"The Holy Rule of St. Benedict"
by Saint Benedict,
Abbot of Monte Cassino
Source Used: The Holy Rule of St. Benedict. URL: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/benedict/rule.html
Author: St. Benedict, Abbot of Monte Cassino
Translator: Rev. Boniface Verheyen, OSB of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kansas (1844-1923)
Publisher: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids, MI. 1949 Edition
Rights: Public Domain
Contributor: Jon Van Hofwegen
Listen, O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart, and cheerfully
receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father, that by the toil of obedience
thou mayest return to Him from whom by the sloth of disobedience thou hast gone away.
To thee, therefore, my speech is now directed, who, giving up thine own will, takest up the
strong and most excellent arms of obedience, to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King.
In the first place, beg of Him by most earnest prayer, that He perfect whatever good thou dost
begin, in order that He who hath been pleased to count us in the number of His children, need never
be grieved at our evil deeds. For we ought at all times so to serve Him with the good things which
He hath given us, that He may not, like an angry father, disinherit his children, nor, like a dread
lord, enraged at our evil deeds, hand us over to everlasting punishment as most wicked servants,
who would not follow Him to glory.
Let us then rise at length, since the Scripture arouseth us, saying: “It is now the hour for us to
rise from sleep” (Rom 13:11); and having opened our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with
awestruck ears what the divine voice, crying out daily, doth admonish us, saying: “Today, if you
shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 94:8). And again: “He that hath ears to hear
let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches” (Rev 2:7). And what doth He say?—”Come,
children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Ps 33:12). “Run whilst you
have the light of life, that the darkness of death overtake you not” (Jn 12:35).
And the Lord seeking His workman in the multitude of the people, to whom He proclaimeth
these words, saith again: “Who is the man that desireth life and loveth to see good days” (Ps
33:13)? If hearing this thou answerest, “I am he,” God saith to thee: “If thou wilt have true and
everlasting life, keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile; turn away from evil
and do good; seek after peace and pursue it” (Ps 33:14-15). And when you shall have done
these things, my eyes shall be upon you, and my ears unto your prayers. And before you shall call
upon me I will say: “Behold, I am here” (Is 58:9).
What, dearest brethren, can be sweeter to us than this voice of the Lord inviting us? See, in His
loving kindness, the Lord showeth us the way of life. Therefore, having our loins girt with faith
and the performance of good works, let us walk His ways under the guidance of the Gospel, that
we may be found worthy of seeing Him who hath called us to His kingdom (cf 1 Thes 2:12).
If we desire to dwell in the tabernacle of His kingdom, we cannot reach it in any way, unless
we run thither by good works. But let us ask the Lord with the Prophet, saying to Him: “Lord, who
shall dwell in Thy tabernacle, or who shall rest in Thy holy hill” (Ps 14:1)?
After this question, brethren, let us listen to the Lord answering and showing us the way to this
tabernacle, saying: “He that walketh without blemish and worketh justice; he that speaketh truth
in his heart; who hath not used deceit in his tongue, nor hath done evil to his neighbor, nor hath
taken up a reproach against his neighbor” (Ps 14:2-3), who hath brought to naught the foul
demon tempting him, casting him out of his heart with his temptation, and hath taken his evil
thoughts whilst they were yet weak and hath dashed them against Christ (cf Ps 14:4; Ps
136:9); who fearing the Lord are not puffed up by their goodness of life, but holding that the
actual good which is in them cannot be done by themselves, but by the Lord, they praise the Lord working in them (cf Ps 14:4), saying with the Prophet: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us; by to Thy
name give glory” (Ps 113[115:1]:9). Thus also the Apostle Paul hath not taken to himself any credit
for his preaching, saying: “By the grace of God, I am what I am” (1 Cor 15:10). And again he saith:
“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (2 Cor 10:17).
Hence, the Lord also saith in the Gospel: “He that heareth these my words and doeth them, shall
be likened to a wise man who built his house upon a rock; the floods came, the winds blew, and
they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock” (Mt 7:24-25). The Lord
fulfilling these words waiteth for us from day to day, that we respond to His holy admonitions by
our works. Therefore, our days are lengthened to a truce for the amendment of the misdeeds of our
present life; as the Apostle saith: “Knowest thou not that the patience of God leadeth thee to penance”
(Rom 2:4)? For the good Lord saith: “I will not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted
and live” (Ezek 33:11).
Now, brethren, that we have asked the Lord who it is that shall dwell in His tabernacle, we have
heard the conditions for dwelling there; and if we fulfil the duties of tenants, we shall be heirs of
the kingdom of heaven. Our hearts and our bodies must, therefore, be ready to do battle under the
biddings of holy obedience; and let us ask the Lord that He supply by the help of His grace what
is impossible to us by nature. And if, flying from the pains of hell, we desire to reach life everlasting,
then, while there is yet time, and we are still in the flesh, and are able during the present life to
fulfil all these things, we must make haste to do now what will profit us forever.
We are, therefore, about to found a school of the Lord’s service, in which we hope to introduce
nothing harsh or burdensome. But even if, to correct vices or to preserve charity, sound reason
dictateth anything that turneth out somewhat stringent, do not at once fly in dismay from the way
of salvation, the beginning of which cannot but be narrow. But as we advance in the religious life
and faith, we shall run the way of God’s commandments with expanded hearts and unspeakable
sweetness of love; so that never departing from His guidance and persevering in the monastery in
His doctrine till death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ, and be found worthy
to be coheirs with Him of His kingdom.
Of the Kinds or the Life of Monks
It is well known that there are four kinds of monks. The first kind is that of Cenobites, that is,
the monastic, who live under a rule and an Abbot.
The second kind is that of Anchorites, or Hermits, that is, of those who, no longer in the first
fervor of their conversion, but taught by long monastic practice and the help of many brethren,
have already learned to fight against the devil; and going forth from the rank of their brethren well
trained for single combat in the desert, they are able, with the help of God, to cope single-handed
without the help of others, against the vices of the flesh and evil thoughts.
But a third and most vile class of monks is that of Sarabaites, who have been tried by no rule
under the hand of a master, as gold is tried in the fire (cf Prov 27:21); but, soft as lead, and still
keeping faith with the world by their works, they are known to belie God by their tonsure. Living
in two’s and three’s, or even singly, without a shepherd, enclosed, not in the Lord’s sheepfold, but
in their own, the gratification of their desires is law unto them; because what they choose to do
they call holy, but what they dislike they hold to be unlawful.
But the fourth class of monks is that called Landlopers, who keep going their whole life long
from one province to another, staying three or four days at a time in different cells as guests. Always
roving and never settled, they indulge their passions and the cravings of their appetite, and are in
every way worse than the Sarabaites. It is better to pass all these over in silence than to speak of
their most wretched life.
Therefore, passing these over, let us go on with the help of God to lay down a rule for that most
valiant kind of monks, the Cenobites.
What Kind of Man the Abbot Ought to Be
The Abbot who is worthy to be over a monastery, ought always to be mindful of what he is
called, and make his works square with his name of Superior. For he is believed to hold the place
of Christ in the monastery, when he is called by his name, according to the saying of the Apostle:
“You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba (Father)” (Rom 8:15).
Therefore, the Abbot should never teach, prescribe, or command (which God forbid) anything
contrary to the laws of the Lord; but his commands and teaching should be instilled like a leaven
of divine justice into the minds of his disciples.
Let the Abbot always bear in mind that he must give an account in the dread judgment of God
of both his own teaching and of the obedience of his disciples. And let the Abbot know that whatever
lack of profit the master of the house shall find in the sheep, will be laid to the blame of the shepherd.
On the other hand he will be blameless, if he gave all a shepherd’s care to his restless and unruly
flock, and took all pains to correct their corrupt manners; so that their shepherd, acquitted at the
Lord’s judgment seat, may say to the Lord with the Prophet: “I have not hid Thy justice within my
heart. I have declared Thy truth and Thy salvation” (Ps 39:11). “But they contemning have
despised me” (Is 1:2; Ezek 20:27). Then at length eternal death will be the crushing doom of the
rebellious sheep under his charge.
When, therefore, anyone taketh the name of Abbot he should govern his disciples by a twofold
teaching; namely, he should show them all that is good and holy by his deeds more than by his
words; explain the commandments of God to intelligent disciples by words, but show the divine
precepts to the dull and simple by his works. And let him show by his actions, that whatever he
teacheth his disciples as being contrary to the law of God must not be done, “lest perhaps when he
hath preached to others, he himself should become a castaway” (1 Cor 9:27), and he himself
committing sin, God one day say to him: “Why dost thou declare My justices, and take My covenant
in thy mouth? But thou hast hated discipline, and hast cast My words behind thee” (Ps 49:16-17).
And: “Thou who sawest the mote in thy brother’s eye, hast not seen the beam in thine own” (Mt
Let him make no distinction of persons in the monastery. Let him not love one more than
another, unless it be one whom he findeth more exemplary in good works and obedience. Let not
a free-born be preferred to a freedman, unless there be some other reasonable cause. But if from a
just reason the Abbot deemeth it proper to make such a distinction, he may do so in regard to the
rank of anyone whomsoever; otherwise let everyone keep his own place; for whether bond or free,
we are all one in Christ (cf Gal 3:28; Eph 6:8), and we all bear an equal burden of servitude under
one Lord, “for there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom 2:11). We are distinguished with
Him in this respect alone, if we are found to excel others in good works and in humility. Therefore,
let him have equal charity for all, and impose a uniform discipline for all according to merit.
For in his teaching the Abbot should always observe that principle of the Apostle in which he
saith: “Reprove, entreat, rebuke” (2 Tm 4:2), that is, mingling gentleness with severity, as the
occasion may call for, let him show the severity of the master and the loving affection of a father.
He must sternly rebuke the undisciplined and restless; but he must exhort the obedient, meek, and patient to advance in virtue. But we charge him to rebuke and punish the negligent and haughty.
Let him not shut his eyes to the sins of evil-doers; but on their first appearance let him do his utmost
to cut them out from the root at once, mindful of the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo (cf 1 Samuel
2:11-4:18). The well-disposed and those of good understanding, let him correct at the first and
second admonition only with words; but let him chastise the wicked and the hard of heart, and the
proud and disobedient at the very first offense with stripes and other bodily punishments, knowing
that it is written: “The fool is not corrected with words” (Prov 29:19). And again: “Strike thy son
with the rod, and thou shalt deliver his soul from death” (Prov 23:14).
The Abbot ought always to remember what he is and what he is called, and to know that to
whom much hath been entrusted, from him much will be required; and let him understand what a
difficult and arduous task he assumeth in governing souls and accommodating himself to a variety
of characters. Let him so adjust and adapt himself to everyone—to one gentleness of speech, to
another by reproofs, and to still another by entreaties, to each one according to his bent and
understanding—that he not only suffer no loss in his flock, but may rejoice in the increase of a
Above all things, that the Abbot may not neglect or undervalue the welfare of the souls entrusted
to him, let him not have too great a concern about fleeting, earthly, perishable things; but let him
always consider that he hath undertaken the government of souls, of which he must give an account.
And that he may not perhaps complain of the want of earthly means, let him remember what is
written: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto
you” (Mt 6:33). And again: “There is no want to them that fear Him” (Ps 33:10). And let him
know that he who undertaketh the government of souls must prepare himself to give an account
for them; and whatever the number of brethren he hath under his charge, let him be sure that on
judgment day he will, without doubt, have to give an account to the Lord for all these souls, in
addition to that of his own. And thus, whilst he is in constant fear of the Shepherd’s future
examination about the sheep entrusted to him, and is watchful of his account for others, he is made
solicitous also on his own account; and whilst by his admonitions he had administered correction
to others, he is freed from his own failings.
Of Calling the Brethren for Counsel
Whenever weighty matters are to be transacted in the monastery, let the Abbot call together the
whole community, and make known the matter which is to be considered. Having heard the brethren’s
views, let him weigh the matter with himself and do what he thinketh best. It is for this reason,
however, we said that all should be called for counsel, because the Lord often revealeth to the
younger what is best. Let the brethren, however, give their advice with humble submission, and let
them not presume stubbornly to defend what seemeth right to them, for it must depend rather on
the Abbot’s will, so that all obey him in what he considereth best. But as it becometh disciples to
obey their master, so also it becometh the master to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
Therefore, let all follow the Rule as their guide in everything, and let no one rashly depart from it.
Let no one in the monastery follow the bent of his own heart, and let no one dare to dispute
insolently with his Abbot, either inside or outside the monastery. If any one dare to do so, let him
be placed under the correction of the Rule. Let the Abbot himself, however, do everything in the
fear of the Lord and out of reverence for the Rule, knowing that, beyond a doubt, he will have to
give an account to God, the most just Judge, for all his rulings. If, however, matters of less
importance, having to do with the welfare of the monastery, are to be treated of, let him use the
counsel of the Seniors only, as it is written: “Do all things with counsel, and thou shalt not repent
when thou hast done” (Sir 32:24).
The Instruments of Good Works
(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole
strength…(2) Then, one’s neighbor as one’s self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).(3) Then,
not to kill…(4) Not to commit adultery…(5) Not to steal…(6) Not to covet (cf Rom 13:9).(7) Not
to bear false witness (cf Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20). (8) To honor all men (cf 1 Pt 2:17).(9)
And what one would not have done to himself, not to do to another (cf Tob 4:16; Mt 7:12; Lk
6:31).(10) To deny one’s self in order to follow Christ (cf Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23).(11) To chastise the
body (cf 1 Cor 9:27).(12) Not to seek after pleasures.(13) To love fasting.(14) To relieve the
poor.(15) To clothe the naked… (16) To visit the sick (cf Mt 25:36).(17) To bury the dead.(18) To
help in trouble.(19) To console the sorrowing.(20) To hold one’s self aloof from worldly ways.(21)
To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.(22) Not to give way to anger.(23) Not to foster a desire for
revenge.(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.(25) Not to make a false peace.(26) Not to forsake
charity.(27) Not to swear, lest perchance one swear falsely.(28) To speak the truth with heart and
tongue. (29) Not to return evil for evil (cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9).(30) To do no injury, yea, even
patiently to bear the injury done us.(31) To love one’s enemies (cf Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27).(32) Not to
curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them.(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt
5:10).(34) Not to be proud…(35) Not to be given to wine (cf Ti 1:7; 1 Tm 3:3).(36) Not to be a
great eater. (37) Not to be drowsy.(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).(39) Not to be a murmurer.
(40) Not to be a detractor.(41) To put one’s trust in God.(42) To refer what good one sees in himself,
not to self, but to God.(43) But as to any evil in himself, let him be convinced that it is his own and
charge it to himself.(44) To fear the day of judgment.(45) To be in dread of hell.(46) To desire
eternal life with all spiritual longing.(47) To keep death before one’s eyes daily.(48) To keep a
constant watch over the actions of our life.(49) To hold as certain that God sees us everywhere.(50)
To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one’s heart.(51) And to disclose them
to our spiritual father.(52) To guard one’s tongue against bad and wicked speech.(53) Not to love
much speaking.(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.(55) Not to love much
or boisterous laughter.(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.(57) To apply one’s self often to
prayer.(58) To confess one’s past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend
them for the future.(59) Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).(60) To hate one’s own
will.(61) To obey the commands of the Abbot in all things, even though he himself (which Heaven
forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: “What they say, do ye; what they do, do
ye not” (Mt 23:3).(62) Not to desire to be called holy before one is; but to be holy first, that one
may be truly so called.(63) To fulfil daily the commandments of God by works.(64) To love
chastity.(65) To hate no one.(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.(67) Not to love strife.(68)
Not to love pride.(69) To honor the aged.(70) To love the younger.(71) To pray for one’s enemies
in the love of Christ.(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.(73) And
never to despair of God’s mercy.
Behold, these are the instruments of the spiritual art, which, if they have been applied without
ceasing day and night and approved on judgment day, will merit for us from the Lord that reward
which He hath promised: “The eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). But the workshop
in which we perform all these works with diligence is the enclosure of the monastery, and stability
in the community.
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This becometh those who, on account
of the holy subjection which they have promised, or of the fear of hell, or the glory of life everlasting,
hold nothing dearer than Christ. As soon as anything hath been commanded by the Superior they
permit no delay in the execution, as if the matter had been commanded by God Himself. Of these
the Lord saith: “At the hearing of the ear he hath obeyed Me” (Ps 17:45). And again He saith
to the teachers: “He that heareth you heareth Me” (Lk 10:16).
Such as these, therefore, instantly quitting their own work and giving up their own will, with
hands disengaged, and leaving unfinished what they were doing, follow up, with the ready step of
obedience, the work of command with deeds; and thus, as if in the same moment, both matters—the
master’s command and the disciple’s finished work—are, in the swiftness of the fear of God, speedily
finished together, whereunto the desire of advancing to eternal life urgeth them. They, therefore,
seize upon the narrow way whereof the Lord saith: “Narrow is the way which leadeth to life” (Mt
7:14), so that, not living according to their own desires and pleasures but walking according to the
judgment and will of another, they live in monasteries, and desire an Abbot to be over them. Such
as these truly live up to the maxim of the Lord in which He saith: “I came not to do My own will,
but the will of Him that sent Me” (Jn 6:38).
This obedience, however, will be acceptable to God and agreeable to men then only, if what is
commanded is done without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling or complaint, because the
obedience which is rendered to Superiors is rendered to God. For He Himself hath said: “He that
heareth you heareth Me” (Lk 10:16). And it must be rendered by the disciples with a good will,
“for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). ” For if the disciple obeyeth with an ill will, and
murmureth, not only with lips but also in his heart, even though he fulfil the command, yet it will
not be acceptable to God, who regardeth the heart of the murmurer. And for such an action he
acquireth no reward; rather he incurreth the penalty of murmurers, unless he maketh satisfactory
Let us do what the Prophet saith: “I said, I will take heed of my ways, that I sin not with my
tongue: I have set a guard to my mouth, I was dumb, and was humbled, and kept silence even from
good things” (Ps 38:2-3). Here the prophet showeth that, if at times we ought to refrain from
useful speech for the sake of silence, how much more ought we to abstain from evil words on
account of the punishment due to sin.
Therefore, because of the importance of silence, let permission to speak be seldom given to
perfect disciples even for good and holy and edifying discourse, for it is written: “In much talk thou
shalt not escape sin” (Prov 10:19). And elsewhere: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”
(Prov 18:21). For it belongeth to the master to speak and to teach; it becometh the disciple to be
silent and to listen. If, therefore, anything must be asked of the Superior, let it be asked with all
humility and respectful submission. But coarse jests, and idle words or speech provoking laughter,
we condemn everywhere to eternal exclusion; and for such speech we do not permit the disciple
to open his lips.
Brethren, the Holy Scripture crieth to us saying: “Every one that exalteth himself shall be
humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Lk 14:11; 18:14). Since, therefore, it
saith this, it showeth us that every exaltation is a kind of pride. The Prophet declareth that he
guardeth himself against this, saying: “Lord, my heart is not puffed up; nor are my eyes haughty.
Neither have I walked in great matters nor in wonderful things above me” (Ps 130:1). What
then? “If I was not humbly minded, but exalted my soul; as a child that is weaned is towards his
mother so shalt Thou reward my soul” (Ps 130:2).
Hence, brethren, if we wish to reach the greatest height of humility, and speedily to arrive at
that heavenly exaltation to which ascent is made in the present life by humility, then, mounting by
our actions, we must erect the ladder which appeared to Jacob in his dream, by means of which
angels were shown to him ascending and descending (cf Gen 28:12). Without a doubt, we understand
this ascending and descending to be nothing else but that we descend by pride and ascend by
humility. The erected ladder, however, is our life in the present world, which, if the heart is humble,
is by the Lord lifted up to heaven. For we say that our body and our soul are the two sides of this
ladder; and into these sides the divine calling hath inserted various degrees of humility or discipline
which we must mount.
The first degree of humility, then, is that a man always have the fear of God before his eyes (cf
Ps 35:2), shunning all forgetfulness and that he be ever mindful of all that God hath commanded,
that he always considereth in his mind how those who despise God will burn in hell for their sins,
and that life everlasting is prepared for those who fear God. And whilst he guardeth himself evermore
against sin and vices of thought, word, deed, and self-will, let him also hasten to cut off the desires
of the flesh.
Let a man consider that God always seeth him from Heaven, that the eye of God beholdeth his
works everywhere, and that the angels report them to Him every hour. The Prophet telleth us this
when he showeth God thus ever present in our thoughts, saying: “The searcher of hearts and reins
is God” (Ps 7:10). And again: “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of men” (Ps 93:11) And he
saith: “Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off” (Ps 138:3). And: “The thoughts of man
shall give praise to Thee” (Ps 75:11). Therefore, in order that he may always be on his guard
against evil thoughts, let the humble brother always say in his heart: “Then I shall be spotless before
Him, if I shall keep myself from iniquity” (Ps 17:24).
We are thus forbidden to do our own will, since the Scripture saith to us: “And turn away from
thy evil will” (Sir 18:30). And thus, too, we ask God in prayer that His will may be done in us (cf
Mt 6:10). We are, therefore, rightly taught not to do our own will, when we guard against what
Scripture saith: “There are ways that to men seem right, the end whereof plungeth into the depths
of hell” (Prov 16:25). And also when we are filled with dread at what is said of the negligent: “They
are corrupted and become abominable in their pleasure” (Ps 13:1). But as regards desires of
the flesh, let us believe that God is thus ever present to us, since the Prophet saith to the Lord:
“Before Thee is all my desire” (Ps 37:10).
We must, therefore, guard thus against evil desires, because death hath his station near the
entrance of pleasure. Whence the Scripture commandeth, saying: “Go no after thy lusts” (Sir 18:30).
If, therefore, the eyes of the Lord observe the good and the bad (cf Prov 15:3) and the Lord always
looketh down from heaven on the children of men, to see whether there be anyone that understandeth
or seeketh God (cf Ps 13:2); and if our actions are reported to the Lord day and night by the
angels who are appointed to watch over us daily, we must ever be on our guard, brethren, as the
Prophet saith in the psalm, that God may at no time see us “gone aside to evil and become
unprofitable” (Ps 13:3), and having spared us in the present time, because He is kind and waiteth
for us to be changed for the better, say to us in the future: “These things thou hast done and I was
silent” (Ps 49:21).
The second degree of humility is, when a man loveth not his own will, nor is pleased to fulfill
his own desires but by his deeds carrieth our that word of the Lord which saith: “I came not to do
My own will but the will of Him that sent Me” (Jn 6:38). It is likewise said: “Self-will hath its
punishment, but necessity winneth the crown.”
The third degree of humility is, that for the love of God a man subject himself to a Superior in
all obedience, imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle saith: “He became obedient unto death”
The fourth degree of humility is, that, if hard and distasteful things are commanded, nay, even
though injuries are inflicted, he accept them with patience and even temper, and not grow weary
or give up, but hold out, as the Scripture saith: “He that shall persevere unto the end shall be saved”
(Mt 10:22). And again: “Let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord” (Ps 26:14).
And showing that a faithful man ought even to bear every disagreeable thing for the Lord, it saith
in the person of the suffering: “For Thy sake we suffer death all the day long; we are counted as
sheep for the slaughter” (Rom 8:36; Ps 43:22). And secure in the hope of the divine reward,
they go on joyfully, saying: “But in all these things we overcome because of Him that hath loved
us” (Rom 8:37). And likewise in another place the Scripture saith: “Thou, O God, hast proved us;
Thou hast tried us by fire as silver is tried; Thou hast brought us into a net, Thou hast laid afflictions
on our back” (Ps 65:10-11). And to show us that we ought to be under a Superior, it continueth,
saying: “Thou hast set men over our heads” (Ps 65:12). And fulfilling the command of the Lord
by patience also in adversities and injuries, when struck on the one cheek they turn also the other;
the despoiler of their coat they give their cloak also; and when forced to go one mile they go two
(cf Mt 5:39-41); with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren and “bless those who curse
them” (2 Cor 11:26; 1 Cor 4:12).
The fifth degree of humility is, when one hideth from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts which
rise in his heart or the evils committed by him in secret, but humbly confesseth them. Concerning
this the Scripture exhorts us, saying: “Reveal thy way to the Lord and trust in Him” (Ps 36:5).
And it saith further: “Confess to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever” (Ps
105:1; Ps 117:1). And the Prophet likewise saith: “I have acknowledged my sin to Thee
and my injustice I have not concealed. I said I will confess against myself my injustice to the Lord;
and Thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sins” (Ps 31:5).
The sixth degree of humility is, when a monk is content with the meanest and worst of everything,
and in all that is enjoined him holdeth himself as a bad and worthless workman, saying with the
Prophet: “I am brought to nothing and I knew it not; I am become as a beast before Thee, and I am
always with Thee” (Ps 72:22-23).
The seventh degree of humility is, when, not only with his tongue he declareth, but also in his
inmost soul believeth, that he is the lowest and vilest of men, humbling himself and saying with
the Prophet: “But I am a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people” (Ps
21:7). “I have been exalted and humbled and confounded” (Ps 87:16). And also: “It is good
for me that Thou hast humbled me, that I may learn Thy commandments” (Ps 118:71,73).
The eighth degree of humility is, when a monk doeth nothing but what is sanctioned by the
common rule of the monastery and the example of his elders.
The ninth degree of humility is, when a monk withholdeth his tongue from speaking, and keeping
silence doth not speak until he is asked; for the Scripture showeth that “in a multitude of words
there shall not want sin” (Prov 10:19); and that “a man full of tongue is not established in the earth”
The tenth degree of humility is, when a monk is not easily moved and quick for laughter, for
it is written: “The fool exalteth his voice in laughter” (Sir 21:23).
The eleventh degree of humility is, that, when a monk speaketh, he speak gently and without
laughter, humbly and with gravity, with few and sensible words, and that he be not loud of voice,
as it is written: “The wise man is known by the fewness of his words.”
The twelfth degree of humility is, when a monk is not only humble of heart, but always letteth
it appear also in his whole exterior to all that see him; namely, at the Work of God, in the garden,
on a journey, in the field, or wherever he may be, sitting, walking, or standing, let him always have
his head bowed down, his eyes fixed on the ground, ever holding himself guilty of his sins, thinking
that he is already standing before the dread judgment seat of God, and always saying to himself in
his heart what the publican in the Gospel said, with his eyes fixed on the ground: “Lord, I am a
sinner and not worthy to lift up mine eyes to heaven” (Lk 18:13); and again with the Prophet: “I
am bowed down and humbled exceedingly” (Ps 37:7-9; Ps 118:107).
Having, therefore, ascended all these degrees of humility, the monk will presently arrive at that
love of God, which being perfect, casteth out fear (1 Jn 4:18). In virtue of this love all things which
at first he observed not without fear, he will now begin to keep without any effort, and as it were,
naturally by force of habit, no longer from the fear of hell, but from the love of Christ, from the
very habit of good and the pleasure in virtue. May the Lord be pleased to manifest all this by His
Holy Spirit in His laborer now cleansed from vice and sin.
Of the Divine Office during the Night
Making due allowance for circumstances, the brethren will rise during the winter season, that
is, from the calends of November till Easter, at the eighth hour of the night; so that, having rested
till a little after midnight, they may rise refreshed. The time, however, which remains over after
the night office (Matins) will be employed in study by those of the brethren who still have some
parts of the psalms and the lessons to learn.
But from Easter to the aforesaid calends, let the hour for celebrating the night office (Matins)
be so arranged, that after a very short interval, during which the brethren may go out for the
necessities of nature, the morning office (Lauds), which is to be said at the break of day, may follow
How Many Psalms Are to Be Said at the Night Office
During the winter season, having in the first place said the verse: Deus, in adjutorium meum
intende; Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina, there is next to be said three times, Domine, labia
mea aperies, et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam (Ps 50:17). To this the third psalm and the
Gloria are to be added. After this the 94th psalm with its antiphon is to be said or chanted. Hereupon
let a hymn follow, and after that six psalms with antiphons. When these and the verse have been
said, let the Abbot give the blessing. All being seated on the benches, let three lessons be read
alternately by the brethren from the book on the reading stand, between which let three responsories
be said. Let two of the responsories be said without the Gloria, but after the third lesson, let him
who is chanting say the Gloria. When the cantor beginneth to sing it, let all rise at once from their
seats in honor and reverence of the Blessed Trinity.
Let the inspired books of both the Old and the New Testaments be read at the night offices, as
also the expositions of them which have been made by the most eminent orthodox and Catholic
After these three lessons with their responsories, let six other psalms follow, to be sung with
Alleluia. After these let the lessons from the Apostle follow, to be said by heart, then the verse, the
invocation of the litany, that is, Kyrie eleison. And thus let the night office come to an end.
How the Office Is to Be Said during the Summer Season
From Easter till the calends of November let the whole psalmody, as explained above, be said,
except that on account of the shortness of the nights, no lessons are read from the book; but instead
of these three lessons, let one from the Old Testament be said from memory. Let a short responsory
follow this, and let all the rest be performed as was said; namely, that never fewer than twelve
psalms be said at the night office, exclusive of the third and the 94th psalm.
How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays
For the night office on Sunday the monks should rise earlier. At this office let the following
regulations be observed, namely: after six psalms and the verse have been sung, as we arranged
above, and all have been properly seated on the benches in their order, let four lessons with their
responsories be read from the book, as we said above. In the fourth responsory only, let the Gloria
be said by the chanter, and as soon as he beginneth it let all presently rise with reverence.
After these lessons let six other psalms with antiphons and the verse follow in order as before.
After these let there be said three canticles from the Prophets, selected by the Abbot, and chanted
with Alleluia. When the verse also hath been said and the Abbot hath given the blessing, let four
other lessons from the New Testament be read in the order above mentioned. But after the fourth
responsory let the Abbot intone the hymn Te Deum laudamus. When this hath been said, let the
Abbot read the lesson from the Gospel, all standing with reverence and awe. When the Gospel hath
been read let all answer Amen, and immediately the Abbot will follow up with the hymn Te decet
laus, and when he hath given the blessing Lauds will begin.
Let this order of the night office be observed on Sunday the same way in all seasons, in summer
as well as in winter, unless perchance (which God forbid) the brethren should rise too late and part
of the lessons or the responsories would have to be shortened. Let every precaution be taken that
this does not occur. If it should happen, let him through whose neglect it came about make due
satisfaction for it to God in the oratory.
How Lauds Are to Be Said
At Lauds on Sunday, let the 66th psalm be said first simply, without an antiphon. After that let
the 50th psalm be said with Alleluia; after this let the 117th and the 62d be said; then the blessing
and the praises, one lesson from the Apocalypse, said by heart, a responsory, the Ambrosian hymn,
the verse and the canticle from the Gospel, the litany, and it is finished.
How Lauds Are to Be Said on Week Days
On week days let Lauds be celebrated in the following manner, to wit: Let the 66th psalm be
said without an antiphon, drawing it out a little as on Sunday, that all may arriver for the 50th,
which is to be said with an antiphon. After this let two other psalms be said according to custom;
namely, the 5th and the 35th on the second day, the 42d and the 56th on the third day, the 63rd and
the 64th on the fourth day, the 87th and the 89th on the fifth day, the 75th and the 91st on the sixth
day, and on Saturday the 142d and the canticle of Deuteronomy, which should be divided into two
Glorias. On the other days, however, let the canticle from the Prophets, each for its proper day, be
said as the Roman Church singeth it. After these let the psalms of praise follow; then one lesson
from the Apostle, to be said from memory, the responsory, the Ambrosian hymn, the verse, the
canticle from the Gospel, the litany, and it is finished.
Owing to the sandals which are wont to spring up, the morning and the evening office should,
plainly, never end unless the Lord’s Prayer is said in the hearing of all by the Superior in its place
at the end; so that in virtue of the promise which the brethren make when they say, “Forgive us as
we forgive” (Mt 6:12), they may cleanse themselves of failings of this kind.
At the other hours which are to be said, however, let only the last part of this prayer be said
aloud, so that all may answer, “But deliver us from evil” (Mt 6:13).
How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the Saints
On the feasts of the saints and on all solemn festivals let the night office be performed as we
said it should be done on Sunday; except that the psalms, the antiphons, and the lessons proper for
that day be said; but let the number above mentioned be maintained.
At What Times the Alleluia Is to Be Said
From holy Easter until Pentecost let the Alleluia be said without intermission, both with the
psalms and with the responsories; but from Pentecost until the beginning of Lent let it be said every
night at the nocturns with the six latter psalms only. However, on all Sundays outside of Lent, let
the canticles, Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, and None be said with Alleluia. Let Vespers, however,
be said with the antiphon; but let the responsories never be said with Alleluia, except from Easter
How the Work of God Is to Be Performed during the Day
As the Prophet saith: “Seven times a day I have given praise to Thee” (Ps 118:164), this
sacred sevenfold number will be fulfilled by us in this wise if we perform the duties of our service
at the time of Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Complin; because it was of these day
hours that he hath said: “Seven times a day I have given praise to Thee” (Ps 118:164). For
the same Prophet saith of the night watches: “At midnight I arose to confess to Thee” (Ps
118:62). At these times, therefore, let us offer praise to our Creator “for the judgments of His
justice;” namely, at Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Complin; and let us rise at
night to praise Him (cf Ps 118:164, 62).
How Many Psalms Are to Be Sung at These Hours
We have now arranged the order of the psalmody for the night and the morning office; let us
next arrange for the succeeding Hours. At the first Hour let three psalms be said separately, and
not under one Gloria. Let the hymn for the same Hour be said after the verse Deus, in adjutorium
(Ps 69:2), before the psalms are begun. Then, after the completion of three psalms, let one
lesson be said, a verse, the Kyrie eleison, and the collects.
At the third, the sixth, and the ninth Hours, the prayer will be said in the same order; namely,
the verse, the hymn proper to each Hour, the three psalms, the lesson, the verse, the Kyrie eleison,
and the collects. If the brotherhood is large, let these Hours be sung with antiphons; but if small,
let them be said without a break.
Let the office of Vespers be ended with four psalms and antiphons; after these psalms a lesson
is to be recited, next a responsory, the Ambrosian hymn, a verse, the canticle from the Gospel, the
litany, the Lord’s Prayer, and the collects.
Let Complin end with the saying of three psalms, which are to be said straight on without an
antiphon, and after these the hymn for the same Hour, one lesson, the verse, Kyrie eleison, the
blessing, and the collects.
In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said
In the beginning let there be said the verse, Deus, in adjutorium meum intende; Domine, ad
adjuvandum me festina (Ps 69:2), and the Gloria, followed by the hymn for each Hour. At
Prime on Sunday, then, there are to be said four sections of the 118th psalm. At the other Hours,
however, namely Tierce, Sext, and None, let three sections of the same psalm be said. But at Prime
on Monday let three psalms be said, namely, the first, the second, and the sixth; and thus each day
at Prime until Sunday, let three psalms be said each time in consecutive order up to the 19th psalm,
yet so that the ninth psalm and the 17th be each divided into two Glorias; and thus it will come
about that at the night office on Sundays we always begin with the 20th psalm.
At Tierce, Sext, and None, on Monday, however, let the nine sections which remain over the
118th psalm be said, three sections at each of these Hours. The 118th psalm having thus been
parceled out for two days, namely, Sunday and Monday, let there be sung on Tuesday for Tierce,
Sext, and None, three psalms each, from the 119th to the 127th, that is, nine psalms. These psalms
will always be repeated at the same Hours in just the same way until Sunday, observing also for
all these days a regular succession of the hymns, the lessons, and the verses, so, namely, that on
Sunday the beginning is always made with the 118th psalm.
Let Vespers be sung daily with the singing of four psalms. Let these psalms begin with the
109th to the 147th, excepting those which are set aside for the other Hours; namely, from the 117th
to the 127th, and the 133d, and the 142d. All the rest are to be said at Vespers; and as the psalms
fall three short, those of the aforesaide psalms which are found to be longer, are to be divided;
namely, the 138th, the 143d, and the 144th. But because the 116th is short, let it be joined to the
115th. The order of the psalms for Vespers having thus been arranged let the rest, namely, the
lessons, the responsories, the hymns, the verses, and the canticles, be said as we have directed
At Complin, however, let the same psalms be repeated every day; namely, the 4th, the 90th,
and the 133d.
Having arranged the order of the office, let all the rest of the psalms which remain over, be
divided equally into seven night offices, by so dividing such of them as are of greater length that
twelve fall to each night. We especially impress this, that, if this distribution of the psalms should
perchance displease anyone, he arrange them if he thinketh another better, by all means seeing to
it that the whole Psalter of one hundred and fifty psalms be said every week, and that it always start
again from the beginning at Matins on Sunday; because those monks show too lax a service in their
devotion who in the course of a week chant less than the whole Psalter with is customary canticles;
since we read, that our holy forefathers promptly fulfilled in one day what we lukewarm monks
should, please God, perform at least in a week.
Of the Manner of Reciting the Psalter
We believe that God is present everywhere and that the eyes of the Lord behold the good and
the bad in every place (cf Prov 15:3). Let us firmly believe this, especially when we take part in
the Work of God. Let us, therefore, always be mindful of what the Prophet saith, “Serve ye the
Lord with fear” (Ps 2:11). And again, “Sing ye wisely” (Ps 46:8). And, “I will sing praise to
Thee in the sight of the angels” (Ps 137:1). Therefore, let us consider how it becometh us to
behave in the sight of God and His angels, and let us so stand to sing, that our mind may be in
harmony with our voice.
Of Reverence at Prayer
If we do not venture to approach men who are in power, except with humility and reverence,
when we wish to ask a favor, how much must we beseech the Lord God of all things with all humility
and purity of devotion? And let us be assured that it is not in many words, but in the purity of heart
and tears of compunction that we are heard. For this reason prayer ought to be short and pure,
unless, perhaps it is lengthened by the inspiration of divine grace. At the community exercises,
however, let the prayer always be short, and the sign having been given by the Superior, let all rise
Of the Deans of the Monastery
If the brotherhood is large, let brethren of good repute and holy life be chosen from among
them and be appointed Deans; and let them take care of their deaneries in everything according to
the commandments of God and the directions of their Abbot. Let such be chosen Deans as the
Abbot may safely trust to share his burden. Let them not be chosen for their rank, but for the merit
of their life and their wisdom and knowledge; and if any of them, puffed up with pride, should be
found blameworthy and, after having been corrected once and again and even a third time, refuseth
to amend, let him be deposed, and one who is worthy be placed in his stead. We make the same
regulation with reference to the Prior.
How the Monks Are to Sleep
Let the brethren sleep singly, each in a separate bed. Let them receive the bedding befitting
their mode of life, according to the direction of their Abbot. If it can be done, let all sleep in one
apartment; but if the number doth not allow it, let them sleep in tens or twenties with the seniors
who have charge of them. Let a light be kept burning constantly in the cell till morning.
Let them sleep clothed and girded with cinctures or cords, that they may be always ready; but
let them not have knives at their sides whilst they sleep, lest perchance the sleeping be wounded
in their dreams; and the sign having been given, rising without delay, let them hasten to outstrip
each other to the Work of God, yet with all gravity and decorum. Let the younger brethren not have
their beds beside each other, but intermingled with the older ones; and rising to the Work of God,
let them gently encourage one another on account of the excuses of the drowsy.
Of Excommunication for Faults
If a brother is found stubborn or disobedient or proud or murmuring, or opposed to anything
in the Holy Rule and a contemner of the commandments of his Superiors, let him be admonished
by his Superiors once and again in secret, according to the command of our Lord (cf Mt 18:15-16).
If he doth not amend let him be taken to task publicly before all. But if he doth not reform even
then, and he understandeth what a penalty it is, let him be placed under excommunication; but if
even then he remaineth obstinate let him undergo corporal punishment.
What the Manner of Excommunication Should Be
The degree of excommunication or punishment ought to be meted out according to the gravity
of the offense, and to determine that is left to the judgment of the Abbot. If, however, anyone of
the brethren is detected in smaller faults, let him be debarred from eating at the common table.
The following shall be the practice respecting one who is excluded from the common table:
that he does not intone a psalm or an antiphon nor read a lesson in the oratory until he hath made
satisfaction; let him take his meal alone, after the refection of the brethren; thus: if, for instance,
the brethren take their meal at the sixth hour that brother will take his at the ninth, and if the brethren
take theirs at the ninth, he will take his in the evening, until by due satisfaction he obtaineth pardon.
Of Graver Faults
But let the brother who is found guilty of a graver fault be excluded from both the table and
the oratory. Let none of the brethren join his company or speak with him. Let him be alone at the
work enjoined on him, persevering in penitential sorrow, mindful of the terrible sentence of the
Apostle who saith, that “such a man is delivered over for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit
may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5). Let him get his food alone in such quantity and
at such a time as the Abbot shall deem fit; and let him not be blessed by anyone passing by, nor
the food that is given him.
Of Those Who without the Command of the Abbot Associate with the Excommunicated
If any brother presume to associate with an excommunicated brother in any way, or to speak
with him, or to send him a message, without the command of the Abbot, let him incur the same
penalty of excommunication.
How Concerned the Abbot Should Be about the Excommunicated
Let the Abbot show all care and concern towards offending brethren because “they that are in
health need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Mt 9:12). Therefore, like a prudent physician
he ought to use every opportunity to send consolers, namely, discreet elderly brethren, to console
the wavering brother, as it were, in secret, and induce him to make humble satisfaction; and let
them cheer him up “lest he be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” (2 Cor 2:7); but, as the same
Apostle saith, “confirm your charity towards him” (2 Cor 2:8); and let prayer be said for him by
The Abbot must take the utmost pains, and strive with all prudence and zeal, that none of the
flock entrusted to him perish. For the Abbot must know that he has taken upon himself the care of
infirm souls, not a despotism over the strong; and let him fear the threat of the Prophet wherein the
Lord saith: “What ye saw to be fat, that ye took to yourselves, and what was diseased you threw
away” (Ezek 34:3-4). And let him follow the loving example of the Good Shepherd, who, leaving
the ninety-nine sheep on the mountains, went to seek the one that had gone astray, on whose
weakness He had such pity, that He was pleased to lay it on His sacred shoulders and thus carry it
back to the fold (cf Lk 15:5).
Of Those Who Having Often Been Corrected Do Not Amend
If a brother hath often been corrected and hath even been excommunicated for a fault and doth
not amend, let a more severe correction be applied to him, namely, proceed against him with corporal
But if even then he doth not reform, or puffed up with pride, should perhaps, which God forbid,
even defend his actions, then let the Abbot act like a prudent physician. After he hath applied
soothing lotions, ointments of admonitions, medicaments of the Holy Scriptures, and if, as a last
resource, he hath employed the caustic of excommunication and the blows of the lash, and seeth
that even then his pains are of no avail, let him apply for that brother also what is more potent than
all these measures: his own prayer and that of the brethren, that the Lord who is all-powerful may
work a cure in that brother.
But if he is not healed even in this way, then finally let the Abbot dismiss him from the
community, as the Apostle saith: “Put away the evil one from among you” (1 Cor 5:13); and again:
“If the faithless depart, let him depart” (1 Cor 7:15); lest one diseased sheep infect the whole flock.
Whether Brethren Who Leave the Monastery Ought to Be Received Again
If a brother, who through his own fault leaveth the monastery or is expelled, desireth to return,
let him first promise full amendment of the fault for which he left; and thus let him be received in
the last place, that by this means his humility may be tried. If he should leave again, let him be
received even a third time, knowing that after this every means of return will be denied him.
How Young Boys Are to Be Corrected
Every age and understanding should have its proper discipline. Whenever, therefore, boys or
immature youths or such as can not understand how grave a penalty excommunication is, are guilty
of a serious fault, let them undergo severe fasting or be disciplined with corporal punishment, that
they may be corrected.
The Kind of Man the Cellarer of the Monastery Ought to Be
Let there be chosen from the brotherhood as Cellarer of the monastery a wise man, of settled
habits, temperate and frugal, not conceited, irritable, resentful, sluggish, or wasteful, but fearing
God, who may be as a father to the whole brotherhood.
Let him have the charge of everything, let him do nothing without the command of the Abbot,
let him do what hath been ordered him and not grieve the brethren. If a brother should perchance
request anything of him unreasonably let him not sadden the brother with a cold refusal, but politely
and with humility refuse him who asketh amiss. Let him be watchful of his own soul, always mindful
of the saying of the Apostle: “For they that have ministered well, shall purchase to themselves a
good degree” (1 Tm 3:13). Let him provide for the sick, the children, the guests, and the poor, with
all care, knowing that, without doubt, he will have to give an account of all these things on judgment
day. Let him regard all the vessels of the monastery and all its substance, as if they were sacred
vessels of the altar. Let him neglect nothing and let him not give way to avarice, nor let him be
wasteful and a squanderer of the goods of the monastery; but let him do all things in due measure
and according to the bidding of his Abbot.
Above all things, let him be humble; and if he hath not the things to give, let him answer with
a kind word, because it is written: “A good word is above the best gift” (Sir 18:17). Let him have
under his charge everything that the Abbot hath entrusted to him, and not presume to meddle with
matters forbidden him. Let him give the brethren their apportioned allowance without a ruffle or
delay, that they may not be scandalized, mindful of what the Divine Word declareth that he deserveth
who shall scandalize one of these little ones: “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged
about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mt 18:6).
If the community is large, let assistants be given him, that, with their help, he too may fulfil the
office entrusted to him with an even temper. Let the things that are to be given be distributed, and
the things that are to be gotten asked for at the proper times, so that nobody may be disturbed or
grieved in the house of God.
Of the Tools and Goods of the Monastery
Let the Abbot appoint brethren on whose life and character he can rely, over the property of
the monastery in tools, clothing, and things generally, and let him assign to them, as he shall deem
proper, all the articles which must be collected after use and stored away. Let the Abbot keep a list
of these articles, so that, when the brethren in turn succeed each other in these trusts, he may know
what he giveth and what he receiveth back. If anyone, however, handleth the goods of the monastery
slovenly or carelessly let him be reprimanded and if he doth not amend let him come under the
discipline of the Rule.
Whether Monks Ought to Have Anything of Their Own
The vice of personal ownership must by all means be cut out in the monastery by the very root,
so that no one may presume to give or receive anything without the command of the Abbot; nor to
have anything whatever as his own, neither a book, nor a writing tablet, nor a pen, nor anything
else whatsoever, since monks are allowed to have neither their bodies nor their wills in their own
power. Everything that is necessary, however, they must look for from the Father of the monastery;
and let it not be allowed for anyone to have anything which the Abbot did not give or permit him
to have. Let all things be common to all, as it is written. And let no one call or take to himself
anything as his own (cf Acts 4:32). But if anyone should be found to indulge this most baneful
vice, and, having been admonished once and again, doth not amend, let him be subjected to
Whether All Should Receive in Equal Measure What Is Necessary
It is written, “Distribution was made to everyone according as he had need” (Acts 4:35). We
do not say by this that respect should be had for persons (God forbid), but regard for infirmities.
Let him who hath need of less thank God and not give way to sadness, but let him who hath need
of more, humble himself for his infirmity, and not be elated for the indulgence shown him; and
thus all the members will be at peace.
Above all, let not the evil of murmuring appear in the least word or sign for any reason whatever.
If anyone be found guilty herein, let him be placed under very severe discipline.
Of the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen
Let the brethren serve each other so that no one be excused from the work in the kitchen, except
on account of sickness or more necessary work, because greater merit and more charity is thereby
acquired. Let help be given to the weak, however, that they may not do this work with sadness; but
let all have help according to the size of the community and the circumstances of the place. If the
community is large, let the Cellarer be excused from the kitchen, or if, as we have said, any are
engaged in more urgent work; let the rest serve each other in charity.
Let him who is to go out of the weekly service, do the cleaning on Saturday. Let him wash the
towels with which the brethren wipe their hands and feet. Let him who goeth out, as well as him
who is to come in, wash the feet of all. Let him return the utensils of his department to the Cellarer
clean and whole. Let the Cellarer give the same to the one who cometh in, so that he may know
what he giveth and what he receiveth back.
An hour before meal time let the weekly servers receive each a cup of drink and a piece of
bread over the prescribed portion, that they may serve their brethren at the time time of refection
without murmuring and undue strain. On solemn feast days, however, let them abstain till after
As soon as the morning office on Sunday is ended, let the weekly servers who come in and who
go out, cast themselves upon their knees in the oratory before all, asking their prayers. Let him who
goeth out of the weekly service, say the following verse: Benedictus es, Domine Deus, qui adjuvisti
me et consolatus se me (Dan 3:52; Ps 85:17). The one going out having said this three times
and received the blessing, let the one who cometh in follow and say: Deus in adjutorium meum
intende; Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina (Ps 69:2). And let this also be repeated three times
by all, and having received the blessing let him enter upon his weekly service.
Of the Sick Brethren
Before and above all things, care must be taken of the sick, that they be served in very truth as
Christ is served; because He hath said, “I was sick and you visited Me” (Mt 25:36). And “As long
as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me” (Mt 25:40). But let the sick
themselves also consider that they are served for the honor of God, and let them not grieve their
brethren who serve them by unnecessary demands. These must, however, be patiently borne with,
because from such as these a more bountiful reward is gained. Let the Abbot’s greatest concern,
therefore, be that they suffer no neglect.
Let a cell be set apart for the sick brethren, and a God-fearing, diligent, and careful attendant
be appointed to serve them. Let the use of the bath be offered to the sick as often as it is useful, but
let it be granted more rarely to the healthy and especially the young. Thus also let the use of meat
be granted to the sick and to the very weak for their recovery. But when they have been restored
let them all abstain from meat in the usual manner.
But let the Abbot exercise the utmost care that the sick are not neglected by the Cellarer or the
attendants, because whatever his disciples do amiss falleth back on him.
Of the Aged and Children
Although human nature is of itself drawn to feel compassion for these life-periods, namely, old
age and childhood, still, let the decree of the Rule make provision also for them. Let their natural
weakness be always taken into account and let the strictness of the Rule not be kept with them in
respect to food, but let there be a tender regard in their behalf and let them eat before regular hours.
Of the Weekly Reader
Reading must not be wanting at the table of the brethren when they are eating. Neither let anyone
who may chance to take up the book venture to read there; but let him who is to read for the whole
week enter upon that office on Sunday. After Mass and Communion let him ask all to pray for him
that God may ward off from him the spirit of pride. And let the following verse be said three times
by all in the oratory, he beginning it: Domine, labia mea aperies, et os meum annuntiabit laudem
tuam (Ps 50:17), and thus having received the blessing let him enter upon the reading.
Let the deepest silence be maintained that no whispering or voice be heard except that of the
reader alone. But let the brethren so help each other to what is needed for eating and drinking, that
no one need ask for anything. If, however, anything should be wanted, let it be asked for by means
of a sign of any kind rather than a sound. And let no one presume to ask any questions there, either
about the book or anything else, in order that no cause to speak be given [to the devil] (Eph 4:27;
1 Tm 5:14), unless, perchance, the Superior wisheth to say a few words for edification.
Let the brother who is reader for the week take a little bread and wine before he beginneth to
read, on account of Holy Communion, and lest it should be too hard for him to fast so long.
Afterward, however, let him take his meal in the kitchen with the weekly servers and the waiters.
The brethren, however, will not read or sing in order, but only those who edify their hearers.
Of the Quantity of Food
Making allowance for the infirmities of different persons, we believe that for the daily meal,
both at the sixth and the ninth hour, two kinds of cooked food are sufficient at all meals; so that he
who perchance cannot eat of one, may make his meal of the other. Let two kinds of cooked food,
therefore, be sufficient for all the brethren. And if there be fruit or fresh vegetables, a third may be
added. Let a pound of bread be sufficient for the day, whether there be only one meal or both dinner
and supper. If they are to eat supper, let a third part of the pound be reserved by the Cellarer and
be given at supper.
If, however, the work hath been especially hard, it is left to the discretion and power of the
Abbot to add something, if he think fit, barring above all things every excess, that a monk be not
overtaken by indigestion. For nothing is so contrary to Christians as excess, as our Lord saith: “See
that your hearts be not overcharged with surfeiting” (Lk 21:34).
Let the same quantity of food, however, not be served out to young children but less than to
older ones, observing measure in all things.
But let all except the very weak and the sick abstain altogether from eating the flesh of
Of the Quantity of Drink
“Every one hath his proper gift from God, one after this manner and another after that” (1 Cor
7:7). It is with some hesitation, therefore, that we determine the measure of nourishment for others.
However, making allowance for the weakness of the infirm, we think one hemina of wine a day is
sufficient for each one. But to whom God granteth the endurance of abstinence, let them know that
they will have their special reward. If the circumstances of the place, or the work, or the summer’s
heat should require more, let that depend on the judgment of the Superior, who must above all
things see to it, that excess or drunkenness do not creep in.
Although we read that wine is not at all proper for monks, yet, because monks in our times
cannot be persuaded of this, let us agree to this, at least, that we do not drink to satiety, but sparingly;
because “wine maketh even wise men fall off” (Sir 19:2). But where the poverty of the place will
not permit the aforesaid measure to be had, but much less, or none at all, let those who live there
bless God and murmur not. This we charge above all things, that they live without murmuring.
At What Times the Brethren Should Take Their Refection
From holy Easter till Pentecost let the brethren dine at the sixth hour and take supper in the
evening. From Pentecost on, however, during the whole summer, if the monks have no work in the
fields and the excess of the heat doth not interfere, let them fast on Wednesday and Friday until
the ninth hour; but on the other days let them dine at the sixth hour. This sixth hour for dinner is
to be continued, if they have work in the fields or the heat of the summer is great. Let the Abbot
provide for this; and so let him manage and adapt everything that souls may be saved, and that what
the brethren do, they may do without having a reasonable cause to murmur. From the ides of
September until the beginning of Lent let them always dine at the ninth hour. During Lent, however,
until Easter, let them dine in the evening. But let this evening hour be so arranged that they will
not need lamp-light during their meal; but let everything be finished whilst it is still day. But at all
times let the hour of meals, whether for dinner or for supper, be so arranged that everything is done
That No One Speak after Complin
Monks should always be given to silence, especially, however, during the hours of the night.
Therefore, on every day, whether of fast or of a mid-day meal, as soon as they have risen from their
evening meal, let all sit together in one place, and let one read the Conferences or the Lives of the
Fathers, or something else that will edify the hearers; not, however, the Heptateuch or the Books
of the Kings, because it would not be wholesome for weak minds to hear this part of the Scripture
at that hour; they should, however, be read at other times. But if it was a fast-day, then, when
Vespers have been said, and after a short interval, let them next come together for the reading of
the Conferences, as we have said; and when the four or five pages have been read, or as much as
the hour will permit, and all have assembled in one place during the time of the reading, let him
also come who was perchance engaged in work enjoined on him. All, therefore, having assembled
in one place, let them say Complin, and after going out from Complin, let there be no more
permission from that time on for anyone to say anything.
If, however, anyone is found to break this rule, let him undergo heavy punishment, unless the
needs of guests should arise, or the Abbot should perhaps give a command to anyone. But let even
this be done with the utmost gravity and moderation.
Of Those Who Are Tardy in Coming to the Work of God or to Table
As soon as the signal for the time of the divine office is heard, let everyone, leaving whatever
he hath in his hands, hasten with all speed, yet with gravity, that there may be no cause for levity.
Therefore, let nothing be preferred to the Work of God. If at Matins anyone cometh after the Gloria
of the 94th psalm, which on that account we wish to be much drawn out and said slowly, let him
not stand in his place in the choir; but let him stand last of all, or in a place which the Abbot hath
set apart for such careless ones, that he may be seen by him and by all, until, the Work of God being
ended, he maketh satisfaction by public penance. The reason, however, why we think they should
stand in the last place, or apart from the rest, is this, that seen by all they may amend for very shame.
For if they stayed outside the oratory, there might be one who would go back to sleep, or anyhow
would seat himself outside, indulge in vain gossip, and give a “chance to the devil” (Eph 4:27; 1
Tm 5:14). Let him go inside, therefore, that he may not lose the whole, and may amend for the
At the day hours, however, whoever doth not arrive for the Work of God after the verse and
the Gloria of the first psalm, which is said after the verse, let him stand in the last place, according
to the rule which we stated above; and let him not attempt to join the choir of the chanters until he
hath made satisfaction, unless, perchance, the Abbot’s permission hath given him leave to do so,
with the understanding that he atone the fault afterwards.
If anyone doth not come to table before the verse, so that all may say the verse and pray together
and sit down to table at the same time, let him be twice corrected for this, if he failed to come
through his own fault and negligence. If he doth not amend after this, let him not be permitted to
eat at the common table; but separated from the company of all, let him eat alone, his portion of
wine being taken from him, until he hath made satisfaction and hath amended. In like manner let
him suffer who is not present also at the verse which is said after the refection.
And let no one presume to take food or drink before or after the appointed time. But if anything
should be offered to a brother by the Superior and he refuseth to accept it, and afterwards desireth
what at first he refused or anything else, let him receive nothing at all, until he maketh due
Of Those Who Are Excommunicated—How They Make Satisfaction
Whoever is excommunicated for graver faults from the oratory and the table, let him, at the
time that the Work of God is celebrated in the oratory, lie stretched, face down in silence before
the door of the oratory at the feet of all who pass out. And let him do this until the Abbot judgeth
that it is enough. When he then cometh at the Abbot’s bidding, let him cast himself at the Abbot’s
feet, then at the feet of all, that they may pray for him. If then the Abbot ordereth it, let him be
received back into the choir in the place which the Abbot shall direct; yet so that he doth not presume
to intone a psalm or a lesson or anything else in the oratory, unless the Abbot again biddeth him to
do so. Then, at all the Hours, when the Work of God is ended, let him cast himself on the ground
in the place where he standeth, and thus let him make satisfaction, until the Abbot again biddeth
him finally to cease from this penance.
But let those who are excommunicated for lighter faults from the table only make satisfaction
in the oratory, as long as the Abbot commandeth, and let them perform this until he giveth his
blessing and saith, “It is enough.”
Of Those Who Commit a Fault in the Oratory
If anyone whilst he reciteth a psalm, a responsory, an antiphon, or a lesson, maketh a mistake,
and doth not humble himself there before all by making satisfaction, let him undergo a greater
punishment, because he would not correct by humility what he did amiss through negligence. But
let children be beaten for such a fault.
Of Those Who Fail in Any Other Matters
If anyone whilst engaged in any work, in the kitchen, in the cellar, in serving, in the bakery, in
the garden, at any art or work in any place whatever, committeth a fault, or breaketh or loseth
anything, or transgresseth in any way whatever, and he doth not forthwith come before the Abbot
and the community, and of his own accord confess his offense and make satisfaction, and it becometh
known through another, let him be subjected to a greater correction.
If, however, the cause of the offense is secret, let him disclose it to the Abbot alone, or to his
spiritual Superiors, who know how to heal their own wounds, and not expose and make public
those of others.
Of Giving the Signal for the Time of the Work of God
Let it be the Abbot’s care that the time for the Work of God be announced both by day and by
night; either to announce it himself, or to entrust this charge to a careful brother that everything
may be done at the proper time.
Let those who have been ordered, intone the psalms or the antiphons in their turn after the
Abbot. No one, however, should presume to sing or read unless he is able so to perform this office
that the hearers may be edified; and let it be done with humility, gravity, and reverence by him
whom the Abbot hath ordered.
Of the Daily Work
Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual
labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading. Hence, we believe that the time for each will be
properly ordered by the following arrangement; namely, that from Easter till the calends of October,
they go out in the morning from the first till about the fourth hour, to do the necessary work, but
that from the fourth till about the sixth hour they devote to reading. After the sixth hour, however,
when they have risen from table, let them rest in their beds in complete silence; or if, perhaps,
anyone desireth to read for himself, let him so read that he doth not disturb others. Let None be
said somewhat earlier, about the middle of the eighth hour; and then let them work again at what
is necessary until Vespers.
If, however, the needs of the place, or poverty should require that they do the work of gathering
the harvest themselves, let them not be downcast, for then are they monks in truth, if they live by
the work of their hands, as did also our forefathers and the Apostles. However, on account of the
faint-hearted let all things be done with moderation.
From the calends of October till the beginning of Lent, let them apply themselves to reading
until the second hour complete. At the second hour let Tierce be said, and then let all be employed
in the work which hath been assigned to them till the ninth hour. When, however, the first signal
for the hour of None hath been given, let each one leave off from work and be ready when the
second signal shall strike. But after their repast let them devote themselves to reading or the psalms.
During the Lenten season let them be employed in reading from morning until the third hour,
and till the tenth hour let them do the work which is imposed on them. During these days of Lent
let all received books from the library, and let them read them through in order. These books are
to be given out at the beginning of the Lenten season.
Above all, let one or two of the seniors be appointed to go about the monastery during the time
that the brethren devote to reading and take notice, lest perhaps a slothful brother be found who
giveth himself up to idleness or vain talk, and doth not attend to his reading, and is unprofitable,
not only to himself, but disturbeth also others. If such a one be found (which God forbid), let him
be punished once and again. If he doth not amend, let him come under the correction of the Rule
in such a way that others may fear. And let not brother join brother at undue times.
On Sunday also let all devote themselves to reading, except those who are appointed to the
various functions. But if anyone should be so careless and slothful that he will not or cannot meditate
or read, let some work be given him to do, that he may not be idle.
Let such work or charge be given to the weak and the sickly brethren, that they are neither idle,
nor so wearied with the strain of work that they are driven away. Their weakness must be taken
into account by the Abbot.
On the Keeping of Lent
The life of a monk ought always to be a Lenten observance. However, since such virtue is that
of few, we advise that during these days of Lent he guard his life with all purity and at the same
time wash away during these holy days all the shortcomings of other times. This will then be
worthily done, if we restrain ourselves from all vices. Let us devote ourselves to tearful prayers,
to reading and compunction of heart, and to abstinence.
During these days, therefore, let us add something to the usual amount of our service, special
prayers, abstinence from food and drink, that each one offer to God “with the joy of the Holy Ghost”
(1 Thes 1:6), of his own accord, something above his prescribed measure; namely, let him withdraw
from his body somewhat of food, drink, sleep, speech, merriment, and with the gladness of spiritual
desire await holy Easter.
Let each one, however, make known to his Abbot what he offereth and let it be done with his
approval and blessing; because what is done without permission of the spiritual father will be
imputed to presumption and vain glory, and not to merit. Therefore, let all be done with the approval
of the Abbot.
Of Brethren Who Work a Long Distance from the Oratory or Are on a Journey
The brethren who are at work too far away, and cannot come to the oratory at the appointed
time, and the Abbot hath assured himself that such is the case—let them perform the Work of God
in the fear of God and on bended knees where they are working. In like manner let those who are
sent on a journey not permit the appointed hours to pass by; but let them say the office by themselves
as best they can, and not neglect to fulfil the obligation of divine service.
Of the Brethren Who Do Not Go Very Far Away
A brother who is sent out on any business and is expected to return to the monastery the same
day, may not presume to eat outside, even though he be urgently requested to do so, unless, indeed,
it is commanded him by his Abbot. If he act otherwise, let him be excommunicated.
Of the Oratory of the Monastery
Let the oratory be what it is called, and let nothing else be done or stored there. When the Work
of God is finished, let all go out with the deepest silence, and let reverence be shown to God; that
a brother who perhaps desireth to pray especially by himself is not prevented by another’s
misconduct. But if perhaps another desireth to pray alone in private, let him enter with simplicity
and pray, not with a loud voice, but with tears and fervor of heart. Therefore, let him who doth not
say his prayers in this way, not be permitted to stay in the oratory after the Work of God is finished,
as we said, that another may not be disturbed.
Of the Reception of Guests
Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ, because He will say: “I was a stranger and you
took Me in” (Mt 25:35). And let due honor be shown to all, especially to those “of the household
of the faith” (Gal 6:10) and to wayfarers.
When, therefore, a guest is announced, let him be met by the Superior and the brethren with
every mark of charity. And let them first pray together, and then let them associate with one another
in peace. This kiss of peace should not be given before a prayer hath first been said, on account of
satanic deception. In the greeting let all humility be shown to the guests, whether coming or going;
with the head bowed down or the whole body prostrate on the ground, let Christ be adored in them
as He is also received.
When the guests have been received, let them be accompanied to prayer, and after that let the
Superior, or whom he shall bid, sit down with them. Let the divine law be read to the guest that he
may be edified, after which let every kindness be shown him. Let the fast be broken by the Superior
in deference to the guest, unless, perchance, it be a day of solemn fast, which cannot be broken.
Let the brethren, however, keep the customary fast. Let the Abbot pour the water on the guest’s
hands, and let both the Abbot and the whole brotherhood wash the feet of all the guests. When they
have been washed, let them say this verse: “We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of
Thy temple” (Ps 47:10). Let the greatest care be taken, especially in the reception of the poor
and travelers, because Christ is received more specially in them; whereas regard for the wealthy
itself procureth them respect.
Let the kitchen of the Abbot and the guests be apart, that the brethren may not be disturbed by
the guests who arrive at uncertain times and who are never wanting in the monastery. Let two
brothers who are able to fulfil this office well go into the kitchen for a year. Let help be given them
as they need it, that they may serve without murmuring; and when they have not enough to do, let
them go out again for work where it is commanded them. Let this course be followed, not only in
this office, but in all the offices of the monastery—that whenever the brethren need help, it be given
them, and that when they have nothing to do, they again obey orders. Moreover, let also a
God-fearing brother have assigned to him the apartment of the guests, where there should be
sufficient number of beds made up; and let the house of God be wisely managed by the wise.
On no account let anyone who is not ordered to do so, associate or speak with guests; but if he
meet or see them, having saluted them humbly, as we have said, and asked a blessing, let him pass
on saying that he is not allowed to speak with a guest.
Whether a Monk Should Receive Letters or Anything Else
Let it not be allowed at all for a monk to give or to receive letters, tokens, or gifts of any kind,
either from parents or any other person, nor from each other, without the permission of the Abbot.
But even if anything is sent him by his parents, let him not presume to accept it before it hath been
make known to the Abbot. And if he order it to be accepted, let it be in the Abbot’s power to give
it to whom he pleaseth. And let not the brother to whom perchance it was sent, become sad, that
“no chance be given to the devil” (Eph 4:27; 1 Tm 5:14). But whosoever shall presume to act
otherwise, let him fall under the discipline of the Rule.
Of the Clothing and the Footgear of the Brethren
Let clothing be given to the brethren according to the circumstances of the place and the nature
of the climate in which they live, because in cold regions more in needed, while in warm regions
less. This consideration, therefore, resteth with the Abbot. We believe, however, that for a temperate
climate a cowl and a tunic for each monk are sufficient,—a woolen cowl for winter and a thin or
worn one for summer, and a scapular for work, and stockings and shoes as covering for the feet.
Let the monks not worry about the color or the texture of all these things, but let them be such as
can be bought more cheaply. Let the Abbot, however, look to the size, that these garments are not
too small, but fitted for those who are to wear them.
Let those who receive new clothes always return the old ones, to be put away in the wardrobe
for the poor. For it is sufficient for a monk to have two tunics and two cowls, for wearing at night
and for washing. Hence, what is over and above is superfluous and must be taken away. So, too,
let them return stockings and whatever is old, when they receive anything new. Let those who are
sent out on a journey receive trousers from the wardrobe, which, on their return, they will replace
there, washed. The cowls and the tunics should also be a little better than the ones they usually
wear, which they received from the wardrobe when they set out on a journey, and give back when
For their bedding, let a straw mattress, a blanket, a coverlet, and a pillow be sufficient. These
beds must, however, be frequently examined by the Abbot, to prevent personal goods from being
found. And if anything should be found with anyone that he did not receive from the Abbot, let
him fall under the severest discipline. And that this vice of private ownership may be cut off by
the root, let everything necessary be given by the Abbot; namely, cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes,
girdle, knife, pen, needle, towel, writing tablet; that all pretence of want may be removed. In this
connection, however, let the following sentence from the Acts of the Apostles always be kept in
mind by the Abbot: “And distribution was made to every man according as he had need” (Acts
4:35). In this manner, therefore, let the Abbot also have regard for the infirmities of the needy, not
for the bad will of the envious. Yet in all his decisions, let the Abbot think of God’s retribution.
Of the Abbot’s Table
Let the Abbot’s table always be with the guests and travelers. When, however, there are no
guests, let it be in his power to invite any of the brethren he desireth. Let him provide, however,
that one or two of the seniors always remain with the brethren for the sake of discipline.
Of the Artists of the Monastery
If there be skilled workmen in the monastery, let them work at their art in all humility, if the
Abbot giveth his permission. But if anyone of them should grow proud by reason of his art, in that
he seemeth to confer a benefit on the monastery, let him be removed from that work and not return
to it, unless after he hath humbled himself, the Abbot again ordereth him to do so. But if any of the
work of the artists is to be sold, let them, through whose hands the transaction must pass, see to it,
that they do not presume to practice any fraud on the monastery. Let them always be mindful of
Ananias and Saphira, lest, perhaps, the death which these suffered in the body (cf Acts 5:1-11),
they and all who practice any fraud in things belonging to the monastery suffer in the soul. On the
other hand, as regards the prices of these things, let not the vice of avarice creep in, but let it always
be given a little cheaper than it can be given by seculars, That God May Be Glorified in All
Things (1 Pt 4:11).
Of the Manner of Admitting Brethren
Let easy admission not be given to one who newly cometh to change his life; but, as the Apostle
saith, “Try the spirits, whether they be of God” (1 Jn 4:1). If, therefore, the newcomer keepeth on
knocking, and after four or five days it is seen that he patiently beareth the harsh treatment offered
him and the difficulty of admission, and that he persevereth in his request, let admission be granted
him, and let him live for a few days in the apartment of the guests.
But afterward let him live in the apartment of novices, and there let him meditate, eat, and sleep.
Let a senior also be appointed for him, who is qualified to win souls, who will observe him with
great care and see whether he really seeketh God, whether he is eager for the Work of God, obedience
and humiliations. Let him be shown all the hard and rugged things through which we pass on to
If he promiseth to remain steadfast, let this Rule be read to him in order after the lapse of two
months, and let it be said to him: Behold the law under which thou desirest to combat. If thou canst
keep it, enter; if, however, thou canst not, depart freely. If he still persevereth, then let him be taken
back to the aforesaid apartment of the novices, and let him be tried again in all patience. And after
the lapse of six months let the Rule be read over to him, that he may know for what purpose he
entereth. And if he still remaineth firm, let the same Rule be read to him again after four months.
And if, after having weighed the matter with himself he promiseth to keep everything, and to do
everything that is commanded him, then let him be received into the community, knowing that he
is now placed under the law of the Rule, and that from that day forward it is no longer permitted
to him to wrest his neck from under the yoke of the Rule, which after so long a deliberation he was
at liberty either to refuse or to accept.
Let him who is received promise in the oratory, in the presence of all, before God and His saints,
stability, the conversion of morals, and obedience, in order that, if he should ever do otherwise, he
may know that he will be condemned by God “Whom he mocketh.” Let him make a written statement
of his promise in the name of the saints whose relics are there, and of the Abbot there present. Let
him write this document with his own hand; or at least, if he doth not know how to write, let another
write it at his request, and let the novice make his mark, and with his own hand place it on the altar.
When he hath placed it there, let the novice next begin the verse: “Uphold me, O Lord, according
to Thy word and I shall live; and let me not be confounded in my expectations” (Ps 118:116).
Then let all the brotherhood repeat this verse three times, adding the Gloria Patri.
The let that novice brother cast himself down at the feet of all, that they may pray for him; and
from that day let him be counted in the brotherhood. If he hath any property, let him first either
dispose of it to the poor or bestow it on the monastery by a formal donation, reserving nothing for
himself as indeed he should know that from that day onward he will no longer have power even
over his own body.
Let him, therefore, be divested at once in the oratory of the garments with which he is clothed,
and be vested in the garb of the monastery. But let the clothes of which he was divested by laid by
in the wardrobe to be preserved, that, if on the devil’s suasion he should ever consent to leave the
monastery (which God forbid) he be then stripped of his monastic habit and cast out. But let him not receive the document of his profession which the Abbot took from the altar, but let it be preserved
in the monastery
Of the Children of the Noble and of the Poor Who Are Offered
If it happen that a nobleman offereth his son to God in the monastery and the boy is of tender
age, let his parents execute the written promise which we have mentioned above; and with the
oblation let them wrap that document and the boy’s hand in the altar cloth and thus offer him.
As to their property, let them bind themselves under oath in the same document that they will
never give him anything themselves nor through any other person, nor in any way whatever, nor
leave a chance for his owning anything; or else, if they refuse to do this and want to make an offering
to the monastery as an alms for their own benefit, let them make a donation to the monastery of
whatever goods they wish to give, reserving to themselves the income of it, if they so desire. And
let everything be so barred that the boy remain in no uncertainty, which might deceive and ruin
him (which God forbid)—a pass we have learned by experience.
Let those who are poor act in like manner. But as to those who have nothing at all, let them
simply make the declaration, and with the oblation offer their son in the presence of witnesses.
Of Priests Who May Wish to Live in the Monastery
If a priest asketh to be received into the monastery, let consent not be granted too readily; still,
if he urgently persisteth in his request, let him know that he must keep the whole discipline of the
Rule, and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor, that it may be as it is written: “Friend, whereunto
art thou come” (Mt 26:25)?
It may be granted him, however, to stand next after the Abbot, and to give the blessing, or to
celebrate Mass, but only if the Abbot ordereth him to do so; but if he doth not bid him, let him not
presume to do anything under whatever consideration, knowing that he is under the discipline of
the Rule, and let him rather give examples of humility to all. But if there is a question of an
appointment in the monastery, or any other matter, let him be ranked by the time of his entry into
the monastery, and not by the place granted him in consideration of the priesthood.
But if a cleric, moved by the same desire, wisheth to join the monastery, let him too have a
middle place, provided he promiseth to keep the Rule and personal stability.
How Stranger Monks Are to Be Received
If a monk who is a stranger, arriveth from a distant place and desireth to live in the monastery
as a guest, and is satisfied with the customs he findeth there, and doth not trouble the monastery
with superfluous wants, but is satisfied with what he findeth, let him be received for as long a time
as he desireth. Still, if he should reasonably, with humility and charity, censure or point out anything,
let the Abbot consider discreetly whether the Lord did not perhaps send him for that very purpose.
If later on he desireth to declare his stability let his wish not be denied, and especially since his life
could be known during his stay as a guest.
But if during the time that he was a guest he was found to be troublesome and disorderly, he
must not only not associate with the monastic body but should even be politely requested to leave,
that others may not be infected by his evil life. But if he hath not been such as deserveth to be cast
forth, he should not only be admitted to join the brotherhood, if he apply, but he should even be
urged to remain, that others may be taught by his example, because we serve one Lord and fight
under one King everywhere. If the Abbot recognize him to be such a one he may also place him in
a somewhat higher rank.
The Abbot may, however, place not only a monk, but also those of the aforesaid grades of
priests and clerics, in a higher place than that of their entry, if he seeth their lives to be such as to
deserve it. But let the Abbot take care never to admit a monk of any other known monastery to
residence, without the consent of his Abbot or commendatory letters, because it is written: “What
thou wilt not have done to thyself, do not to another” (Tb 4:16).
Of the Priests of the Monastery
If the Abbot desireth to have a priest or a deacon ordained, let him select from among his monks
one who is worthy to discharge the priestly office.
But let the one who hath been ordained be on his guard against arrogance and pride, and let
him not attempt to do anything but what is commanded him by the Abbot, knowing that he is now
all the more subject to the discipline of the Rule; and in consequence of the priesthood let him not
forget the obedience and discipline of the Rule, but advance more and more in godliness.
Let him, however, always keep the place which he had when he entered the monastery, except
when he is engaged in sacred functions, unless the choice of the community and the wish of the
Abbot have promoted him in acknowledgment of the merit of his life. Let him know, however, that
he must observe the Rule prescribed by the Deans and the Superiors.
If he should otherwise, let him be judged, not as a priest, but as a rebel; and if after frequent
warnings he doth not amend, and his guilt is clearly shown, let him be cast forth from the monastery,
provided his obstinacy is such that he will neither submit nor obey the Rule.
Of the Order in the Monastery
Let all keep their order in the monastery in such wise, that the time of their conversion and the
merit of their life distinguish it, or as the Abbot hath directed. Let the Abbot not disorder the flock
committed to him, nor by an arbitrary use of his power dispose of anything unjustly; but let him
always bear in mind that he will have to give an account to God of all his judgments and works.
Hence in the order that he hath established, or that the brethren had, let them approach for the kiss
of peace, for Communion, intone the psalms, and stand in choir.
And in no place whatever let age determine the order or be a disadvantage; because Samuel
and Daniel when mere boys judged the priests (cf 1 Sam. 3; Dan 13:44-62). Excepting those,
therefore, whom, as we have said, the Abbot from higher motives hath advanced, or, for certain
reasons, hath lowered, let all the rest take their place as they are converted: thus, for instance, let
him who came into the monastery at the second hour of the day, know that he is younger than he
who came at the first hour, whatever his age or dignity may be.
Children are to be kept under discipline at all times and by everyone. Therefore, let the younger
honor their elders, and the older love the younger.
In naming each other let no one be allowed to address another by his simple name; but let the
older style the younger brethren, brothers; let the younger, however, call their elders, fathers, by
which is implied the reverence due to a father. But because the Abbot is believed to hold the place
of Christ, let him be styled Lord and Abbot, not only by assumption on his part, but out of love and
reverence for Christ. Let him think of this and so show himself, that he be worthy of such an honor.
Wherever, then, the brethren meet each other, let the younger ask the blessing from the older; and
when the older passeth by, let the younger rise and give him place to sit; and let the younger not
presume to sit down with him unless his elder biddeth him to do so, that it may be done as it is
written: “In honor preventing one another” (Rom 12:10).
Let children and boys take their places in the oratory and at table with all due discipline; outdoors,
however, or wherever they may be, let them be under custody and discipline until they reach the
age of understanding.
Of the Election of the Abbot
In the election of an Abbot let this always be observed as a rule, that he be placed in the position
whom the whole community with one consent, in the fear of God, or even a small part, with sounder
judgment, shall elect. But let him who is to be elected be chosen for the merit of his life and the
wisdom of his doctrine, though he be the last in the community.
But even if the whole community should by mutual consent elect a man who agreeth to connive
at their evil ways (which God forbid) and these irregularities in some come to the knowledge of
the Bishop to whose diocese the place belongeth, or to neighboring Abbots, or Christian people,
let them not permit the intrigue of the wicked to succeed, but let them appoint a worthy steward
over the house of God, knowing that they shall receive a bountiful reward for this action, if they
do it with a pure intention and godly zeal; whereas, on the other hand, they commit a sin if they
But when the Abbot hath been elected let him bear in mind how great a burden he hath taken
upon himself, and to whom he must give an account of his stewardship (cf Lk 16:2); and let him
be convinced that it becometh him better to serve than to rule. He must, therefore, be versed in the
divine law, that he may know whence “to bring forth new things and old” (Mt 13:52). Let him be
chaste, sober, and merciful, and let him always exalt “mercy above judgment” (Jas 2:13), that he
also may obtain mercy.
Let him hate vice, but love the brethren. And even in his corrections, let him act with prudence
and not go to extremes, lest, while he aimeth to remove the rust too thoroughly, the vessel be broken.
Let him always keep his own frailty in mind, and remember that “the bruised reed must not be
broken” (Is 42:3). In this we are not saying that he should allow evils to take root, but that he cut
them off with prudence and charity, as he shall see it is best for each one, as we have already said;
and let him aim to be loved rather than feared.
Let him not be fussy or over-anxious, exacting, or headstrong; let him not be jealous or
suspicious, because he will never have rest. In all his commands, whether they refer to things
spiritual or temporal, let him be cautious and considerate. Let him be discerning and temperate in
the tasks which he enjoineth, recalling the discretion of holy Jacob who saith: “If I should cause
my flocks to be overdriven, they would all die in one day” (Gen 33:13). Keeping in view these and
other dictates of discretion, the mother of virtues, let him so temper everything that the strong may
still have something to desire and the weak may not draw back. Above all, let him take heed that
he keep this Rule in all its detail; that when he hath served well he may hear from the Lord what
the good servant heard who gave his fellow-servants bread in season: “Amen, I say to you,” He
saith,”he shall set him over all his goods” (Mt 24:47).
Of the Prior of the Monastery
It often happeneth indeed, that grave scandals arise in monasteries out of the appointment of
the Prior; since there are some who, puffed up with the wicked spirit of pride and thinking themselves
to be second Abbots, set up a despotic rule, foster scandals, and excite quarrels in the community,
and especially in those places where also the Prior is appointed by the same Bishop or the same
Abbots who appointeth his Abbot. How foolish this is can easily be seen; because, from the very
beginning of his appointment, matter for pride is furnished him, when his thoughts suggest to him
that now he is exempt from the authority of the Abbot, because “thou too hast been appointed by
those by whom the Abbot was appointed.” From this source arise envy, discord, slander, quarrels,
jealousy, and disorders. While the Abbot and the Prior are thus at variance with each other, it must
follow that their souls are endangered by this discord and that those who are under them, as long
as they humor the parties, go to ruin. The fault of this evil resteth on the heads of those who were
the authors of such disorders.
We foresee, therefore, that for the preservation of peace and charity it is best that the government
of the monastery should depend on the will of the Abbot; and if it can be done, let the affairs of the
monastery (as we have explained before) be attended to by deans, as the Abbot shall dispose; so
that, the same office being shared by many, no one may become proud.
If, however, the place require it, or the brotherhood reasonably and with humility make the
request, and the Abbot shall deem it advisable, let the Abbot himself appoint as Prior whomever,
with the advice of God-fearing brethren, he shall select. But let the Prior reverently do what his
Abbot hath enjoined on him, doing nothing against the will or the direction of the Abbot; for the
higher he is placed above others, the more careful should he be to obey the precepts of the Rule.
If the Prior be found disorderly or blinded by vainglory, or hath been proved to be a contemner
of the Holy Rule, let him be admonished up to the fourth time; if he doth not amend, let the correction
of the regular discipline be applied to him. But if he doth not amend even then, let him be deposed
from the office of priorship, and another who is worthy be appointed in his stead. But if even
afterward he be not quiet and submissive in the brotherhood, let him also be expelled from the
monastery. Still, let the Abbot reflect that he must give an account to God for all his judgments,
lest perhaps envy or jealousy should sear his conscience.
Of the Porter of the Monastery
Let a wise old man be placed at the door of the monastery, one who knoweth how to take and
give an answer, and whose mature age doth not permit him to stray about.
The porter should have a cell near the door, that they who come may always find one present
from whom they may obtain an answer. As soon as anyone knocketh or a poor person calleth, let
him answer, “Thanks be to God,” or invoke a blessing, and with the meekness of the fear of God
let him return an answer speedily in the fervor of charity. If the porter hath need of assistance, let
him have a younger brother.
If it can be done, the monastery should be so situated that all the necessaries, such as water, the
mill, the garden, are enclosed, and the various arts may be plied inside of the monastery, so that
there may be no need for the monks to go about outside, because it is not good for their souls. But
we desire that this Rule be read quite often in the community, that none of the brethren may excuse
himself of ignorance.
Of the Brethren Who Are Sent on a Journey
Let the brethren who are to be sent on a journey recommend themselves to the prayers of all
the brotherhood and of the Abbot. And after the last prayer at the Work of God, let a commemoration
always be made for the absent brethren.
On the day that the brethren return from the journey, let them lie prostrate on the floor of the
oratory at all the Canonical Hours, when the Work of God is finished, and ask the prayers of all on
account of failings, for fear that the sight of evil or the sound of frivolous speech should have
surprised them on the way.
And let no one presume to relate to another what he hath seen or heard outside of the monastery,
because it is most hurtful. But if anyone presume to do so, let him undergo the penalty of the Rule.
In like manner let him be punished who shall presume to go beyond the enclosure of the monastery,
or anywhere else, or to do anything, however little, without the order of the Abbot.
If a Brother Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things
If, perchance, any difficult or impossible tasks be enjoined on a brother, let him nevertheless
receive the order of him who commandeth with all meekness and obedience. If, however, he see
that the gravity of the task is altogether beyond his strength, let him quietly and seasonably submit
the reasons for his inability to his Superior, without pride, protest, or dissent. If, however, after his
explanation the Superior still insisteth on his command, let the younger be convinced that so it is
good for him; and let him obey from love, relying on the help of God.
That in the Monastery No One Presume to Defend Another
Care must be taken that on no occasion one monk try to defend another in the monastery, or to
take his part, even though they be closely related by ties of blood. Let it not be attempted by the
monks in any way; because such conduct may give rise to very grave scandal. If anyone overstep
this rule, let him be severely punished.
That No One Presume to Strike Another
Let every occasion for presumption be avoided in the monastery. We decree that no one be
permitted to excommunicate or to strike any one of his brethren, unless the Abbot hath given him
the authority. But let those who transgress be taken to task in the presence of all, that the others
may fear (cf 1 Tm 5:20).
Let all, however, exercise diligent and watchful care over the discipline of children, until the
age of fifteen; but even that, within due limits and with discretion. For if anyone should presume
to chastise those of more advanced years, without the command of the Abbot, or should be unduly
provoked with children, let him be subject to the discipline of the Rule; because it is written: “What
thou dost not wish to be done to thee, do not thou to another” (Tb 4:16).
That the Brethren Be Obedient to One Another
The brethren must render the service of obedience not only to the Abbot, but they must thus
also obey one another, knowing that they shall go to God by this path of obedience. Hence, granted
the command of the Abbot and of the Superiors who are appointed by him (to which we do not
permit private commands to be preferred), in other respects let the younger brethren obey their
elders with all charity and zeal. But if anyone is found to be obstinate, let him be punished.
And if a brother be punished in any way by the Abbot or by any of his Superiors for even a
slight reason or if he perceive that the temper of any of his Superiors is but slightly ruffled or excited
against him in the least, let him without delay cast himself down on the ground at his feet making
satisfaction, until the agitation is quieted by a blessing. If anyone scorn to do this, either let him
undergo corporal punishment, or, if he be obstinate, let him be expelled from the monastery.
Of the Virtuous Zeal Which the Monks Ought to Have
As there is a harsh and evil zeal which separateth from God and leadeth to hell, so there is a
virtuous zeal which separateth from vice and leadeth to God and life everlasting.
Let the monks, therefore, practice this zeal with most ardent love; namely, that in honor they
forerun one another (cf Rom 12:10). Let them bear their infirmities, whether of body or mind, with
the utmost patience; let them vie with one another in obedience. Let no one follow what he thinketh
useful to himself, but rather to another. Let them practice fraternal charity with a chaste love.
Let them fear God and love their Abbot with sincere and humble affection; let them prefer
nothing whatever to Christ, and my He lead us all together to life everlasting.
Of This, that Not the Whole Observance of Righteousness Is Laid Down in this Rule
Now, we have written this Rule that, observing it in monasteries, we may show that we have
acquired at least some moral righteousness, or a beginning of the monastic life.
On the other hand, he that hasteneth on to the perfection of the religious life, hath at hand the
teachings of the holy Fathers, the observance of which leadeth a man to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance of the divinely inspired books of the Old and the New Testament
is not a most exact rule of human life? Or, what book of the holy Catholic Fathers doth not loudly
proclaim how we may go straight to our Creator? So, too, the collations of the Fathers, and their
institutes and lives, and the rule of our holy Father, Basil—what are they but the monuments of the
virtues of exemplary and obedient monks? But for us slothful, disedifying, and negligent monks
they are a source for shame and confusion.
Thou, therefore, who hastenest to the heavenly home, with the help of Christ fulfil this least
rule written for a beginning; and then thou shalt with God’s help attain at last to the greater heights
of knowledge and virtue which we have mentioned above.