The Rule of St. Benedict 1. The Rule of Saint Benedict. (Translated into English. A Pax Book, preface by W.K. Lowther Clarke. London: S.P.C.K., ). About The Holy Rule of St. Benedict by Saint Benedict, Abbot of Monte Cassino. The Holy Rule of St. Benedict. Title: surlongporetpia.ml The Rule of Saint Benedict (Latin: Regula Benedicti) is a book of precepts written by Benedict .. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.
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monastic wisdom series: number nineteen. Thomas Merton. The Rule of Saint Benedict. Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 4. Introduction to Study the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict and Abbot Philip St. Benedict's Rule for monastic living has been soul inspiring and formative for. The Rule of Our Most Holy Father St. Benedict, Patriarch of Monks, from It is available here as a PDF file: Regula Sf. Benedict .pdf; KB).
Let him be alone at the work enjoined him, and continue in the sorrow of his penance, remembering that dreadful sentence of the Apostle: 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. 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: If any brother who has been frequently corrected for some fault, or even excommunicated, does not amend, let a more severe punishment be applied: 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: But if he is not healed even by this means, let the Abbot then finally use the sword of separation, as the Apostle says: 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. 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.
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: 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: 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. 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.
Above all, let this vice be rooted out of the monastery: 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.
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.
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: He who is entering on his office shall then follow and say: 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: 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.
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 hours.
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: 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. 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: All, however, except the very weak and the sick, are to abstain from eating the flesh of four-footed animals.
Each one has his own gift from God, one in this way, and another in that. 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.
This above all do we admonish, that they be without murmuring. 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 daylight. Monks ought to have a zeal for silence at all times, but especially during the hours of the night.
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Therefore at all times, whether on days of fasting or on other days, let this be the rule: 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.
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 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. 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.
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 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. 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: 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.
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. 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 be hindered. 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.
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: 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.
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. 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.
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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: And let the Abbot always consider that passage in the Acts of the Apostles: Nevertheless, in all his decisions, let him think of the divine retribution.
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. 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.
He who is newly come to enter religion is not to be easily admitted, but, as the Apostle says: 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: 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.
Texts and Translations of the Rule of Saint Benedict
When he shall have placed it there, let the novice himself immediately begin this verse: 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. 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: 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 own stability. 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: 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.
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: 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 understanding. 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: 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: 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.
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 ignorance. 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 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.
Finally, the updated bibliography and a detailed index are valuable tools for anyone wanting to explore the extraordinary world of Saint Benedict.
Liturgical Press, , p. Edited in Latin and English. London: Washbourne, PDF version. The Rule of St. Doyle OblSB with introduction by Rev. David W. Cotter, using the division into sense lines for public reading of the first edition that was re-published in to mark the 75th anniversary of Liturgical Press.
Paperback and e-Book formats. In French and Italian for the community of Scourmont.
German Heiliger Benedikt. Regel Intratext version of translation above. Italian La Santa Regola di S. Benedetto in Italiano USA. Ora, lege et labora The Italian translation with a parallel Latin text and the Biblical references used in the Rule is available thanks to Alberto da Cormano. San Benedetto.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.
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. During Lent, however, until Easter let them dine in the evening. Therefore let us always be mindful of what the Prophet says.
On solemn feast days, however, they are to keep the fast until after Mass.
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