The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4


Show Summary


St. Benedict’s Monastic Rule

ABOUT 630 A. D.

Hearken, oh sons, to the commands of the Master, and receive gladly the admoniton of a pious father and fulfill it, that by the work of obedience you may return to him from whom you have departed through the negligence of disobedience.

Now is my word directed to you who renounce your own wills in order to serve our king, the Lord Christ, and take on the mighty weapons of service, first that you should pray without ceasing that whatever good thing you have begun to do may be completed by Him.

Again, that we who have been deemed worthy to be counted among His sons should not be cast down by reason of our evil doings, for we ought to obey Him in all time for His goodness to us, that not only He may not as an irate Father disinherit us, His children, but also that He may not as a dread Lord angered by our evil-doing hand us over as most wicked servants to eternal punishment, who were not willing to follow Him to glory.

Let us arise, therefore, as the Scripture exhorts us, saying; "Now is the hour to arise from slumber;" and with our eyes open to the divine light, let us hear with astonished ears the divine voice which warns us, saying: "To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts;" and again it says: "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." And what does it say? "Come, sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of God; run, while you have the light of life, lest the shades of death encompass you."

And the Lord seeking in the multitude of the people his workman to whom He says this, says again: "Who is the man who wishes for life and desires to see good days?" But if you hearing Him answer "I," God says to you: "If thou wouldst have the true and eternal life, keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile; turn from evil and do good; seek after peace and follow it. And when you shall have done this My eyes are upon thee, and My ears are opento thy prayers, and before thou callest on Me, I will say to thee, ’Lo, here am I,’ "’. What can be dearer to us, beloved brethren, than the voice of God calling us to Him? Behold, by His piety the Lord shows us the way of life. Therefore, with our loins girt about with faith and the observance of good deeds, and our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, let us press on our way, that we may be worthy to see Him in His kingdom who has called us. If you wish to dwell in the tabernacle of His kingdom, it will never come about, unless you make your way thither by good deeds.

But let us ask the Lord in the words of the prophet, saying to Him: "Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle or who shall rest in Thy holy mountain? And after asking this question, brethren, let us hark to the Lord replying and showing us the way to His tabernacle, saying: "He who walks without stain and does justice; who speaks truth in his heart and does no guile with his tongue; who has not done evil to his neighbor; who has not had hatred of his neighbor; who casting out the evil one from his heart has brought him to nothing and counted his thoughts as worthless and broken him to pieces on Christ; those who fearing the Lord are not puffed up by their own good works, but knowing that those good things could not be done by themselves, but by the Lord, magnify the Lord working in them, saying with the prophets: "Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give the glory;" just as the Apostle Paul attributed nothing to himself of his preaching, saying: "Thanks be to God, that I am what I am;" and again the same one says: "Let him who glories, glory in the Lord." Whence also the Lord says in the gospel: "He who hears My word and does them, I will liken to a wise man who built his house upon a rock; the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell not because it was founded upon a rock."

Since the Lord has done this He is waiting for us to reply to these His holy warnings to us. Therefore, for the correction of the sins of this life, our days are prolonged for us for a respite, as the apostle says: "Know you not, that the patience of God leads you to repentance?" For the good Lord says: "I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should repent and live."

Therefore our hearts and bodies should be prepared to obey His holy commands, and what is not possible for our nature, let us ask God for the aid of His grace to minister unto us. And if we wish to escape the punishment of hell, and attain to eternal life, while we arestill in the body and there is still time to do all these things in this life, we must so walk and so live only as to fit ourselves for eternity.

Therefore we are constrained to found a school for the service of the Lord. In its organization we hope we shall ordain nothing severe, nothing burdensome; but if there should result anything a little irksome by the demands of justice for the correction of vices and the persevering of charity, do not therefore, through fear, avoid the way of salvation, which cannot be entered upon save through a narrow entrance, but in which, as life progresses and the heart becomes filled with faith one walks in the unspeakable sweetness of love; but never departing from His control, and persevering in His doctrine in the monastery until death, let us with patience share in the sufferings of Christ, that we may be worthy to be partakers in His kingdom.

1. Concerning the Kinds of Monks.

The are four classes of monks: The first is of the Carobites, that is, the monk of the monastery serving under rule and under an abbot. The second class is of anchorites, that is, those hermits who, not by the fresh zeal of conversion but by the long discipline of the monastery, have learned to strive against the devil, and now taught by the example of many and well-prepared, have withdrawn from the brotherly band to take up the single battle of the hermit, and secure in themselves without the aid of another, are able with the aid of God to carry on the warfare against the vices of the flesh and their own vain thoughts by their single hand and arm.

But the third and the most abominable class of monks is that of the Sarabaites, who not being tested by any monastic rule or taught by experience, neither being tried as gold in the furnace, but softened after the manner of lead, keep faith with the world by their works, but lie to God in wearing a tonsure: who are shut up by twos and threes or even singly in their own folds, and not in the folds of the Lord, without a shepherd: the satisfaction of their desires is their law, since what they themselves think or desire they call holy, and what they do not like they call unlawful. And the fourth class of monks is of those called wandering, who pass their lives in being entertained three or four days at a time throughout the various provinces in different monasteries, always on the road, never settled, seeking their own wills and the delights of gluttony, and in every way worse even than the Sarabaites; of whose manner of life it is better to be silent than to speak.

Therefore passing over these things, let us now proceed, with thehelp of God, to a consideration of the best class, that of the Cenobites.

2. What the abbot should be like.

The abbot who is worthy to rule a monastery ought to remember by what name they are called, and to justify by their deeds the name of a superior. For he is believed to take the place of Christ in the monastery, since he is called by his name, as the apostle says: "Ye have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we call, Abba, Father."

And so the abbot ought not (God forbid) to teach or decree or order anything apart from the precept of the Lord; but his rules and his teaching ought always to be leavened with the leaven of divine justice in the minds of his disciples; and let the abbot be always mindful that in the great judgment of God, both his teaching and the obedience of his disciples will be weighed in the balance. And let the abbot know that whatever the master finds lacking in the sheep will be charged to the fault of the shepherd. Only in case the pastor has shown the greatest diligence in his management of an unruly and disobedient flock, and has given his whole care to the correction of their evil doings, will that pastor be cleared at the judgment of God and be able to say with the prophet, "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart, I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation, but they despising have scorned me;" then let the punishment of eternal death itself fall upon the disobedient sheep of his care.

Therefore when anyone takes on himself the name of abbot, he should govern his disciples by a twofold teaching, that is, let him show forth all the good and holy things by his deeds rather than by his words; to ready disciples he ought to set forth the commands of God in words, but to the hard of heart, and to the simple-minded he ought to illustrate the divine precepts in his deeds. And all things which he has taught his disciples to be wrong, let him demonstrate in his action that they should not be done, lest sometime God should say to him, a sinner: "Why dost thou declare my statutes or take my testimony in thy mouth? Thou hast hated instruction and cast My word behind thee;" and again: "Thou who hast seen the mote in thy brother’s eyes, hast not seen the beam in thine own eye."

Let him not be a respecter of persons in the monastery. Let not one be loved more than another, unless he shall have found someone to be better than another in good deeds and in obedience; let not a freeman be preferred to one coming from servitude, unless there be some good and reasonable cause; but if according to the dictates ofjustice it shall have seemed best to the abbot, let him do this with anyone of any rank whatsoever; otherwise let each keep his own place, since, whether bond or free, we are all one in Christ, and under one God we bear the same burden of service, for there is no respect of persons with God; only in this regard are we distinguished with him if we are found better and more humble than others in our good deeds. Therefore let his love for all be the same, and let one discipline be put upon all according to merit.

In his teaching the abbot ought always to observe the rule of the apostle, where he says: "Reprove, rebuke, exhort;" that is, mingling reasons with reasons, blandishments with terrors, let him show at the same time the feeling of a severe master and loving father; that is, he should rebuke severely the unruly and turbulent, beseech the obedient and gentle and patient to do even better, and admonish and reprove the negligent and indifferent. And let him not pass over the sins of the erring, but as soon as they begin to appear let him tear them up by the roots, that he may prevail, mindful of the danger of Eli the priest of Shiloh. And let him reprove with words the more honorable and receptive minds, with one or even two warnings, but the wicked and hard and proud and disobedient let him restrain at the very outset of their sin with punishment of the body as with stripes, knowing how it is written: "A fool is not corrected by words," and again: "Strike thy son 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 to know that from him to whom more is committed, more is required. And let him understand how difficult and arduous a thing he has undertaken, to rule the souls and preserve the morals of man, one with praise, another with rebuke, and another by persuasion; and let him so conform and adapt himself to all according to the nature and intelligence of each one, that not only shall the flock committed to him not suffer injury, but also that he may rejoice in the growth of a good flock.

Above all, let him not neglect or belittle the saving of the souls committed to him and give more heed to transitory and earthly and mortal affairs, but let him ever recall that he has undertaken to care for souls, for whom he must render account. And, that he may not dispute about things of minor importance, let him remember what is written: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you;" and again, "They that fear Him, shall lack nothing." And let him know that since he has undertaken to ruleover souls, he must prepare himself to give account, let him know also that, whatever number of brothers he may have under his care, he must account to God in the day of judgment for the souls of every one of them, his own included. And so always having before him the fear of the future questioning of the shepherd concerning the sheep entrusted to him, let him at the same time keep free from the affairs of others and keep careful account of his own; and when by admonitions he administers correction to others, let him correct himself of his sins.

3. About calling the brothers to council.

Whenever anything especial is to be done in the monastery, the abbot shall convoke the whole body and himself set forth the matter at issue. And after listening to the advice of the brothers, he shall consider it by himself, and shall do what he shall have judged most useful. Now we say all should be called to the council, because the Lord often reveals to the younger brother what is best to be done.

But let the brothers give advice with all subjection of humility and not presume to defend boldly what seemed good to them, but rather rely on the judgment of the abbot, and all obey him in what he has judged to be for their welfare. But just as it is fitting that the disciples obey the master, so is it incumbent on him to dispose everything wisely and justly.

Therefore, let all follow the rule of the master in all things, and let no one depart from it rashly; let no one in the monastery follow the desire of his own heart. And let no one strive with his abbot shamelessly either within or without the monastery; and if he shall have presumed to do so, let him be subjected to the regular discipline. And let the abbot himself do all things in the fear of God and in the observance of the rule, knowing that he must without doubt render account unto God, the most just judge, for all his judgments.

If there are any matters of minor importance to be done for the welfare of the monastery, let the abbot take the advice only of the elders, as it is written: "Do all things with counsel, and after it is done thou wilt not repent."

4. What are the instruments of good works.

In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, whole soul, whole strength, then his neighbor as himself.

Then not to kill, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to covet, not to bear false witness, to honor all men, and what anyone would not have done to him, let him not do to another. To deny himself, that he may follow Christ, to chasten the body, to renounce luxuries, tolove fasting. To relieve the poor, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to bury the dead, to help in tribulation, to console the afflicted.

To make himself a stranger to the affairs of the world, to prefer nothing before the love of Christ, not to give way to anger, not to bear any grudge, not to harbour deceit in the heart, not to forsake charity, Not to swear, lest haply he perjure himself, to utter truth from his heart and his mouth. Not to return evil for evil, not to do injuries, but rather to bear them patiently, to love his enemies, not to curse again those who curse him, but rather to bless them, to endure persecution for righteousness’ sake. Not to be proud, not given to wine, not gluttonous, not addicted to sleep, not slothful, not given to murmur, not a slanderer. To committ his hope to God; when he sees anything good in himself to attribute it to God, and not to himself, but let him always know that which is evil in his own doing, and impute it to himself. To fear the day of judgment, to dread hell, to desire eternal life with all spiritual longing, to have the expectation of death every day before his eyes. To watch over his actions at all times, to know certainly that in all places the eye of God is upon him; those evil thoughts which come into his heart to dash to pieces on Christ, and to make them known to his spiritual senior. To keep his lips from evil and wicked discourse, not to be fond of much talking, not to speak vain words or such as provoke laughter, not to love much or violent laughter. To give willing attention to the sacred readings, to pray frequently every day, to confess his past sins to God, in prayer, with tears and groanings; from thenceforward to reform as to those sins.

Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh, to hate his own will, in all things to obey the commands of the abbot, even though he himself (which God forbid) should do otherwise, remembering our Lord’s commands: "What they say, do; but what they do, do ye not," Not to desire to be called a saint before he is one, but first to be one that he may be truly called one; every day to fulfill the commands of God in his deeds, to love chastity, to hate no one, not to have jealousy nor envy, not to love contention, to avoid self-conceit; to reverence seniors, to love juniors, to pray for enemies in the love of Christ, to he reconciled with his adversary, before the going down of the sun, and never to despair of the mercy of God.

Behold, these are the tools of the spiritual craft; when these things shall have been done by us night and day without ceasing, and shall have been reckoned up on the day of judgment, that reward will be given to us by the Lord which He Himself has promised: "What theeye has not seen, nor the ear heard, and what has not entered into the heart of man, whatsoever things God has prepared for those who love Him." And where we perform all these services diligently, there are the cloisters of the monastery and there is stability in the congregation.

5. Concerning obedience.

The first grade of humility is obedience without delay. This is becoming to those who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ. Because of the holy service which they have professed, and because of the fear of hell and the glory of eternal life, as soon as anything is commanded by a superior, as if it were a divine command let them suffer no delay in doing it. Of such the Lord says: "As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me;" and again He says to the learned men: "He who heareth you heareth Me."

Now such as these, with the ready foot of obedience, should let their acts follow straight upon the word of Him who commands them, leaving their own affairs and abandoning their own will, with emptied hands and leaving undone what they were doing; so that both the aforesaid command of the master and the completed work of the disciple quickly succeed one another with the swiftness of the fear of God.

Those who are actuated by the desire of advancing to eternal life, in this manner enter upon the narrow way (of which the Lord says: "Narrow is the way which leadeth unto life"), so that they live not according to their own opinions nor obey their own wills, but walking in the judgment of another and living under guidance in the monasteries, are content to be controlled by the abbot. Surely such as these follow that declaration of the Lord, in which He says: "I am not come to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." And this obedience will then be acceptable to God and dear to men, if what is commanded is done not fearfully nor half-heartedly nor slowly, nor with the complaint and remonstrance of unwilling servant; for the obedience which is given to one’s superiors, is given to God, for He himself says, "Whoso heareth you, heareth Me." And this obedience should be given by the disciple with willing hearts, since "God loveth a cheerful giver;" for if the disciple obey with unwilling heart, and if he murmurs not only with his mouth but also in his heart, even though he fulfills the command, yet will his act be not accepted of God who looks upon the complaining heart; and such an one will gain no grace for his deed, but rather will receive the punishment of those who murmur, unless he mend his ways and make satisfaction.

6. Concerning silence.

Let us do as the prophet says: "I have said, I will take heed to my ways that I sin not with my tongue, I have placed a guard upon my mouth, I was dumb and humbled, I have kept silence even from good." This is what the prophet sets forth: if for the sake of silence, one ought to refrain even from good words, how much more ought one to cease from evil words because of the penalty of sin.

Therefore, small licence should be given to tried disciples, of speaking, even though it be good and holy words of edification, because of the value of silence; as it is written: "Thou will not escape sin by much speaking;" and in another place: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." For it is the part of the master to speak and to teach, that of the disciple to be silent and hear. And so if anything is to be asked of the former, let it be done with all reverence, lest the disciple seem to say more than is fitting. But scurrilities and vain words and such as move to laughter we condemn with an eternal prohibition in all places, nor do we permit the disciple to open his mouth for such talk.

7. Concerning humility.

The Scripture calls to us, brethren, saying: "Everyone that exalteth himself, shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." In this saying he shows us that all exaltation is a kind of pride; the prophet shows that he avoids this, saying: "Oh Lord, my heart was not exalted, nor my eyes lifted up; nor have I walked in the way of the great and marvelous above me. But what then, if I did not feel humbly, but exalted my soul? As a child weaned of its mother, so wilt thou repay it upon my soul."

Wherefore, brethren, if we wish to attain to the height of the greatest humility, and to that divine exaltation which is attained by the humility of this present life, we must mount by our own acts that ladder which appeared in a dream to Jacob, upon which angels appeared unto him ascending and descending. For that ascent and descent can only be understood by us to be this: to ascend by humility, to descend through pride. For that ladder erected on high is our life in this world, which is erected to heaven by the Lord for the humble of heart; the aides of this ladder are our body and soul; upon which the divine calling has fixed various steps of humility and discipline by which to ascend.

Now the first grade of humility is this: keeping the fear of God before his eyes, let him avoid forgetfulness and ever remember all theprecepts of the Lord; and continually consider in his heart that eternal life which is prepared for those who fear God, just as the mockers of God fall into hell.

And keeping himself every hour from sins and vices; namely, of his thoughts, his tongue, his eyes, his hands and his feet, let him be zealous to cut off his own will and the desires of the flesh, and let him recall that man is ever watched from heaven by God, and his deeds are seen in the sight of God everywhere, and are announced every hour by the angels, as the prophet tells us when he shows that God is ever present in our thoughts, saying "God looking upon the heart and the reins;" and again: "the Lord knows the thought of men." And again he says: "Thou hast understood my thoughts from afar;" and "For the thought of man will be acknowledged unto thee." And that he may be ever anxious about his perverse thoughts, let the wise brother ever say in his heart: "Then shall I be clean in His sight, if I shall keep myself from mine iniquity."

We forbid him to do his own will, since the Scripture says to us: "Turn also from thine own desires," and so let us ask God in prayer, that His will be done in us. So we are rightly taught not to do our own will, that we may avoid what the holy Scripture says: "These are the ways which are considered right by men, the end of which reach down even to the depth of hell;" and that we may also beware of that which is written of the negligent: "They are corrupted and become abominable through their own desires."

But let us believe that God is ever present in the desires of the flesh, as the prophet says to the Lord: "All my desire is before thee." And so we should beware of evil desire, for death is placed at the entering in of lust, of which the Scripture teaches, saying: "Go not thou after thine own lusts."

Therefore, if "the eyes of God look upon the good and the wicked," and the Lord ever gazes from heaven upon the sons of men to see if anyone is wise and seeking after God, and if our works are announced day and night to God our Maker by the angels assigned to us;—we should beware everywhere, brethren, lest the Lord at some time look down upon us as we are departing into evil and are become useless, and lest, sparing us at that time, because He is kind and desires us to turn to well-doing, He be forced to say in the end: "Thou hast done this, and I kept silence."

This is the second grade of humility, if one loves not his own way, nor delights in obeying his own desires, but comes out in his life thatword of God, in which He says: "I came not to do My own will, but His who sent Me." And again the Scripture says: "Lust hath its punishment, and necessity prepares a crown."

This is the third grade of humility, that one in the love of God subject himself to every obedience to his superior, following the example of the Lord, of whom the apostle says: "Becoming obedient to the father, even unto death."

The fourth grade of humility is this: if in that obedience one endures silently hard and unjust things and every infliction whatsoever, and becomes not weary in suffering nor falls from the way, as the Scripture says: "He who shall have persevered to the end, shall be saved;" and again, "Strengthen thou thy heart and endure the Lord." And to show that the faithful ought to endure all hurtful things for the Lord, He says in the person of one who suffers: "For Thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter," and yet secure in the hope of divine reward, they persevere with rejoicing, saying: "But in all things we conquer through Him who loves us"; and again the Scripture says in another place: "Oh God, Thou hast proved us, Thou hast tried us with fire, as silver is tried with fire: Thou hast led us into the net, Thou hast placed tribulations upon our back;" and to show that we should be under the control of a prior, he continues saying: "Thou hast placed men above our heads." And again those obey the command of the Lord in adversity and injury with patience, who being smitten on the cheek, give the other cheek also, who to him who takes their coat give up their cloak also, who being compelled to go a mile, go two, who with the apostle Paul suffer for their false brethren and endure persecution and bless them that curse.

The fifth grade of humility is this, if one reveals to the abbot in humble confession all the vain imaginings that come into his heart, and all the evil he has done in secret, as the Scripture exhorts us to this saying: "Reveal to the Lord thy way and trust in him;" and again it says: "Confess thou to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever;" and likewise the prophet says: "I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid; I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."

This is the sixth grade of humility, if a monk be contented with all lowliness and extremity and consider himself as a poor workman unworthy of all things which are commanded to him, saying with theprophet: "I was reduced to nothing and was ignorant; I was as a beast before Thee, and I am always with Thee."

This is the seventh grade of humility, if he not only declare himself with his tongue to be more worthless and vile than all things, but also believe it in the most intimate feeling of his heart, humbling himself and saying with the prophet: "But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men and despised of the people: But I was humbled and confounded, "and again: "It is good for me that Thou hast humbled me, that I might learn Thy statutes."

This is the eighth grade of humility; if a monk do nothing except what the common rule of the monastery or the examples of his superior urges him to do.

The ninth grade of humility is this: if a monk keep his tongue from speaking and keeping silence speaks only in answer to questions, since the Scripture says that sin is not escaped by much speaking," and "a talkative man is not established in the earth."

The tenth grade of humility is this, that he be not easily moved nor prompt to laughter, since it is written: "The fool raiseth his voice in laughter."

The eleventh grade of humility is this: if, when the monk speaks, he says few words and those to the point, slowly and without laughter, humbly and gravely; and be not loud of voice, as it is written: "A wise man is known by his few words."

The twelfth grade of humility is this: that a monk conduct himself with humility not only in his heart but also in his bearing, in the sight of all; that is, in the service of God, in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road, in the field; and everywhere, sitting or walking or standing, let him always have his head bowed, and his eyes fixed on the ground. Always mindful of his sins, let him think of himself as being already tried in the great judgment, saying in his heart what that publican, spoken of in the gospel, said with his eyes fixed on the earth: "Lord, I a sinner am not worthy to lift mine eyes to the heavens;" and again with the prophet: "I am bowed down and humbled wheresoever I go."

Therefore when the monk has climbed up by all these steps of humility he will arrive at that love of God, which, when made perfect, casts out all fear, by means of which he will observe without labor and as if by force of habit those things which formerly he could not keep without fear; not now in the fear of hell, but in the love of Christ and in that good habit and delight in well-doing. These things theLord will design to show to His servant who is cleansed from his sins and vices by the Holy Spirit.

8. Concerning the divine services of the night.

In the winter time, that is, from the Kalends of November to Easter-tide, they should in reason arise at the eighth hour of the night, so that they may rest a little more than half the night and arise after having digested. The time that is left after vigils, should be spent in meditation by those brothers who are behindhand in the psaltery or readings.

But from Easter to the aforesaid Kalends of November, the hour of vigils should be so arranged, that with a short interval in which the brothers may go out to attend to the necessities of nature, the matins which are to begin with the dawn may follow immediately.

9. How many psalms are to be said in the hours of the night.

In the winter time first shall be said the verse "Make haste, oh God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, oh God"; secondly this shall be said three times: "Oh Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise;" to which should be added the third psalm and the Gloria; after this the 94th Psalm, "Oh, come let us sing unto the Lord," should be recited antiphonally or in unison; then should follow the Ambrosian chant, and then six psalms antiphonally. When these are all said, the abbot shall give the benediction, with the verse mentioned; and, all seating themselves on the benches, three lessons are to be read by the brothers in turn, between which three responses should be sung. Two responses should be said without the Gloria, but after the third lesson, he who chants should say the Gloria, and as soon as the Cantor begins, let all arise from the benches in the honor and reverence of the Holy Trinity. And books of the Old and New Testament shall be read also at vigils, and those expositions of them which have been made by the orthodox Catholic fathers authorized by the learned. And after these three lessons with their responses should follow six psalms to be sung with the Alleluia; after this a lesson from the Apostle to be recited from memory, and verses at the supplication of the Litany, that is, the "Kyrie Eleison," and thus the nocturnal vigils shall be ended.

10. How the praises of the night shall be arranged in summer.

From Easter to the Kalends of November the whole amount of psalmody as described above shall be observed, except that lessons shall not be read at all because of the shortness of the nights; but in place of the three lessons, one lesson from the Old Testament shall be saidfrom memory, followed by a brief response; and let everything else be done as has been said: that is, that never less than twelve psalms shall be said in the night vigils, except the third and 94th psalm.

11. How vigils shall be conducted on Sundays.

On Sundays they shall rise earlier for vigils. In which vigils let the following measure be observed; that is, after six psalms and a verse having been sung—as we arranged above,—all sitting down in their places and in order upon the benches, there shall be read from Scripture, as we said above, four lessons with their responses. Only in the fourth response, however, shall the Gloria be said by the Cantor. When he begins this, straightway all shall rise with reverence. After which lessons shall follow other six psalms in order, antiphonally, like the former ones; and verses. After which, there shall again be read other four lessons with their responses, in the same order as above. After which there shall be said three canticles, which the abbot shall have chosen from the prophets: which canticles shall be sung with the Alleluia. Then after the verse has been said and the abbot has given his benediction, there shall be read other four lessons from the New Testament, in the same order as above. After the fourth response, moreover, the abbot shall begin the hymn: "We praise Thee O Lord." This being finished the abbot shall read a lesson from the Gospel with honour and trembling, all standing. This being read through, all shall answer "Amen." And the abbot shall straightway cause the hymn: "It is a good thing to praise the Lord" to follow; and, the benediction being given, they shall begin matins. This order of vigils at all times of summer as well as winter shall be similarly observed on Sunday: unless by chance (may it not happen) they rise too late, and something from the lessons or responses must be shortened: as to which they must take the greatest care lest it occur. But if it happen, he through whose neglect it came about shall give proper satisfaction for it to God in the oratory. . . . .

12. How the service of matins is to be conducted.

On Sundays at matins first shall be said the 66th Psalm in unison without antiphony; after which the 50th with the Alleluia; then the 117th and 62d Psalms, then the Benedictions and Laudes, one lesson from the Apocalypse from memory, and the response, the Ambrosian chant, the verse, the song from the gospel, the litany, and thus it is completed.

13. How matins are to be celebrated on week days.

On week days the service of matins is to be conducted as follows:the 66th Psalm shall be said without antiphony, drawing it out somewhat as on Sunday, so that all may join in the 50th Psalm, which shall be said with the antiphony. After this two other psalms are to be said according to the rule, that is, on Monday the 5th and the 35th; on Tuesday, the 42d and 56th; on Wednesday, the 63d and 64th; on Thursday, the 87th and 89th; on Friday, the 75th and 91st; on Saturday, the 142d and the song of Deuteronomy [Deut. XXXII. f.] which is divided into two Glorias. On other days let songs be sung from the prophets, each song on its own day as the Roman church sings them. After this follow the Randes, then one lesson from the Apostle, to be recited from memory, then the response, then the Ambrosian chant, the verse, the song from the gospel, the litany, and so it is completed.

The service of matins and vespers should not pass without the Lord’s prayer being said at the end in the hearing of all, because of the vexations of quarrels, which are wont to arise, so that pledging themselves by the promise of that prayer, where they say, "Forgive us, as we also forgive," they may cleanse themselves from this kind of vice. And the rest having been observed, the last part of that prayer should be said, so that all may respond together: "But deliver us from evil."

14. How vigils should be celebrated on the birthdays of saints.

On the feast-days of saints and all holy days, the service should be kept as we have described it for Sunday; except that the psalms and antiphonies and lessons belonging to that day should be said; but the aforesaid limit should be kept.

15. On what occasion the Alleleuia should be used.

From the holy Easter to Pentecost the Alleluia should always be said both in the psalms and the responses. From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent; it should be said every night with the six later psalms only at the nocturnes; but on every Sunday outside of Lent, the songs of the matins, and of the first, third, sixth, and ninth lessons, should be said with the Alleluia; the responses, however, should never be given with the Alleluia except from Easter to Pentecost.

16. How divine service is to be held through the day.

As the prophet says, "Seven times in the day do I praise Thee." This sacred number seven will thus be observed by us, if we perform the duties of our service at matins, at the first, third, sixth, and ninth hours, at vespers and at completorium [the last seance of the day], since it is of these hours that he said: "Seven times in the day do Ipraise Thee; and of the night vigils the same prophet says: "At midnight I arose to confess unto Thee." Therefore at those times, we should give praise to our Creator for the judgments of His righteousness; namely, at matins, at the first, third, sixth, and ninth hours, at vespers, and at completorium; and let us arise at night to confess unto Him.

17. How many psalms should be sung in these hours.

Having already described the orders of psalmody for the night vigils and matins, let us now take up the hours that follow. At the first hour three psalms should be said singly and not under one Gloria; the hymn of that hour after the verse: "Make haste oh God to deliver me," should be sung before the psalms begin. At the end of the three psalms, one lesson from the Apostle should be recited, together with the verse, and the "Kyrie Eleison" and the mass. At the third, sixth, and ninth hours the seance should follow the same order; the prayer (that is, the verse), the hymns of those hours, the three psalms, the lesson and the verse, the "Kyrie Eleison," and the mass. If there is a large congregation, let them be sung with antiphony, if small, in unison. Let the vesper gathering be ended with four psalms with antiphony, after which the lesson should be recited, then the response, the hymn, the Ambrosian chant, the verse, the song of the Gospel, the litany, and the Lord’s prayer, and let mass be celebrated. Completorium should be ended with three psalms, which are to be said in unison without antiphony; after which are to come the hymn of that hour, one lesson, the verse, the "Kyrie Eleison," the benediction and the mass.

18. In what order the psalms are to be said.

In the hours of the day let this verse always be said first of all: "Oh God, make haste to deliver me; make haste, oh God, to help me," the Gloria, then at the first hour on Sunday four chapters of the 118th Psalm are to be said; at the other hours, that is, the third, sixth and ninth, three chapters of the aforesaid 118th Psalm are to be said at each. At the first hour on Monday three psalms are to be said, the first, second and sixth; so every day up to Sunday the first hour three psalms shall be said as they come, up to the 19th Psalm, but the 9th and the 17th may be divided into two each. And so it will come about that vigils on Sunday will always begin with the 20th Psalm.

At the third, sixth and ninth hours the nine chapters which remain of the 118th Psalm are to be said by three at these hours. And the 118th Psalm having been thus used up on two days, Sunday andMonday, On Tuesday nine psalms shall be sung at the third, sixth and ninth hours, from the 119th to the 127th; these psalms shall be recited at these hours up to Sunday, keeping however the regular disposition of the hymns, lessons, and verses for all days; and so on Sunday they are to begin again with the 118th Psalm.

Vespers shall be chanted daily with four psalms. These begin with the 109th, and all the rest up to the 147th except such as are taken out for other seances (namely, from the 117th to the 127th and the 113d and 142d) are to be said at vespers. And since three psalms are lacking, the longer ones of the aforesaid numbers are to be divided, that is, the 138th, 143d and 144th; and the 116th Psalm, because it is short is to be joined to the 115th. The order of the vesper psalms being thus arranged, the rest of the seances, that is, the lesson, the response, the hymn, the verse, and the song, are to be done as we have said above.

At completorium the same psalms are to be recited every day; that is, the fourth, 90th and 133d Psalms.

[The above translation was made by E. H. McNeal.]

19. Concerning the art of singing.

Whereas we believe that there is a divine presence, and that the eyes of the Lord look down everywhere upon the good and the evil: chiefly then, without any doubt, we may believe that this is the case when we are assisting at divine service. Therefore let us always be mindful of what the prophets says: "Serve the Lord in all fear"; and before the face of the Divinity and His angels; and let us so stand and again, "Sing wisely"; and "in the sight of the angels I will sing unto thee." Therefore let us consider how we ought to conduct ourselves and sing that our voice may accord with our intention.

20. Concerning reverence for prayer.

If when to powerful men we wish to suggest anything, we do not presume to do it unless with reverence and humility: how much more should we supplicate with all humility, and devotion of purity, God who is the Lord of all. And let us know that we are heard, not for much speaking, but for purity of heart and compunction of tears. And, therefore, prayer ought to be brief and pure; unless perchance it be prolonged by the influence of the inspiration of the divine grace. When assembled together, then, let the prayer be altogether brief; and, the sign being given by the prior, let us rise together.

21. Concerning the deans of the monastery.

If the congregation be a larger one, let there be elected from it brothers of good standing and of holy character; and let them be made deans. And they shall be watchful over their decanates in all things, according to the mandates of God and the precepts of their abbot. And the deans elected shall be such that the abbot may safely share his burdens with them. And they shall not be elected according to order, but according to their merit of life and their advancement in wisdom. And, if any one of these deans be found perchance to be blameworthy being puffed up by pride of something; and if, being warned once and again and a third time, he be unwilling to better himself,—let him be deposed; and let another, who is worthy, be chosen in his place. And we decree the like concerning the provost.

22. How the monks shall sleep.

They shall sleep separately in separate beds. They shall receive position for their beds, after the manner of their characters, according to the dispensation of their abbot. If it can be done, they shall all sleep in one place. If, however, their number do not permit it, they shall rest by tens or twenties, with elders who will concern themselves about them. A candle shall always be burning in that same cell until early in the morning. They shall sleep clothed, and girt with beltsor with ropes; and they shall not have their knives at their sides while they sleep, lest perchance in a dream they should wound the sleepers. And let the monks be always on the alert; and, when the signal is given, rising without delay, let them hasten to mutually prepare themselves for the service of God—with all gravity and modesty, however. The younger brothers shall not have beds by themselves, but interspersed among those of the elder ones. And when they rise for the service of God, they shall exhort each other mutually with moderation, on account of the excuses that those who are sleepy are inclined to make.

23. Concerning excommunication for faults.

If any one is found to be a scorner—being contumacious or disobedient or a murmurer, or one acting in any way contrary to the holy Rule, and to the precepts of his elders: let such a one, according to the teaching of our Lord, be admonished once, and a second time, secretly, by his elders. If he do not amend his ways, he shall be rebuked publicly in the presence of all. But if, even then, he do not better himself—if he understands how great the penalty is—he shall be subject to excommunication. But, if he is a wicked man, he shall be given over to corporal punishment.

24. What ought to be the measure of the excommunication.

According to the amount of the fault the measure of the excommunication or of the discipline ought to be extended: which amount of the faults shall be determined by the judgment of the abbot. If any brother, however, be taken in lighter faults, he shall be prevented from participating at table. With regard to one deprived of participation at table, moreover, this shall be the regulation: that he shall not start a psalm or a chant in the oratory, or recite a lesson, until he has atoned. The refreshment of food, moreover, he shall take alone, after the refreshment of the brothers. So that if, for example, the brothers eat at the sixth hour, that brother shall do so at the ninth; if the brothers’ at the ninth, then he at Vespers; until by suitable satisfaction he gains pardon.

25. Concerning graver faults:

That brother, moreover, who is held guilty of a graver fault shall be suspended at the same time from table and from the oratory. None of the brothers may in any way consort with him, or have speech with him. He shall be alone at the labour enjoined upon him, persisting in the struggle of penitence; knowing that terrible sentence of the apostle who said that such a man was given over to the destruction of the flesh in order that this soul might be saved at the day of the Lord. The refection of food moreover he shall take alone, in the measure and at the time that the abbot shall appoint as suitable for him. Nor shall he be blessed by any one who passes by, nor shall any food be given him.

26. Concerning those who, without being ordered by the abbot, associate with the excommunicated.

If any brother presume, without an order of the abbot, in any way to associate with an excommunicated brother, or to speak with him, or to give an order to him: he shall suffer the same penalty of excommunication.

27. What care the abbot should exercise with regard to the excommunicated.

With all solicitude the abbot shall exercise care with regard to delinquent brothers: "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." And therefore he ought to use every means, as a wise physician, to send in as it were secret consolers—that is, wise elder brothers who, as it were secretly, shall console the wavering brother and lead him to the atonement of humility. And they shall comfort him lest he be swallowed up by overmuch sorrow. On the contrary, as the same apostle says, charity shall be confirmed in him, andhe shall be prayed for by all. For the abbot should greatly exert his solicitude, and take care with all sagacity and industry, lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him. For he should know that he has undertaken the care of weak souls, not the tyranny over sound ones. And he shall fear the threat of the prophet through whom the Lord says: "Ye did take that which ye saw to be strong, and that which was weak ye did cast out." And let him imitate the pious example of the good Shepherd, who, leaving the ninety and nine sheep upon the mountains, went out to seek the one sheep that had gone astray: and He had such compassion upon its infirmity, that He deigned to place it upon His sacred shoulders, and thus to carry it back to the flock.

28. Concerning those who, being often rebuked, do not amend.

If any brother, having frequently been rebuked for any fault, do not amend even after he has been excommunicated, a more severe rebuke shall fall upon him;—that is, the punishment of the lash shall be inflicted upon him. But if he do not even then amend; or, if perchance—which God forbid,—swelled with pride he try even to defend his works: then the abbot shall act as a wise physician. If he have applied the fomentations, the ointments of exhortation, the medicaments of the Divine Scriptures; if he have proceeded to the last blasting of excommunication, or to blows with rods, and if he sees that his efforts avail nothing: let him also—what is greater—call in the prayer of himself and all the brothers for him: that God who can do all things may work a cure upon an infirm brother. But if he be not healed even in this way, then at last the abbot may use the pruning knife, as the apostle says: "Remove evil from you," etc.: test one diseased sheep contaminate the whole flock.

29. Whether brothers who leave the monastery ought again to be received.

A brother who goes out, or is cast out, of the monastery for his own fault, if he wish to return, shall first promise every amends for the fault on account of which he departed; and thus he shall be received into the lowest degree—so that thereby his humility may be proved. But if he, again depart, up to the third time he shall be received. Knowing that after this every opportunity of return is denied to him.

30. Concerning boys under age, how they shall be corrected.

Every age or intelligence ought to have its proper bounds. Therefore as often as boys or youths, or those who are less able to understand how great is the punishment of excommunication: as often as such persons offend, they shall either be afflicted with excessive fasts, orcoerced with severe blows, that they may be healed.

31. Concerning the cellarer of the monastery, what sort of a person he shall be.

As cellarer of the monastery there shall be elected from the congregation one who is wise, mature in character, sober, not given to much eating, not proud, not turbulent, not an upbraider, not tardy, not prodigal, but fearing God: a father, as it were, to the whole congregation. He shall take care of every thing, he shall do nothing without the order of the abbot. He shall have charge of what things are ordered: he shall not rebuff the brethren. If any brother by chance demand anything unreasonably from him, he shall not, by spurning, rebuff him; but reasonably, with humility, shall deny to him who wrongly seeks.

Let him guard his soul, mindful always of that saying of the apostle, that he who ministers well purchases to himself a good degree. He shall care with all solicitude for the infirm and youthful, for guests and for the poor; knowing without doubt that he shall render account for all of these at the day of judgment. All the utensils of the monastery, and all its substance, he shall look upon as though they were the sacred vessels of the altar. He shall deem nothing worthy of neglect; nor shall he give way to avarice; nor shall he be prodigal or a squanderer of the substance of the monastery; but he shall do everything with moderation and according to the order of the abbot. He shall have humility above all things: and when there is nothing substantial for him to give, let a good word of reply be offered, as it is written: "a good word is above the best gift." Every thing which the abbot orders him to have, let him have under his care; what he prohibits let him refrain from. To the brethren he shall offer the fixed measure of food without any haughtiness or delay, in order that they be not offended; being mindful of the divine saying as to what he merits "who offends one of these little ones." If the congregation is rather large, assistants shall be given him; by whose aid he himself, with a calm mind, shall fill the office committed to him. At suitable hours those things shall be given which are to be given, and those things shall be asked for which are to be asked for: so that no one may be disturbed or rebuked in the house of God.

32. Concerning the utensils or property of the monastery.

For the belongings of the monastery in untensils, or garments, or property of any kind, the abbot shall provide brothers of whose life and morals he is sure; and to them as he shall see fit he shall consign the different things to be taken care of and collected. Concerning whichthe abbot shall keep a list, so that when in turn the brothers succeed each other in the care of the things assigned, he may know what he gives or what he receives. If moreover any one have soiled or treated negligently the property of the monastery, he shall be rebuked; but if he do not amend, he shall be subjected to the discipline of the Rule.

33. Whether the monks should have any thing of their own.

More than any thing else is this special vice to be cut off root and branch from the monastery, that one should presume to give or receive anything without the order of the abbot, or should have anything of his own. He should have absolutely not anything; neither a book, nor tablets, nor a pen—nothing at all.—For indeed it is not allowed to the monks to have their own bodies or wills in their own power. But all things necessary they must expect from the Father of the monastery; nor is it allowable to have anything which the abbot did not give or permit. All things shall be common to all, is it is written: "Let not any man presume or call anything his own." But if any one shall have been discovered delighting in this most evil vice: being warned once and again, if he do not amend, let him be subjected to punishment.

34. Whether all ought to receive necessaries equally.

The brothers shall so serve each other in turn that no one shall be excused from the duty of cooking, unless either through sickness, or because he is occupied in some important work of utility. For, by this means, charity and a greater reward are acquired. Moreover, assistants shall be provided for the weak, so that they may not do this as a burden, but may all have helpers according to the size of the congregation or the nature of the place. If the congregation is a large one the cellarer, or any who, as we have said, are occupied with matters of greater utility, shall be excused from cooking. The rest shall serve each other in turn with all charity. At the end of the week he (the weekly cook) shall, on Saturday, do the cleansing. He shall wash the towels with which the brothers wipe their hands or feet. Moreover, as well he who enters into as well as he who goes out (of office) shall wash the feet of every body. He shall give back the vessels of his ministry clean and whole to the cellarer. And he, the cellarer, shall consign them thus to the one entering (into office), so that he shall know what he gives or what he receives. The weekly cooks, moreover, one hour before refection, shall receive the measure of food previously fixed upon: the different drinking vessels, namely, and the bread; so that at the hour of refection, without murmuring and without heavy labour, they may serve their brothers. On solemn days, moreover, theyshall fast until mass. The incoming and the outgoing weekly officers, moreover, shall, in the oratory, as soon as the matins are finished on Sunday, prostrate themselves at the feet of all, begging to be prayed for. Furthermore he who has finished his week shall say this verse: "Blessed art Thou oh Lord God, who hast aided and consoled me." This being said for the third time, he who retires shall receive the benediction. He who is entering shall follow and shall say: "O God come to my aid, O Lord hasten to help me." And this shall be repeated three times by all. And, receiving the benediction, he shall enter (upon his office).

36. Concerning infirm brothers.

Before all, and above all, attention shall be paid to the care of the sick; so that they shall be served as if it were actually Christ. For He Himself said: "I was sick and ye visited Me." And: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these ye have done it unto Me." But let the sick also consider that they are being served to the honour of God; and let them not offend by their abundance the brothers who serve them: which (offences) nevertheless are patiently to be borne, for, from such, a greater reward is acquired. Wherefore let the abbot take the greatest care lest they suffer neglect. And for these infirm brothers a cell by itself shall be set apart, and a servitor, God-fearing, and diligent and careful. The use of baths shall be offered to the sick as often as it is necessary: to the healthy, and especially to youths, it shall not be so readily conceded. But also the eating of flesh shall be allowed to the sick, and altogether to the feeble, for their rehabilitation. But when they have grown better, they shall all, in the usual manner, abstain from flesh. The abbot, moreover, shall take the greatest care lest the sick are neglected by the cellarer or by the servitors: for whatever fault is committed by the disciples rebounds upon him.

37. Concerning the aged and infants.

Although human nature itself is prone to have pity for these ages—that is, old age and infancy,—nevertheless the authority of the Rule also has regard for them. Their weakness shall always be considered, and in the matter of food, the strict tenor of the Rule shall by no means be observed, as far as they are concerned; but they shall be treated with pious consideration, and may anticipate the canonical hours.

38. Concerning the weekly reader.

At the tables of the brothers when they eat, the reading should not fail; nor may any one at random dare to take up the book and begin to read there; but he who is about to read for the whole week shallbegin his duties on Sunday. And, entering upon his office after mass and communion, he shall ask all to pray for him, that God may avert from him the spirit of elation. And this verse shall be said in the oratory three times by all, he however beginning it: "O Lord open Thou my lips and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise." And thus, having received the benediction, he shall enter upon his duties as reader. And there shall be the greatest silence at table, so that the muttering or the voice of no one shall be heard there, except that of the reader alone. But whatever things are necessary to those eating and drinking, the brothers shall so furnish them to each other in turn, that no one shall need to ask for anything. But if, nevertheless, something is wanted, it shall rather be sought by the employment of some sign than by the voice. Nor shall any one presume there to ask questions concerning the reader or anything else; nor shall an opportunity be given: unless perhaps the prior wishes to say something, briefly, for the purpose of edifying. Moreover, the brother who reads for the week shall receive bread and wine before he begins to read, on account of the holy communion, and lest, perchance, it might be injurious for him to sustain a fast. Afterwards, moreover, he shall eat with the weekly cooks and the servitors. The brothers, moreover, shall read or sing not in rotation; but the ones shall do so who will edify their hearers.

39. Concerning the amount of food.

We believe, moreover, that, for the daily refection of the sixth as well as of the ninth hour, two cooked dishes, on account of the infirmities of the different ones, are enough for all tables: so that whoever, perchance, can not eat of one may partake of the other. Therefore let two cooked dishes suffice for all the brothers: and, if it is possible to obtain apples or growing vegetables, a third may be added. One full pound of bread shall suffice for a day, whether there be one refection, or a breakfast and a supper. But if they are going to have supper, the third part of that same pound shall be reserved by the cellarer, to be given back to those who are about to sup. But if, perchance, some greater labour shall have been performed, it shall be in the will and the power of the abbot, if it is expedient, to increase anything; surfeiting above all things being guarded against, so that indigestion may never seize a monk: for nothing is so contrary to every Christian as surfeiting, as our Lord says: "Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting." But to younger boys the same quantity shall not be served, but less than that to the older ones; moderation being observed in all things. But the eating of the flesh of quadrupedsshall be abstained from altogether by every one, excepting alone the weak and the sick.

40. Concerning the amount of drink.

Each one has his own gift from God, the one in this way, the other in that. Therefore it is with some hesitation that the amount of daily sustenance for others is fixed by us. Nevertheless, in view of the weakness of the infirm we believe that a hemina of wine a day is enough for each one. Those moreover to whom God gives the ability of bearing abstinence shall know that they will have their own reward. But the prior shall judge if either the needs of the place, or labour or the heat of summer, requires more; considering in all things lest satiety or drunkenness creep in. Indeed we read that wine is not suitable for monks at all. But because, in our day, it is not possible to persuade the monks of this, let us agree at least as to the fact that we should not drink till we are sated, but sparingly. For wine can make even the wise to go astray. Where, moreover, the necessities of the place are such that the amount written above can not be found,—but much less of nothing at all,—those who live there shall bless God and shall not murmur. And we admonish them as to this above all: that they be without murmuring.

42. That after "completorium" no one shall speak.

At all times the monks ought to practise silence, but most of all in the nocturnal hours. And thus at all times, whether of fasting or of eating: if it be meal-time, as soon as they have risen from the table, all shall sit together and one shall read selections or lives of the Fathers, or indeed anything which will edify the hearers. But not the Pentateuch or Kings; for, to weak intellects, it will be of no use at that hour to hear this part of Scripture; but they shall be read at other times. But if the days are fast days, when Vespers have been said, after a short interval they shall come to the reading of the selections as we have said; and four or five pages, or as much as the hour permits having been read, they shall all congregate, upon the cessation of the reading. If, by chance, any one is occupied in a task assigned to him, he shall nevertheless approach. All therefore being gathered together, they shall say the completing prayer; and, going out from the "completorium," there shall be no further opportunity for any one to say anything. But if any one be found acting contrary to this rule of silence, he shall be subjected to a very severe punishment. Unless a necessity in the shape of guests should arise, or the abbot, by chance, should give some order. But even this, indeed, he shall do mostseriously, with all gravity and moderation.

44. Concerning those who are excommunicated, how they shall render satisfaction.

He who, for graver faults, is excommunicated from the oratory and from table, shall, at the hour when the Divine Service is being celebrated in the oratory, lie prostrate before the gates of the oratory, saying nothing, his head being placed not otherwise than on the ground, lying headlong before the feet of all who go out from the oratory. And he shall continue doing this until the abbot shall judge that he have rendered satisfaction. And when he shall enter at the order of the abbot, he shall grovel at the feet of the abbot, and then of all, that they may pray for him. And then, if the abbot order it, he shall be received into the choir or into the grade which the abbot decrees: in such wise, nevertheless, that he may not presume to start a psalm, or a lesson, or anything else in the oratory, unless the abbot again order him to. And at all hours when the Divine Service reaches its end, he shall throw himself on the ground in the place where he stands: and shall render satisfaction in this way until the abbot orders him to desist at length from doing so. But those who, for light faults, are excommunicated from table alone, shall render satisfaction in the oratory: they shall do this until the abbot gives the order; until he blesses them and says, "it is enough."

48. Concerning the daily manual labor.

Idleness is the enemy of the soul. And therefore, at fixed times, the brothers ought to be occupied in manual labour; and again, at fixed times, in sacred reading. Therefore we believe that, according to this disposition, both seasons ought to be arranged; so that, from Easter until the Kalends of October, going out early, from the first until the fourth hour they shall do what labour may be necessary. Moreover, from the fourth hour until about the sixth, they shall be free for reading. After the meal of the sixth hour, moreover, rising from table, they shall rest in their beds with all silence; or, perchance, he that wishes to read may so read to himself that he do not disturb another. And the nona (the second meal) shall be gone through with more moderately about the middle of the eighth hour; and again they shall work at what is to be done until Vespers. But, if the exigency or poverty of the place demands that they be occupied by themselves in picking fruits, they shall not be dismayed: for then they are truly monks if they live by the labours of their hands: as did also our fathers and the apostles. Let all things be done with moderation, however,on account of the faint-hearted. From the Kalends of October, moreover, until the beginning of Lent they shall be free for reading until the second full hour. At the second hour the tertia (morning service) shall be held, and all shall labour at the task which is enjoined upon them until the ninth. The first signal, moreover, of the ninth hour having been given, they shall each one leave off his work; and be ready when the second signal strikes. Moreover, after the refection they shall be free for their readings or for psalms. But in the days of Lent, from dawn until the third full hour, they shall be free for their readings; and, until the tenth full hour, they shall do the labour that is enjoined on them. In which days of Lent they shall all receive separate books from the library; which they shall read entirely through in order. These books are to be given out on the first day of Lent. Above all there shall certainly be appointed one or two elders, who shall go round the monastery at the hours in which the brothers are engaged in reading, and see to it that no troublesome brother chance to be found who is open to idleness and trifling, and is not intent on his reading; being not only of no use to himself, but also stirring up others. If such a one—may it not happen—be found, he shall be admonished once and a second time. If he do not amend, he shall be subject under the Rule to such punishment that the others may have fear. Nor shall brother join brother at unsuitable hours. Moreover, on Sunday all shall engage in reading: excepting those who are deputed to various duties. But if anyone be so negligent and lazy that he will not or can not read, some task shall be imposed upon him which he can do; so that he be not idle. On feeble or delicate brothers such a labour or art is to be imposed, that they shall neither be idle, nor shall they be so oppressed by the violence of labour as to be driven to take flight. Their weakness is to be taken into consideration by the abbot.

49. Concerning the observance of Lent.

Although at all times the life of the monk should be such as though Lent were being observed: nevertheless, since few have that virtue, we urge that, on those said days of Lent, he shall keep his life in all purity; and likewise wipe out, in those holy days, the negligencies of other times. This is when worthily done if we refrain from all vices, if we devote ourselves to prayer with weeping, to reading and compunction of heart, and to abstinence. Therefore, on these days, let us add of ourselves something to the ordinary amount of our service: special prayers, abstinence from food and drink;—so that each one, over and above the amount allotted to him, shall offer of his own willsomething to God with rejoicing of the Holy Spirit. That is, he shall restrict his body in food, drink, sleep, talkativeness, and merry-making; and, with the joy of a spiritual desire, shall await the holy Easter. The offering, moreover, that each one makes, he shall announce to his abbot; that it may be done with his prayers and by his will. For what is done without the permission of the spiritual Father, shall be put down to presumption and vain glory, and not to a monk’s credit. Therefore, all things are to be done according to the will of the abbot.

53. Concerning the reception of guests.

All guests who come shall be received as though they were Christ; for He Himself said: "I was a stranger and ye took Me in." And to all, fitting honour shall be shown; but, most of all, to servants of the faith and to pilgrims. When, therefore, a guest is announced, the prior or the brothers shall run to meet him, with every office of love. And first they shall pray together; and thus they shall be joined together in peace. Which kiss of peace shall not first be offered, unless a prayer have preceded; on account of the wiles of the devil. In the salutation itself, moreover, all humility shall be exhibited. In the case of all guests humility shall be exhibited. In the case of all guests arriving or departing: with inclined head, or with prostrating of the whole body upon the ground, Christ, who is also received in them, shall be adored. The guests moreover, having been received, shall be conducted to prayer; and afterwards the prior, or one whom he himself orders, shall sit with them. The law of God shall be read before the guest that he may be edified; and, after this, every kindness shall be exhibited. A fast may be broken by the prior on account of a guest; unless, perchance, it be a special day of fast which can not be violated. The brothers, moreover, shall continue their customary fasts. The abbot shall give water into the hands of his guests; and the abbot as well as the whole congregation shall wash the feet of all guests. This being done, they shall say this verse: "We have received, oh Lord, Thy loving-kindness in the midst of Thy temple." Chiefly in the reception of the poor and of pilgrims shall care be most anxiously exhibited: for in them Christ is received the more. For the very fear of the rich exacts honour for them. The kitchen of the abbot and the guests shall be by itself; so that guests coming at uncertain hours, as is always happening in a monastery, may not disturb the brothers. Into the control of which kitchen, two brothers, who can well fulfill that duty, shall enter yearly; and to them, according as they shall need it, help shall be administered; so that they may serve without murmuring.And again, when they are less occupied, they shall go out where they are commanded to, and labour. And not only in their case, but in all the offices of the monastery, such consideration shall be had, that, when they need it, help shall be given to them. And, when they are again at leisure, they shall obey orders. Likewise a brother, whose soul the fear of God possesses, shall have assigned to him the cell of the guests, where there shall be administered wisely by the wise. Moreover, he who has not been ordered to shall by no means join the guests or speak to them. But if he meet them or see them, saluting them humbly, as has been said, and seeking their blessing, he shall pass by, saying that he is not allowed to speak with a guest.

54. Whether a monk should be allowed to receive letters or anything.

By no means shall it be allowed to a monk—either from his relatives, or from any man; or from one of his fellows—to receive or to give, without order of the abbot, letters, presents or any gift, however small. But even if, by his relatives, anything has been sent to him: he shall not presume to receive it, unless it have first been shown to the abbot. But if he order it to be received, it shall be in the power of the abbot to give it to whomever he may will. And the brother to whom it happened to have been sent shall not be chagrined; that an opportunity be not given to the devil. Whoever, moreover, presumes otherwise, shall be subject to the discipline of the Rule.

55. Concerning clothes.

Vestments shall be given to the brothers according to the quality of the places where they dwell, or the temperature of the air. This, therefore, is a matter for the abbot to decide. We nevertheless consider that for ordinary places there suffices for the monks a cowl and gown apiece—the cowl, in winter hairy, in summer plain or old;—and a working garment, on account of their labours. As clothing for the feet, shoes and boots. Concerning the colour and size of all of which things the monks shall not talk; but they shall be such as can be found in the province where they are or as can be bought the most cheaply. The abbot, moreover, shall provide, as to the measure, that those vestments be not short for those using them; but of suitable length. And, when new ones are received, they shall straightway return the old ones, to be kept in the vestiary on account of the poor. It is enough, moreover, for a monk to have two gowns and two cowls; on account of the nights, and on account of washing the things themselves. Every thing, then, that is over this is superfluous, and ought to be removed. And theshoes, and whatever is old, they shall return when they receive something new. And those who are sent on a journey shall receive clothes for the loins from the vestiary; which on their return they shall restore having washed them. And there shall be cowls and gowns somewhat better than those which they have ordinarily: which, when they start on a journey, they shall receive from the vestiary, and, on returning, shall restore. As trappings for the beds, moreover, shall suffice a mat, a woollen covering, a woollen cloth under the pillow, and the pillow. And these beds are frequently to be searched by the abbot on account of private property; lest he find some. And, if any thing is found belonging to any one which he did not receive from the abbot, he shall be subjected to the most severe discipline. And, in order that this special vice may be cut off at the roots, there shall be given by the abbot all things which are necessary: that is, a cowl, a gown, shoes, boots, a binder for the loins, a knife, a pen, a needle, a handkerchief, tablets: so that all excuse of necessity shall be removed. By this same abbot, however, that sentence of the Acts of the Apostles shall always be regarded: "For there was given unto each man according unto his need." Thus, therefore, the abbot also shall consider the infirmities of the needy, not the evil will of the envious. In all his judgments, nevertheless, he shall remember the retribution of God.

56. Concerning the table of the abbot.

The table of the abbot shall always be with the guests and pilgrims. As often, however, as guests are lacking, it shall be in his power to summon those of the brothers whom he wishes. He shall see, nevertheless, that one or two elders are always left with the brothers, for the sake of discipline.

57. Concerning the artificers of the monastery,

Artificers, if there are any in the monastery, shall practise with all humility their special arts, if the abbot permit it. But if any one of them becomes inflated with pride on account of knowledge of his art, to the extent that be seems to be conferring something on the monastery: such a one shall be plucked away from that art; and he shall not again return to it unless the abbot perchance again orders him to, he being humiliated. But, if anything from the works of the artificers is to be sold, they themselves shall take care through whose hands they (the works) are to pass, lest they (the intermediaries) presume to commit some fraud upon the monastery. They shall always remember Ananias and Sapphira; lest, perchance, the death that they suffered with regard to the body, these, or all those who have committed anyfraud as to the property of the monastery, may suffer with regard to the soul. In the prices themselves, moreover, let not the evil of avarice crop out: but let the object always be given a little cheaper than it is given by other and secular persons; so that, in all things, God shall be glorified.

58. Concerning the manner of receiving brothers.

When any new comer applies for conversion, an easy entrance shall not be granted him: but, as the apostle says, "Try the spirits if they be of God." Therefore, if he who comes perseveres in knocking, and is seen after four or five days to patiently endure the insults inflicted upon him, and the difficulty of ingress, and to persist in his demand: entrance shall be allowed him, and he shall remain for a few days in the cell of the guests. After this, moreover, he shall be in the cell of the novices, where he shall meditate and eat and sleep. And an elder shall be detailed off for him who shall be capable of saving souls, who shall altogether intently watch over him, and make it a care to see if he reverently seek God, if he be zealous in the service of God, in obedience, in suffering shame. And all the harshness and roughness of the means through which God is approached shall be told him in advance. If he promise perseverance in his steadfastness, after the lapse of two months this Rule shall be read to him in order, and it shall be said to him: Behold the law under which thou dost wish to serve; if thou canst observe it, enter; but if thou canst not, depart freely. If he have stood firm thus far, then he shall be led into the aforesaid cell of the novices; and again he shall be proven with all patience. And, after the lapse of six months, the Rule shall be read to him; that he may know upon what he is entering. And, if he stand firm thus far, after four months the same Rule shall again be re-read to him. And if, having deliberated with himself, he shall promise to keep everything, and to obey all the commands that are laid upon him: then he shall be received in the congregation; knowing that it is decreed, by the law of the Rule, that from that day he shall not be allowed to depart from the monastery, nor to shake free his neck from the yoke of the Rule, which, after such tardy deliberation, he was at liberty either to refuse or receive. He who is to be received, moreover, shall, in the oratory; in the presence of all, make promise concerning his steadfastness and the change in his manner of life and his obedience to God and to His saints; so that if, at any time, he act contrary, he mocks. Concerning which promise he shall make a petition in the name of the saints whose relics are there, and of the abbot who is present. Which petition heshall place above the altar, and if for any reason whatsoever he falters, another, being asked by him, shall write it. And that novice shall make his sign; and with his own hand shall place it (the petition) above the altar. And when he has placed it there, the novice shall straightway commence this verse: "Receive me, oh Lord, according to thy promise and I shall live, and do not cast me down from my hope." Which verse the whole congregation shall repeat three times, adding: "Glory be to the Father." Then that brother novice shall prostrate himself at the feet of each one, that they may pray for him. And, already, from that day, he shall be considered as in the congregation. If he have any property, he shall either first present it to the poor, or, making a solemn donation, shall confer it on the monastery, keeping nothing at all for himself: as one, forsooth, who from that day, shall know that he shall not have power even over his own body. Straightway, therefore in the oratory, he shall take off his own garments in which he was clad, and shall put on the garments of the monastery. Moreover those garments which he has taken off shall be placed in the vestiary to be preserved; so that if, at any time, the devil persuading him, he shall consent to go forth from the monastery—may it not happen,—then, taking off the garments of the monastery, he may be cast out. That petition of his, nevertheless, which the abbot took from above the altar, he shall not receive again; but it shall be preserved in the monastery.

59. Concerning the sons of nobles or of poor men who we presented.

If by chance any one of the nobles offers his son to God in the monastery: if the boy himself is a minor in age, his parents shall make the petition which we spoke of above. And, with an oblation, they shall enwrap that petition and the hand of the boy in the linen cloth of the altar; and thus they shall offer him. Concerning their property, moreover, either they shall promise in the present petition, under an oath, that they will never, either through some chosen person, or in any way whatever, give him any thing at any time, or furnish him with the means of possessing it. Or, indeed, if he be not willing to do this, and wish to offer something as alms to the monastery for their salvation, they shall make a donation of the things which they wish to give to the monastery; retaining for themselves, if they wish, the usufruct. And let all things be so observed that no suspicion may remain with the boy; by which being deceived he might perish—which God forbid,—as we have learned by experience. The poorer ones shall alsodo likewise. Those, however, who have nothing at all shall simply make their petition; and, with an oblation, shall offer their son before witnesses.

60. Concerning priests who may chance to wish to dwell in the monastery.

If anyone of the order of priests ask to be received in the monastery, assent, indeed, shall not too quickly be given him. Nevertheless, if he altogether persist in this supplication, he shall know that he must observe all the discipline of the Rule; nor shall anything be relaxed unto him, that it may be as it is written: "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" Nevertheless it shall be allowed to him to stand after the abbot, and to give the benediction, or to hold mass; if, however, the abbot order him to. But, otherwise, he shall by no means presume to do anything, knowing that he is subject to the discipline of the Rule, and that, all the more, he shall give an example of humility to all. And if he chance to be present in the monastery for the sake of an ordination or anything, he shall expect the position that he had when he entered the monastery; not that which has been conceded to him out of reverence for his priesthood. Moreover, if any one of the clergy desire similarly to be associated with the monastery, he shall have a medium position given him. And he, none the less, shall make promise concerning his observance of the Rule, and concerning his own steadfastness.

61. Concerning pilgrim monks, how they shall be received.

If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts,—if he wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds: he shall be received for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he find fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity: the abbot shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God had sent for this very thing. But if, afterwards, he wish to establish himself lastingly, such a wish shall not be refused: and all the more, since, in the time of his sojourn as guest, his manner of life could have become known. But, if he have been found lavish or vicious in the time of his sojourn as guest,—not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart; lest, by sympathy with him, others also become contaminated. But, if he be not such a one as to merit being cast out: not only if he ask it, shall he be received and associated with thecongregation, but he shall also be urged to remain; that by his example others may be instructed. For in every place one God is served, and one King is warred for. And if the abbot perceive him to be such a one, he may be allowed to place him in a somewhat higher position. For the abbot can place not only a monk, but also one from the above grades of priests or clergy, in a greater place than that in which he enters; if he perceive their life to be such a one as to demand it. Moreover, the abbot must take care lest, at any time, he receive a monk to dwell (with him) from another known monastery, without the consent of his abbot or letters of commendation. For it is written: "Do not unto another what thou wilt not that one do unto thee."

If any abbot seek to ordain for himself a priest or deacon, he shall elect from among his fold one who is worthy to perform the office of a priest. He who is ordained, moreover, shall beware of elation or pride. Nor shall he presume to do anything at all unless what he is ordered to by the abbot; knowing that he is all the more subject to the Rule. Nor, by reason of the priesthood, shall he forget obedience and discipline; but he shall advance more and more towards God. But he shall always expect to hold that position which he had when he entered the monastery: except when performing the service of the altar, and if, perchance, the election of the congregation and the will of the abbot inclines to promote him on account of his merit of life. He shall, nevertheless, know that he is to observe the rule constituted for him by the deans or provosts: and that, if he presume otherwise, he shall be considered not a priest but a rebel. And if, having often been admonished, he do not amend: even the bishop shall be called in in testimony. But if, even then, he do not amend, his faults being glaring, he shall be thrust forth from the monastery. That is, if his contumaciousness shall have been of such a kind, that he was not willing to be subject to or to obey the Rule.

63. Concerning rank in the congregation.

They shall preserve their rank in the monastery according as the time of their conversion and the merit of their life decrees; and as the abbot ordains. And the abbot shall not perturb the flock committed to him; nor, using as it were an arbitrary power, shall he unjustly dispose anything. But he shall always reflect that he is to render account to God for all his judgments and works. Therefore, according to the order which he has decreed, or which the brothers themselves have held: thus they shall go to the absolution, to the communion, to thesinging of the psalm, to their place in the choir. And in all places, altogether, age does not decide the rank or affect it; for Samuel and Daniel, as boys, judged the priests. Therefore excepting those who, as we have said, the abbot has, for a higher reason, preferred, or, for certain causes, degraded: all the rest, as they are converted, so they remain. Thus, for example, he who comes to the monastery at the second hour of the day, may know that he is younger than he who came at the first hour of the day, of whatever age or dignity he be. And, in the case of boys, discipline shall be observed in all things by all. The juniors, therefore, shall honour their seniors; the seniors shall love their juniors. In the very calling of names, it shall be allowed to no one to call another simply by his name: but the seniors shall call their juniors by the name of brothers. The juniors, moreover, shall call their seniors "nonni," which indicates paternal reverence. The abbot, moreover, because he is believed to be Christ’s representative, shall be called Master and Abbot; not by his assumption, but through honour and love for Christ. His thoughts moreover shall be such, and he shall show himself such, that he may be worthy of such honour. Moreover, wherever the brothers meet each other, the junior shall seek a blessing from the senior. When the greater one passes, the lesser one shall rise and give him a place to sit down. Nor shall the junior presume to sit unless his senior bid him; so that it shall be done as is written: "Vying with each other in honor." Boys, little ones or youths, shall obtain their places in the oratory or at table with discipline as the end in view. Out of doors, moreover, or wherever they are, they shall be guarded and disciplined; until they come to an intelligent age.

64. Concerning the ordination of an abbot.

In ordaining an abbot this consideration shall always be observed: that such a one shall be put into office as the whole congregation, according to the fear of God, with one heart—or even a part, however small, of the congregation with more prudent counsel—shall have chosen. He who is to be ordained, moreover, shall be elected for merit of life and learnedness in wisdom; even though he be the lowest in rank in the congregation. But even if the whole congregation with one consent shall have elected a person consenting to their vices—which God forbid;—and those vices shall in any way come clearly to the knowledge of the bishop to whose diocese that place pertains, or to the neighbouring abbots or Christians: the latter shall not allow the consent of the wicked to prevail, but shall set up a dispenserworthy of the house of God; knowing that they will receive a good reward for this, if they do it chastely and with zeal for God. Just so they shall know, on the contrary, that they have sinned if they neglect it. The abbot who is ordained, moreover, shall reflect always what a burden he is undertaking, and to whom he is to render account of his stewardship. He shall know that he ought rather to be of help than to command. He ought, therefore, to be learned in the divine law, that he may know how to give forth both the new and the old; chaste, sober, merciful. He shall always exalt mercy over judgment, that he may obtain the same. He shall hate vice, he shall love the brethren. In his blame itself he shall act prudently and do nothing excessive; lest, while he is too desirous of removing the rust, the vessel be broken. And he shall always suspect his own frailty; and shall remember that a bruised reed is not to be crushed. By which we do not say that he shall permit vice to be nourished; but prudently, and with charity, he shall remove it, according as he finds it to be expedient in the case of each one, as we have already said. And he shall strive rather to be loved than feared. He shall not he troubled and anxious; he also shall not be too obstinate; he shall not be jealous and too suspicious; for then he will have no rest. In his commands he shall be provident, and shall consider whether they be of God or of the world. He shall use discernment and moderation with regard to the labours which he enjoins, thinking of the discretion of St. James who said: "If I overdrive my flocks they will die all in one day." Accepting therefore this and other testimony of discretion the mother of the virtues, he shall so temper all things that there may be both what the strong desire, and the weak do not flee. And, especially, he shall keep the present Rule in all things; so that, when he hath ministered well, he shall hear from the Lord what that good servant did who obtained meat for his fellow servants in his day: "Verily I say unto you," he said, "that he shall make him ruler over all his goods."

73. Concerning the fact that not every just observance is decreed in this Rule.

We have written out this Rule, indeed, that we may show those observing it in the monasteries how to have some honesty of character, or beginning of conversion. But for those who hasten to the perfection of living, there are the teachings of the holy Fathers: the observance of which leads a man to the heights of perfection. For what page, or what discourse, of Divine authority of the Old or the New Testament is not a most perfect rule for human life? Or what bookof the holy Catholic Fathers does not trumpet forth how by the right path we shall come to our Creator? Also the reading aloud of the Fathers, and their decrees, and their lives; also the Rule of our holy Father Basil—what else are they except instruments of virtue for well-living and obedient monks? We, moreover, blush with confusion for the idle, and the evilly living and the negligent. Thou, therefore, whoever doth hasten to the celestial fatherland, perform with Christ’s aid this Rule written out as the least of beginnings: and then at length, under God’s protection, thou wilt come to the greater things that we have mentioned; to the summits of learning and virtue.




Related Resources

Key Events 300–1000

Download Options

Title: The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: "Monasticism," The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4 in The Library of Original Sources, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: University Research Extension Co., 1907), 129–141. Original Sources, accessed November 29, 2022,

MLA: . "Monasticism." The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4, in The Library of Original Sources, edited by Oliver J. Thatcher, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, University Research Extension Co., 1907, pp. 129–141. Original Sources. 29 Nov. 2022.

Harvard: , 'Monasticism' in The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4. cited in 1907, The Library of Original Sources, ed. , University Research Extension Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pp.129–141. Original Sources, retrieved 29 November 2022, from