(of Neocaesaria ca. 330-379)
RULE (Latin Ascetikon) selections


Tr. L. Dysinger, based on Sr. Monica Wagner.. The Longer Rule, St. Basil Ascetical Works ( Cath.Univ.Am. Pre. 1962) 223-338

6.Probation 7.Children 8.Continence/Moderation ; 9.Moderation in Food 36, The Sick


The Latin [translation] of Rufinus






Letter of Rufinus To Ursacius of Pinetum






1 Most dear brother Ursacius, when we had arrived from eastern parts and we were already longing again for the accustomed fellowship of brothers, how gladly we entered that monastery of yours, sited there above the narrow ridge of a sandy causeway, washed about on this side and that by the waves of the shifting and uncertain sea. 2 Only a scattering of pines marked out the hidden places at a distance,’ from which the famous name of Pinetum has dropped down to the world.’

1 Satis libenter, carissime frater Ursaci, adventantes de partibus orientis et desiderantes iam fratrum consueta consortia monasterium tuum ingressi sumus, quod superpositum angusto arenosi tramitis dorso hinc atque hinc passivi et incerti maris unda circumluit; 2 rara tantummodo latentes locos eminus arguit pinus, ex qua et Pineti clarum nomen saeculo dedit.

3 But we were especially delighted in this, that you did not, as is the way with others, press inquiries about the places or riches of the East. 4 Instead, you asked eagerly about the observance of the servants of God there, their character of mind, and the institutes kept in their monasteries.

3 Et inde maxime delectati sumus, quod non, ut aliquibus mos est, vel de locis vel de opibus orientis sollicite percontatus es, 4 sed quaenam ibi observatio servorum dei haberetur, quae animi virtus, quae instituta servarentur in monasteriis perquisisti.

5 To your request I reply—but that what I expound for you may not be unworthy, I say, not of myself, but of the dignity of the subject—6 I bring forth from the holy Basil, bishop of Cappadocia, a man greatly renowned for faith and works and for every mark of holiness, his Institutes for Monks, which he handed down as a kind of sacred case-law to monks who questioned him. 7 For when you were admiring his definitions and expressions, you begged me urgently to translate this work into Latin, 8 promising me that if these holy and spiritual institutes of a holy and spiritual man were to become known through all the monasteries of the west, 9 the great progress that would accrue to the servants of God from precepts like these would, through their merits and prayers, bring me some grace or reward.

5 Ad haec ego ne quid tibi minus digne, non dico quam geritur sed quam geri debet, exponerem, 6 sancti Basili Cappadociae episcopi, viri fide et operibus et omni sanctitate satis clari, instituta monachorum, quae interrogantibus se monachis velut sancti cuiusdam iuris responsa statuit, protuli. 7 Cuius cum definitiones ac sententias mirareris, magnopere poposcisti ut hoc opus verterem in Latinum, 8 pollicens mihi quod per universa occiduae partis monasteria si haec sancti et spiritalis viri sancta et spiritalia innotescerent instituta, 9 omnis ille servorum dei profectus qui ex huiuscemodi institutionibus nasceretur, mihi quoque ex eorum vel meritis vel orationibus aliquid gratiae vel mercedis afferret.

10 I have exerted myself, therefore, to the best of my ability: do you fulfil your part then, and may all you who read this also observe the favour, and remember me as you act and pray in accordance with the content of these statutes.

10 Exhibui ergo ut potui ministerium meum: imple et tu et omnes qui legitis et observatis gratiam, ut et agentes et orantes sic quemadmodum statuta haec continent, mei quoque memores sitis.

11 Make it your task to provide copies also for other monasteries, so that, after the likeness of Cappadocia, all the monasteries may live not by different, but by the same institutes and observances.’

11 Tui sane sit officii etiam aliis monasteriis exemplaria praebere, ut secundum instar Cappadociae omnia monasteria eisdem et non diversis vel institutis vel observationibus vivant.











1 God who loves the human race and who teaches man knowledge (Ps 94:10), through the Apostle commands those on whom he has bestowed the gift of teaching, to persevere in teaching (1 Tm 4:16; Ro 12:7), 2 while through Moses he also exhorts those who are in need of being built up by the divine instructions, saying Ask your father and he will declare it to you, your elders’ and they will tell you (Dt 32:7).

Humanum genus diligens Deus, et docens hominem scientiam (PsalXCIII), his quidem quibus docendi contulit gratiam, praecipit per apostolum (IITimIII), permanere in doctrina: his vero qui aedificari divinis institutionibus indigent per Moysem protestatur, dicens: Interroga patrem tuum, et annuntiabit tibi; presbyteros tuos, et dicent tibi (DeutXXXII) .

3 Wherefore, we to whom the ministry of the word (Ac 6:4) is entrusted’ must at all times be prepared and eager for the instruction and perfecting of souls,’ 4 now bearing witness to all in the common hearing of the church concerning the commandments of the Lord,’ now making ourselves available in private to the best of our ability to any of the more perfect 5 who wish to enquire and ask questions concerning the faith and the truth of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the perfect way of life”—6 through which the man of God might be made perfect and complete (2Tm 3:17).

3 Propter quod necesse est, nos quidem quibus ministerium verbi creditum est, in omni tempore paratos esse et promptos ad instructionem perfectionemque animarum: et quaedam quidem in communi ecclesiae auditorio simul omnibus de praeceptis domini contestari; quaedam vero secretius perfectioribus quibusque disserere, et inquirere atque interrogare volentibus de fide et veritate evangelii domini nostri Iesu Christi, et de conversatione perfecta copiam nostri facultatemque praebere, a quo possit ex his perfectus effici et consummatus homo Dei.

7 It befits you for your part not to allow any time to pass by idly, so that in addition to what you learn in common with the whole church you also inquire in private concerning the higher and more perfect things 8 and so conduct the whole span of your life enquiring what are the better things and searching out what is more useful.

7 Vobis autem convenit nullum tempus vacuum praeterire, quominus ad ea quae communiter cum omni ecclesia discitis, etiam secretius de eminentioribus et perfectioribus inquiratis: ut omne aevum vitae vestrae in inquirendo de melioribus et in percontando de utilioribus transigatis.

9 Since God has brought us together here and we enjoy some small silence and quiet from the disturbances of the crowds, 10 let us not give our mind to any other task, or devote the remaining time to sleeping again and the repose of the body 11 but spend what is left of the night in enquiry and concern for the better things, fulfilling what was said by the blessed David: On his Law he shall meditate by day and by night (Ps 1:2).

9 Quoniam ergo et in hoc nos congregavit Deus, et paululum quid a molestiis turbarum silentii agimus et quietis; neque in aliud opus animum demus neque residuum temporis somno rursus et remissioni corporeae mancipemus; sed in inquisitione et sollicitudine meliorum noctis hoc quod superest exigamus, adimplentes illud quod dictum est per beatum David quia: In lege eius meditabitur die ac nocte (PsalI).

12 So then, whatever knowledge each of you thinks he is lacking, let him bring it forward for common investigation, 13 for if something appears to be difficult or obscure it is more easily clarified when the many look into the matter together, since God without doubt bestows the grace of finding upon those who seek (Matt 7:7).

Si quid ergo unusquisque vestrum deesse sibi ad scientiam putat, ad communem id proferat inquisitionem. facilius enim pluribus simul conferentibus, si quid illud difficile vel obtectum videtur, clarescit, deo sine dubio inveniendi gratiam quaerentibus largiente.

14 Now if necessity is laid upon us and woe upon me if I do not preach the Gospel (1Co 9:16), so a like judgment hangs over you, if you cease from your investigation and inquiry, or show yourselves too indifferent and careless in carrying out what you have discovered to be right. 15 For this is why the Lord said: The word I have spoken to you, this shall judge you on the last day (Jn 12:48), 16 and again: the servant who did not know the will of his master yet has done what is worthy of blows, shall be beaten with few, he however who knew it and yet did what was contrary to the will of his master, shall be beaten with many (Lk 12:47-48).

14 Sicut ergo nobis necessitas imminet, et vae mihi erit, si non evangelizem (ICorIX); ita etiam vobis, si ab interrogatione et inquisitione cessetis, vel remissiores ac resolutiores ad ea implenda quae recta inventa fuerint exsistatis simile discrimen impendit. Propterea enim et dominus dixit quia sermo quem locutus sum vobis, ille iudicabit vos in novissimo die (IoanXII) et iterum: Servus qui ignoravit voluntatem domini sui, et fecit digna plagis, vapulabit paucis: qui autem cognovit et fecit contra voluntatem domini, vapulabit plurimum (LucXII).

17 Let us beseech the mercy of the Lord therefore, that he may both grant to us a blameless ministry of the word and award to you a fruitful outcome of the teaching. 18 And since you know that these words shall rise up before you at the judgment seat of Christ: for I will rebuke you, he says, and present these things before your face (Ps 49:21), 19 so then, attend vigilantly to what is being said and apply yourselves without delay to the noble work which you have heard, 20 for we know not the day nor the hour when our Lord shall come (Mt 24:42).

17 Oremus ergo misericordiam domini, ut et nobis verbi inculpabile tribuat ministerium et vobis fructuosum doctrinae concedat eventum. tamquam ergo scientes quoniam stabunt ante faciem vestram verba haec ante tribunal Christi; Arguam enim te, inquit, et statuam ea ante faciem tuam (PsalXLIX); ita et intendite animum vigilanter ad haec quae dicuntur, et ad opus dignum quae audistis festinanter adducite: quia nescimus qua die, vel qua hora dominus noster veniat (MatthXXIV) .





Which is the Greatest Commandment






Q:   Since your discourse has given us authority to ask questions, first of all we seek to learn if there is any order and sequence in the cornmandments of God, such that one would be first, another second, and so for the others in their order; or whether all the commandments are so intimately linked to one another and of equal value that one could make a beginning anywhere he pleases, as in the manner of a circle or crown.

Quoniam dedit nobis sermo tuus potestatem ut interrogemus, primo omnium doceri quaesumus si ordo aliquis est et consequentia in mandatis Dei; ut aliud quidem sit primum, et aliud secundum, et sic per ordinem cetera: an omnia mandata ita sibi invicem cohaerent, et sunt aequalia, ut unde voluerit quis possit initium sumere, tamquam in modum circuli vel coronae.

R. Your question is an old one and was put long ago in the gospel, the one where a teacher of the law came up to the Lord and said: Master, what is the first commandment in the law? 2 And the Lord replied: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the first and the great commandment. 3 The second however is like it: You shall love your neighbour as your very self (Mt 22:36-39; Mk 12:28-31).

RESPONSIO. Interrogatio vestra antiqua est, et olim proposita in Evangelio, in eo cum accedens ad dominum quidam legis doctor ait: Magister, quod est mandatum primum in lege? et dominus respondit: Diliges dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo et ex tota anima tua et ex totis viribus tuis; hoc est primum et magnum mandatum. Secundum vero simile huic: Diliges proximum tuum tamquam te ipsum (MatthXXII).

4 So the Lord himself imposed an order among the commandments, saying that the first and the great commandment is to love God with the whole heart and with the whole mind, 5 the second however in order and sequence and which is like it in virtue—inasmuch as it fulfills and depends on the first—is to love your neighbour as your very self. 6 and also from other similar passages in the holy Scriptures, a certain order and sequence of precepts is observed, as I myself observe, among all the commandments.

Ipse ergo dominus ordinem mandatis imposuit primum dicens et magnum esse mandatum Deum ex toto corde et ex tota mente diligere; secundum vero ordine et consequentia et quod illi esset simile per virtutem, immo quod illud expleret et quod penderet ex primo, diligere proximum sicut se ipsum. Sed et de aliis similiter in sanctis scripturis invenies, et servatur, ut ego arbitror, in omnibus mandatis ordo quidam et consequentia praeceptorum.





The Love of God






QUESTION: Since therefore he says that the first commandment concerns love for God, so then, speak to us first of all about this. For we have heard that he ought to be loved; what we want to learn, however, is how this can be fulfilled.

Quoniam igitur de caritate Dei primum ais esse mandatum, inde nobis primum omnium dissere; nam quia oportet diligi audivimus, quomodo tamen hoc possit impleri desideramus addiscere.





R/. You have taken up the very best introduction to the talk and one most suited to our goal. So, with God’s help, let us do as you have said.

RESPONSIO. Optimum sumpsistis sermonis exordium, et proposito nostro valde conveniens; deo itaque iuvante nos ut dicitis faciemus.

2 It needs to be understood before all else that this commandment seems to be one, yet it embraces and binds together in itself the virtue of all commandments, for the Lord himself says: On these two commandments hang the law itself and the prophets (Mt 22:40).

Sciendum ante omnia est quod mandatum istud unum quidem videtur esse, sed omnium in se mandatorum virtutem complectitur et constringit ipso domino dicente quia In his duobus mandatis omnis ipsa lex pendet et prophetae (MatthXXII) .

3 We shall not however approach the order of the commandments by discussing them one by one otherwise we shall seem to introduce the whole work with details—4 but make enquiry as it accords with our goal and the present course requires it, noting before all else that we carry implanted within ourselves the capacities of all the commandments that we have received from God. 5 Hence it is neither a difficulty to us, as if something novel or alien to us were being required of us—6 nor again does any cause for elation appear to be given us, that we should think that we are offering to God something more than we received from him in the nature of our creation.

Nec tamen nos per singula discutere aggredimur ordinem mandatorum; alioquin videbimur totum opus introducere in parte: sed quantum ad propositum sufficit et praesens ratio postulat, inquirimus, illud ante omnia designantes, quod omnium mandatorum quae a deo accepimus virtutes in nobis ipsis insitas gerimus. quo scilicet neque difficultas nobis sit tamquam novum aliquid et alienum a nobis expetatur: neque rursum elationis dari nobis aliqua videatur occasio, si putemus nos plus aliquid offerre deo quam ab ipso in natura nostrae creationis accepimus.

7 Now if we put into effect rightly and fittingly those things which have been implanted in us, this is to live according to virtue. If on the other hand we corrupt the endowments of nature, this to turn towards vice.

Quoniam quidem ea quae nobis insita sunt, si recte et competenter moveamus in opus, hoc est secundum virtutem vivere; si vero naturae beneficia corrumpamus, hoc est in malitiam vergere.

8 Here, then, is a definition of vice: to make evil use of the movements of the soul implanted in us by God, and again this is the definition of virtue: to use rightly the movements of the soul implanted in us by God, that is, in accordance with the commandment of God and in accordance with the conscience of the mind.

Est ergo mali ista definitio: non recte uti motibus animi a deo nobis insitis; et rursum virtutis ista definitio: recte uti, id est secundum mandatum dei et secundum conscientiam animi, motibus a Deo nobis insitis.

9 These things being so, we find the same case also with love. 10 We have received the commandment to love God: the soul bears the capacity to love implanted within itself by God at its first constitution. 11 Of this we need no proof from without, for each may discover the traces of what we say within himself and from himself. 12 Every human being desires all that is good, and we are drawn by a kind of natural disposition to-wards all that we think to be good. 13 Indeed, without being taught, we are drawn in love towards blood relatives and those closest to us in the flesh, while we are attached with our whole affection and good ser-vices to those from whom we receive benefits.

Cum ergo haec ita se habeant, idem hoc invenimus etiam de caritate constare. Mandatum accepimus diligere deum: dilectionis virtutem in ipsa statim prima conditione a deo anima sibi insitam gerit: in quo nec extrinsecus testimoniis indigemus, unusquisque enim in semet ipso et ex semet ipso horum quae dicimus sumit indicia. Omnis homo desiderat omne quod bonum est, et affectu quodam naturali constringimur ad omne quod bonum putamus. sed et erga consanguineos et carnis proximos nullo docente in amore constringimur, his quoque quorum beneficia accipimus, omni affectu et officiis copulamur.

14 BUT what greater good can we have than God? Indeed, what other good is there but God alone (cf. Matt 19:17)? 15 What loveliness, what splendour, what beauty which we are naturally moved to love is of such a kind as is in God and more claims our confidence?

                ET quid aliud tam bonum habetur quam Deus? Immo quid aliud bonum, nisi solus deus? Qui decor, qui splendor, quae pulchritudo quam naturaliter diligere provocamur, usquam talis qualis in deo est et esse credenda est?

16 What grace is so great, what flame of love which sets alight the secret and inward places of the soul is like to that love of God which ought to inflame the hidden places of the mind, 17 especially if it is cleansed of all defilement, if it is a pure soul which with true affection says: I am wounded by love (Song 2:5)? Quae usquam talis gratia, quae amoris flamma, quae animae secreta et interiora succendat, sicut amor dei inflammare debet mentis arcana, praecipue si sit ab omni pollutione purgata; si sit munda anima et quae vero affectu dicat quoniam Vulnerata caritatis ego sum (CantIII) .

18 The utterly ineffable love of God—as I at any rate experience it—which can be more easily experienced than spoken of, is a certain inexplicable light. Even if speech should cite or compare a lightning flash or a dazzling brilliance, still, the hearing cannot take it in. 19 Invoke if you will the rays of the morning star, the splendours of the moon, or the light of the sun itself—in comparison with that glory they are all more obscure and murkier by far than an ink-black night and the gloom of a dense fog compared with the flawlessly clear light of the noon-day sun.

Ineffabilem prorsus ego sentio amorem dei et qui sentiri magis quam dici possit, inenarrabilis quaedam lux est; etiam si fulgura, si coruscum adhibeat vel comparet sermo, non patietur auditus. Si luciferi fulgores, si lunae splendores, si ipsum solis lumen assumas, ad comparationem gloriae illius obscura sunt omnia, et multo taetriora quam si caeca nox et obscuritate profundae caliginis mersa limpidissimo meridiani solis lumini comparetur.

20 Such loveliness is not seen by bodily eyes; it is perceived only by the soul and the mind. 21 If perchance this loveliness has grazed the mind and heart of the saints, it left embedded in them a most fiery sting of yearning for it, 22 till at length, as if languishing in the fires of such love and shuddering at this present life, such as these would say: When shall I come and appear before the face of God? (Ps 41:2), 23 and again, one who is burning in the flames of this ardour would say: My soul has thirsted for the living God (Ps 41:1), 24 and being insatiable in his desire, would pray that he might see the delight of the Lord and find shelter in his holy temple (Ps 26:4). So therefore we naturally long for and love the good.

Decor iste corporeis oculis non videtur, anima sola et mente conspicitur, qui decor si cuius forte sanctorum mentem animumque perstrinxit, flagrantissimum in eis amoris sui stimulum defixit. Propterea denique velut amoris cuiusdam ignibus tabescentes, et praesentem vitam perhorrescentes, dicebant aliqui ex eis: Quando veniam, et parebo ante faciem dei (PsalXLI) ? et iterum dicebat istius ardoris ignibus flagrans: Sitivit anima mea ad deum vivum (PsalXXVI). et insatiabiliter habens erga eius desiderium orabat ut videret voluntatem domini, et protegeretur in templo sancto eius (PsalXXVI); ita ergo naturaliter et concupiscimus quae bona sunt et amamus.

25 But if, as we have said, there is no good, however sublime, to be compared with God, therefore the debt that we pay, that which is required of us by him, is love; 26 which if we deny or pay niggardly leaves us without excuse and liable to wrath. 27 And what do I mean by “liable to wrath”? What wrath could be greater, what punishment more grievous than if it should befall us to become strangers to the love of God?

Nihil autem, ut diximus, tam summum bonum est quam deus: et ideo debitum quoddam exsolvimus hanc quam ab eo expetimus caritatem. quae utique si denegetur, et minime exsolvatur, irae nos inexcusabili obnoxios facit. Et quid dico irae obnoxios? Quae enim poterit esse maior ira, quae ultio gravior, quam hoc ipsum si accidat nobis alienos effici a caritate Dei?

28 If offspring have a natural affection towards those who begot them—and this is found not only among human beings but even among dumb animals—29 see that we are not found more doltish than cattle or more unnatural than wild beasts, if we are not urged by any affection towards the one who gave us life. 30 For even though we cannot know just what he is or the measure of his greatness, still from the mere fact that we come from him we ought to revere and love him with the affection we have for parents, and cleave to the memory of him unceasingly, as little children do towards their mothers, 31 and this all the more unreservedly and promptly inasmuch as we know that the benefits for which we are indebted are immeasurable. 32 And this I think is common not only to us, but also to the other animals, for if someone bestows some good on them, they do remember it. 33 If you do not believe me, then listen to the prophet who says: The ox knows its owner and the ass its masters stall, 34 and far be it that what follows is said of us: But Israel has not known me, nor has my people understood (Isa 1:3).

Quodsi parentibus inest naturalis affectus erga eos quos genuerunt, et non solum hoc in hominibus verum etiam in mutis animalibus invenitur: videte ne inveniamur vel pecudibus hebetiores, vel feris beluis immaniores, si nullo erga genitorem constringamur affectu. Quem etiamsi qualis et quantus sit scire non possumus, ex hoc tamen solo quod ex ipso sumus venerari et diligere parentis debemus affectu, atque indesinenter erga eius pendere memoriam, sicut erga genitrices suas parvuli faciunt, sed multo amplius multoque promptius, quanto et immensorum nos beneficiorum obnoxios scimus. Quod et ipsum commune nobis esse puto etiam cum ceteris animalibus, meminerunt namque etiam illa, si quid eis quis contulerit boni. Si mihi non credis, audi prophetam dicentem Cognovit bos possessorem suum, et asinus praesepe domini sui (IsaI). absit autem de nobis dici ea quae sequuntur quia Israel me non cognovit, et populus meus me non intellexit (IsaI) .

35 Even if we, without any to teach us, love those benefactors who have favoured us in some way, and strive with all zeal to repay our gratitude as far as we can, 36 how shall we ever be able to repay our gratitude for the gifts of God, which are so many as to surpass number, and so great and of such a kind that just one among them all obliges us to give thanks to our benefactor for our entire life? 37 For I leave aside all other benefits—which are themselves magnificent and splendid—yet are outshone by the greater and the better as are the stars by the more resplendent rays of the sun—38 since there is no leisure for us to enlarge on them more fully, even if we could enumerate the divine benefits to us in lesser things.

Quodsi etiam eos qui beneficii aliquid contulerint, nullo docente diligimus et omni studio quantum fieri potest, referre gratiam nitimur; quomodo sufficiemus gratiam referre beneficiis dei, quae tanta sunt, ut effugiant numerum et talia ut sufficiat unum aliquod ex omnibus per totam vitam nostram efficere nos obnoxios largitori? Nam omitto cetera omnia, quae quidem et ipsa magna sunt et praeclara, verum a maioribus et melioribus, velut stellae quaedam splendentioribus solis radiis obteguntur; quoniam quidem nec tempus nobis est amplius dilatare sermonem, ut possimus etiam de minimis divina erga nos enumerare beneficia.

3. 39 So then, let us pass over in silence the daily risings of the sun and the whole world illumined by the brilliance of a single torch. 40 Let us pass over in silence the orbits of the moon, the changing patterns and vicissitudes of the atmosphere, showers from the clouds, streams and springs from the earth, the expanses and depths of the sea, 41 the whole of the earth and the living beings that are born of it, those which teem in the sea and those which are established and flourish on the land, all that is assigned to the service and use of our life.

Sileamus igitur cotidianos solis ortus, et unius lampadis fulgore illuminatum universum mundum. sileamus lunae circuitus, aeris permutationes vicissitudinesque, imbres ex nubibus, flumina fontesque de terra; latitudines atque altitudines maris: universitatem terrae, ac nativitates eius animantium quae in aquis gignuntur, et quae coalescunt vel oriuntur in terris, nostris ministeriis vel usibus deputata.

42 These things therefore and countless others I leave aside. There is however one thing only, which even if someone could leave it aside who wanted to, we cannot pass over in silence, 43 and though it is impossible to hold back, it is however much more impossible to utter anything worthy and befitting. 44 This one thing so great of which I speak is that Goda gave to man knowledge of himself and made him a rational animal on the earth and provided for his enjoyment the delight and loveliness of ineffable paradise. 45 And when he was deceived by the craft of the serpent and fell into sin and through sin fell headlong into death, he by no means despised him, 46 but gave him the Law for a help, set angels over him, sent prophets, checked the impulses of vice by the severity of threats, 47 stirred desires for the good by the most lavish promises, and declared beforehand the end of either course in many images.

Haec ergo omnia et cetera innumerabilia praetermitto: hoc solum, quod ne volenti quidem praeterire possibile est, silere non possumus: et quamvis reticere gratiam non sit possibile, multo tamen impossibilius est ut dignum est et ut competit, proloqui: hoc, inquam, quantum est, quod scientiam sui donavit homini deus, et rationabile animal fecit esse in terris, et ineffabilis paradisi abuti voluptate ac decore concessit. Quemque serpentis arte deceptum, et in peccatum lapsum, ac per peccatum in mortem quoque devolutum nequaquam despexit; sed legem in adiutorium dedit, praefecit angelos, destinavit prophetas; conatus malitiae comminationum severitate compescuit; bonorum desideria munificentissimis repromissionibus provocavit, et finem utriusque viae in multis imaginibus praesignavit.

48 Yet when after all these things were hardened in our vices and our disbelief, even then the generosity of a faithful Lord did not turn away from us or forsake us, and we, notwithstanding our ingratitude for all his benefits, were unable to deflect or shut out his mercy towards us,

Verum cum post haec omnia in malis nostris et incredulitatibus duraremus, non est aversus nec dereliquit nos pii domini bonitas; neque cum beneficiis eius essemus ingrati, avertere potuimus et excludere misericordiam eius a nobis:

49 but were recalled from death and restored to life again through our Lord Jesus Christ 50 who, though he was in the form of God, he did not deem that he was equal to God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave (Phil 2:6-7). 51 And he took on our infirmities and bore our sicknesses and was wounded for us, that by his bruises we might be made whole (Isa 53:4-5, 11), 52 and he redeemed us from the curse, having become a curse for us (Gal 3:13) and was condemned to a most shameful death (Wis 2:2) that he might recall us to life. 53 And it was not enough to give life to us who were dead, he even bestowed a participation in his divinity (cf. 2 Pet 1:4) and lavished on us the gift of eternity, 54 and he prepared for those who believe and love, beyond all that we could seek or understand what eye has not seen nor ear has heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man (1 Cor 2:9).

sed revocamur a morte, et iterum vivificamur per dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, qui cum in forma dei esset, non rapinam arbitratus est esse se aequalem deo sed semet ipsum exinanivit, formam servi accipiens (PhilII) . Et infirmitates nostras accepit, et aegritudines nostras portavit, et pro nobis vulneratus est, ut livore illius sanaremur (IsaLIII). et a maledicto nos redemit, factus pro nobis maledictum (GalIII) et morte turpissima condemnatus est, ut nos revocaret ad vitam. Nec sufficit vivificare nos mortuos, sed et divinitatis suae participium tribuit, et munus aeternitatis indulget; et supra omne quod vel petere vel intellegere possumus, credentibus vel diligentibus se praeparat, quod oculus non vidit, nec auris audivit, nec in cor hominis ascendit (ICorII);(PsalCXV) .

55 What return, therefore, shall we make to the Lord for all that he has given to us (Ps 115:12)? Yet he is so generous and tender that he seeks no recompense, but is enough for him, that for all that he has bestowed he should be loved. 56 Who then is so incurably ungrateful as not to love his bene-factor for benefits so great and of such a kind?

Quid ergo retribuemus domino pro omnibus quae retribuit nobis? Verum ille ita benignus et clemens est, ut ne retributionem quidem reposcat; sed sufficit ei ut pro his omnibus quae largitus est diligatur. Quis ergo ita irremediabiliter ingratus est, ut post tanta et talia beneficia non diligat largitorem?

[Love of Neighbor]


57 Let that suffice, then, concerning love for God, for it is not our purpose, as we said above, to say everything—for that is impossible—but briefly and succinctly to call to mind those things which may suffice to instil and to stir up love for God in the soul.

Et de caritate quidem dei ista sufficiant: propositum namque est, ut superius diximus, non omnia dicere, impossibile enim est; sed breviter et succincte commemorare ea quae amorem dei inserere animae et suscitare sufficiant.

58 It follows now to explain that commandment which we said is the second in order and power. 59 We have already said above that the law cultivates and nurtures those powers which are implanted in the soul by the Creator. 60 Since we are charged to love our neighbour as our very self (Matt 22:39), let us see whether there is also in us the power and the capacity to fulfil this commandment.

Consequens iam nunc est, etiam de eo mandato, quod ordine et virtute secundum diximus, explicare. Et quidem quoniam lex eas virtutes quae animae a creatore insitae sunt, elimet et excolat, iam in superioribus diximus. Quia ergo praecipimur diligere proximum sicut nos ipsos, videamus si etiam inest nobis virtus et facultas ad huius quoque mandati expletionem.

61 Who does not know that man is a domesticated and sociable animal, not one savage and wild? 62 Nothing is more characteristic of our nature than that each has need of the other, and seeks out the other and loves what he seeks. 63 Since the Lord sowed the seeds of these virtues in us, without doubt he also seeks fruit from them, and as the testimony of our love for him, he accepts our love for our neighbours. 64 For By this, he says, all shall know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35). 65 And he has so joined together these two commandments in every way that the works of mercy which are done for our neighbour he refers to himself. For I was hungry, he says, and you gave me to eat (Matt 25:35), 66 And he says of the other things done for our neighbour that he is the one receiving them, since he says When you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me (Matt 25:40).

Et quis ignorat quoniam humanum animal et communicabile homo est, et non agreste aliquod ac ferum? nihil enim tam proprium est naturae nostrae, quam alterum alterius indigere, et requirere invicem, ac diligere quod requirit. Quia ergo dominus harum in nobis virtutum semina seminavit, sine dubio horum etiam fructus requiret, et testimonium nostrae erga se dilectionis dilectionem accipiet proximorum. In hoc enim, inquit, scient omnes quia mei discipuli estis, si invicem diligatis (IoanXIII) . Et ita in omnibus duo ista mandata coniungit, ut etiam misericordiae opera quae in proximum fiunt, transferat in semet ipsum: Esurivi enim, inquit, et dedistis mihi manducare (MatthXXV) . Et reliqua quae in proximum gesta sunt, se dicit esse perpessum, cum dicit quia: Cum fecistis uni ex minimis istis fratribus meis, mihi fecistis (MatthXXV).

67 Therefore by means of the first the second also is completed, but by means of the second there is an ascent and a return to the first, so that if anyone loves the Lord he without doubt also loves his neighbour, 68 for Whoever loves me, says the Lord, keeps my commandments (John 14:15). But this, he says, is my commandment, that you love one another (John 15:12).

Ergo per primum completur et secundum; per secundum vero ascenditur et reditur ad primum: ut qui diligit dominum, sine dubio diligat et proximum. ait enim dominus: Qui diligit me, mandata mea custodit, hoc est autem, inquit, mandatum meum ut invicem diligatis (IoanXIV) (IoanXV).

69 Thus whoever loves his neighbour completes his love for God, since it is he who receives to himself whatever is bestowed on the neighbour.

Ita qui diligit proximum, explet in deum caritatem, quia ipse in se recipit quicquid confertur in proximum.

70 For those who are receiving their initiation into the fear of God and approaching their first entrance to piety, an elementary instruction through fear is more useful, according to the counsel of Solomon the most wise who said: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7).

Et quidem in his qui initia habent ad timorem dei, et ad primos aditus religionis accedunt, prima institutio est utilior per timorem, secundum sententiam sapientissimi Salomonis dicentis: Initium sapientiae timor domini (ProvI).

71 But you who by now have ceased to be little children in Christ (cf. 1 Cor 3:1-2) and have no further need of milk, require the solid food (cf. Heb 5:12) that comes from the firmness of doctrines in order to feed and nourish the inner man (Eph 3:16). 72 by which, through the more leading commandments, you may ‘at last reach maturity (cf. Eph 4:13) and be con-firmed in the whole truth (John 16:13) which is in Christ. 73 We must surely be on our guard lest the weight of a more copious grace becomes for us a cause of heavier judgment, should we be found ungrateful for the gifts of our benefactor.

Vos vero qui iam parvuli in Christo esse desiistis, nec ultra lacte indigetis, cibos solidos ex dogmatum firmitate perquirite, ad nutriendum et pascendum interiorem hominem (ICorIII) ; quo per eminentiora quaeque mandata perveniat ad perfectum, et in omni quae in Christo est veritate firmetur. Observandum sane est ne forte copiosioris gratiae pondus causa nobis gravioris condemnationis exsistat, si ingrati inveniamur muneribus largitoris

74 It needs to be considered before all else that no-one can succeed in keeping any commandment at all, neither the one that charges us concerning love for God, nor the one concerning love for one’s neighbour, if the mind is wandering off among varied and scattered occupations,

. Illud autem ante omnia considerandum est, quia neque aliud ullum mandatum, neque hoc quod de caritate dei et proximi praecipitur implere quis poterit, si per varias et diversas occupationes animus oberret.sed neque artificium ullum,

75 for it is impossible that those who are constantly fluctuating between one thing and another should attain any craft or the discipline of any skill.

vel ullius industriae disciplinam adipisci possibile est eos qui frequenter ex aliis ad alia referuntur.

76 We ought therefore to guard our heart with all watchfulness lest it happen that base desires and sullied thoughts cast out and displace from our minds the desire for God. 77 On the contrary, by the diligent recollection and memory of God, let us so deeply fix his form and figure as it were in our soul like a seal, that no disquietudes may cause it to be lost. 78 For in this way desire for the divine love comes upon us when the memory of him constantly illumines our mind and dispositions, and we are roused and stirred to the work of the commandments of God, 79 and conversely, by these works of love the love of God is safeguarded in us and increased.

Omni ergo custodia oportet nos servare cor nostrum, ne forte desiderium dei mala desideria et sordidae cogitationes depellant nostris animis ac detrudant (ProvIV); sed e contrario assidua recordatione et memoria dei formam quodammodo eius ac figuram animae nostrae signaculis infigamus, quae nullis queat interturbationibus aboleri. Sic enim et desiderium nobis divinae caritatis accedit, dum frequens eius memoria mentem atque animos illustrat; et ad opus mandatorum dei erigimur ac suscitamur. et ex ipsis rursus caritatis operibus vel conservatur in nobis dei caritas, vel augetur.

80 And the Lord wants to show this, I think, when on one occasion he says: If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15),

Et hoc puto ostendere volentem dominum dicere aliquando quidem: Si diligitis me, mandata mea servate (IoanXIV) ;

81 while else-where he says: If you do what I tell you, you abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love (John 15:10).

aliquando autem Si facitis quae ego dico vobis, permanetis in caritate mea sicut ego servavi mandata patris mei, et maneo in caritate eius (IoanXIV) .

82 From this he teaches us that the goal of our work ought to hinge on his will, as though we had a kind of mirror to which we continually look back and, by keeping the eye of our heart upon it, direct our work.

Ex quibus edocet nos prospectum operis nostri debere ex sua voluntate pendere; ut tamquam speculam quandam ipsum habentes, et semper ad ipsum respicientes opus nostrum fixo ad ipsum cordis oculo dirigamus.

83 Just as the crafts of this life set before the mind a certain goal and work through the ministry of the hand in accordance with this goal engendered in the mind, 84 so also in our work only one purpose remains for us and one goal is fixed: that we should please God. Let us, therefore, direct the work of the commandments toward this goal. 85 For it is impossible otherwise to give definite form to our work unless we hold him continually in memory who enjoined the work, 86 so that, by keeping his will and fulfilling it exactly through the labour and diligence of our work, we shall always be joined to God while we are ever mindful of him.

Sicut enim artificia quae in hac vita sunt, prospectum quendam animi gerunt, et ita secundum hoc quod animo conceperint, etiam in opere utuntur manuum ministerio; sic et in hoc nostro opere unus manet nobis iste prospectus, atque unus terminus fixus est quo deo placere debeamus; secundum hunc ergo prospectum opus dirigamus mandatorum. Impossibile namque est aliter constare posse operis nostri formam, nisi voluntas eius qui iniunxit opus in memoria semper habeatur, ut eius voluntate servata et labore operis ac diligentia competenter expleta, semper iungamur deo, dum semper eius memores sumus.

87 Just as, for example, a smith making an axe or a scythe constantly remembers him who ordered the work and retains in his heart the size and kind and shape in which he ordered the axe to be made, 88 and, ever intending that which he remembers in himself was enjoined by the mas-ter of the work, directs the service of his hands to this end, that the form of the work might accord with the mind and will of him who ordered it—89 but who, if he forgets what and of what kind it is that was commanded him, will without doubt make something else or something of a kind different to that which was ordered him, 90 so also the Christian ought to exert every effort and every diligence in his activities, 91 so that he directs his own work according to the will of God who enjoined the work, with the result that his own actions are finished well and he is able to fulfil the will of him who gave the charge. 92 Then he is also able to fulfil what is written: Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). 93 But if he strays from the rule and corrupts his observance of the commandment, by this very fact his forgetfulness of God is demonstrated.

Sicut enim, verbi causa, faber securem faciens aut falcem meminit semper eius qui opus iniunxit, et retinet in corde suo cuius magnitudinis vel qualitatis vel formae iniunxerit fieri securem, et illud semper intendens quod sibi meminit a domino operis iniunctum ad hoc dirigit manuum ministerium, ut forma operis cum eius qui iniunxit animis ac voluntate conveniat: si autem obliviscatur quid vel quale sit quod sibi fuerat imperatum, sine dubio aliud aliquid quam iniunctum fuerat faciet; ita et Christianus omnem conatum et omne studium in actibus suis adhibere debet, ut secundum voluntatem dei, qui opus iniunxit, suum quoque dirigat opus, ut et actus sui ornentur et possit eius qui praecepit voluntas impleri. Tunc etiam illud compleri potest quod scriptum est: Sive manducatis, sive bibitis, sive aliud quid facitis, omnia in gloriam dei facite (ICorX). Si vero declinet a regula et corrumpat observantiam mandati, ex hoc ipso arguitur quod sit immemor Dei.

94 It is of the greatest help in preserving the memory of God to dwell in retirement and seclusion. For to live mixing with those who act without a care for the fear of God and who show contempt towards his commandments is greatly harmful, 95 as the word of Solomon bears witness saying: Do not dwell with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and acquire snares for your soul (Prov 22:24), 96 and again the saying: Come out from their midst and be separated, says the Lord (2 Cor 6:17; cf Is 52:11; Jr 51:45;Rv 18:4) makes the same point.

Plurimum autem prodest ad conservandam memoriam dei etiam secretius et semotius habitare, nam permixtum vivere cum his qui neglegentius agunt circa timorem dei et contemptum habent mandatorum eius, plurimum nocet; sicut et Salomonis sermo testatur dicens: Cum homine iracundo ne habitaveris, ne forte discas vias eius, et accipias laqueos animae tuae (ProvXXII) . Et iterum quod dicit: Exite de medio eorum, et separamini dicit dominus (IsaLII), ad hoc ipsum respicit.

97 That we may not therefore admit inducements to sin through the eyes or the ears and so, little by little, through long habit, become settled in a most wretched way of life, and again that we might be able to give time to prayer, we ought first of all seek a retired dwelling. 98 For by this means we cut out former habits, in which we behaved contrary to the commandment of God. 99 And this is no mean struggle, to reexamine and recall oneself from a former unworthy way of life, because behaviour strengthened by length of time acquires, as it were, the force of nature. 100 Therefore we ought before all else to deny ourselves and take up the cross of Christ, and so follow him (Matt 16:24; Lk 9:23).

Igitur ut neque per oculos neque per aures recipiamus illecebras ad peccandum, et paulatim longo usu inhaereamus consuetudini pessimae. et rursum ut possimus orationi vacare, oportet primo secretius habitare. Hoc enim modo et praecedentes consuetudines excidimus, in quibus contra mandatum dei agebamus. Non enim parvus labor est, ut se aliquis a priore non bona consuetudine reflectat ac revocet; quoniam quidem mos longo tempore confirmatus vim quodammodo obtinet naturae. Oportet ergo nos primo omnium negare nos ipsos et tollere crucem Christi, et sic eum sequi (MatthXVI).

101 Now we deny ourselves in this way if, forgetting everything to do with our former habits, we renounce our own will and so secede not only from people who do not act uprightly but also from our own dis-ordered and unbridled ways. 102 Otherwise, to emend and correct one-self while continuing in the same habits and former way of life is very difficult or, to speak more truly, completely impossible. 103 Indeed, to associate and mingle with those who live by a different life greatly hinders this saying, that one take up one’s cross and follow Christ (Matt 16:24). 104 For to be ready to die for Christ (cf. Luke 22:23) and to mortify ones members that are upon the earth (Col 3:5) and to willingly bear every danger for the name of Christ (cf. Rom 8:35-37)—this is to take up ones cross (Matt 16:24). 105 And we observe what a great hindrance can arise for us from those who are of dissimilar life and conduct.

Negamus autem nos hoc modo si per omnia praeteritae consuetudinis obliti, voluntates proprias abnegemus et ita non solum ab hominibus non recte agentibus, verum etiam a nostris ipsis inordinatis et incompositis moribus secedamus. alioquin ut in eadem quis consuetudine atque in priore conversatione permanens, emendare se possit et corrigere, difficillimum est, immo, ut verius dicam, penitus impossibile. Sed ad hoc ipsum, ut tollat quis crucem suam et sequatur Christum, plurimum impedit societas et permixtio eorum qui vitam dissimilem vivunt. Nam paratum esse ad mortem pro Christo, et mortificare membra quae sunt super terram (ColossIII) , et pro nomine Christi libenter ferre omne discrimen, hoc est tollere crucem suam. ad quod grande videmus impedimentum posse nobis oboriri ab his qui dissimiles sunt vel vita vel moribus.

106 In addition to many other obstacles it even happens that a soul, as it looks about the multitude of those living iniquitously, is in the first place preoccupied and hindered 107 from gaining an understanding of its own ills, and so from being able through repentance to purge its own failings and cut back the causes of sin by the emendment of vices. 108 And it even happens that by comparing itself with those who are worse, it reckons that it has already made great progress.

Et ad cetera alia quae multa sunt, accedit etiam hoc, ut respiciens anima ad multitudinem nequiter viventium, primo quidem occupetur et impediatur, ne suorum malorum capiat intellectum, et possit vel purgare per paenitentiam quae deliquit, vel causas culpae recidere emendatione vitiorum. In comparatione etenim pessimorum aliquid se iam magni aestimat perfecisse.

109 Second, by reason of the hindrances and tumults and preoccupations with which the common life of human beings is usually filled, the soul is unable to safeguard that which is greater and more precious than anything else: the memory of God. 110 With this repulsed and shut out from the soul, it not only suffers the loss of all gladness and divine joy and of delight in the Lord 111 and does not feel the sweetness of his word to say Sweeter to my throat are your words than honey and honeycomb to my mouth (Ps 18:10), 112 but it even arrives at neglect and forgetfulness of the judgments of God and sinks into the habit of contempt. A greater or more ruinous evil than this it is not possible to suffer.

Tum deinde impedimentis et interturbationibus atque occupationibus, quas communis hominum vita habere solet illud quod maius omnium est et pretiosius memoriam dei non potest custodire; qua depulsa ab animis et exclusa, non solum omni laetitia et gaudio caret divino et delectationis domini sustinet detrimenta, et dulcedinem divini non sentit eloquii, ut dicat: Quam dulcia faucibus meis eloquia tua, super mel et favum ori meo (PsalCXVIII) ; sed et in neglectum et oblivionem pervenit iudiciorum dei, et in contemptus consuetudinem decidit: quo maius malum et perniciosius pati nihil potest.


6._Initial Probation





Zelzer pp. 36-46













QUESTION 6 (LR 10) Whether all who come to us are to be received, or only after probation, and what [should be] the nature of this probation? (RB 58)

VI.INTERR. Si oportet omnes qui veniunt ad nos suscipere aut cum probatione, et qualis ista debet esse probatio?





R/. SINCE the kindness of God calls to all by the proclamation that states: Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you,(Mt 11.28)  it is [wrong] to indiscriminately reject those who come to us. RESP. 1 Cum dei clementia omnes vocet per illam praedicationem qua dicit Venite ad me omnes qui laboratis et onerati estis et ego reficiam vos, non est sine discrimine abicere quempiam venientem ad nos.

Nevertheless, no one with unwashed feet should, as it is said (cf Jn 13.8), be permitted access to the place of holy doctrines. Rather, as Our Lord Jesus Christ questioned the youth who came to Him as to his earlier life, and learning that he had practiced virtue, bade him fulfill that which was still wanting to his perfection; only then did he offer him the opportunity of following Him.

 2 Verumtamen neque immundis ut aiunt pedibus indulgendum est introire quempiam in sancta doctrinae, 3 sed sicut dominus noster Iesus Christus iuvenem illum qui ad se venerat interrogavit de priori vita sua, et cum audisset quia recte transacta est, quod deerat ei praecepit adimplere et ita demum iussit eum sequi se,
Thus it behooves us to inquire concerning their previous life and mode of living so that no one comes to us through pretense or falseness of soul.  4 ita ergo etiam nos oportet inquirere de praeterita vita et conversatione, ne forte simulata quis mente et fallaci animo accedat ad nos.

Inasmuch, however, as all things are set right by persevering diligence and since fear of the Lord prevails over all sorts of defects of the soul, these persons are not to be immediately rejected. They should be directed toward the practice of suitable disciplines, and if, their resolution having been tested by time and laborious probation, we find in them some indication of stability, they may be safely admitted.

5 Quod ita demum dinoscitur si facile omnem laborem corporis qui iniungitur ferat et ad castigatiorem vitam pronius inclinatur, vel si etiam delictum aliquod suum cum interrogatus fuerit nequaquam pronuntiare confunditur et medelam delicti quae adhibita fuerit gratanter assumit 7 et si ad omnem humilitatem absque ulla verecundia inclinatur ac vilioribus et abiectioribus artificiis si ita ratio poposcerit tradi se non accipit aspernanter.

For the rest, there is a general method of trying all candidates to see whether they are prepared to undergo without false shame all humiliations, so that they accept even the most menial work if reason sanctions the performance of these tasks as good and useful. After each candidate has been proved a useful instrument for the Lord, so to speak, and ready for every good work by exhaustive scrutiny on the part of those competent to study such matters, let him be enrolled among those who have consecrated themselves to the Lord.

8 Cum ergo ex hia singulis documentis fuerit comprobatus quia firma mente et stabili consilio ac prompto animo sit, tunc suscipi eum decet; 9 prius autem quam corpori fraternitatis inseratur oportet ei iniungi quaedam laboriosa et quae videantur opprobrio haberi a saecularibus, io et observare oportet, si libenter haec et libere ac fiducialiter expleat nec confusionem eorum graviter ferat ti vel etiam si in labore impiger inveniatur et promptus.





QUESTION 7 (LR 14-15) At what age it is permitted to offer oneself to God and when should the profession of virginity be regarded as firm and stable? (RB 59)

VII. INTERR. Ex qua aetate oportet nosmet ipsos offerre deo, vel virginitatis professionem quando oportet firmam ac stabilem iudicari?





R/. INSOFAR as the Lord says: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me,’(Mk 10.14) and the Apostle Paul praises one who has learned the Sacred Scriptures from infancy (2Tim 3.15) and also directs that children be reared ‘in the doctrine and correction of the Lord,’(Eph 6.4)  we regard every time of life, even the earliest age, suitable for receiving them for instruction and the fear of the Lord: but the profession of virginity will only be firm from the beginning of adulthood, and at that age generally regarded as proper for marriage.

RESP. 1 Dicente domino Sinite infantes venire ad me, et apostolo Paulo collaudante eum qui ab infantia sacra,s litteras didicisset, et rursum praecipiente educari fi/ios in doctrina et correptione domini, 2 omne tempus a prima aetate opportunum quidem esse ducimus ad suscipiendum in eruditione et timore domini; 3 firma tamen tunc erit professio virginitatis, ex quo adulta iam aetas esse coeperit et ea quae solet nuptiis apta deputari ac perfecta.

However, young children should be received with the will and consent of their parents, and indeed be offered by those parents and received before many witnesses so as to exclude all grounds for slander by malicious persons.

4 Oportet tamen infantes voluntate et consensu parentum, immo ab ipsis parentibus oblatos sub testimonio plurimorum suscipi, ut omnis occasio maledicti gratia excludatur hominum pessimorum.
5 And great diligence should also be employed in their regard so they may be properly be established in every exercise of virtue, whether in word, understanding or action. 6 For whatever is practiced in youth will later be retained more firmly and tenaciously. 5 Adhiberi autem eis oportet summam diligentiam, quo possint ad omne virtutis exercitium probabiliter institui, tam in verbo quam in intellectu et opere; 6 quicquid enim in tenero quis et parvo inseruerit, firmius et tenacius in posterum conservabit.
7 Thus the care of young children is to be assigned  to those who have above all clearly demonstrated the virtue of patience and who are capable of applying to [the young] the measure of correction that the misdeed and the age of each deserves. 8 Above all else they must keep them from all idle speech, temper tantrums, inducements to gluttony and inappropriate gestures.  7 Iniungenda est ergo infantum cura his qui ante omnia in virtute patientiae documenta sui probabiliter praebuerunt, qui possint pro merito delicti et aetatis singulis quibusque etiam correptionis adhibere mensuram, 8  et qui servent eos primo omnium a sermonibus otiosis et ab iracundia atque incitamentis gulae et a cunctis indecentibus atque inordinatis motibus.
 9 But if any of them is found  not making progress in diligence as he grows older, but whose mind tends to wander and whose soul is casual and puffed up, unfruitful [even] after tests of instruction, 10 this sort should be expelled, particularly because excess during youth promotes laxity when older. 9 Si vero cum aetatis augmento nullus in eis deprehenditur profectus industriae sed vaga mens et animus cassus ac tumens etiam post instituta probabilia infructuosus permanserit, io huiuscemodi abici oportet, et maxime cum iuvenilis fervor rudem lacessit aetatem.

 11Those who come to the service of God and are already of a robust age should be asked to speak about the quality of their previous life.  And this may be sufficient if they urgently seek this [new life] and if their desire for the work of God is true and burning.

11 Eorum vero qui aetate iam robusta accedunt ad servitium dei oportet inquirere, ut diximus, qualitatem vitae praeteritae, 12 et sufficere etiam hoc ipsum, si satis instanter hoc expetunt et si verum et ardens desiderium est eorum erga opus dei.
13 But the assessment of these issues is to be made by those competent to analyze and prove these matters with great prudence 13 Huiuscemodi vero fieri documenta ab his oportet qui valde prudenter de his discutere poterunt et probare.

14 And one who was initially received into the community and who then retracted his promise should certainly be viewed as a transgressor against God, in whose presence and to whom he pledged his consent to the pact. But ‘if a man shall sin against God,’ says the Scripture, ‘who shall pray for him?’(1Ki 2);

 14 Cum autem fuerint suscepti, si forte propositum suum transgressi fuerint, tunc videri eos oportet tamquam eos qui in deum deliquerint, quo teste confessionis suae pactum professi sunt. 15 Et Si peccaverit, inquit, hamo in hominem, orabunt pro ipso ad dominum, si autem in deum peccaverit, quis orabit pro eo?



08_continence or moderation





Zelzer pp. 36-46













QUESTION 8 (LR 16-17) Whether continence is necessary for one who would lead the religious life.

Si oportet eum qui se piae ac religiosae vitae dederit, etiam continentiam observare?





R/.  It is evident that the practice of continence is essential; first, from the fact that the Apostle includes continence among the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5) and, second, from his saying that a blameless ministry is achieved through this virtue, in these words: ‘In labors, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity’(2Cor 6) ; and elsewhere: ‘in labor, and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often’(2Cor 11); and again: ‘And everyone that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things.’(1Cor 2) Chastisement of the body and bringing it under subjection are achieved by no other means as successfully as by the practice of continence;

RESP. 1 Quia in omnibus necessaria sit continentia manifestum est primo omnium ex eo quod apostolus Paulus inter fructus spiritus sancti etiam continentiam nominat, 2 tum deinde etiam immaculatum ministerium per hanc servari posse designat cum dicit In laboribus in vigiliis in ieiuniis in sanctitate, 3 et iterum alibi In labore et fatigatione, in vigiliis multis, in fame et siti, in ieiuniis frequenter, et iterum Omnis qui in agone contendit ab omnibus continens est, 4 et rursum Macero corpus meum et servituti subicio, quod utique non aliter quam per continentiam videtur impleri.

for the effervescent fires of youth, whose leapings can scarcely be controlled, are held in restraint by continence as with a bridle. According to Solomon, ‘Delicacies are not seemly for a fool;’(Prv 18)  and what is more foolish than for the flesh to indulge itself in delights and for youth to whirl about at will! Wherefore, the Apostle says: ‘and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences (Rom 3); likewise: ‘she that liveth in pleasures is dead while she is living (I Tim. 5).’ Moreover, the example of the delights enjoyed by the rich man show that continence is necessary for us, that we may never hear what was said to the rich man: ‘thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime.’(Lk 16)

5 Et iuventutis tumor ac fervor aetatis velut freno quodam restringi et reprimi per solam continentiam potest, non enim expediunt stulto deliciae secundum Salomonem. 6 Et carnis curam, inquit apostolus, ne feceritis in concupiscentiis, et iterum, Quae in deliciis est vivens mortua est. 7 Sed et exemplum illud divitis in deliciis viventis necessariam nobis ostendit esse continentiam, ne forte et nos audiamus quod audivit et dives quia Consecutus es bona in vita tua.

The Apostle also showed how much incontinence is to be dreaded by including it among the signs of apostasy, when he said: ‘in the last days shall come dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves (2 Tim. 3) .’ Then, after enumerating several forms of iniquity, he adds: ‘slanderers, incontinent.’ Also, for selling his birthright for one portion of food, Esau was charged with incontinence as the greatest of evils (Gen. 25) . The first disobedience befell men as a consequence of incontinence (Gen. 3).

Quomodo autem incontinentia periculosa sit etiam apostolus edocet, cum eam proprie illis adscribit quos recedere a deo dicit; 9 ait enim In novissimis diebus erunt tempora periculosa, erunt enim h,omine8 se ipsos amantes, et cum plura malitiae genera enumerasset ad ultimum posuit Commessores incontinentes immites. io Sed et Esau malorum suorum quasi fomitem quendam habuit incontinentiam, qui pro uno cibo vendidit primitiva sua; sed et prima illa praevaricatio non aliunde homini nisi per incontinentiam accidit.

All the saints, on the contrary, were renowned for continence. The whole life of the saints and of the blessed, the example of the Lord Himself while He was with us in the flesh, are aids to us in this matter. Moses, through long perseverance in fasting and prayer, received the law and heard the words of God, ‘as a man is wont to speak to his friend,’ says the Scripture. Elias was deemed worthy of the vision of God when he also had practiced abstinence in like degree (3 Ki. 19) . And what of Daniel? How did he attain to the contemplation of marvels? Was it not after a twenty-day fast? And how did the three children overcome the power of the fire (Dan 1) ? Was it not through continence? As for John, his whole plan of life was based on the practice of continence (Mt. 3). Even the Lord Himself inaugurated His public manifestation with the practice of this virtue (Mt 4) .

Omnis vero sanctorum vita atque ipsius domini in carne positi praesentia, quae nobis alia nisi continentiae proponit exempla? 12 Moyses quidem continuato quadraginta dieium ieiunio adstitisse indefessus dicitur deo et meruisse legis auxilium humano generi deferre. 13 Helias quoque visione dei tunc dicitur dignus effectus cum et ipse simili spatio temporum a cibo se continuisse perscribitur. 14 Sed et Daniel et trium puerorum meritum apud deum, quod de omnibus inimicis suis et de ipso tyranno triumphum ceperunt, non aliunde nisi per continentiam venit. 15 Iohannis autem omnis vita continentia fuit, ab hac etiam dominus manifestationis suae initia prima patefecit.

By continence, however, we do not mean complete abstinence from food (for this is to take one’s life by violence), but that abstinence from pleasures which aims at the thwarting of the will of the flesh for the purpose of attaining to the goal of piety. In general, we who are instructed in the devout life are bound to abstain from those pleasures which they enjoy who lead a self-indulgent life.

16 Continentiam autem dicimus, non quod a cibo penitus abstinendum sit, hoc enim est violenter vitam dissolvere, 17 sed eam qua vitae usus non superfluus, sed necessarius constat, cum refugimus quod suave est et explemus ea quae sola corporis necessitas poscit. 18 Et ut breviter dicam: omnia quae per passibilem concupiscentiam requiruntur, ab his abstinere virtus est continentiae.

The practice of continence, therefore, does not have to do only with the delights of the table, but extends also to the avoidance of all that represents an impediment to us. One who is perfectly continent does not control his appetite only to fall prey to the desire for human fame. He does not gain mastery over shameful desires and neglect to overcome his attachment to wealth as well as all other base emotions, such as anger, dejection, and the rest of the vices which are wont to enslave inexperienced souls.

19 Et ideo ergo non solum erga cibi libidinem continentiae virtus agnoscitur, sed cum ab omnibus in quibus delectamur quidem, sed in anima laedimur, abstinemus. 20 Verus ergo continens nec gloriam humanam desidera, sed a vitiis se continet et ab ira et a tristitia et ab omnibus quae occupatas tenere consueverunt ineruditas animas et incautas.

We have noticed, indeed, that all the precepts - and this is especially observable with regard to continence - are inter-connected and that it is almost impossible to observe one separately from another. Thus, he is humble who is continent regarding worldly glory, and he meets the evangelical standard of poverty who is master of himself with respect to worldly goods. He abstains from anger who exercises control over wrath and indignation.

21 Paene autem in omnibus mandatis dei hoc invenimus quod unum alteri cohaeret et separatum aliud ab alio compleri impossibile est. 22 Id tamen praecipue in hac ipsa continentia deprehenditur, quoniam quidem humilis ille iudicatur qui se a superbia continet, 23 et ille renuntiat omnibus facultatibus et secundum evangelium vendit omnia sua et dividit, qui sine dubio continet se a pecuniae desiderio, 24 sed et mansuetus ille erit qui iram continet et cohibet furorem.

Perfect continence also sets limits for the tongue, boundaries for the eyes, and enjoins upon the ears an avoidance of curiosity in the use of the hearing. Anyone who does not observe these restraints is incontinent and undisciplined. Do you see how all the other precepts cluster about this one and are intertwined with it?

25 Quid vero iam vagos oculi visus et auris auditus et linguae intemperantiam aliud quam continentia moderatur et cohibet?

R. -q.17] . . . Indulging in unrestrained and immoderate laughter is a sign of intemperance, of a want of control over one’s emotions, and of failure to repress the soul’s frivolity by a stern use of reason . . . ; but raucous laughter and uncontrollable shaking of the body are not indicative of a well-regulated soul, or of personal dignity, or self-mastery

26 Sed et intemperatos risus continentia coercet, sicut incontinentiae signum est inordinatis et incompositis motibus agere in risu, cum utique subridendo tantummodo laetitiam mentis oporteat indicari, 27 indecorum autem sit crepitantem cum sonitu elevare risum, quod certum est per incontinentiam mentis accidere solere etiam invitis.

.. This kind of laughter Ecclesiastes also reprehends as especially subversive of firmness of soul in the words: ‘Laughter I counted error (Eccle. II),’ and again: ‘As the crackling of thorns burning under a pot, so is the laughter of fools (Eccli. XXI).’(Eccle. VII)

28 Quae res gravitatem et constantiam animi emollire ac resolvere solet, unde et Salomon Risui inquit dixi amentiam, 29 et Sieut vox spinarum sub olla ita risus stultorum, et iterum Stultus in risu exaltat vocem suam, vir autem sapiens vix tacite subridebit.

Moreover, the Lord appears to have experienced those emotions which are of necessity associated with the body, as well as those that betoken virtue, as, for example, weariness and compassion for the afflicted; but, so far as we know from the story of the Gospel, He never laughed. On the contrary, He even pronounced those unhappy who are given to laughter (Luc. VI).

30 Ostendit autem et dominus in semet ipso necessarias quidem carnis se habuisse passiones, id est quae virtutis testimonium ferrent, velut laborem et fletum ac tristitiam; 31 nusquam autem invenitur etiam risu usus quantum ad historiam pertinet evangelii, sed et deflere magis invenitur eos qui rident dicens Vae vobis qui nunc ridetis, quia flebitis.

And let not the equivocal sense of the word ‘laughter’ deceive us, for it is a frequent practice in the Scriptures to call joy of spirit and the cheerful feeling which follows upon good actions, ‘laughter.’ Sara says, for instance: ‘God hath made a laughter for me( Gen. 21),’ and there is another saying: ‘Blessed are ye that weep now, for you shall laugh (Luc. VI); likewise, the words of Job: ‘And the true mouth he will fill with laughter (Job 4).’ All these references to gaiety signify merriment of soul instead of hilarity.

32 Nec sane seducere nos debet similitudo nominis risus, mos namque est scripturae interdum 19,etitiam animae et affectum quendam laetiorem risum nominare, 33 sicut ibi Sara Risum inquit mihi fecit deus, et iterum Beati qui flent nunc quia ridebunt, 34 et in Iob quod dictum est Os autem veracium replebitur riau; haec enim omnia nomina pro gaudio animae accipiuntur.

He, therefore, who is master of every passion and feels no excitement from pleasure, or at least, does not give it outward expression, but is steadfastly inclined to restraint as regards every harmful delight, such a one is perfectly continent - but, clearly, he is also at the same time free from all sin. Pleasure, indeed, is evil’s special allurement, through which we men are most likely to commit sin and by which the whole soul is dragged down to ruin as by a hook. Whoever, then, is neither overcome nor weakened by it successfully avoids all sin through the practice of continence.

35 Qui ergo liber est ab omni passione et nihil per incitamenta libidinum gerit, sed continenter et sobrie adversum omne quod potest laedere nititur, 36 hic perfecte continens dicitur, qui et sine dubio per hoc alienus invenitur ab omni genere peccati. 37 Libido namque est totius mali muscipula et per hanc omnes decipimur ad peccatum, per quam qui non resolvitur neque inclinatur ab ea, omne ex se peccati pessimum germen excidit.







QUESTION 9 (LR 19) What is the Measure of Continence [in food]. (RB 40)

IX. INTERR. Quae est mensura continentiae? (Zelzer 46-49)





R/. WITH regard to vices and passions, [continence] requires complete, unyielding abstinence. With regard to food, however, the amount and kind must vary according to age, employment, and physical strength.

RESP. 1 Quantum exspectat ad vitia vel passiones, penitus abstinere nec umquam superari, 2 quantum autem ad cibos, prout usus deposcit vel aetas vel labor vel robur corporis vel incommoditas eius, ita etiam modus et qualitas temperabitur cibi.

It is not possible, therefore, for all the brethren to keep a single order or measure or rule; although all who are in good health can keep the same measure of abstinence. But change may properly be allowed in individual cases where there is some reason for diversity though the provident provision of those entrusted with responsibility for this dispensation

3 Neque enim possibile est omnes fratres unum ordinem vel modum ac regulam custodire, hi vero qui sani sunt possunt omnes eandem mensuram tenere in abstinentia. 4 Immutari autem oportet per singulos in quibus causa aliqua diversitatis exsistit, providentia ac provisione eorum quibus dispensandi haec cura permissa est.

Nor is it possible for this single discourse to cover each individual case, but such only as are amenable to the common and general teaching.  5 Neque enim per singula sermone complecti possumus, sed ea tantummodo comprehendimus quae ad communem vel generalem pertinent institutionem.

As regards nourishment to be given to relieve the sick  or to those weary from the work of continence or from whatever other labors they have performed in the service of religion, the superiors will provide according to need as reason requires.

6 Solacia vero incommodorum in cibis vel eorum qui iam fessi sunt ex opere continentiae sive aliis quibuslibet laboribus quos pro religione pertulerunt, hi qui praesunt secundum quod res et ratio deposcit adhibebunt.

Since it is thus impossible to lay down the same rule for all with regard to meals, as regards the manner of eating food  [quantity?] and its quality, let us propose one goal for all: namely, that we do not eat to satiety.

7 Neque ergo tempus reficiendi omnibus idem statui potest neque modus cibi neque qualitas, sed prospectus iste unus sit omnibus, ut non usque ad satietatem persistamus in edendo.

For filling the stomach and weighing it down with food renders the body unfit for work, prone to sleep, and more susceptible to harm. 8 Repleri enim ventrem et gravari ex cibo valde inutile est etiam corpori ad omne opus, tum deinde quia et gravatur in somnum et quia etiam laedi ex his facile potest.

Nor, indeed, should pleasure be made an end in taking food: rather the use that sustains sustaining of life suffices for those who have renounced intemperance. To become a servant of pleasures is to make the stomach one’s god (Phil.3.19).

Sed ne suavia quidem quaeque in fine ciborum sectanda sunt, sed sufficit usum explere vivendi refutata luxuria; io si enim libidini serviamus nihil aliud est quam deum facere ventrem nostrum.

Since our body, ever being emptied and drained, needs to be refilled and reformed (and for this reason our appetite for nourishment is natural), right reason dictates as regards the use of food that we replenish what has been used up by taking appropriately dry or moist nourishment.

11 Quoniam quidem corpus humanum semper exolescit et defluit idcirco et repleri indiget ac reformari, propter quod et naturale est cibi desiderium, 12 id quod secundum rectam rationem usus ipse ad reparationem deposcit eorum quae exinanita fuerint et absumpta tam aridi quam etiam humidi alimenti.

Thus whatever is able to quickly and easily relieve our bodily need for food with the least trouble - this is to be employed. And I believe the Lord Himself made this evident on the occasion when He provided [food] to those who were hungry in the desert (cf. Mt.14). Although He could have enhanced the miracle in the desert by providing a more sumptuous repast, he did not do this but provided a simple repast which according to John was of barley bread and a little fish.

13 Si quid ergo illud est quod potest vel brevius vel facilius explere hanc necessitatem corporis in cibis, id potius eligendum est. 14 Sed et dominus hoc, opinor, ostendit cum esurientes refecit in deserto, qui cum utique posset maiore miraculo copiosiores eis cibos parare nihil horum fecit 15 sed simplicem eis exhibuit victum, et secundum Iohannem quidem panes hordeaceos et pisciculos apponit.

He does not mention drink, which undoubtedly signifies that using water is necessarily sufficient for all, unless someone is harmed by this through physical infirmity, which is undoubtedly what the Apostle Paul meant when advising Timothy he wrote: avoid what is harmful (1Tim..5.23).

16 De potu vero ne mentio quidem ulla fit, ex quo illud sine dubio designatur, quod omnibus sufficiens esse possit aquae usus et pernecessarius, 17 nisi forte aliquis per infirmitatem corporis laedi ex hoc videatur, cui sine dubio secundum consilium apostoli Pauli ad Timotheum scribentis cavendum est quod nocet.

But anything known to be harmful to the body should be avoided, for it is absurd to take food for nourishment of the body which would then of itself cause the body harm and hinder it in the ministry of the commandments.

18 Sed et quaecumque manifestam inferunt noxam corpori devitanda sunt, absurdum enim videtur propter substantiam corporis cibos sumere et rursus per ipsos cibos corpori inferre perniciem et inutile illud reddere ad ministerium mandatorum.

09.19_easy_to_obtain_and_cheap_food RB 40.6; 55.7

Furthermore, we should by all means prefer food that is easiest to obtain and least expensive, so that we never seek after expensive or delicate foods while pretending abstinence, while actually trying to use condiments to improve our simple, natural food with an elevated and delicious flavor.

19 Oportet tamen omni modo illis uti cibis qui et facilius et vilius comparantur, uti ne occasione abstinentiae inveniamur pretiosiora quaeque et difficiliora sectari, 20 dum suavitate condimentorum viles natura cibos in summum et delicatum saporem conamur extollere.

Rather, we should choose whatever is comparatively easy to obtain and inexpensive in each region and available for common use by all; and [we should] use only those imported foods that are necessary to sustain life: that is, oil and similar products, or that which is necessary for the relief of the sick

21 Sed si quid est quod in unaquaque provincia facilius et vilius comparatur et quod in usu omnium communiter habetur, hoc ad usus nostros oportet assumi, 22 ea tantummodo inferentes quae ad vitam pernecesaaria sunt, id est oleum et alia huiuscemodi, vel si qua etiam ad infirmantium solacia adhibebuntur.






QUESTION 36 (SR 160) With What disposition we ought to minister to the sick brethren.   (cf RB 36)

INTERROGATIO 36  Quali affectu debemus infirmis fratribus ministrare? (Zelz 81-82)





R/. IT is as if we offered our service to the Lord Himself, Who said  “Inasmuch  as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me (Mt 25.40). But it helps in maintaining such a disposition in ministering if those who receive our care are worthy. Wherefore the Superiors must attend to them the more zealously lest they indulge the flesh and their bellies, so that rather through perfect endurance as befits those who love Christ and God, they may become an object of boasting to the Lord and a reproach to the devil, like righteous Job. RESP. Sicut ipsi domino offerentes obsequium qui dixit quia Cum feceritis uni ex minimis istis fratribus meis, mihi fecistis (MatthXXV). 2 expedit autem ad conservandum huiuscemodi affectum in obsequiis, ut et hi qui obsequia a nobis suscipiunt tales sint quibus merito deferri obsequium debeat. 3 Et ideo oportet eos qui praesunt curam gerere, ut ne hi quibus ministratur tales sint qui carni indulgeant et ventri, 4 sed potius in amore dei et Christi Iesu probabiles  inveniantur et per patientiam suam ac vitae meritum fratrum mereantur obsequia, 5 ut habeantur ad gloriam Christi et opprobrium diaboli sicut fuit et sanctus Iob.