow as his rule that injunction of the Apostle: "Reprove, entreat, rebuke"; that is, suiting his actions to circumstances, mingling gentleness with severity, let him show now the rigor of a master, now the loving affection of a father; in other words, he should sternly reprove the undisciplined and the restless; the obedient and the meek and the patient ones, on the other hand, he ought rather to entreat to advance in holiness; but such, however, as are not amenable to correction and are contemptuous of authority, we charge him to rebuke and punish. Let him not shut his eyes to the faults of offenders; but as soon as they make their appearance, let him do his utmost to pluck them out by the roots, remembering the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo.
Those of good disposition and understanding let him correct for the first or second time with words only; but such as are not upright and are hard of heart, proud, and disobedient, let him chastise at the very first offense with stripes or other corporal punishments, knowing that it is written: "The fool is not corrected with words." And again, "Thou shalt beat thy child with the rod and thou shalt deliver his soul from death."
The Abbot ought always to remember what he is and what he is called; and that from him to whom much is given much shall likewise be required. Let him consider how difficult and arduous a task he has undertaken-namely, that of ruling souls, and of adapting himself to the dispositions of many. Let him so accommodate and suit himself to all according to the character and intelligence of each one, winning some by kindness, others by reproof, others again by persuasion, that he may not only suffer no loss in the flock committed to him, but may even have cause to rejoice in the increase of a virtuous flock.
Above all, let him not, while disregarding or undervaluing the salvation of the souls committed to him, be oversolicitous in regard to things transitory, earthly, and perishable; let him always bear in mind that he has taken upon himself the government of souls, of whom he must one day render an account. And lest he should plead in excuse his want of temporal things, let him remember that it is written: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides"; and again, "There is no want to them that fear Him."
And let him know that he who hast undertaken the government of souls,
must prepare himself to render an account. And no matter how large
the number of brethren that he has under his care may be, let him be
absolutely certain that on the day of judgment he is to render an
account to the Lord of all these souls, and without doubt likewise of
his own. And thus being ever fearful of the coming judgment of the
shepherd concerning the sheep committed to him, whilst he is careful
of the accounts of others, he becomes solicitous also of his own. And
whilst he ministers by his admonitions towards the betterment of
others, he himself becomes freed of his own defects.
Of calling the brethren for counsel
Whenever anything of importance is to be done in the monastery, let the Abbot assemble the whole community and himself declare the matter to be treated. And having received the advice of the brethren, let him weigh it within himself, and then do what he shall judge to be most expedient. Moreover, we have said that all are to be called to counsel because it is often to the younger that the Lord reveals what is better.
However, the brethren are to proffer their several opinions with all the subjection of humility, and none should presume to maintain pertinaciously his own opinion, but should rather let the matter rest with the discretion of the Abbot, that all may submit to whatsoever he may consider the better course to follow. Yet, even as it behooves the disciples to obey their master, so also is it incumbent on him to administer all things wisely and justly.
Let all, therefore, follow this Rule as their guide, and let no one decline from it rashly. Let no one in the monastery follow the promptings of his own heart, neither should anyone presume insolently to contend with his Abbot either within or without the monastery. But if one should presume to do so, let him be subjected to the regular punishment. The Abbot, on the other hand, is to do all things with the fear of God and in the observance of the Rule, since he must know without doubt that he must render to God, the most just Judge, an account of all his decisions.
If matters of less importance concerning the good of the monastery
are to be treated, let him take counsel with the seniors only, as it
is written: "Do thou nothing without counsel and thou shalt not
repent when thou hast done."
The instruments of good works
1. First of all, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength.
2. Then, to love thy neighbor as thyself.
3. Next, not to kill.
4. Not to commit adultery.
5. Not to steal.
6. Not to covet.
7. Not to bear false witness.
8. To honor all men.
9. Not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
10. To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
11. To chastise the body.
12. Not to seek after luxuries.
13. To love fasting.
14. To refresh the poor.
15. To clothe the naked.
16. To visit the sick.
17. To bury the dead.
18. To help in affliction.
19. To console the sorrowing.
20. To keep aloof from worldly actions.
21. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
22. Not to follow the promptings of anger.
23. Not to seek an occasion of revenge.
24. Not to foster deceit in one's heart.
25. Not to make a feigned peace.
26. Not to forsake charity.
27. Not to swear, lest perhaps one perjure oneself.
28. To utter the truth with heart and lips.
29. Not to render evil for evil.
30. To do no wrong to anyone, but to bear patiently any wrong done to oneself.
31. To love one's enemies.
32. Not to speak ill of those who speak ill of us, but rather to speak well of them.
33. To suffer persecution for justice' sake.
34. Not to be proud.
35. Not to be given to wine.
36. Not to be a glutton.
37. Not to be given to sleep.
38. Not to be slothful.
39. Not to be a murmurer.
40. Not to be a detractor.
41. To put one's trust in God.
42. To attribute any good one sees in oneself to God and not to oneself.
43. But always to acknowledge that the evil is one's own, and to attribute it to oneself.
44. To fear the days of judgment.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire everlasting life with all spiritual longing.
47. To keep death daily before one's eyes.
48. To keep guard at all times over the actions of one's life.
49. To know for certain that God sees one in every place.
50. To dash upon Christ one's evil thoughts the instant they come to one's heart, and to manifest them to one's spiritual father.
51. To keep one's mouth from speech that is wicked or full of guile.
52. Not to love much speaking.
53. Not to speak words that are vain or such as provoke laughter.
54. Not to love much or noisy laughter.
55. To listen willingly to holy reading.
56. To apply oneself frequently to prayer.
57. Daily with tears and sighs to confess one's sins to God in prayer, and to amend these evils for the future.
58. Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh.
59. To hate one's own will.
60. To obey in all things the commands of the Abbot, even though he himself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, being mindful of that precept of the Lord: "What they say, do ye; but what they do, do ye not"
61. Not to wish to be called holy before one is so, but first to be holy that one may be truly so called.
62. To fulfill the commandments of God daily by one's deeds.
63. To love chastity.
64. To hate no man.
65. To have no jealousy or envy.
66. Not to love strife.
67. To fly from vainglory.
68. To reverence one's seniors.
69. To love one's juniors.
70. To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.
71. To make peace with those with whom one is at variance before the setting of the sun.
72. And never to despair of God's mercy.
Behold, these are the instruments of the spiritual art, which, if
they be constantly employed by day and by night, and delivered up on
the day of judgment, will gain for us from the Lord that reward which
He Himself has promised: "Eye has not see, nor ear heard, nor has it
entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those
who love Him." And the workshop in which we are to labor diligently
at all these things is the enclosure of the monastery and stability
in the community.
THE first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This obedience is characteristic of those who prefer nothing to Christ; who, on account of the holy service to which they have obliged themselves, or on account of the fear of hell, or for the glory of eternal life, as soon as anything has been commanded by their superior, as though it were commanded by God Himself, cannot suffer a moment's delay in fulfilling this command. It is of these that the Lord said: "At the hearing of the ear they have obeyed Me." And again to teachers He says: "He that hears you hears Me." Therefore, such as these, immediately putting aside their private occupation and forsaking their own will, with their hands quickly disengaged and leaving unfinished what they were about, with the instant step of obedience, fulfill by their deeds the word of him who commands; and so, as it were at the same instant, the command of the master and its perfect fulfillment by the disciple are, in the swiftness of the fear of God, speedily carried out together by those upon whom presses the desire of attaining eternal life. These, therefore, seize upon that narrow way of which the Lord says: "Close is the way that leads to life"; inasmuch as they, not living according to their own will, neither obeying their own desires and pleasures, but walking according to the judgment and command of another, live in community and desire to have an Abbot over them. Such as these, without doubt, fulfill that saying of the Lord: I came "not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me."
But this very obedience will then only be acceptable to God and
pleasing to men if what is commanded be done without hesitancy,
tardiness, lukewarmness, murmuring, or a manifestation of
unwillingness; because the obedience which is given to superiors is
given to God; for He Himself has said: "He who hears you hears Me."
And this obedience ought to be given by the disciple with a ready
will, because "God loves a cheerful giver." For if the disciple obeys
with ill will, and murmur not only with his lips but also in his
heart, even though he fulfill the command, nevertheless he will not
be acceptable to God, who regards the heart of the murmurer; for such
a deed he receives no reward; nay, he rather incurs the punishment of
murmurers, unless he amends, and makes satisfaction.
Let us act in conformity with that saying of the Prophet: "I said I
will guard my ways lest I sin with my tongue; I have put a bridle on
my mouth; I was dumb and was humbled and kept silence from good
things." Here the prophet shows that if we ought at times for the
sake of silence to refrain even from good words, much more ought we
to abstain from evil words on account of the punishment due to sin.
Therefore, on account of the importance of silence, let permission to
speak be rarely given even to the perfect disciples, even though
their words be good and holy and conducive to edification, because it
is written: "In the multitude of words there shall not want sin." And
elsewhere: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." For to
speak and to teach are the province of the master; whereas that of
the disciple is to be silent and to listen. Therefore, if anything is
to be asked of the superior, let it be done with all humility and
subjection of reverence, lest one seem to speak more than is
expedient. Buffoonery, however, or idle words or such as move to
laughter we utterly condemn in every place, and forbid the disciple
to open his mouth to any such discourse.
THE Sacred Scripture cries out to us, brethren, saying, "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." In saying this it teaches us that all exaltation is of the nature of pride, which vice the Prophet shows that he took care to avoid, saying: "Lord, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty, nor have I walked in great matters, nor in wonderful things above me." And why? "For if I were not humbly minded, but had exalted my soul, as a child that is weaned from its mother, so would my soul likewise be rewarded."
Wherefore, brethren, if we wish to gain the summit of humility and speedily to attain to that heavenly exaltation to which we can ascend only by the humility of this present life, we must, by actions which will constantly elevate us, erect that ladder which Jacob beheld in his dream and on which Angels appeared descending and ascending This descent and ascent we must understand without doubt as being nothing other than that we descend by exaltation and ascend by humility The ladder itself thus erected is our life in this world, which the Lord, having respect to our humility of heart, lifts up even to heaven. The sides of this ladder we declare to be our body and soul, in which our divine vocation has placed divers rounds of humility and discipline which we must ascend.
The first degree of humility, then, is that a person, always keeping the fear of God before his eyes, should avoid with the utmost care all forgetfulness, and be ever mindful of all that God has commanded. Let him ever reflect in his heart upon the fire of hell, which shall consume for their sins those who contemn God, as well as upon the everlasting life which has been prepared for those who fear Him. And keeping himself at all times not only from sins and vices-whether of the thoughts, the tongue, the eyes, the hands, the feet, or his own self-will-but also from carnal desires, let him always consider that at all times he is being watched from heaven by God, and that his actions are everywhere seen by the eye of the Divine Majesty, and are every moment reported to Him by His Angels. Of this the Prophet informs us when he shows how God is ever present to our thoughts, saying: "The searcher of hearts and reins is God." And again: "The Lord knows the thoughts of men, that they are vain." And he also says: "Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off." And: "The thought of man shall confess to thee." In order, therefore, that he may be on his guard against evil thoughts, let the humble brother say ever in his heart: "Then shall I be blameless before Him, if I shall have kept myself from guilt."
We are indeed forbidden to do our own will by the Scripture when it says to us: "Turn away from thy own will." And so, too, we beg of God in prayer that His will may be done in us. Rightly, therefore, are we taught not to do our own will when we hearken to that which the Scripture says: "There are ways which seem to men right, but the ends thereof lead to the depths of hell." Or again, when we pay heed to what is said of the careless: "They are corrupt and have become abominable in their pleasures." As to the desires of the flesh, let us hold as certain that God is always present to us, as the prophet says to the Lord: "Lord, before Thee is all my desire."
We must be on our guard, then, against evil desires, for death is close to the entrance of delight; whence the Scripture commands us, saying: "Go not after thy lusts."
Wherefore, since the eyes of the Lord behold the good and the evil, and "the Lord is ever looking down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there is one who understands and who seeks God"; and since the works of our hands are reported to Him, our Creator, day and night by the Angels appointed to watch over us, we must be always on the watch, brethren, lest, as the Prophet says in the Psalm, God should see us at any time declining to evil and become unprofitable; and lest He, though sparing us at the present time because He is merciful and awaits our conversion, should say to us hereafter: "These things hast thou done and I was silent."
The second degree of humility is, that a person, loving not his own will, delight not in gratifying his desires, but carry out in his deeds that saying of the Lord: I came "not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me." And again the Scripture says: "Self- will merits punishment, but selfconstraint wins a crown."
The third degree of humility is, that a person for the love of God submit himself to his superior in all obedience, imitating thereby the Lord, of Whom the Apostle says: He became "obedient to death."
The fourth degree of humility is, that if, in this very obedience, hard and contrary things, nay even injuries, are done to a person, he should take hold silently on patience, and, bearing up bravely, grow not weary nor depart, according to that saying of the Scripture: "He who has persevered to the end shall be saved." And again: "Let thy heart be strengthened and wait thou for the Lord." And, showing how the faithful man ought to bear all things, however contrary, for the Lord, it says in the person of those who suffer: "For Thee we suffer death all the day long; we are regarded as sheep for the slaughter." And, confident in the hope of divine reward, they go on with joy, saying: "But in all these things we overcome because of Him Who has loved us." Similarly in another place the Scripture says: "Thou hast proved us, O Lord; Thou hast tried us as silver is tried by fire; Thou hast led us into the snare, and hast laid a heavy burden on our backs." And to show that we ought to be under a superior, it goes on to say: "Thou hast placed men over our heads."
Moreover, these, fulfilling the precept of the Lord by patience in adversities and injuries, when struck on one cheek offer the other; to him who takes away their coat they leave also their cloak; forced to walk a mile, they go other two; with Paul the Apostle they bear with false brethren and with persecution; and bless those that curse them.
The fifth degree of humility is not to conceal from one's Abbot the evil thoughts that beset one's heart, nor the sins committed in secret, but to manifest them in humble confession. To this the Scripture exhorts us, saying: "Make known thy way unto the Lord, and hope in Him." And again: "Confess to the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever." So also the Prophet says: "I have made known to Thee my sin, and my fault I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess against myself my iniquities to the Lord'; and Thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my heart."
The sixth degree of humility is, that a monk be content with all that is mean and poor, and, in all that is enjoined him, esteem himself a sinful and unworthy laborer, saying with the Prophet: "I have been brought to nothing and I knew it not; I am become as a beast before Thee, and (yet) I am always with Thee."
The seventh degree of humility is, that a person not only call himself with his own tongue lower and viler than all men, but also consider himself thus with inmost convictions, humbling himself and saying with the Prophet: "I am a worm and not a man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people." "I have been exalted and cast down and confounded." And again: "It is good for me that Thou hast humbled me, that I may learn Thy commandments."
The eighth degree of humility is, that a monk do nothing except what the common rule of the monastery or the example of the seniors direct.
The ninth degree of humility is, that a monk restrain his tongue from speaking and, maintaining silence, speak not until questioned, for the Scripture teaches: "In the multitude of words there shall not want sin," and: "The man full of tongue shall not endure on the earth."
The tenth degree of humility is, that one be not easily moved or quick to laughter, because it is written: "The fool lifteth up his voice in laughter."
The eleventh degree of humility is, that, when a monk speaks, he do so gently and without laughter, humbly, gravely, and with few and reasonable words, and that he be not boisterous in his speech, as it is written: A wise man is known by the fewness of his words.
The twelfth degree of humility is, that a monk, not only in his heart, but also in his very outward appearance, always show his humility to all who see him; that is, in his work, in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, when traveling, in the field, or wherever he may be, whether sitting, walking, or standing, he should always keep his head bent down, his gaze fixed on the ground. Ever mindful of the guilt of his sins, let him consider himself already present before the fearful judgment seat of God, always repeating in his heart what the publican in the gospel said with his eyes fixed on the earth: Lord, I, a sinner, am not worthy to raise my eyes to heaven. And again with the Prophet: "I am bowed down and humbled in every way."
Having, therefore, ascended all
these degrees of humility, the monk will presently arrive at that love of
God which, when perfect, casts out fear. In this love he shall begin to
observe without any labor, and as it were naturally and by habit, all those
precepts which previously he had observed not without fear. This he shall do
no longer now through fear of hell, but for the love of Christ and out of
holy custom and delight in virtue. All this the Lord, through the Holy
Ghost, will deign to manifest in His laborer, now cleansed from vice and
Of the Divine Office at night
During the winter season, that is, from the first of November until Easter, the brethren will rise at what may reasonably be calculated to be the eighth hour of the night; so that, having rested till somewhat past midnight, they may rise fully refreshed. And the time that remains after the Night Office should be devoted to study by those brethren who still have some of the Psalter or lessons to learn.
From Easter till the first of November let the hour for the Night
Office be so arranged that after a short interval-during which, if
necessary, the brethren may leave the oratory-Lauds, which are to be
said at daybreak, may begin without delay.
Of the number of psalms to be said at the Night Hours
During the winter season, having first said the verse, "O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me," let the words, "O Lord, Thou wilt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise," be next repeated three times, then the third Psalm with the "Glory be to the Father"; after which follows the ninety-fourth Psalm with an Antiphon, or, if not, at least the Psalm itself must be chanted. Next follows a hymn. Then, six psalms with antiphons. These being said, together with a verse, let the Abbot give the blessing, and, all being seated in their places, let three lessons be read by the brethren in turn from the lectionary. After each lesson a responsory is sung, two of them without the "Glory be to the Father," but after the third, let the cantor say it. As soon as he begins it, let all rise from their seats out of respect and reverence to the Holy Trinity. The books to be read at the Night Office are the divinely inspired books of both the Old and the New Testaments, as also commentaries on them written by the most renowned orthodox and Catholic Fathers.
After these three lessons with their responsories, six other psalms
with Alleluia are to be sung. After these, there follows a lesson
from the Apostle to be said by heart, a verse, and the petition of the
Litany, that is, the Kyrie eleison, with which the Night Office
How the Night Office is to be said in Summer
From Easter till the first of November let the same order-as regards
the number of psalms-be observed as prescribed above, except that, on
account of the shortness of the nights, no lessons are to be read
from the lectionary. But instead of these three lessons, let one from
the Old Testament be said by heart, followed by a short responsory, and the
rest as before ordered, so that not fewer than twelve psalms, exclusive of
the third and ninety-fourth, be said at the Night Office.
How the Night Office is to be said on Sundays
On Sundays let the brethren rise earlier for the Night Office, in which the following order is to be observed: six psalms and a verse having been said, as we have above prescribed, and all being seated at their places in their proper order, let four lessons with their responsories be read from the lectionary, as we have said above; and to the last responsory only let the reader add the "Glory be to the Father," which when he begins, let all reverently rise. After these lessons six other psalms follow in order, with their antiphons and a verse as before; thereafter, four more lessons are to be read, with their responsories, in the manner above prescribed. Next, let three canticles from the prophets be said, as the Abbot shall appoint. These canticles are to be sung with an Alleluia. Then, a verse having been said and the Abbot having given the blessing, let four lessons be read from the New Testament as above directed. After the fourth responsory let the Abbot begin the hymn, "We praise Thee, O God." Which hymn being said, the Abbot will read a lesson from the Gospel, while all stand in reverence and awe, and at the end let all answer, "Amen." The Abbot will then intone the hymn, "To Thee be praise"; and after the blessing has been given, let them begin Lauds.
This order for the Night Office is always to be observed on Sunday,
in summer as well as in winter, unless perhaps the brethren rise too
late (which God forbid), for then some of the lessons or responsories would
have to be shortened. Let all care, however, be taken that this does not
happen; but if it should, let him through whose neglect it may have come to
pass make due satisfaction to God in the oratory.
How the Office of Lauds is to be said
At Lauds on Sunday let the sixty-sixth Psalm first be said directly,
without an antiphon. After this let the fiftieth Psalm be said with
an Alleluia and then the one hundred seventeenth and the
sixty-second; then the Canticle of Blessing and the psalms of praise,
a lesson from the Apocalypse, said by heart, a responsory, a hymn, a
verse, the canticle from the Gospel, and the Litany, with which the
How Lauds are to be said on week days
The Office of Lauds on week days is to commence with the sixty-sixth Psalm directly, without antiphon. This Psalm is to be said slowly, as on Sundays, that the brethren may have time to assemble in choir before the commencement of the fiftieth Psalm, which is to be said with an antiphon. After these, two other psalms are to follow, according to established usage; thus, on Mondays, the two psalms which follow the fiftieth are the fifth and thirty-fifth; on Tuesdays, the forty-second and fifty-sixth; on Wednesdays, the sixty-third and sixty-fourth; on Thursdays, the eighty-seventh and eighty-ninth; on Fridays, the seventy-fifth and ninety-first; on Saturdays, the one hundred forty-second with the canticle from Deuteronomy; this canticle is to be divided into two parts, each to be followed by the "Glory be to the Father." On the other days let that canticle from the prophets be taken which the Roman Church sings on these days. Then follow the psalms of praise, a lesson from the Apostle, said by heart, a responsory, a hymn, a verse, the canticle from the Gospel, and the Litany, with which the Office ends.
The Office of Lauds and Vespers, however, is never to end without the
Lord's Prayer being said aloud by the superior, so that all may hear
it, because of the thorns of scandal which are wont to arise; that
the brethren, by the covenant which they make in that prayer when
they say: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass
against us," may cleanse themselves of such faults. But at the other
Offices let the last part only of the prayer be said aloud, so that
all may answer: "But deliver us from evil."
How the Night Office is to be said on festivals of the Saints
On the festivals of the Saints and all other solemnities, let the
Night Office be celebrated as we have prescribed for Sunday, except
that the psalms, antiphons, and lessons be said which are proper to
the day. The quantity, however, shall remain the same as already
At which times of the year Alleluia is to be said
FROM the holy feast of Easter until Pentecost the holy feast of
Easter until cost, without interruption, let Alleluia be said both
with the psalms and with the responsories. But from Pentecost until
the beginning of Lent, on week days it is to be said with the last
six psalms of the Night Office only. On all Sundays, however, outside
of Lent, let the canticles, Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext and None be
said with Alleluia; but Vespers with antiphons. The responsories,
however, are never to be said with Alleluia except from Easter to
How the Work of God is to be performed during the day
As the prophet says, "Seven times in the day I have given praise to
Thee," so we shall observe this sacred number of seven if at the hour
of Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Complin we fulfill
the duties of our service. For it was of these hours that the Prophet
said: "Seven times in the day I have given praise to Thee." Of the
Night Office the same Prophet said: "At midnight I arose to give
praise to Thee." Therefore, at these times let us give praise to our
Creator for the judgments of His justice: that is, at Lauds, Prime,
Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Complin; and at night let us rise to
give praise to Him.
How many psalms are to be said at these Hours
We have already arranged the order of the psalms for the Night Office and for Lauds; let us now arrange the remaining Hours. At Prime let three psalms be said separately and not under one "Glory be to the Father." The hymn of this Hour is to be said after the verse, "O God, come to my assistance," before the psalms are begun. At the end of the three psalms let one lesson be recited, a verse, the Kyrie eleison, and the concluding prayer, with which the Hour ends.
Tierce, Sext, and None are to be celebrated in the same way: that is, the verse, the hymn proper to each Hour, the three psalms, the lesson, the verse, the Kyrie eleison, with concluding prayer. If the community is large, let the psalms be said with antiphons; but if small, let them be said directly.
Let the Office of Vespers consist of four psalms with antiphons. After the psalms a lesson is to be recited; then the responsory, the hymn, the verse, the canticle of the Gospel, the Litany, the Lord's Prayer, and the concluding prayer, with which this Office ends.
Complin consists of three psalms,
to be said directly and without an antiphon. After these psalms follow the
hymn proper to that Hour, one lesson, a verse, the Kyrie eleison, the blessing with concluding
In what order the psalms are to be said
First of all, at the day hours let this verse always be said: "O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me," and the "Glory be to the Father." Then the hymn proper to each Hour.
At Prime on Sunday four sections of the hundred eighteenth Psalm are to be said. At the other hours, that is, at Tierce, Sext, and None, let three sections each of the same psalm be said.
At Prime on Monday let three psalms be said: namely, the first, second, and sixth. And thus three psalms are to be said at Prime each day until Sunday, in order up to the nineteenth; the ninth and the seventeenth, however, are divided into two sections, each followed by the "Glory be to the Father," so that the Night Office on Sunday may always begin with the twentieth Psalm.
At Tierce, Sext, and None on Monday three sections respectively of the nine remaining sections of the hundred eighteenth Psalm are to be said. This Psalm having been entirely completed on these two days, that is, on Sunday and Monday, let the nine psalms from the hundred nineteenth to the hundred twenty-seventh be said on Tuesday at Tierce, Sext, and None three at each Hour. And these psalms are to be repeated at the same Hours every day until Sunday, with the hymns, lessons, and verses remaining the same for all these days, so as always to begin on Sunday with the hundred eighteenth Psalm.
Vespers each day consist of four psalms. These psalms are from the hundred ninth to the hundred forty-seventh, omitting those which are set apart for other Hours: that is, from the hundred seventeenth to the hundred twenty-seventh, the hundred thirty- third, and the hundred forty-second. All the rest are to be said at Vespers. And as there are three psalms wanting, let those of the aforesaid number that are somewhat longer be divided: namely, the hundred thirty-eighth, the hundred forty-third, and the hundred forty-fourth. But the hundred sixteenth, as it is short, is to be joined with the hundred fifteenth. The order of the psalms at Vespers being thus arranged, let the rest, that is, the lessons, the responsories, the hymns, the verses, and the canticles, be said as we have above prescribed. At Compline the same psalms are to be repeated every day: that is, the fourth, the ninetieth, and the hundred thirty-third.
The order of the psalms for the day Hours being now arranged, let all the remaining psalms be equally distributed in the seven Night Offices, the longer psalms being divided into two sections, so that twelve psalms may be assigned to each night.
We particularly admonish that if this distribution of the psalms is
displeasing to anyone, he should make any other disposition he may
think better. Let him take care, however, above all that each week
the entire Psalter of one hundred fifty psalms be recited and be
always begun anew at the Night Office on Sunday. For those monks show
an exceedingly slothful service in their devotion who, within the
course of a week, sing less than the entire Psalter with the usual
canticles, since we read that our holy Fathers resolutely performed
in a single day what we tepid monks but hope to achieve in an entire
How we should say the Divine Office
We believe that the Divine Presence is everywhere, and that the eyes
of the Lord behold the good and the evil in every place. Especially,
however, do we without any doubt believe this to be true when we are
assisting at the Work of God. Therefore let us always be mindful of
what the Prophet says. "Serve the Lord with fear"; and again: "Sing
wisely"; and: "In the sight of the angels I will sing praise to
Thee." Therefore let us consider how we ought to conduct ourselves in
the presence of God and His angels, and so assist at the Divine
Office that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.
Of reverence at prayer
If, when we wish to bring anything to the notice of men in high station, we do not presume to do so except with humility and reverence, how much more ought we with all humility and purity of devotion to offer our supplication to the Lord God of all things? And let us remember that we shall be heard not because of much speaking, but for our purity of heart and tears of compunction.
Therefore prayer ought to be short and pure, unless perchance it be
prolonged by the inspiration of Divine Grace. In community, however,
let prayer always be short, and at the signal given by the superior
let all rise together.
Of the deans of the monastery
If the community is rather large, let there be chosen from it brethren of good repute and holy life to be appointed deans. Let these exercise authority over their charges in all things according to the commandments of God and the orders of their Abbot. Let such men be chosen as deans to whom the Abbot may safely entrust a share of his burdens. And let them not be chosen according to rank, but according to the merit of their lives and their learning and wisdom.
If any one of these, having become proud, is found worthy to blame,
and, after being thrice corrected, refuses to amend, let him be
deposed and another put in his place who is worthy. The same we
require to be observed in reference to the Prior.
How the monks are to sleep
Let each one sleep in a separate bed, receiving bedding suitable to monastic manner of life as the Abbot shall appoint. If possible, let all sleep in one place; but if the number does not permit this, let them sleep in tens or twenties with the seniors who have charge of them. A lamp shall burn constantly in the cell until morning. Let them sleep clothed and girded with cinctures or cords; but let them not have knives at their sides while they sleep, lest perhaps they wound themselves in their sleep. Being thus always ready, the monks shall rise without delay when the signal is given, and vie with one another in hastening to the Work of God, yet with all gravity and modesty.
The junior brethren are not to have their beds near each other, but
are to be intermingled with the seniors. And when the brethren rise
for the Work of God, let them gently encourage one another because of
the excuses of those who are given to sleep.
Of excommunication for faults
If any brother is found to be contumacious, or disobedient, or proud,
or a murmurer, or in any way opposed to the Holy Rule and the orders
of his seniors, or contemptuous, let him, according to our Lord's
commandment, be admonished once or twice privately by his seniors. If
he does not amend, let him be rebuked in public before all. But if
even then he does not correct himself, let him be subjected to
excommunication, if he understands the nature of that punishment.
Should he, however, not be amenable to such corrections, let him be
subjected to corporal punishment.
What the nature of the excommunication should be
The nature of the excommunication or punishment should be measured according to the gravity of the fault, the estimation of which shall be left to the judgment of the Abbot.
If a brother is found guilty of a lighter fault, let him be excluded
only from the common table. This shall be the rule for one excluded
from the common table: he shall intone neither psalm nor antiphon in
the oratory, nor shall he read a lesson until he has made
satisfaction. Let him take his meals alone after those of the
brethren, in the measure and at the time that the Abbot shall think
best for him; so that if, for example, the brethren eat at the sixth
hour, let him eat at the ninth; if they eat at the ninth, let him eat
in the evening, until by proper satisfaction he obtains pardon.
Of more serious faults
That brother who is found guilty of a more serious fault shall be
excluded both from the table and from the oratory. None of the
brethren shall associate with him or speak to him. Let him be alone
at the work enjoined him, and continue in the sorrow of his penance,
remembering that dreadful sentence of the Apostle: "Such a one is
delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit
may be saved in the day of the Lord." He shall take his food alone in
the measure and at the time that the Abbot shall think best for him.
He is not to receive a blessing from those who pass by him, neither
is his food to receive the usual blessing.
Of those who, without leave of the Abbot, associate with the excommunicated
If any brother presumes without the Abbot's leave to associate in any
way with him who is excommunicated, or to speak with him or to send
him a message, he shall incur the same punishment of excommunication.
Of the solicitude the Abbot should exercise toward the excommunicated
Let the Abbot with all solicitude exercise care concerning the
offending brethren, for "They that are in health need not a physician
but they that are ill." And therefore, like a wise physician, he
should use every possible means: he should send as it were secret
consolers to sympathize with him, that is, brethren of mature years
and wisdom, who may, as it were, secretly console the wavering
brother and induce him to make humble satisfaction, and comfort him
lest, perchance, he be overwhelmed by too much sorrow. Moreover, as
the Apostle says, "Assure him of your love for him," and let all pray
for him. For the Abbot is obliged to exercise the greatest solicitude
toward the erring brethren and to strive with all prudence and zeal
lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him. He should know that
he has received charge over souls that are weak and not a high-handed
rule over the strong. And let him fear the threat of the Prophet,
through whom God says: "You took to yourselves that which was fat;
and that which was weak you rejected." Let him imitate the loving
example of the Good Shepherd, Who, leaving the ninety-nine sheep on
the mountains, went to seek the one that had gone astray; on whose
weakness He had such compassion that he deigned to lay it on His own
Sacred Shoulders and thus bring it back to the flock.
Of those who, though often corrected, do not amend
If any brother who has been frequently corrected for some fault, or
even excommunicated, does not amend, let a more severe punishment be
applied: that is, let the punishment of stripes be imposed upon him.
But if even then he does not correct himself, or perhaps (which God
forbid), being puffed up with pride, should even wish to defend his
deeds, then let the Abbot do as a skilled physician. If he has
applied the ointment and unction of his admonitions, the remedies of
the Holy Scriptures, and at last the burning of excommunication or
the punishment of stripes, and if he sees that his zeal avails
nothing, let him make use of that which is still more powerful:
namely, his own prayers and those of all the brethren for him, that
the Lord, Who can do all things, may work a cure in the sick brother.
But if he is not healed even by this means, let the Abbot then
finally use the sword of separation, as the Apostle says: "Expel the
wicked man from your midst"; and again: "If the unbeliever departs,
let him depart," lest one diseased sheep should contaminate the whole
Whether the brethren who leave the monastery are to be received again
If any brother who through his own fault departs or is cast out of
the monastery wishes to return, let him first promise entire
amendment of the fault on account of which he left; and then let him
be received back into the lowest rank, that thus his humility may be
tried. Should he again depart, let him be taken back until the third
time. But let him know that thereafter all opportunity to return will
be denied to him.
How young boys are to be corrected
every age and understanding should have its proper measure.
Therefore, as often as boys, or those who are under age, or such as
cannot fully understand the nature of excommunication commit faults,
let them be punished either by severe fasting or sharp blows, in
order that they may be corrected.
Of the cellarer of the monastery
Let there be chosen out of the community as cellarer of the monastery a man who is wise and mature of character, temperate not greatly given to eating, not haughty, nor turbulent, nor offensive, nor indolent, nor wasteful, but one who fears God and will be as it were a father to the whole community.
Let him have charge of all things, but do nothing without the permission of the Abbot. Let him watch over all that is entrusted to him. Let him not give offense to the brethren. If, however, a brother asks him unreasonably for anything, let him not wound his feelings by spurning him, but let him reasonably and with humility refuse him who thus asks amiss. Let him be watchful over his own soul, ever mindful of that saying of the Apostle: "He that has fulfilled well this office will acquire a good position."
Let him care with special solicitude for the sick, the young, the guests, and the poor, knowing without doubt that he will have to render an account of all these on the day of judgment. Let him look upon all the vessels and goods of the monastery as though they were the consecrated vessels of the altar. He is not to consider anything negligible. Let him not be covetous, or wasteful, or a squanderer of the goods of the monastery. He should do all things in moderation and according to the bidding of his Abbot.
Above all things let him have humility; and if he have not wherewith to satisfy the demands of a brother, let him give at least a kind answer, for it is written: "A good word is above the best gift." He himself should keep under his care all that the Abbot shall have entrusted to him, and should not presume to meddle with what is forbidden him. Let him distribute to the brethren their appointed allowance of food without arrogance or delay, that they may not be scandalized, mindful of what the Word of God says he deserves who "shall scandalize one of these little ones."
If the community is large, let assistants be given him, by whose aid
he may with a peaceful mind discharge the office committed to him. At
their proper times, let those things be given that need to be given,
and those things asked for that are required, that no one may be
troubled or grieved in the house of God.
Of the tools and property of the monastery
Let the Abbot appoint brethren on whose manner of life and character
he can rely to have charge of the tools, the clothing, and other
property of the monastery; and let him, as he shall think fit,
consign to their charge the various things that are to be kept and
collected again after their use. Of these things let the Abbot keep a
list, that, as the brethren succeed each other to different
employments, he may know what he gives out and what he receives back.
If anyone treats the property of the monastery in a slovenly or
negligent manner, let him be corrected; if he does not amend, let him
be subjected to the regular punishment.
Whether the monks are to have anything of their own
Above all, let this vice be rooted out of the monastery: namely, that one presume to give or to receive anything without leave of the Abbot, or to keep anything as his own, absolutely anything at all: either a book or a writing tablet or a pen or anything whatsoever; since they are to have not even their bodies or their wills in their own keeping.
They may however, expect to receive from the father of the monastery
all that is necessary; but they may not keep what the Abbot has not
given or permitted. Let all things be common to all, as it is
written, but let no one call anything his own or claim it as such.
Should, however, anyone be found addicted to this most wicked vice,
let him be twice admonished; if he does not amend, let him be
subjected to punishment.
Whether all without distinction are to receive that which is necessary
As it is written, "Distribution was made to each one according as he
had need." By this we do not mean that there should be respect of
persons (which God forbid); however, let consideration be had of
infirmities. Accordingly, when one requires less, let him give thanks
to God and be not distressed; when, however, one requires more, let
him be humbled at his infirmity, and not grow arrogant because of the
charity shown him. Thus all members shall be in peace. Above all
things let not the evil of murmuring be manifest for any cause
whatsoever, by any word or sign at all. If anyone is found guilty in
this, let him be subjected to very severe punishment.
Of those who serve by week in the kitchen
All the brethren, except those who are hindered by sickness or by some occupation of great moment, shall serve each other by turns, so that no one be excused from duty in the kitchen, for thereby a very great reward is obtained. Helpers, however, are to be given to the weaker brethren, that they may perform this duty without being overburdened; thus let all have helpers according as the number of the community or the situation of the place may require. If the community is large, let the cellarer be excused from the service in the kitchen; likewise any others, as we have said, who are engaged in matters of greater utility. But let the rest serve one another in turn with all charity.
Let him who is retiring from this week's service on Saturday set everything in cleanly order. He is to wash the towels with which the brethren wipe their hands and feet; and both he who is finishing his service and he who is entering on it are to wash the feet of all. The utensils connected with his office he is to deliver up clean and in good condition to the cellarer, who in turn shall then consign them to him who is entering on his office, that he may know what he gives out and what he receives back.
An hour before the meal these weekly servers shall receive, over and above the appointed allowance, a portion of wine and bread, so that they may serve their brethren at mealtime without murmuring or excessive fatigue. On solemn feast days, however, they are to keep the fast until after Mass.
On Sunday, as soon as Lauds are ended, both the incoming and the
outgoing servers for the week shall cast themselves on their knees
before all and ask their prayers. He who is ending his week shall say
this verse: "Blessed art Thou, Lord God, Who hast helped me and
comforted me." After this has been thrice repeated, let him receive
the blessing. He who is entering on his office shall then follow and
say: "O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me."
This also is to be repeated thrice by all; and having received the
blessing, let him enter on his office.
Of the sick brethren
Before all things and above all things care is to be taken of the sick, so that they may be served in very deed as Christ Himself; for He has said: "I was sick and you visited Me"; and, "As long as you did it for one of these My least brethren, you did it for Me." But let the sick themselves consider that they are being served for the honor of God, and not grieve the brethren who are serving them by superfluous demands. Yet, they shall be patiently borne with, because by serving such as these a more abundant reward is obtained. Therefore, the Abbot shall take the greatest care that they suffer no neglect.
Let a cell be set apart for the sick brethren, and one be appointed
to serve them who fears God and is diligent and careful. Let the use
of the baths be granted to the sick as often as it shall be
expedient; but to those who are well, and especially to the young, it
shall be seldom permitted. The use of meats, too, shall be permitted
to the sick and to the very weak, that they may recover their
strength. But when they have recovered their strength, let them all
abstain from meat in the accustomed manner. Let the Abbot take all
possible care that the sick be not neglected by the cellarers or
those appointed to serve them; for he is held responsible for
whatever failures his disciples are guilty of.
Of old men and children
Although human nature itself is inclined to consideration as regards
these ages, namely, that of old men and children, yet the authority
of the Rule should also provide for them. Let their weakness be
always taken into account and let the full rigor of the Rule as
regards food be in no way exacted in their regard; but let a kind
consideration be had for them, and let them eat before the regular
Of the reader for the week
There shall always be reading at table while the brethren are eating. Yet he should not presume to read there who by mere chance shall have taken up the book; but let him who is to read throughout the week enter on his office on Sunday.
He who is entering on this service shall, after Mass and Communion, ask of all to pray for him that God may keep from him the spirit of pride. And let this verse be thrice said in the oratory by all, he himself beginning it: "O Lord, Thou wilt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise." Then, having received the blessing, let him enter on his duties as reader.
The most profound silence shall be kept at table so that the
whispering or voice of no one save that of the reader alone be heard
there. The brethren will so help each other to what is necessary as
regards food and drink that no one may have need to ask for anything.
Should, however, something be required, let it be asked for by means
of some sign rather than by words. Let no one ask any question there
concerning what is being read or anything else, lest occasion be
given to the Evil One; unless perhaps the superior should wish to say
something briefly for the edification of the brethren. The brother
who is reader for the week shall receive refreshment before he begins
to read, because of the Holy Communion, and lest it be too hard for
him to fast so long. After the meal he shall eat with the weekly
cooks and servers. The brethren are not to read or sing according to
rank; but only those are to discharge these duties who can do so to
the edification of the hearers.
Of the measure of food
We think it sufficient for the daily meal, whether at the sixth or
the ninth hour, that there be at all the tables two dishes of cooked
food because of the weaknesses of different persons; so that he who
perhaps cannot eat of the one may make his meal of the other.
Therefore, let two cooked dishes suffice for the brethren; and if
there is any fruit or fresh vegetables, let a third dish be added.
Let a full pound of bread suffice for each day, whether there be but
one meal or both dinner and supper. If they are to take a second
meal, let a third part of the pound be reserved by the cellarer, to
be given to them at supper. But if the work has been rather heavy, it
shall be in the discretion and power of the Abbot to make some
addition, if he thinks it expedient, provided that excess be avoided
above all things, that no monk be ever guilty of surfeiting; for
nothing is more unworthy of any Christian than gluttony, as our Lord
says: "Take heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts be
overcharged with self-indulgence and drunkenness." Let not the same
quantity be allowed to children of tender years, but a smaller amount
than that allowed to their elders, so that frugality may be observed
in all things. All, however, except the very weak and the sick, are
to abstain from eating the flesh of four-footed animals.
Of the measure of drink
Each one has his own gift from God, one in this way, and another in
that." Hence, it is with some hesitation that we undertake to
determine the measure of nourishment for others. However, making due
allowance for the infirmity of the weak, we think that a hemina of
wine a day is sufficient for each. But let those to whom God grants
the gift of abstinence know that they shall receive their reward. If
either the nature of the place, or the labor, or the heat of summer
requires more, it shall be in the power of the superior to grant it,
care being taken in all things that self-indulgence or drunkenness
does not creep in. Although we read that wine is by no means a drink
for monks, yet, since in our days the monks cannot be convinced of
this, let us at least agree to this, that we do not drink to satiety,
but sparingly, because "Wine maketh even the wise to fall away."
Should, however, the nature of the place be such that not even the
above-mentioned measure can be had, but much less, or even none at
all, let those who dwell there bless God and not murmur. This above
all do we admonish, that they be without murmuring.
At what hours the brethren are to take their meals
From the holy feast of Easter until Pentecost the brethren shall dine at the sixth hour and take their supper in the evening. From Pentecost, throughout the summer, if the brethren have not to work in the fields or if the heat of the summer is not oppressive, let them fast on Wednesdays and Fridays until the ninth hour; but on the other days let them dine at the sixth hour. Indeed, dinner at the sixth hour may be the rule every day, at the discretion of the Abbot, should they be employed at field labor or should the heat of the summer be excessive. In general, let him so temper and arrange all things that souls may be saved and that the brethren may fulfill their tasks without any murmuring.
From the thirteenth of September until the beginning of Lent, let the
brethren always dine at the ninth hour. During Lent, however, until
Easter let them dine in the evening. Yet this evening meal is to be
so regulated that they shall not need the light of lamps while
eating. Let all things be finished while there is yet daylight.
Indeed, at all times, whether on days of two meals or on fast days,
let the hour of meals be so regulate that everything be done by
That no one may speak after Compline
Monks ought to have a zeal for silence at all times, but especially during the hours of the night. Therefore at all times, whether on days of fasting or on other days, let this be the rule: if it is not a fast day, as soon as they have risen from supper, let them all assemble together and let one read the Conferences or Lives of the Fathers, or indeed anything else that may serve to edify the hearers; but not the Heptateuch, or the Books of Kings, for it would not be of profit to those of weak understanding to hear those parts of Scripture at that hour; at other times, however, they may be read.
If it is a fast day, then shortly after Vespers let them assemble for
the reading, as we have said. Four or five pages are to be read, or
as much at the time allows, so that during the time consumed by this
reading all even such as may be occupied in some work assigned
them-may come together. All, therefore, being assembled, let them say
Complin; and on coming out from Complin no one shall be allowed
thereafter to speak to anyone. But if one is found to have violated
this rule of silence, let him be subjected to severe
punishment-unless the presence of guests make it necessary, or,
perhaps, the Abbot give one a command. But even this must be done
becomingly and with all gravity and moderation.
Of those who come late to the Work of God or to the table
At the hour of Divine Office let each one, as soon as he hears the signal, lay aside whatever he may be engaged with and respond with all speed, yet also with gravity, that no occasion be given for levity. Let nothing, then, be preferred to the Work of God.
Should anyone come to the Night Office after the "Glory be to the Father" of the ninety- fourth Psalm-which for this reason we wish to be said very deliberately and slowly-let him not stand in choir in his usual place, but in the lowest place, or in a place which the Abbot may have set apart for such negligent ones, until at the completion of the Office he may do penance by public satisfaction. We have thought that these should stand in the lowest place, or apart from the others for this reason, that, being seen by all, they may be brought by very shame to a sense of duty. Moreover, if they should remain outside the oratory, there might be someone who would either return to bed and sleep, or else sit outside and give himself to idle talk and thus furnish occasion to the Evil One. Let him enter, therefore, that he may not miss the entire Office, and may amend for the future.
At the day hours, if one should come to the work of God after the Verse and the "Glory be to the Father" of the first psalm that is said after the Verse, let him stand in the last place, as we have ordered above; and let him not presume to join himself to the choir in their chanting until he has made satisfaction, unless, perhaps, the Abbot may give him permission to do so; but even then, he is to make satisfaction for his fault.
Should anyone, through his own negligence or fault, fail to come to table before the verse-so that all may say the verse and the other prayers usual before meals in common, and sit down to table together-he shall be reprimanded the first and second time he is guilty of this offense. Should he commit the same offense the third time, he shall be excluded from the common table and shall take his meals alone; moreover, he shall be deprived of his portion of wine until he shall have made satisfaction and amended. He who is not present at the verse which is said after meals shall undergo the same punishment.
Let no one presume to take any food or drink before or after the
appointed time. However, if something is offered to anyone by the
superior, and he disdainfully refuses it, and then afterwards wishes
to have what he refused, let him not have either this or anything
else until he makes proper satisfaction.
How those are to make satisfaction who are excommunicated
He who for more serious faults is excluded from the oratory and the
common table must, at the hour when the Work of God is being
performed in the oratory, lie prostrate at the door of the oratory in
silence; and thus, with his face to the ground and his body prone,
let him cast himself at the feet of all as they go forth from the
oratory. And let him do this until the Abbot judge that he has made
due satisfaction. Then, when the Abbot bids him, let him come and
cast himself at the feet of the Abbot and then of all the brethren,
that they may pray for him. After which, if the Abbot so orders, let
him be received back into the choir, but in the rank the Abbot shall
appoint him; yet so that he presumes not to intone a psalm or a
lesson or perform any other duty in the oratory unless the Abbot
again command him. Moreover, at every hour, when the Work of God is
ended, let him cast himself on the ground in the place where he
stands, and so make satisfaction until the Abbot bids him cease from
this penance. He who for lighter faults is excluded only from the
common table is to make satisfaction in the oratory as long as the
Abbot bids him do so; he shall continue until he gives him his
blessing and says that he has made sufficient satisfaction.
Of those who make mistakes in the oratory
If anyone, while reciting a psalm, responsory, antiphon, or lesson,
makes a mistake and does not make satisfaction, humbling himself
before all, let him be subjected to more severe punishment, inasmuch
as he refused to repair by humility the fault he committed through
negligence. Boys shall receive corporal punishment for similar
Of those who commit any other faults
IF ANYONE, while engaged in any sort of work, whether in the kitchen,
in the cellar, in serving, in the bakery, in the garden, in any
occupation, or in any place does anything amiss or breaks or loses
anything or offends in any way whatever, and does not come at once
before the Abbot or the community and of his own accord do penance
and confess his fault, let him be more severely punished if it is
revealed by another. If however, the guilt of his offense is hidden
in his own soul, let him manifest it to the Abbot only or to the
spiritual seniors, who know how to heal their own wounds and not to
disclose or publish those of others.
Of announcing the hour for the Work of God
It shall be the duty of the Abbot to announce the hour for the Work of God both by day and by night, either by giving the signal himself or by assigning this task to such a careful brother that all things may be done at their proper times.
Let those who have been commanded intone the psalms and antiphons,
each in his order, after the Abbot. Let no one presume to sing or to
read unless he can fulfill this office to the edification of the
hearers. And let it be done with humility, gravity, and reverence,
and by him whom the Abbot has appointed.
Of the daily manual Labor
Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brethren should be occupied at certain times in manual labor, and at other fixed hours in holy reading. We think, therefore, that the times for each may be disposed as follows: from Easter to the fourteenth of September, going forth in the morning, they are to labor at whatever is necessary from the first to about the fourth hour. From the fourth until about the sixth hour let them apply themselves to reading. After the sixth hour, on rising from table, let them rest on their beds in all silence; or if perhaps one should wish to read alone, let him so read as not to disturb anyone else. Let None be said somewhat earlier-at the middle of the eighth hour; then let them again work at whatever is to be done until Vespers. If, however, the needs of the place or poverty should require that they occupy themselves in gathering in the harvest, let them not take it ill, because then they are truly monks if they live by the labor of their hands as did our Fathers and the Apostles. Let all things, however, be done in moderation on account of the weak.
From the fourteenth of September till the beginning of Lent they are to devote themselves to reading till the end of the second hour. At the second hour let Tierce be said, after which they should all labor until None at the work appointed them. At the first signal for the hour of None let all cease from their work so as to be ready as soon as the second signal is given. After the meal let them apply themselves to their reading or to the psalms.
During Lent, from the morning till the end of the third hour, let them devote themselves to reading; then until the end of the tenth hour let them labor at what is appointed them. During these days of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, which books are to be read through thoroughly. These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent. Moreover, let one or two seniors be appointed to go around the monastery during the hours when the brethren are engaged in reading, to see that no brother be found who is slothful or who is giving himself to idleness or gossip instead of applying himself to his reading, so that he is not only doing harm to himself but is also a source of distraction to others. If such a one is found (which God forbid), let him be corrected a first and a second time; if he does not amend, let him be subjected to regular punishment in such a way that the rest may be filled with fear. Moreover, no brother is to associate with another at forbidden hours.
On Sunday they are to devote themselves to reading, with the
exception of those who are assigned to various duties. But if there
is one who is so negligent and slothful as to be unwilling or unable
to meditate or read, let some work be given him to do, so that he may
not be idle. As for those brethren who are sickly or weak, let such a
work or craft be assigned them that they may be neither idle nor
oppressed by the burden of their labor, so as to quit the monastery.
The Abbot will take their weakness into consideration.
Of the observance of Lent
Although the life of a monk ought at all times have the aspect of Lenten observance, yet, since few have strength enough for this, we exhort all during these days of Lent to lead lives of the greatest purity, and to atone during this holy season for all the negligences of other times. This we shall do in a worthy manner if we refrain ourselves from all sin and give ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart, and to abstinence. Therefore during these days let us add something to our ordinary burden of service, such as private prayers or abstinence from food and drink, so that each one may offer up to God in the joy of the Holy Ghost something over and above the measure appointed to him: that is, let him deny his body in food, in drink, in sleep, in superfluous talking, in mirth, and withal long for the holy feast of Easter with the joy of spiritual desire.
Let each one, however, make known to his Abbot what he offers up, and
let it be done with the assistance of his prayers and with his
permission; because that which is done without the permission of the
spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory, and
will merit no reward. All things, therefore, are to be done with the
permission of the Abbot.
Of the brethren who are working at a distance from the oratory, or who are on a journey
THOSE brethren who are working at a great distance and, in the
judgment of the Abbot, cannot come to the oratory at the appointed
hours, shall perform the Work of God in the fear of the Lord and on
bended knee in the place where they are occupied. Similarly, those
who are sent on a journey should not omit the canonical hours, but,
to the best of their ability, should perform them where they are, and
not neglect the obligation of their service.
Of the brethren who are making a short journey
Brethren who go out on any business and expect to return to the
monastery on the same day should not presume to take any food while
outside the monastery, even though they be invited by someone, unless
perhaps the Abbot command them to do so. If they act contrary to this
rule, let them be excommunicated.
Of the oratory of the monastery
Let the oratory be what it is called; and let nothing else be done there or kept there.
When the work of God is finished, let all leave with the most
profound silence, and let reverence be shown to God; so that a
brother who may wish to pray alone may not be hindered by the ill
conduct of another. But if another should wish to pray in private,
let him enter without ostentation, and pray not in a loud voice, but
with tears and fervor of heart. Whoever is not disposed to pray in
this manner should not be permitted to remain in the oratory after
the Work of God is finished, lest, as has been said, another should
Of the reception of guests
Let all guests arriving at the monastery be received as Christ Himself, for He will one day say, "I was a stranger and you took Me in." And let due honor be paid to all, especially, however, to those who are of the household of the faith-and to strangers.
When, therefore, a guest is announced, let him be met by the superior or by the brethren with all the marks of charity. Let them first pray together and then give the kiss of peace; but this kiss of peace must not be given without prayer having first been said, because of the delusions of the devil. In the salutation itself let all humility be shown. Both on their arrival and on their departure, Christ, Who is indeed received, shall be worshipped in all the guests by an inclination of the head or a full prostration of the body. After the guests have been received, let them be led to prayer, and then let the superior, or one authorized by him, sit with them; let the Divine Law be read before the guest that he may be edified; and then let all kindness be shown him. The superior may break the fast on account of a guest, unless it happens to be a principal fast day which cannot be broken. The brethren, however, shall observe the regular fasting. Let the Abbot pour water on the hands of the guests; and both he and the whole community shall wash the feet of all the guests. After this washing let them say this verse: "We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple." Let great care and solicitude be shown particularly in the reception of the poor and of travelers, because it is in them that Christ is more especially received; for, as regards the rich, the very fear one has for them procures them honor
Let the kitchen for the Abbot and the guests be apart by itself, so that guests, who are never lacking in a monastery, may not disturb the brethren, coming as they do at uncertain hours.
Two brothers who are fully competent shall be annually appointed to
serve in this kitchen. According as these shall have need, let
helpers be given them, that they may serve without murmuring. On the
other hand, should their office not give them sufficient occupation,
they are to go out to whatever work is commanded them And not only
with regard to these, but also in all the offices in the monastery
let this be the rule, that, when they shall have need, helpers be
given them; and again, when they are unoccupied, they are to do what
they are commanded. Moreover, let a brother whose soul is possessed
by the fear of God have the guest house assigned to his care. Let a
sufficient number of beds be provided here; and let the house of God
be wisely governed by wise men. No brother who is not commanded to do
so is permitted to associate with the guests or to converse with
them. But if he chance to meet them or to see them, let him salute
them humbly, as we have said, and having asked their blessing, let
him pass by, saying that he is not allowed to converse with a guest.
Whether a monk is to receive letters or presents
On no account shall it be lawful for a monk either to give or to
receive, without the permission of his Abbot, letters, presents, or
any little gifts whatsoever, whether from his parents or anyone else,
or from his brethren. And if anything is sent to him even by his
parents, let him not presume to receive it unless it shall have first
been shown to the Abbot. If the Abbot orders it to be received, it
shall be in his power to command to whom it shall be given; and let
not the brother to whom it has been sent be grieved, lest occasion be
given to the devil. Should anyone, however, presume to act otherwise,
let him be subjected to the regular punishment.
Of the clothing and shoes of the brethren
Let clothing be given to the brethren according to the nature and climate of the place in which they live; for in cold regions more is required, in warm regions less. To determine this shall be in the hands of the Abbot.
We believe, however, that in temperate climates a cowl and a tunic should suffice for each monk; the cowl to be of heavy material in winter, but in summer something thin or worn; likewise a scapular for work, and shoes and stockings to cover the feet. Concerning the color and quality of all these things, let not the monks complain, but let them be such as can be obtained in the region where they live or can be bought more cheaply. The Abbot, however is to be careful about their size, that these garments be not too short for those who wear them, but fit well.
When they receive new clothing, let them always give back the old at once, to be reserved in the wardrobe for the sake of the poor. For it is enough for a monk to have two tunics and two cowls, for the necessities of night wear as well as for washing them. Anything more than this is superfluous and must be forbidden. In the same way, let them return their stockings and whatever else is worn out, when they receive new ones.
Those who are sent on a journey are to receive underclothing from the wardrobe, and on their return are to give it back washed. Moreover, their cowls and tunics must be somewhat better than those which they usually wear; these they are to receive when setting out on their journey, and give back when they return.
For their bedding let a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet, and a pillow
suffice. These beds must be frequently inspected by the Abbot,
because of private property which may be found therein. If anyone is
discovered to have what he has not received from the Abbot, let him
be most severely punished. And in order that this vice of private
ownership may be completely rooted out let all things that are
necessary be supplied by the Abbot: that is, cowl, tunic, stockings,
shoes, girdle, knife, pen, needle, handkerchief, and tablets; so that
all plea of necessity may be taken away. And let the Abbot always
consider that passage in the Acts of the Apostles: "Distribution was
made to each according as anyone had need." Therefore let the Abbot
take into account the infirmities of those who are in need, and not
the ill will of the envious. Nevertheless, in all his decisions, let
him think of the divine retribution.
Of the Abbot's table
Let the table of the Abbot be always with the guests and strangers.
But whenever the guests are few in number, it shall be in his power
to invite any of the brethren he may wish. Let him take care,
however, that one or two of the seniors be left with the brethren for
the sake of discipline.
Of the craftsmen of the monastery
Should there be craftsmen in the monastery, let them exercise their crafts with all humility and reverence, if the Abbot so commands. But if one of them grows proud because of the knowledge of his craft, in that he seem to confer some benefit on the monastery, let such a one be taken away from this craft and not practice it again, unless perchance, after he has humbled himself, the Abbot may bid him resume it.
If any of the work of those craftsmen is to be sold, let those
through whose hands the business is to be transacted see to it that
they presume not to mingle into it any dishonesty. Let them be
mindful of Ananias and Saphira, lest perchance they, and all who deal
dishonestly with the goods of the monastery, should suffer in their
souls the death which these incurred in the body. In setting the
price of these things, let not the sin of avarice enter in; but let
the goods always be sold somewhat cheaper than is done by men of the
world, that in all things God may be glorified.
Of the manner of receiving the brethren
He who is newly come to enter religion is not to be easily admitted, but, as the Apostle says: "Test the spirits to see whether they are of God." If, therefore, he that comes persevere in knocking at the gate and is seen to endure patiently for four or five days the affronts and the difficulties made as to his entrance, and to persist in his petition, let him be allowed to enter and let him stay in the guest house for a few days. Afterwards, let him be placed in the novitiate, where he is to meditate, take his meals, and sleep. Let a senior be assigned to him who is skilled in gaining souls, who shall watch over his conduct most minutely and consider carefully whether he truly seeks God, and is zealous for the work of God, for obedience, and for humiliations. Let him be told all the difficulties and trials whereby one goes to God.
If he promises perseverance in his stability, after the lapse of two months let this entire Rule be read to him and let the following words be addressed to him: "Behold the law under which you desire to fight; if you can keep it, you may enter; if you cannot, you may freely depart." If he still perseveres, let him be taken back to the novitiate where, with all patience, he is again to be tried. And after the lapse of six months, let the Rule be read to him again, that he may understand into what he is entering. Should he still stand firm, let this same Rule be read to him again four months later. If then, having deliberated with himself, he promises to observe all things that are commanded him, let him then be received into the community; but let him know that from thence forward, being bound by the law of the Rule, he may not leave the monastery, nor shake off from his neck the yoke of the Rule which after such prolonged deliberation he was free either to refuse or to accept.
Let him who is to be received make in the oratory, in the presence of all, a promise of stability, conversion of manners, and obedience, before God and His saints, so that, if he should ever act contrariwise, he may know that he is to be condemned by Him Whom he mocks. Let him make a petition of this promise in the name of the Saints whose relics are there, and of the Abbot who is present. This petition he is to write with his own hand; or, if he knows not letters, let him ask another to write it for him, but the novice himself shall at least put his mark to it; then, with his own hand, let him place it upon the altar.
When he shall have placed it there, let the novice himself immediately begin this verse: "Uphold me, O Lord, according to Thy promise, and I shall live: and let me not be disappointed in my expectation." Which verse the entire community will thrice repeat after him, adding thereto "Glory be to the Father." The newly professed brother will then prostrate himself at the feet of all, that they may pray for him; and from that hour let him be counted as one of the community.
If he has any property, let him either first bestow it on the poor,
or by a solemn deed of gift make it over to the monastery, keeping
nothing at all for himself, as is becoming to one who must know that
from that day forward he shall have not even the free use of his own
body. Then forthwith he shall, there in the oratory, be divested of
his own garments with which he is clothed and be clad in those of the
monastery. Those garments of which he is divested shall be placed in
the wardrobe, there to be kept, so that if, perchance, he should ever
be persuaded by the devil to leave the monastery (which God forbid),
he may be stripped of the monastic habit and cast forth. The
petition, however, which the Abbot receives on the altar, shall not
be given back to him, but shall be kept in the monastery.
Of the sons of nobles or of the poor that are offered
If perchance any nobleman offer his son to God in the monastery, and the boy himself be of tender years, let the parents make the petition of which we have spoken above. Then, together with the offerings, let them wrap the petition and the hand of the child in the altar cloth, and so offer him. As regards their property, they must in the same petition promise under oath that they will never, either themselves or through an intermediary, or in any way whatsoever, give him anything or offer him opportunity of possessing anything. Or else, if they are unwilling to do this, and desire to offer something as an alms to the monastery for their own merit, let them make a donation of the property which they wish to give to the monastery, reserving for themselves, if they so wish, the income thereof. By this means every opportunity is to be forestalled for the child to come to any knowledge of how he might have been circumstanced in the world; for because of this knowledge he could be deceived and brought to ruin (which God forbid), as we have learned by experience.
Those who are poorer are to do in like manner. But those who have no
property at all shall simply make the petition, and offer their son
together with the oblation before witnesses.
Of priests who wish to dwell in the monastery
If anyone of priestly rank asks to be received into the monastery, let not permission be too quickly granted him. Yet if he perseveres resolutely in his request, he is to know that he shall be obliged to the full rigor of the Rule and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor, according to that which is written: "Friend, for what purpose hast thou come?" Nevertheless, it may be granted to him to hold rank after the Abbot, to give the blessing, and to celebrate Mass, if so the Abbot commands him. Otherwise, let him presume to do nothing, knowing that he is subject to the discipline of the Rule, and should rather give to all an example of humility. If an appointment is to be made, or deliberation is taken regarding a matter in the monastery, let him keep the place which was assigned to him at his entrance into the monastery and not that which was granted to him out of reverence for his priesthood.
If any cleric should similarly desire to be admitted into the
monastery, he may be placed in a middle rank; but to him, too, this
shall be granted only if he promise observance of the Rule and his
How monks who are traveling are to be received
If a traveling monk arrives from distant parts and desires to dwell in the monastery as a guest, and if he is content with the manner of life which he shall find there, and does not trouble the monastery by his unreasonable demands, but is simply satisfied with what he shall find, let him be received for as long a time as he may wish. If, however, he censures or points out anything reasonably and with humble charity, let the Abbot weigh the matter prudently, lest perchance the Lord may have sent him for this very purpose.
If later on he is willing to promise stability, let not his wish be denied, especially since during the time he was entertained opportunity was given for ascertaining his manner of life.
But, if, during that time, he was found to be one hard to please and viciously inclined, not only should he not be admitted into the community, but he should be told courteously to depart, lest others should be corrupted by his wickedness. But if he is not such as to deserve to be cast forth, he should be received as a member of the community, not only in the event of his own asking, but even by persuading him to stay, that others may be taught by his example, and because, wherever we are, we serve the one Lord and fight under the one King. Moreover, if the Abbot perceives him to be one w ho is deserving, he may place him in a somewhat higher rank. The Abbot may promote not only a monk but also any of the aforesaid priests or clerics to a rank higher than that accorded them at their entrance, if he perceives their lives to be such as to merit this promotion.
But let the Abbot take care never to receive into his community a
monk from any known monastery without the consent of his Abbot and
without letters of recommendation; because it is written: "See thou
never do to another what thou wouldst hate to have done to thee by
Of the priests of the monastery
If an abbot desires to have a priest or a deacon ordained for his community, let him choose from among his monks one who is worthy to perform the priestly office.
Let him who is ordained beware of arrogance and pride, and presume to do nothing that is not commanded him by his Abbot, knowing that he is now all the more subject to the regular discipline. Let him not by occasion of his priesthood forget the obedience and discipline of the Rule, but let him progress ever more and more in the Lord.
Let him always keep the place due to him according to his entrance
into the monastery except during the exercise of his priestly
functions, or unless the election of the community and the will of
the Abbot should decide to promote him out of consideration for the
merit of his life. Nevertheless, he should know that he is to obey
the commands given him by the deans and the Prior; should he presume
to act otherwise, let him be treated not as a priest but as a rebel.
And if, after being frequently admonished, he does not correct
himself, let even the bishop be brought in as a witness. If after
his faults have been repeatedly made known to him, he still does not
amend, let him be cast forth from the monastery; but this shall be
done only after his obstinacy has become such that he will not submit
to or obey the Rule.
Of the order of the community
Let the brethren keep their rank in the monastery according as the time of their conversion and the merit of their lives determine, or as the Abbot shall appoint. And let not the Abbot disturb the flock committed to him, nor let him by the use of arbitrary power dispose anything unjustly; but let him ever bear in mind that he will have to give an account to God of all his judgments and of all his deeds. Therefore, according to the rank which he shall have determined, or which the brethren themselves hold, let them approach to the kiss of peace, to the Communion, intone the psalms, and stand in choir. And in all places whatsoever let not age determine the rank nor have any bearing on it; for Samuel and Daniel even when children judged the elders. Excepting, therefore, those whom, as we have said, the Abbot has promoted for higher motives, or degraded for definite reasons, let all hold rank according to the time of their entrance; so that, for example, he who enters the monastery at the second hour may know that he is junior to him who came at the first hour, whatever be his age or dignity. Children, however, are to be kept under discipline in all matters and by all the brethren.
Let the junior brethren reverence their seniors, and the seniors love their juniors.
In calling each other by name, let no one address another by his simple name alone; but let the seniors call the juniors Brothers, and the juniors call their seniors Fathers, by which is understood paternal reverence. But let the Abbot, since he is looked upon as representing Christ, be called Lord and Abbot; not that he has taken it to himself, but for the honor and love of Christ. He himself is so to consider it, and so to act as to be worthy of such a dignity.
Wherever the brethren meet one another, let the junior ask a blessing from the senior. When the senior passes by, let the junior rise and give him place to be seated; nor let the junior presume to sit down unless the senior bid him do so, fulfilling thereby what is written: "With honor anticipating one another."
Let young children and boys take their rank in the oratory and at
table under discipline. Outside, also, or wherever they may be, let
them be under close watch and discipline until they come to the age
Of the appointment of the Abbot
In the appointment of an Abbot let this principle be observed, that he be made Abbot whom the entire community, inspired by the fear of God, shall choose unanimously, or whom even a majority of the community-however small-shall choose after more mature deliberation. Let him who is to be appointed be chosen because of the merit of his life and because of his learning, even though in the community he may be lowest in rank. But if all the community with one accord (which God forbid) should elect one who would connive at their evil ways, and these wicked doings should somehow come to the knowledge of the bishop to whose diocese the place belongs, or of the abbots or neighboring Christians, let them take measures to prevent the plans of these wicked men from prevailing, and appoint a worthy steward over the house of God, knowing that for this they shall receive a good reward if they do it with a pure intention and for the love of God; whereas, on the other hand, they will sin if they are negligent in this matter.
Let him who has been appointed Abbot always bear in mind what a burden he has taken on himself, and to whom he will have to give an account of his stewardship; and let him know that it behooves him rather to serve his brethren than to lord it over them. He must, therefore, be well versed in the Divine Law, that he may know whence to bring forth new things and old; he must be chaste, sober, merciful; and always exalt mercy above judgment that he himself may find mercy. Let him love the brethren whilst he hates their vices. And in the very correction of the brethren let him act prudently and not go to excess, lest, seeking too vigorously to cleanse off the rust, he may break the vessel. Let him ever keep his own frailty before his eyes and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken. By this we do not mean that he should suffer vices to grow up, but that he could cut them off prudently and with charity, according as he shall see that it is best for each, as we have said; and let him seek rather to be loved than to be feared.
Let him not be turbulent and overanxious, overexacting and
headstrong, jealous and prone to suspicion, for otherwise he will
never have rest. In his commands themselves, whether they concern God
or the world, let him be prudent and considerate. Let him be discreet
and moderate in the tasks which he imposes, bearing in mind the
discretion of holy Jacob when he said: "If I cause my flock to be
overdriven, they will all die in one day." Taking, then, this and
other models of discretion, the mother of virtue, let him so temper
all things that the strong may still find something they will do with
zeal, and the weak may not be disheartened. And above all let him
observe this present Rule in all things; so that having ministered
well, he may hear from the Lord what that good servant heard who gave
to his fellow servants their measure of wheat in due season: "Amen, I
say to you, he shall set him over all his goods."
Of the Prior of the monastery
It very often happens that by the appointment of a prior grave scandals arise in monasteries, since there are some who, puffed up by the evil spirit of pride and considering themselves to be second abbots, usurp absolute authority, and so nourish scandals and cause dissensions in the community; especially is this the case in those places where the Prior is appointed by the same Bishop or the same Abbots as appoint the Abbot himself. The extreme folly of this usage is easily evident; for from his very entrance into office an incentive to pride is given him, in that the thought suggests itself to him that he is exempt from the authority of his Abbot, since he has been appointed by the very same persons by whom the Abbot himself was appointed. The consequence is that there arise envy, quarrels, backbiting, jealousy, dissensions, and disorders. And since the Abbot and the Prior find themselves at variance with each other, it follows of necessity that their souls are in danger by reason of this dissension. And those who are subject to them, while pandering to one party or the other, themselves run headlong to perdition. These evils and dangers are imputable particularly to those who by their appointment placed such men in power.
We foresee, therefore, that it is expedient for the preservation of peace and charity, that the government of his monastery be left exclusively in the hands of the Abbot. And if possible let all the affairs of the monastery be attended to, as we have already arranged, by deans, according as the Abbot shall appoint; so that, the authority being shared by many, no one may become proud. If, however, the circumstances of the place require it, or the community asks for it reasonably and with humility, and the Abbot judges it expedient, let the Abbot himself choose whomsoever he will, with the counsel of the brethren who fear God, and appoint him Prior
Let the Prior, however, reverently execute what is commanded him by his Abbot, and do nothing contrary to his will or ordinance; for the more he is raised above others so much the more should he be solicitous in observing the precepts of the Rule.
If the Prior is found to be vicious or deceived by the loftiness of
pride, or be proved to be contemptuous of the Holy Rule, let him be
reprimanded by word of mouth until the fourth time; if he does not
amend, let the correction of regular discipline be used in his
regard. And if even then he does not improve, let him be deposed from
the office of prior and another who is worthy be appointed in his
place. If afterwards he is not peaceful and obedient in the
community, let him even be expelled from the monastery.
Nevertheless, let the Abbot bear in mind that he is to give an
account to God of all his judgments, lest perhaps the fire of envy or
jealousy be burning in his soul.
Of the porter of the monastery
Let there be placed at the gate of the monastery a wise brother of mature age who is able to understand and reply in all matters, and whose grave habits will not permit him to wander about. This porter is to have his cell near the gate, that they who come may always find someone at hand to make response. As soon as anyone shall knock, or a poor person shall beg for charity, he shall answer, "Thanks be to God," or, "God bless you"; and then, with all the gentleness of the fear of God, let him quickly respond in the fervor of charity. If the porter stands in need of assistance, let him have with him one of the younger brethren.
The monastery, if it is possible, ought to be so constructed that all things necessary- such as, water, a mill, a garden, a bakery, and the various workshops-may be contained within it, so that there may be no need for the monks to go abroad, for this is not at all healthful for their souls.
Moreover, we wish this Rule to be read frequently in the community,
that none of the brethren may excuse himself on the plea of
Of the brethren who are sent on a journey
Let the brethren who are about to be sent on a journey commend themselves to the prayers of all the brethren or of the Abbot; and at all times, at the conclusion of the Divine Office, let a remembrance be made of all who are absent.
On returning from a journey, the brethren on that same day shall lie
prostrate on the floor of the oratory at the conclusion of each of
the Canonical Hours and beg the prayers of all for their
transgressions, in the event that they may have had occasion on their
journey of seeing or hearing something evil or may have fallen into
idle talk. And let no one presume to relate to others what he may
have seen or heard outside the monastery, for this is often a pitfall
of destruction. If anyone presumes to do so, let him be subjected to
the regular penance. He shall be similarly punished who presumes to
leave the enclosure of the monastery or go out anywhere or do
anything, however small, without the permission of the Abbot.
If a brother be commanded to do what is impossible
If a brother is commanded to do things that are perhaps hard or
impossible, let him receive the command of his superior with all
meekness and obedience. But if he sees that the burden altogether
exceeds his strength, let him represent to his superior the reasons
for his inability, submissively and at an opportune time, without
showing pride or resistance or stubbornness. If, however, after these
representations, the superior insists on his command, let the subject
be persuaded that it will be to his benefit, and let him obey out of
love, trusting in the help of God.
That no one is to presume to defend another in the monastery
LET every precaution be taken that no one in the monastery under any
circumstances presume to defend another or become, as it were, his
protector, even though they be united by some tie of relationship.
Let not the monks presume to do this in any way whatsoever, because
occasion of most grievous scandals may arise therefrom. Should anyone
transgress this rule, let him be severely punished.
That no one is to presume rashly to strike or excommunicate another
In order to remove from the monastery all occasion of presumption, we
ordain and decree that it shall be lawful to no one to excommunicate
or strike any of his brethren, unless he be given authority to do so
by the Abbot. Those who sin against this rule shall be reproved
before all, so that others may be filled with fear. Children,
however, shall be kept by all under close discipline and surveillance
until their fifteenth year; yet this, too, with all moderation and
discretion. If anyone presumes, without leave of the Abbot, to punish
at all such as are above that age, or to show undue severity even to
children, let him be subjected to the regular discipline, because it
is written: "See thou never do to another what thou wouldst hate to
have done to thee by another."
That the brethren are to obey one another
The good service of obedience is to be rendered by all not only to
the Abbot, but let the brethren likewise obey one another knowing
that by this path of obedience they shall go to God. Giving
precedence, therefore, to the commands of the Abbot or of the
superiors appointed by him (to which we allow no private commands to
be preferred), for the rest, let all the younger brethren obey their
seniors with all charity and solicitude. But if anyone is found to be
contentious, let him be rebuked.
If anyone is rebuked in any way by the Abbot or by any other superior
for any reason, however small; or if he perceives that any superior
is angered or disturbed by him, however little, let him immediately
and without delay cast himself on the ground at his feet and there
continue in that posture of penance until the superior is appeased
and gives his blessing. But if anyone should disdain to do this, or
remain obstinate, let him be expelled from the monastery.
Of the good zeal which monks ought to have
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 life everlasting. Let monks, therefore, practice
this latter zeal with most fervent love: that is, let them in honor
anticipate one another; let them bear most patiently one another's
infirmities, whether of body or of character; let them endeavor to
surpass one another in the practice of mutual obedience; let no one
seek that which he accounts useful for himself, but rather what is
profitable to another; let them practice fraternal charity with a
chaste love; let them fear God; let them love their Abbot with a
sincere and humble affection; let them prefer nothing whatever to
Christ; and may He bring us all alike to life everlasting. Amen.
That the observance of all justice is not laid down in this Rule
We have written this Rule that, by observing it in monasteries, we may give proof of our having attained at least some degree of virtue and made a commencement of religious life. But for those who are desirous of advancing with rapid strides to the perfection of religious life, there are the teachings of the Holy Fathers, the observance of which will lead a man to the heights of perfection. For what page or what passage is there in the divinely inspired books of the Old and the New Testament that is not a most perfect rule of human life? Or what book of the Holy Catholic Fathers does not proclaim how we may by a direct course reach our Creator? And what are the Conferences of the Fathers, their Institutes and Lives? or the Rule of our holy Father Basil? What else are they but instruments of virtue for righteous and obedient monks? But to us who are slothful and sinful and negligent they bring the blush of shame.
Whoever thou mayest be, then, who art hastening to thy heavenly
country, fulfill with the aid of Christ this least of rules which we
have drawn up for beginners; and then thou shalt come with the help
of God's Providence to those loftier summits of doctrine and virtue
of which we have spoken above.
Provided courtesy of:
HOME - EWTNews - FAITH - TELEVISION - RADIO - LIBRARY - GALLERY - GENERAL ESPAŅOL