1. Cincture.  2. Robe.  3. Hoods.  4. Tunics.  5. Cords.  6. Capes.  7. Sheepskin 
8. Staff   9. Shoes.  10. Modifications.  11. Spiritual Cincture



CHAPTER 1: On the Monks’ Cincture (belt).

1. De cingulo monachi.



  [Evagrius, Prak. Prol 5]


1.1. AS we are going to speak of the customs and rules of the monasteries, how by God’s grace can we better begin than with the actual dress of the monks, for we shall then be able to expound in due course their interior life when we have set their outward man before your eyes. A monk, then, as a soldier of Christ ever ready for battle, ought always to walk with his loins girded.

   I. De institutis ac regulis monasteriorum dicturi unde conpetentius donante Deo quam ex ipso habitu monachorum sumemus exordium? Quorum interiorem cultum consequenter tunc poterimus exponere, cum exteriorem ornatum sub oculorum depinxerimus obtutibus. Itaque monachum ut militem Christi in procinctu semper belli positum accinctis lumbis iugiter oportet incedere.

1.2. For in this fashion, too, the authority of Holy Scripture shows that they walked who in the Old Testament started the original of this life,--I mean Elijah and Elisha; and, moreover, we know that the leaders and authors of the New Testament, viz., John, Peter, and Paul, and the others of the same rank, walked in the same manner. And of these the first-mentioned, who even in the Old Testament displayed the flowers of a virgin life and an example of chastity and continence, when he had been sent by the Lord to rebuke the messengers of Ahaziah, the wicked king of Israel, because when confined by sickness he had intended to consult Beelzebub, the god of Ekron, on the state of his health, and thereupon the said prophet had met them and said that he should not come down from the bed on which he lay,--this man was made known to the bed-ridden king by the description of the character of his clothing.

2. Hoc enim habitu etiam illos ambulasse, qui in ueteri testamento professionis huius fundauere primordia, Heliam scilicet et Helisaeum, diuinarum scripturarum auctoritate monstratur; ac deinceps principes auctoresque testamenti noui, Iohannem uidelicet, Petrum et Paulum ceterosque eiusdem ordinis uiros taliter incessisse cognoscimus. Quorum prior, qui in ueteri testamento uirginitatis iam flores et castimoniae continentiaeque praefigurabat exempla, cum fuisset a Domino missus ad increpandos nuntios Ochoziae sacrilegi regis Israhel, eo quod aegritudine praepeditus super statu salutis suae Beelzebub deum Accaron consulere destinasset, et idcirco eis occurrens idem propheta descensum de lecto ei in quo conciderat denegasset, decumbenti regi exposita uestitus qualitate conpertus est.

1.3. For when the messengers returned to him and brought back the prophet’s message, he asked what the man who had met them and spoken such words was like and how he was dressed. “An hairy man,” they said, “and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins;” and by this dress the king at once saw that it was the man of God, and said: “It is Elijah the Tishbite:” (2 Kings 1:1-8)  i.e., by the evidence of the girdle and the look of the hairy and unkempt body he recognized without the slightest doubt the man of God, because this was always attached to him as he dwelt among so many thousands of Israelites, as if it were impressed as some special sign of his own particular style.

3. Reuersos enim ad se nuntios ac referentes sibi prophetae sententiam sciscitatus est cuius esset figurae et habitus uir qui occurrisset eis et locutus fuisset huiuscemodi uerba : Vir, inquiunt, pilosus, et zona pellicia accinctis renibus. Ex quo habitu confestim rex contemplatus hominem Dei ait : Helias Thesbites est, zonae uidelicet indicio et hirsuti incultique corporis specie uirum Dei indubitanter agnoscens, eo quod istud ei inter tot Israhelitici populi milia commoranti cultus proprii uelut quoddam inpressum speciale signum perpetuo cohaereret.

1.4. Of John also, who came as a sort of sacred boundary between the Old and New Testament, being both a beginning and an ending, we know by the testimony of the Evangelist that “the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair and a girdle of skin about his loins.” (Matt. 3:4)  When Peter also had been put in prison by Herod and was to be brought forth to be slain on the next day, when the angel stood by him he was charged: “Gird thyself and put on thy shoes.” (Acts 12:8) And the angel of the Lord would certainly not have charged him to do this had he not seen that for the sake of his night’s rest he had for a while freed his wearied limbs from the girdle usually tied round them.

4. De Iohanne quoque, qui ueteris nouique testamenti, uelut quidam sacratissimus limes, finis initiumque processit, ita euangelista narrante cognoscimus : Ipse autem Iohannes habebat uestimentum de pilis camelorum et zonam pelliciam circa lumbos suos. Petro etiam in custodiam carceris ab Herode detruso et ad necem die postera producendo angelo adsistente praecipitur : Praecingere et calcia te gallicis tuis. Quod ut faceret nequaquam monuisset eum angelus Dei, nisi uidisset eum ob refectionem nocturnae quietis paulisper defecta membra solita cinguli obstrictione laxasse.

1.5. Paul also, going up to Jerusalem and soon to be put in chains by the Jews, was met at Caesarea by the prophet Agabus, who took his girdle and bound his hands and feet to show by his bodily actions the injuries which he was to suffer, and said: “So shall the Jews in Jerusalem bind the man whose girdle this is, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” (Acts 21:11)  And surely the prophet would never have brought this forward, or have said “the man whose girdle this is,” unless Paul had always been accustomed to fasten it round his loins.

5. Paulum quoque ascendentem Hierosolymam et protinus a Iudaeis in uincla mittendum Agabus propheta repperiens Caesareae sublato eius cingulo ligans suas manus et pedes, ut gestu corporis sui passionis eius praefiguraret iniurias, ait : Haec dicit Spiritus sanctus : uirum cuius est zona haec sic alligabunt Iudaei in Hierusalem et tradent in manus gentium. Quod utique a propheta proferri minime potuisset et dici uirum cuius est zona haec, nisi Paulus eam lumbis suis indesinenter solitus fuisset aptare.



CHAPTER 2: Of the Monk’s Robe.

2. De ueste monachi



2.1. LET the robe also of the monk be such as may merely cover the body and prevent the disgrace of nudity, and keep off harm from cold, not such as may foster the seeds of vanity and pride; for the same apostle tells us: “Having food and covering, with these let us be content.” (1 Tim. 6:8) “Covering,” he says, not “raiment,” as is wrongly found in some Latin copies: that is, what may merely cover the body, not what may please the fancy by the splendor of the attire; commonplace, so that it may not be thought remarkable for novelty of color or fashion among other men of the same profession; and quite free from anxious carefulness, yet not discolored by stains acquired through neglect. Lastly, let them be so far removed from this world’s fashions as to remain altogether common property for the use of the servants of God.

   II. Vestis quoque sit monachi, quae corpus contegat tantum ac repellat uerecundiam nuditatis et frigoris retundat iniuriam, non quae seminaria uanitatis aut elationis enutriat, ita eodem Apostolo praedicante : Habentes autem alimenta et operimenta, his contenti simus : operimenta, inquiens, non uestimenta, ut in quibusdam latinis exemplaribus non proprie continetur, id est quae corpus operiant tantum, non quae amictus gloria blandiantur, ita uilia, ut nulla coloris uel habitus nouitate inter ceteros huius propositi uiros habeantur insignia, ita studiosis accurationibus aliena, ut nullis rursum sint adfectatis per incuriam sordibus decolora : postremo sic ab huius mundi separentur ornatu, ut cultui seruorum Dei in omnibus communia perseuerent.

2.2. For whatever is claimed by one or a few among the servants of God and is not the common property of the whole body of the brethren alike is either superfluous or vain, and for that reason to be considered harmful, and affording an appearance of vanity rather than virtue. And, therefore, whatever models we see were not taught either by the saints of old who laid the foundations of the monastic life, or by the fathers of our own time who in their turn keep up at the present day their customs, these we also should reject as superfluous and useless:

 2. Quidquid enim inter famulos Dei praesumitur ab uno uel paucis nec catholice per omne corpus frateritatis tenetur, aut superfluum aut elatum est et ob id noxium iudicandum magisque uanitatis specimen quam uirtutis ostentans. Et idcirco haec quae nec a ueteribus sanctis, qui huius professionis fundamenta iecerunt, neque a patribus nostri temporis, qui eorum per successiones instituta nunc usque custodiunt, tradita uidemus exempla, ut superflua et inutilia nos quoque resecare conueniet.

2.3. Wherefore they utterly disapproved of a robe of sackcloth as being visible to all and conspicuous, and what from this very fact will not only confer no benefit on the soul but rather minister to vanity and pride, and as being inconvenient and unsuitable for the performance of necessary work for which a monk ought always to go ready and unimpeded. But even if we hear of some respectable persons who have been dressed in this garb, a rule for the monasteries is not, therefore, to be passed by us, nor should the ancient decrees of the holy fathers be upset because we do not think that a few men, presuming on the possession of other virtues, are to be blamed even in regard of those things which they have practised not in accordance with the Catholic rule. For the opinion of a few ought not to be preferred to or to interfere with the general rule for all.

 3. Quamobrem ciliciam uestem uelut circumspectam cunctis atque notabilem et quae ex hoc ipso non solum nulla spiritui possit emolumenta conferre, sed etiam elationis concipere uanitatem, quaeque ad necessarii operis exercitium, in quo monachum semper inpigrum expeditumque oportet incedere, inhabilis atque inepta sit, omnimodis refugerunt. Quodsi quosdam hoc amictu circumdatos audiuimus probabiles exstitisse, non ex eo nobis est monasteriorum regula sancienda uel antiqua sanctorum patrum sunt proturbanda decreta, quod pauci praesumentes aliarum uirtutum priuilegio ne in his quidem, quae non secundum catholicam regulam ab eis usurpata sunt, reprehendi debere creduntur. Generali namque omnium constitutioni paucorum non debet praeponi nec praeiudicare sententia.

2.4. For we ought to give unhesitating allegiance and unquestioning obedience, not to those customs and rules which the will of a few have introduced, but to those which a long standing antiquity and numbers of the holy fathers have passed on by an unanimous decision to those that come after. Nor, indeed, ought this to influence us as a precedent for our daily life, that Joram, the wicked king of Israel, when surrounded by bands of his foes, rent his clothes, and is said to have had sackcloth inside them; (2 Kings 6:30) or that the Ninevites, in order to mitigate the sentence of God, which had been pronounced against them by the prophet, were clothed in rough sackcloth. ( Jonah 3:8) The former is shown to have been clothed with it secretly underneath, so that unless the upper garment had been rent it could not possibly have been known by any one, and the latter tolerated a covering of sackcloth at a time when, since all were mourning over the approaching destruction of the city and were clothed with the same garments, none could be accused of ostentation. For where there is no special difference and all are alike no harm is done.

 4. Illis enim debemus institutis ac regulis indubitatam fidem et indiscussam oboedientiam per omnia commodare, non quas paucorum uoluntas intulit, sed quas uetustas tantorum temporum et innumerositas sanctorum patrum concordi definitione in posterum propagauit. Nec hoc sane praeiudicare nobis debet ad cotidianae conuersationis exemplum, quod uel Ioram sacrilegus rex Israhel cateruis hostium circumsaeptus scissa ueste cilicium habuisse perhibetur intrinsecus uel quod Nineuitae ad mitigandam Dei sententiam, quae in eos inlata fuerat per prophetam, cilicii asperitate uelati sunt, cum et ille ita intrinsecus latenter indutus eo fuisse monstretur, ut nisi scisso desuper indumento a nemine prorsus potuisset intellegi, et isti eo tempore operimentum cilicii sustentarint, quo cunctis super inminente urbis euersione lugentibus eodemque amictu circumdatis nullus posset a quoquam ostentationis notari, quia, nisi insolens sit diuersitas, non offendit aequalitas.



CHAPTER 3: Of the Hoods of the Egyptians.

3. De cucullis Aegyptiorum.



  [Evagrius, Prak. Prol.2


3.1. THERE are some things besides in the dress of the Egyptians which concern not the care of the body so much as the regulation of the character, that the observance of simplicity and innocence may be preserved by the very character of the clothing. For they constantly use both by day and by night very small hoods coming down to the end of the neck and shoulders, which only cover the head, in order that they may constantly be moved to preserve the simplicity and innocence of little children by imitating their actual dress.  And these men have returned to childhood in Christ and sing at all hours with heart and soul: “Lord, my heart is not exalted nor are mine eyes lofty. Neither have I walked in great matters nor in wonderful things above me. If I was not humbly minded, but exalted my soul: as a child that is weaned is towards his mother. (Ps. 130 [131]:1, 2)

   III. Sunt praeterea quaedam in ipso Aegyptiorum habitu non tantum ad curam corporis, quantum ad morum formulam congruentia, quo simplicitatis et innocentiae obseruantia etiam in ipsa uestitus qualitate teneatur. Cucullis namque perparuis usque ad ceruicis umerorumque demissis confinia, qui capita tantum contegant, indesinenter diebus utuntur ac noctibus, scilicet ut innocentiam et simplicitatem paruulorum iugiter custodire etiam imitatione ipsius uelaminis commoneantur. Qui reuersi ad infantiam Christo cunctis horis cum affectu ac uirtute decantant : Domine non est exaltatum cor meum, neque elati sunt oculi mei. Neque ambulaui in magnis, neque in mirabilibus super me. Si non humiliter sentiebam : sed exaltaui animam meam, sicut quod ablactatum est super matrem suam.



CHAPTER 4: Of the Tunics of the Egyptians.

4. De colobiis Aegyptiorum.



  [Evagrius, Prak. Prol.3


4.1. THEY wear also linen tunics  which scarcely reach to the elbows, and for the rest leave their hands bare, that the cutting off of the sleeves may suggest that they have cut off all the deeds and works of this world, and the garment of linen teach that they are dead to all earthly conversation, and that hereby they may hear the Apostle saying day by day to them: “Mortify your members which are upon the earth;” their very dress also declaring this: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God;” and again: “And I live, yet now not I but Christ liveth in me. To me indeed the world is crucified, and I to the world.” (Col. 3:5)

   IIII. Colobiis quoque lineis induti, quae uix ad cubitorum ima pertingunt, nudas de reliquo circumferunt manus, ut amputatos habere eos actus et opera mundi huius suggerat abscisio manicarum et ab omni conuersatione terrena mortificatos eos uelaminis linei doceat indumentum audiantque per hoc Apostolum cotidie sibi dicentem : Mortificate membra uestra quae sunt super terram, illud quoque ipso habitu protestante : Mortui enim estis, et uita uestra abscondita est cum Christo in Deo, et : uiuo autem iam non ego, uiuit uero in me Christus, mihique hic mundus crucifixus est et ego mundo.



CHAPTER 5: Of their Cords.

5. De rebracchiatoriis eorum.



  [Evagrius, Prak. Prol 4


5.1. THEY also wear double scarves  woven of woollen yarn which the Greeks call analaboi, but which we should name girdles or strings, or more properly cords.  These falling down over the top of the neck and divided on either side of the throat go round the folds (of the robe) at the armpits and gather them up on either side, so that they can draw up and tuck in close to the body the wide folds of the dress, and so with their arms girt they are made active and ready for all kinds of work, endeavouring with all their might to fulfil the Apostle’s charge: “For these hands have ministered not only to me but to those also who are with me,” “Neither have we eaten any man’s bread for nought, but with labour and toil working night and day that we should not be burdensome to any of you.” And: “If any will not work neither let him eat.” (Acts 20:34; 2 Thess. 3:8, 10)

   V. Gestant etiam resticulas duplices laneo plexas subtemine, quas Graeci ἀναβολὰς,uocant, nos uero subcinctoria seu redimicula uel proprie rebracchiatoria possumus appellare. Quae descendentia per summa ceruicis et e lateribus colli diuisa utrarumque alarum sinus ambiunt atque hinc inde succingunt, ut constringentia latitudinem uestimenti ad corpus contrahant atque coniungant, et ita constrictis bracchiis inpigri ad omne opus explicitique reddantur, illud Apostoli praeceptum studentes omni uirtute conplere : Quia non solum mihi sed etiam his qui mecum sunt ministrauerunt manus istae. Neque gratis panem ab aliquo manducauimus, sed in labore et fatigatione nocte et die operantes, ne quem uestrum grauaremus; et: Si quis non uult operari, nec manducet.



CHAPTER 6: Of their Capes. (cf. RB 55)

6. De mafortibus eorum.



6.1. NEXT they cover their necks and shoulders with a narrow cape, aiming at modesty of dress as well as cheapness and economy; and this is called in our language as well as theirs mafors; and so they avoid both the expense and the display of cloaks and great coats.

   VI. Post haec angusto palliolo tam amictus humilitatem quam uilitatem pretii conpendiumque sectantes colla pariter atque umeros tegunt, quae mafortes tam nostro quam ipsorum nuncupantur eloquio, et ita planeticarum atque byrrorum pretia simul ambitionemque declinant.



CHAPTER 7: Of the Sheepskin and the Goatskin. (cf. Vit Ant 91.2)

7. De melote et pelle caprina.



  [Evagrius, Prak. Prol 6


7.1. THE last article of their dress is the goat-skin, which is called melotes, or pera, and a staff, which they carry in imitation of those who foreshadowed the lines of the monastic life in the Old Testament, of whom the Apostle says: “They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted; of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.” (Heb. 11:37, 38) And this garment of goatskin signifies that having destroyed all wantonness of carnal passions they ought to continue in the utmost sobriety of virtue, and that nothing of the wantonness or heat of youth, or of their old lightmindedness, should remain in their bodies.

   VII. Vltimum est habitus eorum pellis caprina, quae melotis uel pera appellatur, et baculus, quae gestant ad imitationem eorum qui professionis huius praefigurauere lineas iam in ueteri testamento. De quibus Apostolus : Circumierunt, inquit, in melotis et pellibus caprinis egentes, angustiati, adflicti, quibus dignus non erat mundus, in solitudinibus errantes et montibus et speluncis et in cauernis terrae. Qui tamen habitus pellis caprinae significat mortificata omni petulantia carnalium passionum debere eos in summa uirtutum grauitate consistere nec quicquam petulcum uel calidum iuuentutis ac mobilitatis antiquae in eorum corpore residere.



CHAPTER 8: Of the Staff of the Egyptians.

8. De baculo Aegyptiorum.



  [Evagrius, Prak. Prol 7


8.1. FOR Elisha, himself one of them, teaches that the same men used to carry a staff; as he says to Gehazi, his servant, when sending him to raise the woman’s son to life: “Take my staff and run and go and place it on the lad’s face that he may live.” (2 Kings 4:29) And the prophet would certainly not have given it to him to take unless he had been in the habit of constantly carrying it about in his hand. And the carrying of the staff spiritually teaches that they ought never to walk unarmed among so many barking dogs of faults and invisible beasts of spiritual wickedness (from which the blessed David, in his longing to be free, says: “Deliver not, O Lord, to the beasts the soul that trusteth in Thee”), (Ps. 73 (74):19) but when they attack them they ought to beat them off with the sign of the cross and drive them far away; and when they rage furiously against them they should annihilate them by the constant recollection of the Lord’s passion and by following the example of His mortified life.

   VIII. Nam et baculum gestasse eosdem uiros etiam Helisaeus, qui unus ex ipsis est, docet, cum dicit ad Giezi puerum suum, mittens eum ad suscitandum filium mulieris: Tolle baculum meum et currens uade, pone eum super faciem pueri, et uiuet. Quem utique non dedisset ei propheta gestandum, nisi eum manu sua solitus esset iugiter circumferre. Cuius gestatio spiritaliter monet numquam debere eos inter tot oblatrantes uitiorum canes et inuisibiles spiritalium nequitiarum bestias inermes incedere - de quibus beatus Dauid liberari postulans dicit : Ne tradas, Domine, bestiis animam confitentem tibi -, sed inruentes eas retundere ad crucis signaculum ac longuis propulsare, atque aduersum se saeuientes iugi memoria dominicae passionis et imitatione illius mortificationis extinguere.



CHAPTER 9: Of their Shoes.

9. De calciamentis eorum.



9.1. BUT refusing shoes, as forbidden by the command of the gospel, if bodily weakness or the morning cold in winter or the scorching heat of midday compels them, they merely protect their feet with sandals, explaining that by the use of them and the Lord’s permission it is implied that if, while we are still in this world we cannot be completely set free from care and anxiety about the flesh, nor can we be altogether released from it, we should at least provide for the wants of the body with as little fuss and as slight an entanglement as possible: and as for the feet of our soul which ought to be ready for our spiritual race and always prepared for preaching the peace of the gospel (with which feet we run after the odour of the ointments of Christ, and of which David says: “I ran in thirst,” and Jeremiah: “But I am not troubled, following Thee”), (Ps. 61 (62):5; Jer. 17:16 (LXX) we ought not to suffer them to be entangled in the deadly cares of this world, filling our thoughts with those things which concern not the supply of the wants of nature, but unnecessary and harmful pleasures.

   VIIII. Calciamenta uero uelut interdicta euangelico praecepto recusantes, cum infirmitas corporis uel matutinus hiemis rigor seu meridiani aestus feruor exegerit, tantummodo gallicis suos muniunt pedes, hoc interpretantes usu earum uel dominica permissione signari, ut, si in hoc mundo constituti cura et sollicitudine carnis huius omnimodis exuti esse non possumus nec ab ea penitus praeualemus absolui, saltim occupatione leui et inplicatione tenui necessitatem corporis explicemus, neue animae nostrae pedes, qui expediti ad spiritalem cursum et praedicandam euangelii pacem semper esse debent parati - quibus post odorem unguentorum Christi currimus et de quibus Dauid : Cucurri, inquit, in siti, et Hieremias : Ego autem non laboraui te sequens -, morticinis saeculi huius curis patiamur inuolui, de his scilicet cogitantes, quae non ad supplendam necessitatem naturae, sed ad superfluam noxiamque pertinent uoluptatem.

And this we shall thus fulfil if, as the Apostle advises, we “make not provision for the flesh with its lusts.” (Rom. 13:14) But though lawfully enough they make use of these sandals, as permitted by the Lord’s command, yet they never suffer them to remain on their feet when they approach to celebrate or to receive the holy mysteries, as they think that they ought to observe in the letter that which was said to Moses and to Joshua, the son of Nun: “Loose the latchet of thy shoe: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Exod. 3:5; Josh. 5:16)

 2. Quod ita inplebimus, si secundum Apostolum carnis curam non fecerimus in desideriis. Quibus tamen gallicis quamquam licito utantur utpote Domini mandato concessis, nequaquam tamen pedibus eas inhaerere permittunt, cum accedunt ad celebranda seu percipienda sacrosancta mysteria, illud aestimantes etiam secundum litteram custodiri debere quod dicitur ad Moysen uel ad Hiesum filium Naue : Solue corrigiam calciamenti tui : locus enim, in quo stas, terra sancta est.



CHAPTER 10: Of the modification in the observances which may be permitted in accordance with the character of the climate or the custom of the district.

10. De temperamento obseruantiae, quae secundum a‰rum qualitatem uel usum prouinciae sit tenenda.



10.1. SO much may be said, that we may not appear to have left out any article of the dress of the Egyptians. But we need only keep to those which the situation of the place and the customs of the district permit. For the severity of the winter does not allow us to be satisfied with slippers  or tunics or a single frock; and the covering of tiny hoods or the wearing of a sheepskin would afford a subject for derision instead of edifying the spectators. Wherefore we hold that we ought to introduce only those things which we have described above, and which are adapted to the humble character of our profession and the nature of the climate, that the chief thing about our dress maybe not the novelty of the garb, which might give some offence to men of the world, but its honourable simplicity.

   X. Haec dicta sint, ne quid praetermisisse de Aegyptiorum habitu uideamur. Ceterum a nobis tenanda sunt illa tantummodo, quae uel locorum situs uel prouinciae usus admittit. Nam neque gallicis nos neque colobiis seu una tunica esse contentos hiemis permittit asperitas, et paruissimi cuculli uelamen uel melotae gestatio derisum potius quam aedificationem ullam uidentibus conparabit. Quapropter illa tantum, quae superius commemorauimus quaeque sunt et humilitati professionis nostrae et qualitati a‰rum congruentia, a nobis quoque adfectanda censemus, ut omnis summa nostri uestitus non in nouitate habitus, qui possit offendiculum hominibus saeculi huius inferre, sed honesta in uilitate consistat.



CHAPTER 11: Of the Spiritual Cincture (belt) and its Mystical Meaning

11. De cingulo spiritali et sacramento ipsius.



  [Evagrius, Prak. Prol 2


11.1. CLAD, therefore, in these vestments, the soldier of Christ should know first of all that he is protected by the girdle tied round him, not only that he may be ready in mind for all the work and business of the monastery, but also that he may always go without being hindered by his dress. For he will be proved to be the more ardent in purity of heart for spiritual progress and the knowledge of Divine things in proportion as he is the more earnest in his zeal for obedience and work.

   XI. His itaque uestimentis Christi miles indutus nouerit prius ob id se cinguli constrictione munitum, ut ad cunctos usus et opera monasterii non solum mente promptus, sed etiam ipso habitu semper expeditus incedat. Tanto namque feruentior circa spiritalem profectum ac diuinarum rerum scientiam cordis puritate probabitur, quanto fuerit erga oboedientiae studium operisque deuotior.

11.2. Secondly, he should realize that in the actual wearing of the girdle there is no small mystery declaring what is demanded of him. For the girding of the loins and binding them round with a dead skin signifies that he bears about the mortification of those members in which are contained the seeds of lust and lasciviousness, always knowing that the command of the gospel, which says, “Let your loins be girt about,” (Luke 12:35) is applied to him by the Apostle’s interpretation; to wit, “Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence.” (Col. 3:5)

 2. Secundo cognoscat etiam in ipso habitu cinguli inesse non paruum quod a se expetitur sacramentum. Accinctio enim lumborum et ambitus pellis emortuae significat eum mortificationem circumferre membrorum, in quibus libidinis atque luxuriae seminaria continentur, euangelicum illud mandatum quod dicitur sint lumbi uestri praecincti apostolica interpretatione ingeri sibi semper intellegens : Mortificate scilicet membra uestra quae sunt super terram, fornicationem, inmunditiam, libidinem, concupiscentiam malam.

11.3. And so we find in Holy Scripture that only those were girt with the girdle in whom the seeds of carnal lust are found to be destroyed, and who sing with might and main this utterance of the blessed David: “For I am become like a bottle in the frost,” (Ps. 118 (119):83) because when the sinful flesh is destroyed in the inmost parts they can distend by the power of the spirit the dead skin of the outward man. And therefore he significantly adds “in the frost,” because they are never satisfied merely with the mortification of the heart, but also have the motions of the outward man and the incentives of nature itself frozen by the approach of the frost of continence from without, if only, as the Apostle says, “they no longer allow any reign of sin in their mortal body, nor wear a flesh that resists the spirit.” (Cf. Rom. 6:12; Gal. 5:17)

 3. Ideoque illos tantummodo legimus in scripturis sanctis cingulo fuisse praecinctos, in quibus seminaria coitus inueniuntur extincta, quique illud beati Dauid eloquium opere ac uirtute decantant : Quia factus sum sicut uter in pruina, eo quod erasa medullitus carne uitiorum emortuam exterioris hominis cutem spiritus uirtute distendant. Et idcirco in pruina significanter adiecit, quod scilicet nequaquam fuerint sola cordis mortificatione contenti, uerum etiam exterioris hominis motus et ipsius naturae incentiua continentiae pruina extrinsecus accedente habuerint congelata, nullum iam dumtaxat secundum Apostolum regnum peccati in suo mortali corpore sustinentes nec gestantes carnem spiritui repugnantem.


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