Cassian, INSTITUTES, BK. 5

 Monastic Refectory, Sodana.

(tr. mod. in part by L.Dysinger, O.S.B: from  E.C.S. Gibson, , NPNF 2nd ser. , vol 11)

AUDIO LECTURE: Cassian on Gluttony (Inst. 5)

1) [c4] Learn from Others' Virtues;  2) Moderation & Discretion; 3) Spiritual Combat/Contest;  4) Spiritual Fasting;  5) Simplicity & Balance;  6) Fasting & Hospitality;  7) Fast from Anger & Judgment; 8) Contemplative Purified Heart



CHAPTER 1. The transition from the Institutes of the monks to the struggle against the eight principal faults.

CAPUT PRIMUM. Transitus ab institutis coenobiorum ad colluctationem octo principalium vitiorum.



1. THIS fifth book of ours is now by the help of God to be produced. For after the four books which have been composed on the customs of the monasteries, we now propose, being strengthened by God through your prayers, to approach the struggle against the eight principal faults, i.e.

I. Quintus nobis iuuante Deo liber iste procuditur. Nam post quattuor libellos, qui super institutis monasteriorum digesti sunt, nunc arripere conluctationem aduersus octo principalia uitia uestris orationibus Domino confortante disponimus, id est

[1] first, Gluttony or the pleasures of the palate;

[2] secondly, Fornication;

[3] thirdly, Covetousness, which means Avarice, or, as it may more properly be called, the love of money;

[4] fourthly, Anger;

[5] fifthly, Gloominess;

[6] sixthly, Acedia, which is heaviness or weariness of heart;

[7] seventhly, kenodoxia which means foolish or vain glory;

[8] eighthly, Pride.

primum gastrimargiae, quae interpretatur gulae concupiscentia,

secundum fornicationis,

tertium filargyriae, quod intellegitur auaritia, uel ut proprius exprimatur, amor pecuniae,

quartum irae,

quintum tristitiae,

sextum acediae, quod est anxietas siue taedium cordis,

septimum cenodoxiae, quod sonat uana seu inanis gloria,

octauum superbiae.

And on entering upon this difficult task we need your prayers, O most blessed Pope Castor, more than ever; that we may be enabled

Quem ineuntes agonem tuis precibus, o beatissime papa Castor, nunc inpensius indigemus,

[1] in the first place worthily to investigate the nature of these in all points however trifling or hidden or obscure: and

[2] next to explain with sufficient clearness the causes of them and

[3] thirdly to bring forward fitly the cures and remedies for them.

ut primum naturas eorum tam minutas, tam occultas tamque obscuras inuestigare condigne,

 deinde causas eorundem sufficienter exponere,

tertio ut idonee curationes eorum ac remedia possimus inferre.



CHAPTER 2. How the occasions of these faults, being found in everybody, are ignored by everybody; and how we need the Lord’s help to make them plain.

CAPUT II. Quod causae vitiorum sicut in omnibus immorantur, ita ab omnibus ignorantur, et quod ad manifestandas eas, Domini egeamus auxilio.



2.1. AND of these passions as the occasions are recognized by everybody as soon as they are laid open by the teaching of the elders, so before they are revealed, although we are all overcome by them, and they exist in every one, yet nobody knows of them. But we trust that we shall be able in some measure to explain them, if by your prayers that word of the Lord, which was announced by Isaiah, may apply to us also--

II. Quarum passionum causae quemadmodum, cum patefactae fuerint traditionibus seniorum, ab omnibus protinus agnoscuntur, ita priusquam reuelentur, cum ab ipsis uniuersi uastemur et in cunctis hominibus inmorentur, ab omnibus ignorantur. Verum eas ita nos aliquatenus explicare posse confidimus, si intercessionibus uestris ad nos quoque ille qui per Esaiam prolatus est sermo domini dirigatur :

2.2. ”I will go before thee, and bring low the mighty ones of the land, I will break the gates of brass, and cut asunder the iron bars, and I will open to thee concealed treasures and hidden secrets” (Isa. 45:2, 3)--so that the word of the Lord may go before us also, and first may bring low the mighty ones of our land, i.e. these same evil passions which we are desirous to overcome, and which claim for themselves dominion and a most horrible tyranny in our mortal body; and may make them yield to our investigation and explanation, and thus breaking the gates of our ignorance, and cutting asunder the bars of vices which shut us out from true knowledge, may lead to the hidden things of our secrets, and reveal to us who have been illuminated, according to the Apostle’s word, “the hidden things of darkness, and may make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” (1 Cor. 4:5)

 2. Ego ante te ibo : et potentes terrae humiliabo: portas aereas conteram, et uectes ferreos confringam. Et aperiam tibi thesauros absconditos, et arcana secretorum, ut nos quoque uerbum Dei praecedens primum terrae nostrae potentes humiliet, id est has eadem quas expugnare cupimus noxias passiones dominationem sibi ac tyrannidem saeuissimam in nostro mortali corpore uindicantes, easque faciat indagini nostrae atque expositioni subcumbere, et ita nos ignorationis portas effringens ac uitiorum uectes excludentium nos a uera scientia conterens ad secretorum nostrorum arcana perducat ac secundum Apostolum inluminatis nobis reuelet ea quae sunt abscondita tenebrarum et manifestet consilia cordium,

2.3. that thus penetrating with pure eyes of the mind to the foul darkness of vices, we may be able to disclose them and drag them forth to light; and may succeed in explaining their occasions and natures to those who are either free from them, or are still tied and bound by them, and so passing as the prophet says, (Ps. 45 [46]:12) through the fire of vices which terribly inflame our minds, we may be able forthwith to pass also through the water of virtues which extinguish them unharmed, and being bedewed (as it were) with spiritual remedies may be found worthy to be brought in purity of heart to the consolations of perfection.

 3. ut sic ad taetras uitiorum tenebras purissimis oculis animae penetrantes patefacere eas ac producere possimus ad lucem, causasque earum atque naturas his, qui uel caruerunt eis uel adhuc obligati sunt, pandere ualeamus, et ita secundum prophetam transeuntes per ignem uitiorum dirissime nostras exurentium mentes confestim per aquas quoque uirtutum extinguentium scilicet ea transire possimus inlaesi, ac spiritalibus remediis adrorati ad refrigerium perfectionis puritate cordis mereamur educi.



CHAPTER 3. How our first struggle must be against the spirit of gluttony, i.e. the pleasures of the palate.

CAPUT III. Quod prima nobis colluctatio sit adversus spiritum gastrimargiae, id est, concupiscentiam gulae.



3. AND so the first conflict we must enter upon is that against gluttony, which we have explained as the pleasures of the palate: and in the first place as we are going to speak of the system of fasts, and the quality of food, we must again recur to the traditions and customs of the Egyptians, as everybody knows that they contain a more advanced discipline in the matter of self-control, and a perfect method of discrimination.

III. Itaque primum nobis ineundum certamen est aduersus gastrimargiam, quam diximus gulae esse concupiscentiam, et in primis de ieiuniorum modo et escarum qualitate dicturi rursus ad Aegyptiorum traditiones ac statuta recurrimus, quibus sublimiorem continentiae disciplinam et perfectam discretionis inesse rationem nullus ignorat.



[1] [Anchorites] Learn From the Variety of Others' Virtues
[But Cenobites seek formation from only one or two: 4.40]




CHAPTER 4. The testimony of Abba Antony in which he teaches that each virtue ought to be sought for from one who possesses it in  a special degree.

CAPUT IV. Testimonium abbatis Antonii, quo docet unamquamque virtutem ab illo qui eam peculiarius possidet expetendam.



4.1 FOR it is an ancient and excellent saying of the blessed Antony that when a monk is endeavouring after the plan of the monastic life to reach the heights of a more advanced perfection, and, having learned the consideration of discretion, is able now to stand in his own judgment, and to arrive at the very summit of the anchorite’s life, he ought by no means to seek for all kinds of virtues from one man however excellent. IIII. Vetus namque est beati Antonii admirabilisque sententia, monachum, qui post coenobiale propositum fastigia nititur sublimioris perfectionis adtingere, et adprehenso discretionis examine proprio iam potens est stare iudicio atque ad arcem anachoreseos peruenire, minime debere ab uno quamuis summo uniuersa genera uirtutum expetere.

For one is adorned with flowers of knowledge,

another is more strongly fortified with methods of discretion,

another is established in the dignity of patience,

another excels in the virtue of humility,

another in that of continence,

another is decked with the grace of simplicity.

This one excels all others in magnanimity,

that one in pity,

another in vigils,

another in silence,

another in earnestness of work. (cf. Ath.Vit.Ant 4)

Alius enim scientiae floribus exornatur,

alter discretionis ratione robustius communitur,

alter patientiae grauitate fundatur,

alius humilitatis,

alius continentiae uirtute praefertur,

alius simplicitatis gratia decoratur,

hic magnanimitatis,

lle misericoridiae,

ste uigiliarum,

hic taciturnitatis,

iste laboris studio superuenit ceteros.


4.2 And therefore the monk who desires to gather spiritual honey, ought like a most careful bee, (cf. Ath.Vit.Ant 3)  to suck out virtue from those who specially possess it, and should diligently store it up in the vessel of his own breast: nor should he investigate what any one is lacking in, but only regard and gather whatever virtue he has. For if we want to gain all virtues from some one person, we shall with great difficulty or perhaps never at all find suitable examples for us to imitate. For though we do not as yet see that even Christ is made “all things in all,” as the Apostle says; (1 Cor. 15:28) still in this way we can find Him bit by bit in all. For it is said of Him, “Who was made of God to you wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1:30)

 2. Et idcirco monachum spiritalia mella condere cupientem uelut apem prudentissimam debere unamquamque uirtutem ab his qui eam familiarius possident deflorare et in sui pectoris uase diligenter recondere nec quid minus aliquis habeat discutere, sed hoc tantum quid uirtutis possideat contemplari studioseque decerpere - cunctas namque si ab uno uolumus mutuari, aut difficile aut certe numquam idonea ad imitandum nobis exempla poterunt repperiri -, quia, licet necdum Christum omnia factum secundum Apostolum uideamus in omnibus, tamen hoc modo possumus eum, id est per partes in omnibus inuenire. De ipso enim dicitur : Qui factus est nobis ex Deo sapientia, iustitia, sanctitas et redemptio.

4.3. While then in one there is found wisdom, in another righteousness, in another sanctification, in another kindness, in another chastity, in another humility, in another patience, Christ is at the present time divided, member by member, among all of the saints. But when all come together into the unity of the faith and virtue, He is formed into the “perfect man,” (Eph. 4:13) completing the fulness of His body, in the joints and properties of all His members. Until then that time arrives when God will be “all in all,” for the present God can in the way of which we have spoken be “in all,” through particular virtues, although He is not yet “all in all” through the fulness of them. For although our religion has but one end and aim, yet there are different ways by which we approach God, as will be more fully shown in the Conferences of the Elders. (Conf. 18 & 19)

 3. Dum ergo in alio sapientia, in alio iustitia, in alio sanctitas, in alio mansuetudo, in alio castitas, in alio humilitas repperitur, membratim Christus per unumquemque nunc sanctorum diuisus est. Concurrentibus uero uniuersis in unitatem fidei ac uirtutis redditur in uirum perfectum, plenitudinem sui corporis in singulorum membrorum conpage ac proprietate perficiens. Donec ergo ueniat illud tempus quo sit Deus omnia in omnibus, in praesenti potest hoc quo diximus modo, id est per partes uirtutum esse in omnibus Deus, licet nondum plenitudine earum omnia sit in omnibus, quia licet unus religionis nostrae sit finis, professiones tamen diuersae quibus ad Deum tenditur, sicut in Conlationibus seniorum plenius disputandum est.

4.4. And so we must seek a model of discretion and continence more particularly from those from whom we see that those virtues flow forth more abundantly through the grace of the Holy Spirit; not that any one can alone acquire those things which are divided among many, but in order that in those good qualities of which we are capable we may advance towards the imitation of those who especially have acquired them.

 4. Ideoque discretionis et continentiae forma ab his est nobis peculiarius expetenda, a quibus uirtutes has per gratiam Spiritus sancti uberius uidemus effluere; non quod ullus quae in multos diuisa sunt solus possit adquirere, sed ut in his bonis, quorum capaces esse possumus, ad eorum nos imitationem qui ea specialius obtinuere tendamus.



[2] Moderation and Discretion (Balance)




CHAPTER 5. That one and the same rule of fasting cannot be observed by everybody.

CAPUT V. Quod non possit ab omnibus uniformis jejuniorum regula custodiri.



5.1. AND so on the manner of fasting a uniform rule cannot easily be observed, because everybody has not the same strength; nor is it like the rest of the virtues, acquired by steadfastness of mind alone. And therefore, because it does not depend only on mental firmness, since it has to do with the possibilities of the body, we have received this explanation concerning it which has been handed down to us, viz.: that there is a difference of time, manner, and quality of the refreshment in proportion to the difference of condition of the body, the age, and sex: but that there is one and the same rule of restraint to everybody as regards continence of mind, and the virtue of the spirit.

V. Itaque super ieiuniorum modo haud facile potest uniformis regula custodiri, quia nec robur unum cunctis corporibus inest nec sicut ceterae uirtutes animi solius rigore patrantur. Et idcirco quia non in sola fortitudine mentis consistunt - cum corporis enim possibilitate participant -, talem super his definitionem traditam nobis accepimus, diuersum quidem esse refectionis tempus et modum et qualitatem pro inpari scilicet corporum statu uel aetate uel sexu, unam tamen esse omnibus pro continentia mentis et animi uirtute castigationis regulam.

5.2. For it is impossible for every one to prolong his fast for a week, or to postpone taking refreshment during a two or three days’ abstinence. By many people also who are worn out with sickness and especially with old age, a fast even up to sunset cannot be endured without suffering. The sickly food of moistened beans does not agree with everybody: nor does a sparing diet of fresh vegetables suit all, nor is a scanty meal of dry bread permitted to all alike. One man does not feel satisfied with two pounds, for another a meal of one pound, or six ounces, is too much; but there is one aim and object of continence in the case of all of these, viz.: that no one may be overburdened beyond the measure of his appetite, by gluttony. For it is not only the quality, but also the quantity of food taken which dulls the keenness of the mind, and when the soul as well as the flesh is surfeited, kindles the baneful and fiery incentive to vice.

 2. Neque enim cunctis possibile est ebdomadibus protelare ieiunia, sed ne triduana quidem uel biduana inedia refectionem cibi differre. Multis quippe aegritudine et maxime senio iam defessis ne usque ad occasum quidem solis ieiunium sine laboris adflictione toleratur. Non omnibus infusorum leguminum esus conuenit eneruatus nec cunctis purorum holerum habilis est parsimonia nec uniuersis sicci panis refectio castigata conceditur. Alius quantitate duarum librarum saturitatem non sentit, alius librae unius siue unciarum sex edulio praegrauatur. Attamen unus in omnibus his continentiae finis est, ne quis iuxta mensuram capacitatis suae saturitatis oneretur ingluuie. Non enim qualitas sola, sed etiam quantitas escarum aciem cordis obtundit ac mente cum carne pariter inpinguata noxium uitiorum fomitem igneumque succendit.



CHAPTER 6. That the mind is not intoxicated by wine alone.

CAPUT VI. Quod non solo vino mens inebriatur.



6. THE belly when filled with all kinds of food gives birth to seeds of wantonness, nor can the mind, when choked with the weight of food, keep the guidance and government of the thoughts. For not only is drunkenness with wine wont to intoxicate the mind, but excess of all kinds of food makes it weak and uncertain, and robs it of all its power of pure and clear contemplation. The cause of the overthrow and wantonness of Sodom was not drunkenness through wine, but fulness of bread. Hear the Lord rebuking Jerusalem through the prophet. “For how did thy sister Sodom sin, except in that she ate her bread in fulness and abundance?” (Ezek. 16:49) And because through fulness of bread they were inflamed with uncontrollable lust of the flesh, they were burnt up by the judgment of God with fire and brimstone from heaven. But if excess of bread alone drove them to such a headlong downfall into sin through the vice of satiety, what shall we think of those who with a vigorous body dare to partake of meat and wine with unbounded licence, taking not just what their bodily frailty demands, but what the eager desire of the mind suggests.

VI. Quibuslibet escis refectus uenter seminaria luxuriae parit nec praeualet mens discretionum gubernacula moderari ciborum pondere praefocata. Non sola crapula uini mentem inebriare consueuit : cunctarum escarum nimietas uacillantem eam ac nutabundam reddit omnique integritatis ac puritatis contemplatione despoliat. Sodomitis causa subuersionis atque luxuriae non uini crapula, sed saturitas extitit panis. Audi Dominum per prophetam Hierusalem increpantem : Quid enim peccauit soror tua Sodoma, nisi quia panem suum in saturitate et abundantia comedebat? Et quia per saturitatem panis inextinguibili carnis fuerant ardore succensi, iudicio Dei caelitus igne sulphureo concremantur. Quodsi illos sola nimietas panis ad tam praeruptum flagitiorum praecipitium uitio satietatis inpegit, quid censendum de his qui uegeto corpore perceptionem carnium ac uini inmoderata libertate praesumunt, non quantum expetiti inbecillitas, sed quantum animi libido suggesserit usurpantes.



CHAPTER 7. How bodily weakness need not interfere with purity of heart.

CAPUT VII. Quod infirmitas carnis puritatem cordis nequeat impedire.



7. BODILY weakness is no hindrance to purity of heart, if only so much food is taken as the bodily weakness requires, and not what pleasure asks for. It is easier to find men who altogether abstain from the more fattening kinds of foods than men who make a moderate use of what is allowed to our necessities; and men who deny themselves everything out of love of continence than men who taking food on the plea of weakness preserve the due measure of what is sufficient. For bodily weakness has its glory of self-restraint, where though food is permitted to the failing body, a man deprives himself of his refreshment, although he needs it, and only indulges in just so much food as the strict judgment of temperance decides to be sufficient for the necessities of life, and not what the longing appetite asks for. The more delicate foods, as they conduce to bodily health, so they need not destroy the purity of chastity, if they are taken in moderation. For whatever strength is gained by partaking of them is used up in the toil and waste of care. Wherefore as no state of life can be deprived of the virtue of abstinence, so to none is the crown of perfection denied.

VII. Infirmitas carnis ad puritatem cordis non officit, si haec modo quae fragilitas, non quae uoluptas exigit usurpentur. Facilius uidimus uiros qui ab escis corpulentioribus omnimodis temperarent, quam moderate usos pro necessitate concessis, et qui totum sibi pro amore continentiae denegarent, quam qui eas sub infirmitatis occasione sumentes mensuram sufficientiae custodirent. Habet etiam corporis inbecillitas suae continentiae palmam, dummodo escis defectioni carnis indultis adhuc indigentem se refectione defraudet tantumque esus indulgeat, quantum sufficere ad uiuendi usum temperantiae discretio rigida iudicarit, non quantum desiderii adpetitus exposcit. Esculentiores cibi ut procurant corpori sanitatem, ita castitatis non adimunt puritatem, si cum moderatione sumantur. Quidquid enim fortitudinis esu eorum percipitur, aegritudinis labore ac defectione consumitur. Quamobrem ut nulli statui uirtus parsimoniae adimitur, ita ne integritatis quidem consummatio denegatur.



CHAPTER 8. How food should be taken with regard to the aim at perfect continence.

CAPUT VIII. Quomodo cibum appetere ac sumere liceat.



8. AND so it is a very true and most excellent saying of the Fathers that the right method of fasting and abstinence lies in the measure of moderation and bodily chastening; and that this is the aim of perfect virtue for all alike, viz.: that though we are still forced to desire it, yet we should exercise self-restraint in the matter of the food, which we are obliged to take owing to the necessity of supporting the body. For even if one is weak in body, he can attain to a perfect virtue and one equal to that of those who are thoroughly strong and healthy, if with firmness of mind he keeps a check upon the desires and lusts which are not due to weakness of the flesh. For the Apostle says: “And take not care for the flesh in its lusts.” (Rom. 13:14) He does not forbid care for it in every respect: but says that care is not to be taken in regard to its desires and lusts. He cuts away the luxurious fondness for the flesh: he does not exclude the control necessary for life: he does the former, lest through pampering the flesh we should be involved in dangerous entanglements of the desires; the latter lest the body should be injured by our fault and unable to fulfil its spiritual and necessary duties.

VIII. Verissima est itaque patrum probatissimaque sententia, ieiuniorum et continentiae modum in mensura parcitatis tantum et castigatione consistere, et hunc esse perfectae uirtutis in commune omnibus finem, ut escis, quas sumere sustentandi corporis necessitate conpellimur, adhuc in adpetitu earum positi temperemus. Quamuis enim quis corpore sit infirmus, perfectam uirtutem aequamque robustis ac sanis in omnibus possidebit, si desideria, quae fragilitas carnis non exigit, mentis rigore castiget. Apostolus inquit : Et carnis curam ne feceritis in desideriis. Non ergo curam eius omnimodis interdixit, sed ut in desideriis fieret denegauit. Voluptuosam ademit diligentiam carnis, gubernationem uitae necessariam non exclusit : illud ne indulgentia carnis ad desideriorum occupationes noxias deuoluamur, hoc uero ne corruptum nostro uitio corpus spiritales ac necessarias functiones explere non possit.



CHAPTER 9. Of the measure of the chastisement to be undertaken, and the remedy of fasting.

CAPUT IX De mensura castigationum assumendarum, remedioque jejunii.



9. THE perfection then of abstinence is not to be gathered from calculations of time alone, nor only from the quality of the food; but beyond everything from the judgment of conscience. For each one should impose such a sparing diet on himself as the battle of his bodily struggle may require. The canonical observance of fasts is indeed valuable and by all means to be kept. But unless this is followed by a temperate partaking of food, one will not be able to arrive at the goal of perfection. For the abstinence of prolonged fasts--where repletion of body follows--produces weariness for a time rather than purity and chastity. Perfection of mind indeed depends upon the abstinence of the belly. He has no lasting purity and chastity, who is not contented always to keep to a well-balanced and temperate diet. Fasting, although severe, yet if unnecessary relaxation follows, is rendered useless, and presently leads to the vice of gluttony. A reasonable supply of food partaken of daily with moderation, is better than a severe and long fast at intervals. Excessive fasting has been known not only to undermine the constancy of the mind, but also to weaken the power of prayers through sheer weariness of body.

VIIII. Summa igitur continentiae non sola temporis ratione nec escarum qualitate tantummodo, sed ante omnia conscientiae iudicio colligenda est. Tantum enim debet unusquisque sibi frugalitatis indicere, quantum corporeae obluctationis pugna deposcit. Vtilis quidem et omnimodis obseruanda canonica ieiuniorum custodia : sed nisi hanc frugi fuerit ciborum refectio subsecuta, ad integritatis calcem non poterit perueniri. Longorum namque ieiuniorum inedia saturitate corporis subsequente lassitudinem potius temporalem quam puritatem castitatis adquirit. Integritas mentis uentris cohaeret inediae. Non habet perpetuae castimoniae puritatem, quisque non iugem temperantiae aequalitatem tenere contentus est. Quamuis districta ieiunia succedente superflua remissione uacuantur et in gastrimargiae uitium protinus conlabuntur. Melior est rationabilis cum moderatione cotidiana refectio quam per interualla arduum longumque ieiunium. Nouit inmoderata inedia non modo mentis labefactare constantiam, sed etiam orationum efficaciam reddere lassitudine corporis eneruatam.



CHAPTER 10. That abstinence from food is not of itself sufficient for preservation of bodily and mental purity.

CAPUT X. Ad conservandam mentis et corporis puritatem, abstinentiam ciborum non posse sufficere.



10. IN order to preserve the mind and body in a perfect condition abstinence from food is not alone sufficient: unless the other virtues of the mind as well are joined to it. And so humility must first be learned by the virtue of obedience, and grinding toil and bodily exhaustion. The possession of money must not only be avoided, but the desire for it must be utterly rooted out. For it is not enough not to possess it,--a thing which comes to many as a matter of necessity: but we ought, if by chance it is offered, not even to admit the wish to have it. The madness of anger should be controlled; the downcast look of dejection be overcome; vainglory should be despised, the disdainfulness of pride trampled under foot, and the shifting and wandering thoughts of the mind restrained by continual recollection of God. And the slippery wanderings of our heart should be brought back again to the contemplation of God as often as our crafty enemy, in his endeavour to lead away the mind a captive from this consideration, creeps into the innermost recesses of the heart.

X. Ad integritatem mentis et corporis conseruandam abstinentia ciborum sola non sufficit, nisi fuerint ceterae quoque uirtutes animae coniugatae. Humilitas igitur primitus oboedientiae uirtute et operis contritione corporisque fatigatione discenda est. Pecuniarum non solum uitanda possessio, sed etiam desiderium earum radicitus exstirpandum. Non enim eas sufficit non haberi, quod plerumque solet etiam ex necessitate descendere, sed ne ipsam quidem, si forte oblatae fuerint, habendi recipere uoluntatem. Irae conterendus est furor, tristitiae superanda deiectio, cenodoxia, id est uana gloria contemnenda. Superbiae calcandus est fastus, mentis quoque ipsius instabiles uagique discursus adsidua Dei memoria refrenandi, totiensque nobis est ad contemplationem Dei lubrica cordis euagatio reducenda, quotiens subtilis hostis ab hoc intuitu mentem captiuare pertemptans recessibus nostri cordis inrepserit.



CHAPTER 11. That bodily lusts are not extinguished except by the entirerooting out of vice.

CAPUT XI. Concupiscentias cordis non exstingui, nisi cum omni exstirpatione vitiorum.



11.1. FOR it is an impossibility that the fiery motions of the body can be extinguished, before the incentives of the other chief vices are utterly rooted out: concerning which we will speak in their proper place, if God permits, separately, in different books. But now we have to deal with Gluttony, that is the desire of the palate, against which our first battle is. He then will never be able to check the motions of a burning lust, who cannot restrain the desires of the appetite. The chastity of the inner man is shown by the perfection of this virtue. For you will never feel sure that he can strive against the opposition of a stronger enemy, whom you have seen overcome by weaker ones in a higher conflict. For of all virtues the nature is but one and the same, although they appear to be divided into many different kinds and names: just as there is but one substance of gold, although it may seem to be distributed through many different kinds of jewelry according to the skill of the goldsmith. And so he is proved to possess no virtue perfectly, who is known to have broken down in some part of them.

XI. Inpossibile namque est extingui ignita corporis incentiua, priusquam ceterorum quoque principalium uitiorum fomites radicitus excidantur : de quibus singillatim distinctis libellis suo loco donante Domino disseremus. Nunc propositum nobis est de gastrimargia, id est gulae concupiscentia, contra quam nobis primus conflictus est, disputare. Numquam igitur poterit ardentis concupiscentiae stimulos inhibere, quisque desideria gulae refrenare non quiuerit. Interioris hominis castitas uirtutis huius consummatione discernitur. Numquam enim robustioribus aemulis conluctari posse confidas eum, quem in leuiori conflictu conspexeris ab infirmioribus paruisque superari. Cunctarum namque uirtutum una natura est, licet in multas diuidi species et uocabula uideatur : sicut auri quoque una substantia est, licet per multa uariaque monilium genera pro artificum uideatur ingenio ac uoluntate distincta. Itaque nullam perfecte possidere probabitur, quisque elisus in earum parte dinoscitur.

11.2. For how can we believe that that man has extinguished the burning heats of concupiscence (which are kindled not only by bodily incitement but by vice of the mind), who could not assuage the sharp stings of anger which break out from intemperance of heart alone? Or how can we think that he has repressed the wanton desires of the flesh and spirit, who has not been able to conquer the simple fault of pride? Or how can we believe that one has trampled under foot a wantonness which is ingrained in the flesh, who has not been able to disown the love of money, which is something external and outside our own substance? In what way will he triumph in the war of flesh and spirit, who has not been man enough to cure the disease of dejection? However great a city may be protected by the height of its walls and the strength of its closed gates, yet it is laid waste by the giving up of one postern however small. For what difference does it make whether a dangerous foe makes his way into the heart of the city over high walls, and through the wide spaces of the gate, or through secret and narrow passages?

 2. Quo enim modo flagrantes aestus concupiscentiae, qui non sola instigatione corporis, sed etiam mentis uitio succenduntur, extinxisse credendus est, qui aculeos irae cordis solius intemperantia prorumpentes mitigare non potuit? Aut quonam modo putandus est carnis animaeque lasciuientes stimulos retudisse, qui superbiae uitium simplex non quiuit euincere? Aut quemadmodum credendus est insertam carni luxuriam conculcasse, qui pecuniarum concupiscentiam forinsecus sitam atque alienam a nostra substantia non ualuit abdicare? Qua autem ratione bellum carnis et animae triumphabit, qui idoneus non fuit morbum curare tristitiae? Quantalibet urbs sublimitate murorum et clausarum portarum firmitate muniatur, posterae unius quamuis paruissimae proditione uastabitur. Quid enim differt utrum per excelsa moenia et ampla portarum spatia, an per angusti cuniculi latibula perniciosus hostis penetralibus ciuitatis inrepat?



[3] Analogy of Athletic and Military Contests




CHAPTER 12. That in our spiritual contest we ought to draw an example from the carnal contests.

CAPUT XII. De agone carnali etiam spiritalis agonis imitationem esse sumendam.



12.1.ONE who strives in the games is not crowned unless he has contended lawfully.” (2 Tim. 2:5) One who wants to extinguish the natural desires of the flesh, should first hasten to overcome those vices whose seat is outside our nature. For if we desire to make trial of the force of the Apostle’s saying, we ought first to learn what are the laws and what the discipline of the world’s contest, so that finally by a comparison with these, we may be able to know what the blessed Apostle meant to teach to us who are striving in a spiritual contest by this illustration. For in these conflicts, which, as the same Apostle says, hold out “a corruptible crown” (1 Cor. 9:25) to the victors, this rule is kept, that he who aims at preparing himself for the crown of glory, which is embellished with the privilege of exemption, and who is anxious to enter the highest struggle in the contest, should first in the Olympic and Pythian games give evidence of his abilities as a youth, and his strength in its first beginnings; since in these the younger men who want to practise this training are tested as to whether they deserve or ought to be admitted to it, by the judgment both of the president of the games and of the whole multitude.

XII. Qui in agone contendit, non coronatur nisi legitime certauerit. Qui naturales adpetitus carnis optat extinguere, extra naturam uitia conlocata primitus superare festinet. Si enim apostolicae sententiae uim uolumus experiri, quae sint agonis mundani leges ac disciplina, primitus debemus agnoscere, ut ita demum harum conparatione scire possimus, quid nos in spiritali agone certantes beatus Apostolus hoc exemplo uoluerit edocere. In illis enim certaminibus, quae secundum eundem Apostolum corruptibilem coronam uincentibus parant, mos iste seruatur, ut is, qui se ad gloriosam coronam et inmunitatis priuilegio decoratam praeparare contendit et perfecta cupit agonis sudare certamina, prius in olympiacis ac pythiis certaminibus indolem suae iuuentatis ac rudimentorum robur ostentet. In his siquidem iuniores, qui has disciplinas cupiunt profiteri, utrum mereantur uel debeant ad eas admitti, tam eius qui istis certaminibus praesidet quam totius populi iudicio conprobantur.

12.2.  And when any one has been carefully tested, and has first been proved to be stained by no infamy of life, and then has been adjudged not ignoble through the yoke of slavery, and for this reason unworthy to be admitted to this training and to the company of those who practise it, and when thirdly he produces sufficient evidence of his ability and prowess and by striving with the younger men and his own compeers has shown both his skill and valour as a youth, and going forward from the contests of boys has been by the scrutiny of the president permitted to mix with full-grown men and those of approved experience, and has not only shown himself their equal in valour by constant striving with them, but has also many a time carried off the prize of victory among them, then at last he is allowed to approach the most illustrious conflict of the games, permission to contend in which is granted to none but victors and those who are decked with many crowns and prizes. If we understand this illustration from a carnal contest, we ought by a comparison with it to know what is the system and method of our spiritual conflict as well.

 2. Cumque diligenter examinatus quis primum repertus fuerit nulla uitae respersus infamia, deinde non seruitutis iugo ignobilis et ob hoc indignus disciplina hac uel congressu eorum qui hanc profitentur fuerit iudicatus, tertio si artis, si fortitudinis digna praeferat documenta et iunioribus coaeuisque decertans peritiam pariter ac uirtutem suae demonstrauerit iuuentatis, ac proficiens de epheborum luctamine perfectis iam uiris et experientia longa probatis congredi permissus fuerit praesidentis examine, seque non solum parem uirtutis eorum adsidua conluctatione probauerit, uerum etiam frequenter inter hos quoque uictoriae palmam fuerit consecutus, tunc demum ad agonis praeclara certamina merebitur peruenire, in quibus non nisi uictoribus tantum et his qui multarum coronarum stipendiis decorati sunt facultas decertandi conceditur. Si intelleximus carnalis agonis exemplum spiritalis quoque certaminis quae disciplina uel ordo sit conparatione huius debemus agnoscere.



CHAPTER 13. That we cannot enter the battle of the inner man unless we have been set free from the vice of gluttony.

CAPUT XIII. Quod nisi gulae fuerimus vitio liberati, nequaquam possimus ad pugnas interioris hominis pervenire.



13. WE also ought first to give evidence of our freedom from subjection to the flesh. For “of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he the slave.” (2 Pet. 2:19) And “every one that doeth sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34) And when the scrutiny of the president of the contest finds that we are stained by no infamy of disgraceful lust, and when we are judged by him not to be slaves of the flesh, and ignoble and unworthy of the Olympic struggle against our vices, then we shall be able to enter the lists against our equals, that is the lusts of the flesh and the motions and disturbances of the soul. For it is impossible for a full belly to make trial of the combat of the inner man: nor is he worthy to be tried in harder battles, who can be overcome in a slight skirmish.

XIII. Oportet nos quoque primum libertatem nostram carnis subiectione monstrare. A quo enim quis uincitur, eius et seruus est, et : Omnis qui facit peccatum seruus est peccati. Cumque nos nulla concupiscentiae turpis respersos infamia examen certamini praesidentis inuenerit nec fuerimus ab eo ut serui carnis et ignobiles indignique olympiacis uitiorum conluctationibus iudicati, tunc poterimus contra coaeuos nostros, id est concupiscentias carnis et motus ac perturbationes animae inire certamen. Inpossibile enim est saturum uentrem pugnas interioris hominis experiri nec bellis robustioribus adtemptari dignum est eum, qui potest deici leuiore conflictu.



CHAPTER 14. How gluttonous desires can be overcome.

CAPUT XIV. Quomodo possit gulae concupiscentia superari.



14.1. FIRST then we must trample under foot gluttonous desires, and to this end the mind must be reduced not only by XIIII. Prima ergo nobis est gulae calcanda concupiscentia et eo usque extenuanda mens non solum
  [1] fasting, but also by
  [2] vigils, by
  [3] reading, and by
  ieiuniis, uerum etiam
  lectione quoque et

  [4] frequent compunction of heart for those things in which perhaps it recollects that it has been deceived or overcome, sighing at one time with horror at sin, at another time inflamed with the desire of perfection and saintliness: until it is fully occupied and possessed by such cares and meditations, and recognizes the participation of food to be not so much a concession to pleasure, as a burden laid upon it; and considers it to be rather a necessity for the body than anything desirable for the soul.

crebra conpunctione cordis, in quibus se forsitan uel inlusam uel uictam reminiscitur ingemescens, nunc horrore uitiorum, nunc desiderio perfectionis et integritatis accensa, donec eiusmodi curis ac meditationibus occupata pariter ac possessa ipsius cibi refectionem non tam iucunditati concessam quam oneris uice sibi inpositam recognoscat, magisque eam necessariam corpori quam desiderabilem animae sentiat adtributam.

14.2. And, preserved by this zeal of mind and continual compunction, we shall beat down the wantonness of the flesh (which becomes more proud and haughty by being fomented with food) and its dangerous incitement, and so by the copiousness of our tears and the weeping of our heart we shall succeed in extinguishing the fiery furnace of our body, which is kindled by the Babylonish king (Cf. Dan. 3:6) who continually furnishes us with opportunities for sin, and vices with which we burn more fiercely, instead of naphtha and pitch--until, through the grace of God, instilled like dew by His Spirit in our hearts, the heats of fleshly lusts can be altogether deadened.

 2. Quo studio mentis et iugi conpunctione detenti lasciuiam carnis, quae fotu escarum uehementius insolescit, et aculeos eius noxios retundemus, atque ita fornacem corporis nostri, quae rege Babylonio occasiones peccatorum et uitia nobis iugiter subministrante succenditur, quibus naphthae et picis uice acrius exuramur, ubertate lacrimarum et fletu cordis poterimus extinguere, donec Dei gratia, spiritu roris sui in cordibus nostris insibilante, aestus carnalis concupiscentiae penitus ualeant consopiri.

14.3. This then is our first contest, this is as it were our first trial in the Olympic games, to extinguish the desires of the palate and the belly by the longing for perfection. On which account we must not only trample down all unnecessary desire for food by the contemplation of the virtues, but also must take what is necessary for the support of nature, not without anxiety of heart, as if it were opposed to chastity. And so at length we may enter on the course of our life, so that there may be no time in which we feel that we are recalled from our spiritual studies, further than when we are obliged by the weakness of the body to descend for the needful care of it.

 3. Haec est igitur nobis prima contentio, haec nostra uelut in olympiacis certaminibus prima probatio, gulae uentrisque concupiscentiam desiderio perfectionis extinguere. Ob quod ciborum non solum superfluus adpetitus uirtutum contemplatione calcandus, sed etiam ipsi naturae necessarius, tamquam castitati contrarius, non sine cordis anxietate sumendus est. Et ita demum uitae nostrae instituendus est cursus, ut nullum magis sit tempus, quo sentiamus nos a spiritalibus studiis auocari, quam quo descendere ad necessariam corporis curam eius fragilitate conpellimur.

14.4. And when we are subjected to this necessity--of attending to the wants of life rather than the desires of the soul--we should hasten to withdraw as quickly as possible from it, as if it kept us back from really health-giving studies. For we cannot possibly scorn the gratification of food presented to us, unless the mind is fixed on the contemplation of divine things, and is the rather entranced with the love of virtue and the delight of things celestial. And so a man will despise all things present as transitory, when he has securely fixed his mental gaze on those things which are immovable and eternal, and already contemplates in heart--though still in the flesh--the blessedness of his future life.

 4. Cumque ad hanc necessitate submittimur, usui potius uitae quam mentis desiderio famulantes quantocius ab ea, uelut a salutaribus nos studiis retrahente, subtrahi festinemus. Nequaquam enim poterimus escarum praesentium spernere uoluptates, nisi mens contemplationi diuinae defixa amore uirtutum potius et pulchritudine caelestium delectetur. Et ita quis uelut caduca despiciet uniuersa praesentia, cum ad ea quae inmobilia sunt et aeterna inseparabiliter defixerit mentis obtutum, adhuc in carne positus futurae conmorationis beatitudinem iam corde contemplans.



CHAPTER 15. How a monk must always be eager to preserve his purity of heart.

CAPUT XV. Quod ad custodiendam cordis sui puritatem monachus semper intentus esse debeat.



15. IT is like the case when one endeavours to strike some mighty prize of virtue on high pointed out by some very small mark; with the keenest eyesight he points the aim of his dart, knowing that large rewards of glory and prizes depend on his hitting it; and he turns away his gaze from every other consideration, and must direct it thither, where he sees that the reward and prize is placed, because he would be sure to lose the prize of his skill and the reward of his prowess if the keenness of his gaze should be diverted ever so little.

XV. Velut si quis inmania uirtutum praemia in sublimi quibusdam paruis indiciis designata perspicacissimis oculorum obtutibus cum teli directione tendentibus ferire festinet, sciens inmensam gloriae palmam et remunerationis praemia in eorum confixione consistere, oculorum aciem ab omni intuitu auertens illuc dirigat necesse est, ubi summam remunerationis et praemii perspicit conlocatam, amissurus procul dubio peritiae palmam et remunerationem uirtutis, si quantulumcumque contemplationis eius acies deuiarit.



CHAPTER 16. How, after the fashion of the Olympic games, a monk should not attempt spiritual conflicts unless he has won battles over the flesh.

CAPUT XVI. Quod monachus secundum Olympiaci certaminis morem non possit spiritales conficere pugnas nisi, obtinuerit bella carnalia.



16.1. AND so when the desires of the belly and of the palate have been by these considerations overcome, and when we have been declared, as in the Olympic contests, neither slaves of the flesh nor infamous through the brand of sin, we shall be adjudged to be worthy of the contest in higher struggles as well, and, leaving behind lessons of this kind, may be believed capable of entering the lists against spiritual wickednesses, against which only victors and those who are allowed to contend in a spiritual conflict are deemed worthy to struggle. For this is so to speak a most solid foundation of all the conflicts, viz.: that in the first instance the impulses of carnal desires should be destroyed. For no one can lawfully strive unless his own flesh has been overcome. And one who does not strive lawfully certainly cannot take a share in the contest, nor win a crown of glory and the grace of victory.

XVI. Itaque uentris et gulae concupiscentia hoc intuitu superata nec serui carnis nec infames uitiorum nota pronuntiati uelut in olympiacis disciplinis iudicabimur superiorum quoque certaminum digni esse conflictu, praemissisque huiuscemodi documentis spiritalibus quoque nequitiis congredi posse credemur, quae non nisi uictoribus tantum et his, qui merentur in spiritali agone contendere, concertare dignantur. Illud enim est cunctorum luctaminum uelut quoddam solidissimum fundamentum, ut primitus carnalium desideriorum incentiua perimantur. Nam nullus carne propria non deuicta legitime decertare poterit, et qui legitime non decertat, sine dubio nec in agone confligere nec coronae gloriam uictoriae gratia poterit promereri.

16.2. But if we have been overcome in this battle, having been proved as it were slaves of carnal lusts, and thus displaying the tokens neither of freedom nor of strength, we shall be straightway repulsed from the conflicts with spiritual hosts, as unworthy and as slaves, with every mark of confusion. For “every one that doeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34) And this will be addressed to us by the blessed Apostle, together with those among whom fornication is named. “Temptation does not overtake you, except such as is human.” (1 Cor. 10:13) For if we do not seek for strength of mind  we shall not deserve to make trial of severer contest against wickedness on high, if we have been unable to subdue our weak flesh which resists the spirit. And some not understanding this testimony of the Apostle, have read the subjunctive instead of the indicative mood, i.e., “Let no temptation overcome you, except such as is human.” (1 Cor. 10:13) But it is clear that it is rather said by him with the meaning not of a wish but of a declaration or rebuke.

 2. Quodsi hoc fuerimus superati certamine, uelut serui carnalis concupiscentiae conprobati et per hoc nec libertatis nec roboris insignia praeferentes a spiritalium congressionum conflictu ut indigni seruique non sine confusionis nota protinus repellemur - omnis enim qui facit peccatum seruus est peccati -, diceturque nobis per beatum Apostolum cum his, inter quos fornicatio nominatur : Temptatio uos non adprehendit nisi humana. Non enim merebimur mentis robore non quaesito grauiores pugnas nequitiarum caelestium experiri, qui carnem fragilem resistentem spiritui nostro subiugare non quiuimus. Quod Apostoli testimonium non intellegentes quidam posuerunt pro indicatiuo optatiuum modum, id est : temptatio uos non adprehendat nisi humana, quod ab ipso dici manifestum est non optantis, sed pronuntiantis uel exprobrantis affectu.



CHAPTER 17. That the foundation and basis of the spiritual combat must be laid in the struggle against gluttony.

CAPUT XVII. Quod fundamentum ac basis spiritalis agonis in gastrimargiae sit certamine collocata.



17.1. WOULD you like to hear a true athlete of Christ striving according to the rules and laws of the conflict? “I,” said he, “so run, not as uncertainly; I so fight, not as one that beateth the air: but I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest by any means when I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Cor. 9:26, 27) You see how he made the chief part of the struggle depend upon himself, that is upon his flesh, as if on a most sure foundation, and placed the result of the battle simply in the chastisement of the flesh and the subjection of his body. “I then so run not as uncertainly.”

XVII. Vis audire uerum athletam Christi legitimo agonis iure certantem? Ego, inquit, sic curro non quasi in incertum, sic pugno non quasi a‰rem uerberans, sed castigo corpus meum et seruituti subicio, ne aliis praedicans ipse reprobus efficiar. Vides ut in semet ipso, id est in carne sua conluctationum summam uelut in base quadam firmissima statuerit et prouentum pugnae in sola castigatione carnis et subiectione sui corporis conlocarit. Ego itaque sic curro non quasi in incertum.

17.2. He does not run uncertainly, because,  looking to the heavenly Jerusalem, he has a mark set, towards which his heart is swiftly directed without swerving. He does not run uncertainly, because, “forgetting those things which are behind, he reaches forth to those that are before, pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 3:13, 14) whither he ever directs his mental gaze, and hastening towards it with all speed of heart, proclaims with confidence, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7) And because he knows he has run unweariedly “after the odour of the ointment” (Cant. 1:3) of Christ with ready devotion of heart, and has won the battle of the spiritual combat by the chastisement of the flesh, he boldly concludes and says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me in that day.”

 2. Non currit in incertum, quia caelestem Hierusalem conspiciens defixum habet, quo sibi cordis sui indeflexibilis sit dirigenda pernicitas. Non currit in incertum, quia obliuiscens posteriora ad ea quae in priora sunt extendit se, ad destinatum persequens, ad brauium supernae uocationis Dei in Christo Iesu. Quo semper dirigens suae mentis obtutum et ad eum omni cordis properatione festinans cum fiducia proclamabat : Bonum agonem certaui, cursum consummaui, fidem seruaui. Et quia se nouerat post odorem unguentorum Christi praepeti conscientiae deuotione infatigabiliter cucurrisse et spiritalis agonis certamen carnis castigatione uicisse, cum fiducia infert et dicit : De cetero reposita est mihi iustitiae corona, quam reddet mihi Dominus in illa die, iustus iudex.

17.3. And that he might open up to us also a like hope of reward, if we desire to imitate him in the struggle of his course, he added: “But not to me only, but to all also who love His coming;” (2 Tim. 4:8) declaring that we shall be sharers of his crown in the day of judgment, if we love the coming of Christ--not that one only which will be manifest to men even against their will; but also this one which daily comes to pass in holy souls--and if we gain the victory in the fight by chastising the body. And of this coming it is that the Lord speaks in the Gospel. “I,” says He, “and my Father will come to him, and will make our abode with him.” ( John 14:23) And again: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the gate, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20)

 3. Et ut nobis quoque similem spem retributionis aperiret, si in agone cursus istius imitari eum uelimus, adiecit : Non solum autem mihi, sed et omnibus qui diligunt aduentum eius, participes nos coronae suae in die iudicii fore pronuntians, si diligentes aduentum Christi, non illum tantum, qui etiam nolentibus apparebit, sed etiam hunc, qui cotidie in sanctis commeat animabus, uictoriam certaminis castigatione corporis adquiramus. De quo aduentu Dominus in euangelio : Ego, inquit, et pater meus ueniemus ad eum et mansionem apud eum faciemus, et iterum : Ecce sto ad ostium et pulso : si quis audierit uocem mean et aperuerit ianuam, introibo ad illum et cenabo cum illo et ipse mecum.



CHAPTER 18. Of the number of different conflicts and victories through which the blessed Apostle ascended to the crown of the highest combat.

CAPUT XVIII. Per quot genera certaminum atque palmarum beatus Apostolus ad coronam sublimissimi agonis ascenderit.



18.1. BUT he does not mean that he has only finished the contest of a race when he says “I so run, not as uncertainly” (a phrase which has more particularly to do with the intention of the mind and fervour of his spirit, in which he followed Christ with all zeal, crying out with the Bride, “We will run after thee for the odour of thine ointments;” (Cant. 1:3) and again, “My soul cleaveth unto thee:” (Ps. 62 [63]:9) but he also testifies that he has conquered in another kind of contest, saying, “So fight I, not as one that beateth the air, but I chastise my body and bring it into subjection.” And this properly has to do with the pains of abstinence, and bodily fasting and affliction of the flesh: as he means by this that he is a vigorous bruiser of his own flesh, and points out that not in vain has he planted his blows of continence against it; but that he has gained a battle triumph by mortifying his own body; for when it is chastised with the blows of continence and struck down with the boxing-gloves of fasting, he has secured for his victorious spirit the crown of immortality and the prize of incorruption.

XVIII. Nec tamen agonem cursus tantummodo se consummasse describit, cum dicit : Sic curro non quasi in incertum - quod specialiter refertur ad intentionem mentis et feruorem spiritus sui, quo toto Christum sequebatur ardore, cum sponsa decantans : Post te in odorem unguentorum tuorum currimus, et iterum : Adhaesit anima mea post te -, sed etiam aliud conluctationis genus se uicisse testatur dicens : Sic pugno non quasi a‰rem uerberans, sed castigo corpus meum et seruituti subicio, quod proprie ad continentiae dolores et corporale ieiunium atque adflictionem carnis pertinet, per hanc se pugilem quendam strenuum suae carnis esse describens nec in uanum aduersus eam ictus continentiae exercuisse designans, sed triumphum pugnae mortificatione sui corporis adquisisse : quo uerberibus continentiae castigato et ieiuniorum caestibus eliso uictori spiritui inmortalitatis coronam et incorruptionis contulit palmam.

18.2. You see the orthodox method of the contest, and consider the issue of spiritual combats: how the athlete of Christ having gained a victory over the rebellious flesh, having cast it as it were under his feet, is carried forward as triumphing on high. And therefore “he does not run uncertainly,” because he trusts that he will forthwith enter the holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem. He “so fights,” that is with fasts and humiliation of the flesh, “not as one that beateth the air,” that is, striking into space with blows of continence, through which he struck not the empty air, but those spirits who inhabit it, by the chastisement of his body. For one who says “not as one that beateth the air,” shows that he strikes--not empty and void air, but certain beings in the air. And because he had overcome in this kind of contest, and marched on enriched with the rewards of many crowns, not undeservedly does he begin to enter the lists against still more powerful foes, and having triumphed over his former rivals, he boldly makes proclamation and says, “Now our striving is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against world-rulers of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12)

 2. Vides legitimum conluctationis ordinem et spiritalium certaminum contemplaris euentum, quemadmodum athleta Christi adeptus de rebellatrice carne uictoriam subiecta illa quodammodo pedibus suis ut sublimis triumphator inuehitur. Et idcirco non currit in incertum, quia confidebat urbem sanctam Hierusalem caelestem se protinus ingressurum. Sic pugnat, ieiuniis scilicet et adflictione carnali, non quasi a‰rem uerberans, id est in uanum ictus continentiae porrigens, per quos non a‰rem uacuum, sed illos spiritus qui in eo uersantur castigatione sui corporis uerberabat. Qui enim dicit non quasi a‰rem uerberans, ostendit se, tametsi non a‰rem uacuum et inanem, aliquos tamen in a‰re uerberare. Et quia haec certaminum genera superarat et ditatus multarum coronarum stipendiis incedebat, non inmerito robustiorum incipit hostium subire luctamina, ac prioribus aemulis triumphatis cum fiducia proclamat et dicit : Iam non est nobis conluctatio aduersus carnem et sanguinem, sed aduersus principatus, aduersus potestates, aduersus mundi rectores tenebrarum harum, contra spiritalia nequitiae in caelestibus.



CHAPTER 19. That the athlete of Christ, so long as he is in the body, is never without a battle.

CAPUT XIX. Quod athletae Christi, donec in corpore commoratur, pugna non desit.



19.1. THE athlete of Christ, as long as he is in the body, is never in want of a victory to be gained in contests: but in proportion as he grows by triumphant successes, so does a severer kind of struggle confront him. For when the flesh is subdued and conquered, what swarms of foes, what hosts of enemies are incited by his triumphs and rise up against the victorious soldier of Christ! for fear lest in the ease of peace the soldier of Christ might relax his efforts and begin to forget the glorious struggles of his contests, and be rendered slack through the idleness which is caused by immunity from danger, and be cheated of the reward of his prizes and the recompense of his triumphs.

XVIIII. Athletae Christi in corpore commoranti numquam defit conluctationum palma, sed quanto magis triumphorum successibus creuerit, tanto ei etiam conluctationum robustior ordo succedit. Subiugata etenim carne atque deuicta quantae aduersariorum cohortes, quanta hostium agmina aduersus uictorem militem Christi triumphis eius instigata consurgunt, scilicet ne pacis otio miles Christi lentescens incipiat obliuisci conluctationum suarum gloriosa certamina, ac securitatis inertia dissolutus praemiorum stipendiis ac triumphorum meritis defraudetur.

19.2. And so if we want to rise with ever-growing virtue to these stages of triumph we ought also in the same way to enter the lists of battle and begin by saying with the Apostle: “I so fight, not as one that beateth the air, but I chastise my body and bring it into subjection,” (1 Cor. 9:26, 27) that when this conflict is ended we may once more be able to say with him: “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against world-rulers of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) For otherwise we cannot possibly join battle with them nor deserve to make trial of spiritual combats if we are baffled in a carnal contest, and smitten down in a struggle with the belly: and deservedly will it be said of us by the Apostle in the language of blame: “Temptation does not overtake you, except what is common to man.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

 2. Itaque si ad hos triumphorum gradus cupimus crescente uirtute conscendere, eodem quoque nos ordine oportet proeliorum inire certamina et primum cum Apostolo dicere : Sic pugno non quasi a‰rem uerberans, sed castigo corpus meum et seruituti subicio, ut hoc conflictu superato rursum dicere cum eo possimus : Non est nobis conluctatio aduersus carnem et sanguinem, sed aduersus principatus, aduersus potestates, aduersus mundi rectores tenebrarum harum, contra spiritalia nequitiae in caelestibus. Aliter enim congredi illis nullo modo poterimus, nec spiritales pugnas merebimur experiri carnali deiecti conflictu et conluctatione uentris elisi, meritoque nobis ab Apostolo cum exprobatione dicetur : Temptatio uos non adprehendit nisi humana.



CHAPTER 20. How a monk should not overstep the proper hours for taking food,if he wants to proceed to the struggle of interior conflicts.

CAPUT XX. Quod non debeat monachus sumendi cibi tempus excedere, si vult ad pugnas interiorum certaminum pervenire.



20. A MONK therefore who wants to proceed to the struggle of interior conflicts should lay down this as a precaution for himself to begin with: viz.: that he will not in any case allow himself to be overcome by any delicacies, or take anything to eat or drink before the fast is over and the proper hour for refreshment has come, outside meal times; nor, when the meal is over, will he allow himself to take a morsel however small; and likewise that he will observe the canonical time and measure of sleep. For that self-indulgence must be cut off in the same way that the sin of unchastity has to be rooted out. For if a man is unable to check the unnecessary desires of the appetite how will he be able to extinguish the fire of carnal lust? And if a man is not able to control passions, which are openly manifest and are but small, how will he be able with temperate discretion to fight against those which are secret, and excite him, when none are there to see? And therefore strength of mind is tested in separate impulses and in any sort of passion: and if it is overcome in the case of very small and manifest desires, how it will endure in those that are really great and powerful and hidden, each man’s conscience must witness for himself.

XX. Igitur monachus ad pugnas interiorum certaminum cupiens peruenire hanc in primis cautionem sibimet indicat, ut non potus quicquam, non esus ulla oblectatione deuictus ante stationem legitimam communemque refectionis horam extra mensam percipere sibimet prorsus indulgeat, sed ne refectione quidem transacta ex his praesumere sibi quantulumcumque permittat, similiter quoque canonicum somni tempus mensuramque custodiat. Eodem namque studio istae sunt mentis amputandae lasciuiae, quo meretricationis uitium desecandum. Qui enim gulae superfluos adpetitus inhibere non potuit, quomodo aestus carnalis concupiscentiae ualebit extinguere? Et qui non quiuit passiones in propatulo sitas paruasque conpescere, quemadmodum occultas nulloque hominum teste prurientes moderatrice discretione poterit debellare? Et idcirco per singulos motus et in quolibet desiderio robur animae conprobatur : quae si in minimis apertisque cupiditatibus superatur, quid in maximis ac fortioribus occultisque sustineat, unicuique sua conscientia testis est.



[4] Spiritual Fasting  (cf. § 27)




CHAPTER 21. Of the inward peace of a monk, and of spiritual abstinence.

CAPUT XXI. De interiori monachi pace, et abstinentia spiritali.



21.1. FOR it is not an external enemy whom we have to dread. Our foe is shut up within ourselves: an internal warfare is daily waged by us: and if we are victorious in this, all external things will be made weak, and everything will be made peaceful and subdued for the soldier of Christ. We shall have no external enemy to fear, if what is within is overcome and subdued to the spirit. And let us not believe that that external fast from visible food alone can possibly be sufficient for perfection of heart and purity of body unless with it there has also been united a fast of the soul.

XXI. Non enim nobis est aduersarius extrinsecus formidandus : in nobismet ipsis hostis inclusus est, intestinum nobis cotidie geritur bellum. Deuicto eo omnia quae forinsecus sunt reddentur infirma ac militi Christi uniuersa pacata erunt et subdita. Non habebimus aduersarium nobis extrinsecus metuendum, si ea quae intra nos sunt spiritui deuicta subdantur, nec solum nobis istud ieiunium uisibilium ciborum ad perfectionem cordis et corporis puritatem sufficere posse credamus, nisi fuerit huic animae quoque ieiunium copulatum.

21.2. For the soul also has its foods which are harmful, fattened on which, even without superfluity of meats, it is involved in a downfall of wantonness. Slander is its food, and indeed one that is very dear to it. A burst of anger also is its food, even if it be a very slight one; yet supplying it with miserable food for an hour, and destroying it as well with its deadly savour. Envy is a food of the mind, corrupting it with its poisonous juices and never ceasing to make it wretched and miserable at the prosperity and success of another.

 2. Habet namque et illa suos noxios cibos, quibus inpinguata etiam sine escarum abundantia ad luxuriae praerupta deuoluitur. Detractatio cibus est eius, et quidem persuauis. Ira etiam cibus est eius, licet minime lenis, ad horam tamen infelici eam esu pascens ac pariter letali sapore prosternens. Inuidia cibus est mentis, uirulentis eam sucis corrumpens et prosperitate alieni successus iugiter miseram excruciare non desinens.

21.3. Kenodoxia, i.e., vainglory is its food, which gratifies it with a delicious meal for a time; but afterwards strips it clear and bare of all virtue, and dismisses it barren and void of all spiritual fruit, so that it makes it not only lose the rewards of huge labours, but also makes it incur heavier punishments. All lust and shifty wanderings of heart are a sort of food for the soul, nourishing it on harmful meats, but leaving it afterwards without share of the heavenly bread and of really solid food.

 3. Cenodoxia, id est uana gloria, cibus est eius, qui delectabili eam esca permulcet ad tempus, post uero uacuam omnique uirtute spoliatam reddit ac nudam, cunctis eam spiritalibus fructibus sterilem inanemque dimittens, ita ut non solum inmanium laborum faciat merita deperire, uerum etiam supplicia maiora conquirat. Omnis concupiscentia et peruagatio cordis instabilis pastus quidam est animae, noxiis escis eam nutriens, expertem uero caelestis panis ac solidi cibi in posterum derelinquens.

21.4. If then, with all the powers we have, we abstain from these in a most holy fast, our observance of the bodily fast will be both useful and profitable. For labour of the flesh, when joined with contrition of the spirit, will produce a sacrifice that is most acceptable to God, and a worthy shrine of holiness in the pure and undefiled inmost chambers of the heart. But if, while fasting as far as the body is concerned, we are entangled in the most dangerous vices of the soul, our humiliation of the flesh will do us no good whatever, while the most precious part of us is defiled: since we go wrong through that substance by virtue of which we are made a shrine of the Holy Ghost.

 4. Ab his itaque, quanta nobis est uirtus, sacratissimo ieiunio continentes utilem habebimus commodamque obseruantiam ieiunii corporalis. Labor enim carnalis spiritus contritioni coniunctus acceptissimum Deo sacrificium dignumque sanctitatis habitaculum puris mundisque recessibus exhibebit. Ceterum si corporaliter ieiunantes perniciosissimis animae uitiis inplicemur, nihil nobis proderit carnalis adflictio pretiosiore parte pollutis, per eam scilicet substantiam delinquentibus nobis, qua efficimur habitaculum Spiritus sancti.

21.5. For it is not so much the corruptible flesh as the clean heart, which is made a shrine for God, and a temple of the Holy Ghost. We ought therefore, whenever the outward man fasts, to restrain the inner man as well from food which is bad for him: that inner man, namely, which the blessed Apostle above all urges us to present pure before God, that it may be found worthy to receive Christ as a guest within, saying “that in the inner man Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Eph. 3:16, 17)

 5. Non enim tam corruptibilis caro quam cor mundum habitaculum Deo templumque Spiritus sancti perficitur. Oportet ergo exteriore homine ieiunante interiorem quoque similiter cibis noxiis temperare, quem praecipue exhiberi mundum Deo, ut hospitem in se Christum recipere mereatur, beatus Apostolus monet his uerbis : In interiorem, inquiens, hominem habitare Christum per fidem in cordibus uestris.



CHAPTER 22. That we should for this reason practise bodily abstinence thatwe may by it attain to a spiritual fast.

CAPUT XXII. Quod idcirco nos oporteat exercere continentiam corporalem, ut per ipsam perveniamus ad spiritale jejunium.



22. AND so we know that we ought therefore to bestow attention on bodily abstinence, that we may by this fasting attain to purity of heart. Otherwise our labours will be spent in vain, if we endure this without weariness, in contemplating the end, but are unable to reach the end for which we have endured such trials; and it would have been better to have abstained from the forbidden foods of the soul than to have fasted with the body from things indifferent and harmless, for in the case of these latter there is a simple and harmless reception of a creature of God, which in itself has nothing wrong about it: but in the case of the former there is at the very first a dangerous tendency to devour the brethren; of which it is said, “Do not love backbiting lest thou be rooted out.” (Prov. 20:13 [LXX]) And concerning anger and jealousy the blessed Job says: “For anger slayeth a fool, and envy killeth a child.” (Job 5:2) And at the same time it should be noticed that he who is angered is set down as a fool; and he who is jealous, as a child. For the former is not undeservedly considered a fool, since of his own accord he brings death upon himself, being goaded by the stings of anger; and the latter, while he is envious, proves that he is a child and a minor, for while he envies another he shows that the one at whose prosperity he is vexed, is greater than he.

XXII. Nouerimus itaque nos idcirco laborem continentiae corporalis inpendere, ut ad puritatem cordis hoc possimus ieiunio peruenire. Ceterum labor nobis inpenditur in cassum, si hunc quidem contemplatione finis infatigabiliter sustentemus, finem uero, propter quem tolerauimus adflictiones tantas, obtinere nequeamus, meliusque fuit interdictis escis animae temperasse quam uoluntariis minusque noxiis corporaliter ieiunasse. In his enim simplex et innoxia creaturae Dei perceptio est, nihil per semet ipsam habens peccati, in illo uero primitus fratrum perniciosa deuoratio, de qua dicitur : Noli diligere detrahere, ne eradiceris. Et de ira atque inuidia beatus Iob : Etenim stultum interficit iracundia, et paruulum occidit inuidia. Simulque notandum, quod qui irascitur stultus, et qui inuidet paruulus iudicetur. Ille namque non inmerito stultus pronuntiatur, uoluntarie sibi mortem irae stimulis incitatus inducens, et hic, dum liuet, paruulum minoremque se probat. Dum enim inuidet, testatur maiorem esse eum, cuius prosperitate cruciatur.



[5] Simplicity and Balance (Summary)




CHAPTER 23. What should be the character of the monk’s food.

CAPUT XXIII. Qualis esse monachi cibus debeat.



23.1. WE should then choose for our food, not only that which moderates the heat of burning lust, and avoids kindling it; but what is easily got ready, and what is recommended by its cheapness, and is suitable to the life of the brethren and their common use. For the nature of gluttony is threefold: first, there is that which forces us to anticipate the proper hour for a meal, next that which delights in stuffing the stomach, and gorging all kinds of food; thirdly, that which takes pleasure in more refined and delicate feasting. And so against it a monk should observe a threefold watch: first, he should wait till the proper time for breaking the fast; secondly, he should not give way to gorging; thirdly, he should be contented with any of the commoner sorts of food.

XXIII. Igitur eligendus est cibus non tantum qui concupiscentiae flagrantis aestus temperet minusque succendat, uerum etiam qui ad parandum sit facilis et quem ad co‰mendum oportuniorem uilioris pretii conpendium praestet quique sit conuersationi fratrum usuique communis. Triplex enim natura est gastrimargiae, una quae canonicam refectionis horam praeuenire conpellit, alia quae tantummodo uentris ingluuie et saturitate quarumlibet gaudet escarum, tertia quae accuratioribus epulis et esculentioribus oblectatur. Ideoque aduersus eam necesse est monachum obseruantiam triplicem custodire, id est ut primum legitimum tempus absolutionis expectet, deinde ut castigatis, tertio ut qualibuscumque escis uilioribusque contentus sit.

23.2. For anything that is taken over and above what is customary and the common use of all, is branded by the ancient tradition of the fathers as defiled with the sin of vanity and glorying and ostentation. Nor of those whom we have seen to be deservedly eminent for learning and discretion, or whom the grace of Christ has singled out as shining lights for every one to imitate, have we known any who have abstained from eating bread which is accounted cheap and easily to be obtained among them; nor have we seen that any one who has rejected this rule and given up the use of bread and taken to a diet of beans or herbs or fruits, has been reckoned among the most esteemed, or even acquired the grace of knowledge and discretion.

 2. Quidquid autem extra consuetudinem praesumitur usumque communem, ut uanitatis et gloriae atque ostentationis morbo pollutum antiquissima patrum traditio notat. Nec quemquam ex his, quos merito scientiae ac discretionis enituisse peruidimus uel quos ad imitandum gratia Christi uelut splendidissima luminaria omnibus praelocauit, esu panis, qui apud eos uilis habetur ac facilis, abstinuisse cognouimus, nec eorum quempiam, qui hanc regulam declinantes praetermisso panis usu leguminum uel holerum seu pomorum refectionem sectati sunt, inter probatissimos habitum aliquando conspeximus, sed ne discretionis quidem aut scientiae gratiam consecutum.

23.3. For not only do they lay it down that a monk ought not to ask for foods which are not customary for others, lest his mode of life should be exposed publicly to all and rendered vain and idle and so be destroyed by the disease of vanity; but they insist that the common chastening discipline of fasts ought not lightly to be disclosed to any one, but as far as possible concealed and kept secret. But when any of the brethren arrive they rule that we ought to show the virtues of kindness and charity instead of observing a severe abstinence ad our strict daily rule: nor should we consider what our own wishes and profit or the ardour of our desires may require, but set before us and gladly fulfil whatever the refreshment of the guest, or his weakness may demand from us.

 3. Non solum enim ceteris inusitatas escas expetere monachum non debere decernunt, ne uidelicet cursus eius uelut in propatulo cunctis expositus inanis factus ac uacuus cenodoxiae morbo depereat, sed ne ipsam quidem ieiuniorum castigationem communem cuiquam facile patefieri oportere pronuntiant, uerum quantum fieri potest contegi pariter et abscondi. Aduentantibus autem fratribus magis humanitatis ac dilectionis offerri debere uirtutem, quam continentiae districtionem et cotidiani propositi rigorem manifestari probabilius censuerunt, nec quid uoluntas utilitasque nostra seu desiderii ardor exposcat adtendere, sed quod aduenientis requies uel infirmitas exigit praeponere et gratanter inplere.



[6] Fasting and Hospitality
(Food Serves the Purpose of Communion!)




CHAPTER 24. How in Egypt we saw that the daily fast was broken without scruple on our arrival.

CAPUT XXIV. Quod in Aegypto indifferenter vidimus sub adventu nostro solvi quotidiana jejunia.



24. WHEN we had come from the region of Syria and had sought the province of Egypt, in our desire to learn the rules of the Elders, we were astonished at the alacrity of heart with which we were there received so that no rule forbidding refreshment till the appointed hour of the fast was over was observed, such as we had been brought up to observe in the monasteries of Palestine; but except in the case of the regular days, Wednesdays and Fridays, wherever we went the daily fast was broken: and when we asked why the daily fast was thus ignored by them without scruple one of the elders replied: “The opportunity for fasting is always with me. But as I am going to conduct you on your way, I cannot always keep you with me. And a fast, although it is useful and advisable, is yet a free-will offering. But the exigencies of a command require the fulfilment of a work of charity. And so receiving Christ in you I ought to refresh Him but when I have sent you on your way I shall be able to balance the hospitality offered for His sake by a stricter fast on my own account. For `the children of the bridegroom cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them:’ (Matt. 9:15) but when he has departed, then they will rightly fast.”

XXIIII. Cum de Syriae partibus seniorum scita discere cupientes Aegypti prouinciam petissemus ibique tanta cordis alacritate nos suscipi miraremur, ut nulla prorsus, sicut fueramus in Palaestinae monasteriis instituti, usque ad praestitutam ieiunii horam refectionis regula seruaretur, sed absque legitimis quartae sextaeque feriae, quocumque perrexissemus, cotidiana statio solueretur, quidam seniorum, percontantibus nobis cur ita indifferenter apud eos praeterirentur cotidiana ieiunia, respondit : ieiunium semper est mecum, uos autem continuo dimissurus mecum iugiter tenere non potero. Et ieiunium, licet utile sit ac necessarium, tamen uoluntarii muneris est oblatio, opus autem caritatis inpleri exigit praecepti necessitas. Itaque suscipiens in uobis Christum reficere eum debeo, deducens autem uos humanitatem eius obtentu praebitam districtiore ieiunio in memet potero conpensare. Non enim possunt filii sponsi ieiunare, donec cum illis est sponsus : cum autem discesserit, tunc licito ieiunabunt.



CHAPTER 25. Of the abstinence of one old man who took food six times so sparingly that he was still hungry.

CAPUT XXV. De continentia senis cujusdam, qui sexies ita frugaliter cibum sumpsit, ut servaret esuriem.



25. WHEN one of the elders was pressing me to eat a little more as I was taking refreshment, and I said that I could not, he replied: “I have already laid my table six times for different brethren who had arrived, and, pressing each of them, I partook of food with him, and am still hungry, and do you, who now partake of refreshment for the first time, say that you cannot eat any more?”

XXV. Quidam seniorum, cum reficientem me ut adhuc paululum quid ederem hortaretur, iamque me dixissem non posse, respondit : ego iam sexies diuersis aduenientibus fratribus mensam posui hortansque singulos cum omnibus cibum sumpsi, et adhuc esurio, et tu primitus nunc reficiens iam te dicis non posse?



CHAPTER 26. Of another old man, who never partook of food alone in his cell.

CAPUT XXVI. De alio sene, qui in cella sua escam numquam solus accepit.



26. WE have seen another who lived alone, who declared that he had never enjoyed food by himself alone, but that even if for five days running none of the brethren came to his cell he constantly put off taking food until on Saturday or Sunday he went to church for service and found some stranger whom he brought home at once to his cell, and together with him partook of refreshment for the body not so much by reason of his own needs, as for the sake of kindness and on his brother’s account. And so as they know that the daily fast is broken without scruple on the arrival of brethren, when they leave, they compensate for the refreshment which has been enjoyed on their account by a greater abstinence, and sternly make up for the reception of even a very little food by a severer chastisement not only as regards bread, but also by lessening their usual amount of sleep.

XXVI. Vidimus alium in solitudine commorantem, qui numquam se soli sibi cibum indulsisse testatus est, sed etiam si per totos quinque dies ad eius cellam nullus e fratribus aduenisset, refectionem iugiter distulisse, donec sabbatorum uel dominico die deuotae congregationis obtentu procedens ad ecclesiam peregrinorum quempiam repperisset, quem exinde reducens ad cellam consorte eo refectionem corpori non tam suae necessitatis obtentu quam humanitatis gratia causaque fratris adsumeret. Itaque ut norunt aduentu fratrum indifferenter soluere cotidiana ieiunia, ita discedentibus eis refectionem ob illos indultam continentia maiore conpensant, perceptionem cibi paruissimi acriore castigatione nec sola panis, sed etiam somni ipsius deminutione durius exigentes.



[7] Spiritual Fasting - from anger and Judgment - Superior to Physical Fasting (cf. § 21-22)




CHAPTER 27. What the two Abbots Paesius and John said of the fruits of their zeal.

CAPUT XXVII. Encomium Paesii et Joannis abbatum.



27. WHEN the aged John, who was superior of a large monastery and of a quantity of brethren, had come to visit the aged Paesius, who was living in a vast desert, and had been asked of him as of a very old friend, what he had done in all the forty years in which he had been separated from him and had scarcely ever been disturbed in his solitude by the brethren: “Never,” said he, “has the sun seen me eating,” “nor me angry,” said the other.

XXVII. Apud senem Paesium in heremo uastissima commorantem cum senex Iohannes magno coenobio ac multitudini fratrum praepositus aduenisset, et ab eodem uelut antiquissimo sodali perquireret, quidnam per omnes quadraginta annos, quibus ab eodem separatus in solitudine minime a fratribus interpellatus est, egisset, numquam me sol, ait, reficientem uidit. Et ille, nec me, inquit, iratum.



CHAPTER 28. The lesson and example which Abbot John when dying left to his disciples.

CAPUT XXVIII. Ejusdem abbatis Joannis jam moribundi insigne documentum.



28. WHEN the same old man, as one who was readily going to depart to his own, was lying at his last gasp, and the brethren were standing round, they implored and intreated that he would leave them, as a sort of legacy, some special charge by which they could attain to the height of perfection, the more easily from the brevity of the charge: he sighed and said, “I never did my own will, nor taught any one what I had not first done myself.”

XXVIII. Eundem senem cum alacrem tamquam ad propria transmigrantem in extremo iam anhelitu positum anxii fratres circumuallentes suppliciter precarentur, ut aliquod eis memoriale mandatum uelut hereditarium quoddam legatum relinqueret, per quod possent ad perfectionis culmen praecepti conpendio facilius peruenire, ingemescens ille : numquam, ait, meam feci uoluntatem nec quemquam docui quod prius ipse non feci.



CHAPTER 29. Of Abbot Machetes, who never slept during the spiritual conferences, but always went to sleep during earthly tales.

CAPUT XXIX. De abbate Machete inter Collationes spiritales numquam dormitante, et semper inter terrenas fabulas obdormiente.



29. WE knew an old man, Machetes by name, who lived at a distance from the crowds of the brethren, and obtained by his daily prayers this grace from the Lord, that as often as a spiritual conference was held, whether by day or by night, he never was at all overcome by sleep: but if any one tried to introduce a word of detraction, or idle talk, he dropped off to sleep at once as if the poison of slander could not possibly penetrate to pollute his ears.

XXVIIII. Vidimus senem Macheten nomine a turbis fratrum eminus commorantem hanc a Domino gratiam diuturnis precibus inpetrasse, ut, quotquot diebus ac noctibus agitaretur conlatio spiritalis, numquam somni torpore penitus laxaretur. Si quis uero detractationis uerbum seu otiosum temptasset inferre, in somnum protinus concidebat, ac ne usque ad aurium quidem eius pollutionem uirus obloquii poterat peruenire.



CHAPTER 30. A saying of the same old man about not judging any one.

CAPUT XXX. Ejusdem senis de nemine judicando sententia.



30.1. THE same old man, when he was teaching us that no one ought to judge another, remarked that there were three points on which he had charged and rebuked the brethren, viz.: because some allowed their uvula to be cut off, or kept a cloak in their cell, or blessed oil and gave it to those dwelling in the world who asked for it: and he said that he had done all these things himself. For having contracted some malady of the uvula, I wasted away, said he, for so long, through its weakness, that at last I was driven by stress of the pain, and by the persuasion of all the elders, to allow it to be cut off.

XXX. Hic idem senex cum institueret nos neminem diiudicare debere, intulit tria fuisse in quibus discusserit uel reprehenderit fratres, quod scilicet uuam sibi nonnulli paterentur abscidi, quod haberent in cellulis sagum, quod oleum benedicentes exposcentibus saecularibus darent, et haec omnia se incurrisse dicebat. Nam aegritudinem uuae contrahens tamdiu, inquit, eius languore distabui, donec tam doloris necessitate quam seniorum omnium adhortatione conpulsus abscidi eam permitterem.

30.2. And I was forced too by reason of this illness, to keep a cloak. And I was also compelled to bless oil and give it to those who prayed for it--a thing which I execrated above everything, since that I thought that it proceeded from great presumption of heart--when suddenly many who were living in the world surrounded me, so that I could not possibly escape them in any other way, had they not extorted from me with no small violence, and entreaties that I would lay my hand on a vessel offered by them, and sign it with the sign of the cross: and so believing that they had secured blessed oil, at last they let me go.

 2. Cuius etiam infirmitatis obtentu sagum quoque habere coactus sum. Oleum etiam benedicere ac supplicantibus dare, quod prae omnibus execrabar, utpote iudicans illud ex magna cordis praesumptione descendere, circumdantibus me repente saecularibus multis ita constrictus sum, ut alias eos euadere nullatenus possem, nisi a me summa ui et obtestationibus extorsissent, ut oblato ab eis uasculo manum meam inpresso crucis signaculo superponerem : itaque se credentes benedictionis oleum consecutos tandem me aliquando relaxarunt.

30.3. And by these things I plainly discovered that a monk was in the same case and entangled in the same faults for which he had ventured to judge others. Each one therefore ought only to judge himself, and to be on the watch, with care and circumspection in all things not to judge the life and conduct of others in accordance with the Apostle’s charge, “But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? to his own master he standeth or falleth.” (Rom. 14:10, 4)  And this: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.

 3. Quibus mihi manifeste conpertum est isdem causis ac uitiis monachum obligari, in quibus de aliis iudicare praesumpserit. Oportet enim unumquemque semet ipsum tantummodo iudicare et circumspecte cauteque in omnibus custodire, non aliorum conuersationem uitamque discutere, secundum illud Apostoli praeceptum : Tu autem quid iudicas fratrem tuum? Suo domino stat aut cadit, et : nolite iudicare, et non iudicemini : in quo enim iudicio iudicaueritis iudicabimini.

30.4. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.” (Matt. 7:1, 2) For besides the reason of which we have spoken, it is for this cause also dangerous to judge concerning others because in those matters in which we are offended--as we do not know the need or the reason for which they are really acting either rightly in the sight of God, or at ay rate in a pardonable manner--we are found to have judged them rashly and in this commit no light sin, by forming an opinion of our brethren different from what we ought.

 4. Praeter hanc enim quam diximus causam etiam ob hoc iudicare de aliis periculosum est, quod ignorantes uel necessitatem uel rationem, qua illi haec in quibus offendimus aut recte coram Deo aut ueniabiliter agunt, inuenimur eos temere iudicasse et per hoc admittimus non leue peccatum, secus quam oportet de nostris fratribus aliquid sentientes.



CHAPTER 31. The same old man’s rebuke when he saw how the brethren went to sleep during the spiritual conferences, and woke up when some idle story was told.

CAPUT XXXI. Increpatio ejusdem senis, cum fratres inter spiritales Collationes dormitantes, ad narrationem otiosae fabulae vidisset expergefactos.



31.1 THE same old man made clear by this proof that it was the devil who encouraged idle tales, and showed himself always as the enemy of spiritual conferences. For when he was discoursing to some of the brethren on necessary matters and spiritual things, and saw that they were weighed down with a sound slumber, and could not drive away the weight of sleep from their eyes, he suddenly introduced an idle tale. And when he saw that at once they woke up, delighted with it, and pricked up their ears, he groaned and said, “Up till now we were speaking of celestial things and all your eyes were overpowered with a sound slumber; but as soon as an idle tale was introduced, we all woke up and shook off the drowsiness of sleep which had overcome us. And from this therefore consider who is the enemy of that spiritual conference, and who has shown himself the suggester of that useless and carnal talk. For it is most evidently shown that it is he who, rejoicing in evil, never ceases to encourage the latter and to oppose the former.”

XXXI. Hic idem senex otiosarum fabularum diabolum esse fautorem ac spiritalium conlationum inpugnatorem semper exsistere his declarauit indiciis. Nam cum fratribus quibusdam de rebus necessariis ac spiritalibus disputaret, eosque uideret lethaeo quodam sopore demergi nec posse ab oculis suis pondus somni depellere, otiosam repente fabulam introduxit. Ad cuius oblectationem cum eos euigilasse confestim atque erectas aures suas habere uidisset, ingemescens ait : nunc usque de rebus caelestibus loquebamur, et omnium uestrum oculi letali dormitione deprimebantur : at cum otiosa fabula intromissa est, omnes expergefacti torporem somni dominantis excussimus. Vel ex hoc ergo perpendite, quisnam conlationis illius spiritalis fuerit inpugnator aut quis huius infructuosae atque carnalis insinuator exsistat. Ille etenim esse manifestissime deprehenditur, qui malis adgaudens uel istam fouere uel illam inpugnare non desinit.



CHAPTER 32. Of the letters which were burnt without being read.

CAPUT XXXII. De epistolis, priusquam legerentur, incensis.



32.1. NOR do I think it less needful to relate this act of a brother who was intent on purity of heart, and extremely anxious with regard to the contemplation of things divine. When after an interval of fifteen years a large number of letters had been brought to him from his father and mother and many friends in the province of Pontus, he received the huge packet of letters, and turning over the matter in his own mind for some time, “What thoughts,” said he, “will the reading of these suggest to me, which will incite me either to senseless joy or to useless sadness!

XXXII. Nec minus hoc quoque opus fratris erga puritatem sui cordis intenti et erga contemplationem diuinam ualde solliciti commemorari necessarium reor. Qui, cum ei post annos quindecim patris ac matris amicorumque multorum de prouincia Ponti conplures epistulae delatae fuissent, accipiens grandem fasciculum litterarum diuque apud semet ipsum uoluens : quantarum, inquit, cogitationum causa erit mihi harum lectio, quae me uel ad inane gaudium uel ad tristitias infructuosas inpellent.

32.2. for how many days will they draw off the attention of my heart from the contemplation I have set before me, by the recollection of those who wrote them! How long will it take for the disturbance of mind thus created to be calmed, and what an effort will it cost for that former state of peacefulness to be restored, if the mind is once moved by the sympathy of the letters, and by recalling the words and looks of those whom it has left for so long begins once more in thought and spirit to revisit them, to dwell among them and to be with them. And it will be of no use to have forsaken them in the body, if one begins to look on them with the heart, and readmits and revives that memory which on renouncing this world every one gave up, as if he were dead.”

 2. Quot diebus horum recordatione qui scripserunt intentionem pectoris mei a proposita contemplatione reuocabunt. Post quantum temporis digerenda est haec mentis concepta confusio quantoque labore rursus iste tranquillitatis reparandus est status, si semel animus litterarum permotus affectu eorumque recensendo sermones ac uultus, quos tanto tempore dereliquit, iterum eos reuisere ipsisque cohabitare animo ac mente coeperit interesse. Quos profecto corporaliter deseruisse nihil proderit, si corde eos incipiat intueri ac memoriam, quam saeculo huic renuntians quisque uelut mortuus abdicauit, reuiuiscens eidem rursus admiserit.

32.3. Turning this over in his mind, he determined not only not to read a single letter, but not even to open the packet, for fear lest, at the sight of the names of the writers, or on recalling their appearance, the purpose of his spirit might give way. And so he threw it into the fire to be burnt, all tied up just as he had received it, crying, “Away, O ye thoughts of my home, be ye burnt up, and try no further to recall me to those things from which I have fled.”

 3. Haec uoluens in suo pectore non solum nullam resoluere epistulam definiuit, sed ne ipsum quidem fasciculum resignare, ne scilicet eorum qui scripserant uel nomina recensendo uel uultus recordando a spiritus sui intentione cessaret. Itaque, ut eum constrictum susceperat, igni tradidit concremandum : ite, inquiens, cogitationes patriae, pariter concremamini nec me ulterius ad illa quae fugi reuocare temptetis.



CHAPTER 33. Of the solution of a question which Abbot Theodore obtained by prayer.

CAPUT XXXIII. De absolutione quaestionis, quam abbas Theodorus orando promeruit.



33. WE knew also Abbot Theodore, (1) a man gifted with the utmost holiness and with perfect knowledge not only in practical life, but also in understanding the Scriptures, which he had not acquired so much by study and reading, or worldly education, as by purity of heart alone: since he could with difficulty understand and speak but a very few words of the Greek language. This man when he was seeking an explanation of some most difficult question, continued without ceasing for seven days and nights in prayer until he discovered by a revelation from the Lord the solution of the question propounded.

XXXIII. Vidimus etiam abbatem Theodorum, summa sanctitate et scientia praeditum non solum in actuali uita, sed etiam notitia scripturarum, quam ei non tam studium lectionis uel litteratura mundi contulerat quam sola puritas cordis, siquidem uix ipsius quoque graecae linguae perpauca uerba uel intellegere posset uel proloqui. Hic cum explanationem cuiusdam obscurissimae quaestionis inquireret, septem diebus ac noctibus in oratione infatigabilis perstitit, donec solutionem propositae quaestionis Domino reuelante cognosceret.



[8] The Purified Heart Contemplates Naturally




CHAPTER 34. Of the saying of the same old man, through which he taught by what efforts a monk can acquire a knowledge of the Scriptures.

CAPUT XXXIV. De sententia ejusdem senis, qua docuit quo studio monachus possit assequi scientiam Scripturarum.



34. THIS man therefore, when some of the brethren were wondering at the splendid light of his knowledge and were asking of him some meanings of Scripture, said that a monk who wanted to acquire a knowledge of the Scriptures ought not to spend his labour on the works of commentators, but rather to keep all the efforts of his mind and intentions of his heart set on purifying himself from carnal vices: for when these are driven out, at once the eyes of the heart, as if the veil of the passions were removed, will begin as it were naturally to contemplate the mysteries of Scripture: XXXIIII. Hic ergo quibusdam fratribus admirantibus tam praeclarum scientiae eius lumen et ab eodem quosdam scripturarum sensus inquirentibus ait, monachum scripturarum notitiam pertingere cupientem nequaquam debere labores suos erga commentatorum libros inpendere, sed potius omnem mentis industriam et intentionem cordis erga emundationem uitiorum carnalium detinere, quibus expulsis confestim cordis oculi sublato uelamine passionum sacramenta scripturarum naturaliter contemplarentur,
 since they were not declared to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit in order that they should remain unknown and obscure; but they are rendered obscure by our fault, as the veil of our sins covers the eyes of the heart, and when these are restored to their natural state of health, the mere reading of Holy Scripture is by itself amply sufficient for contemplating true knowledge, nor do they need the aid of commentators, just as these eyes of flesh need no man’s teaching how to see, provided that they are free from dimness or the darkness of blindness. siquidem nobis non, ut essent incognita uel obscura, Spiritus sancti gratia promulgata sint, sed nostro uitio uelamine peccatorum cordis oculos obnubente reddantur obscura:  quibus rursum naturali redditis sanitati ipsa scripturarum sanctarum lectio ad contemplationem uerae scientiae abunde etiam sola sufficiat, nec eos conmentatorum institutionibus indigere, sicut oculi isti carnales ad uidendum nullius egent doctrina, si modo fuerint a suffusione uel caligine caecitatis inmunes.

For this reason there have arisen so great differences and mistakes among commentators because most of them, paying no sort of attention towards purifying the mind, rush into the work of interpreting the Scriptures, and in proportion to the density or impurity of their heart form opinions that are at variance with and contrary to each other’s and to the faith, and so are unable to take in the light of truth.

Ideo namque et tanta uarietas erroresque inter ipsos exorti sunt, quod plerique, minime erga purgationem mentis adhibita diligentia prosilientes ad interpretandum eas, pro pinguedine uel inmunditia sui cordis diuersa atque contraria uel fidei uel sibimet sentientes ueritatis lumen conprehendere nequiuerunt.



CHAPTER 35. A rebuke of the same old man, when he had come to my cell in the middle of the night.

CAPUT XXXV. Increpatio ejusdem senis, cum ad meam cellulam media nocte venisset.



35.1 THE same Theodore came unexpectedly to my cell in the dead of night, with paternal inquisitiveness seeking what I--an unformed anchorite as I was--might be doing by myself; and when he had found me there already, as I had finished my vesper office, beginning to refresh my wearied body, and lying down on a mat, he sighed from the bottom of his heart, and calling me by name, said, “How many, O John, are at this hour communing with God, and embracing Him, and detaining Him with them, while you are deprived of so great light, enfeebled as you are with lazy sleep!” And since the virtues of the fathers and the grace given to them have tempted us to turn aside to a story like this, I think it well to record in this volume a noteworthy deed of charity, which we experienced from the kindness of that most excellent man Archebius, that the purity of continence grafted on to a work of charity may more readily shine forth, being embellished with a pleasing variety. For the duty of fasting is then rendered acceptable to God, when it is made perfect by the fruits of charity.

XXXV. Hic idem cum inopinatus ad meam cellulam intempesta nocte uenisset, quidnam rudis adhuc anachoreta solus agerem paterna curiositate latenter explorans, meque ilico finita uespertina sollemnitate incipientem fessum corpus iam reficere et incubantem psiathio repperisset, protrahens intimo corde suspiria meoque me uocitans nomine : quanti, inquit, o Iohannes, hora hac Deo conloquuntur eumque in semet ipsis amplectuntur ac retinent : et tu fraudaris tanto lumine, inerti sopore resolutus? Et quoniam nos ad huiusmodi narrationem deuertere patrum uirtutes et gratia prouocarunt, necessarium reor memorabile opus caritatis, quam summi uiri Archebii humanitate sumus experti, huic uolumini commendare, quo puritas continentiae operi caritatis inserta propensius enitescat pulchra uarietate distincta. Etenim tunc ratum Deo ieiunii munus efficitur, cum hoc fructibus caritatis fuerit consummatum.



CHAPTER 36. A description of the desert in Diolcos, where the anchorites live.

CAPUT XXXVI. Descriptio eremi quae est in Diolco, in qua anachoretae commorantur.



36.1. AND so when we had come, while still beginners, from the monasteries of Palestine, to a city of Egypt called Diolcos, (1) and were contemplating a large number of monks bound by the discipline of the Coenobium, and trained in that excellent system of monasteries, which is also the earliest, we were also eager to see with all wisdom of heart another system as well which is still better, viz.: that of the anchorites, as we were incited thereto by the praises of it by everybody. For these men, having first lived for a very long time in Coenobia, and having diligently learnt all the rules of patience and discretion, and acquired the virtues of humility and renunciation, and having perfectly overcome all their faults, in order to engage in most fearful conflicts with devils, penetrate the deepest recesses of the desert.

XXXVI. Itaque cum de Palaestinae monasteriis ad oppidum Aegypti, quod Diolcos appellatur, rudes admodum uenissemus ibique plurimam turbam coenobii disciplina constrictam et optimo ordine monachorum, qui etiam primus est, institutam mirifice uideremus, alium quoque ordinem, qui excellentior habetur, id est anachoretarum, cunctorum praeconiis instigati sagacissimo corde uidere properauimus. Hi namque in coenobiis primum diutissime commorantes, omnem patientiae ac discretionis regulam diligenter edocti et humilitatis pariter ac nuditatis uirtute possessa atque ad purum uitiorum uniuersitate consumpta, dirrissimis daemonum proeliis congressuri penetrant heremi profunda secreta.

36.2 Finding then that men of this sort were living near the river Nile in a place which is surrounded on one side by the same river, on the other by the expanse of the sea, and forms an island, habitable by none but monks seeking such recesses, since the saltness of the soil and dryness of the sand make it unfit for any cultivation--to these men, I say, we eagerly hastened, and were beyond measure astonished at their labours which they endure in the contemplation of the virtues and their love of solitude. For they are hampered by such a scarcity even of water that the care and exactness with which they portion it out is such as no miser would bestow in preserving and hoarding the most precious kind of wine. For they carry it three miles or even further from the bed of the above-mentioned river, for all necessary purposes; and the distance, great as it is, with sandy mountains in between, is doubled by the very great difficulty of the task.

 2. Huius igitur propositi uiros conperientes citra Nili fluminis alueum commorari in loco, qui uno latere eodem flumine, alio maris uastitate circumdatus insulam reddit nullis aliis quam monachis secreta expetentibus habitabilem - nec enim cuiquam culturae aptam esse eam salsitas soli ac sterilitas patitur harenarum -, ad hos, inquam, summo desiderio festinantes ultra modum sumus labores eorum, quos contemplatione uirtutum et amore solitudinis tolerant, admirati. Nam ipsius aquae tanta penuria constringuntur, ut tali eam diligentia scrupuloque dispensent, quali nemo frugalissimorum speciem pretiosissimi uini conseruat et parcit. Tribus namque milibus uel eo amplius eam de praedicti fluminis alueo necessariis usibus aduehunt, quod tamen interuallum harenosis diuisum montibus laboris difficultate grauissima duplicatur.



CHAPTER 37. Of the cells which Abbot Archebius gave up to us with their furniture.

CAPUT XXXVII. Abbatis Archebii humanitas commendatur.



37. HAVING then seen this, as we were inflamed with the desire of imitating them, the aforesaid Archebius, the most famous among them for the grace of kindness, drew us into his cell, and having discovered our desire, pretended that he wanted to leave the place, and to offer his cell to us, as if he were going away, declaring that he would have done it, even if we had not come. And we, inflamed with the desire of remaining there, and putting unhesitating faith in the assertions of so great a man, willingly agreed to this, and took over his cell with all its furniture and belongings. And so having succeeded in his pious fraud, he left the place for a few days in which to procure the means for constructing a cell, and after this returned, and with the utmost labour built another cell for himself. And after some little time, when some other brethren came inflamed with the same desire to stay there, he deceived them by a similar charitable falsehood, and gave this one up with everything pertaining to it. But he, unweariedly persevering in his act of charity, built for himself a third cell to dwell in.

XXXVII. His igitur uisis cum imitationis eorum nos ardor accenderet praedictusque Archebius probatissimus inter eos humanitatis nos gratia ad suam cellulam pertraxisset, explorato desiderio nostro confinxit se de eodem loco uelle discedere ac nobis cellulam suam uelut exinde migraturus offerre, sese id facturum, etiamsi minime adfuissemus, adfirmans. Quam rem nos et desiderio commorationis accensi et adsertionibus tanti uiri indubitatam commodantes fidem libenter amplexi cellam cum omni supellectili utensilibusque suscepimus. Itaque religiosa potitus circumuentione paucis diebus, quibus construendae cellae pararet inpendia, de loco discedens, reuersus post haec aliam sibi summo labore construxit. Quam rursum non longo post tempore superuenientibus fratribus eodemque desiderio cupientibus ibidem commorari simili caritatis mendacio circumuentis cum uniuerso tradidit instrumento. Ipse uero erga opus caritatis infatigabilis perseuerans tertiam sibi cellam, in qua commaneret, exstruxit.



CHAPTER 38. The same Archebius paid a debt of his mother’s by the labour of his own hands.

CAPUT XXXVIII. Idem Archebius, manuum suarum labore, matris debitum dissolvit.



38.1. IT seems to me worth while to hand down another charitable act of the same man, that the monks of our land may be taught by the example of one and the same man to maintain not only a rigorous continence, but also the most unfeigned affection of love. For he, sprung from no ignoble family, while yet a child, scorning the love of this world and of his kinsfolk, fled to the monastery which is nearly four miles distant from the aforementioned town, where he so passed all his life, that never once throughout the whole of fifty years did he enter or see the village from which he had come, nor even look upon the face of any woman, not even his own mother. In the mean while his father was overtaken by death, and left a debt of a hundred solidi. And though he himself was entirely free from all annoyances, since he had been disinherited of all his father’s property, yet he found that his mother was excessively annoyed by the creditors.

XXXVIII. Operae pretium mihi uidetur aliud quoque eiusdem uiri caritatis opus memoriae tradere, quo nostrarum partium monachi non solum continentiae rigorem, uerum etiam sincerissimum retinere dilectionis affectum unius eiusdemque uiri instituantur exemplo. Hic namque non ignobili oriundus familia ad monasterium, quod a praedicto oppido ferme quattuor milibus distat, mundi huius ac parentum affectione contempta a puerilibus annis aufugit. Vbi ita uitae suae omnem exegit aetatem, ut numquam prorsus per totos quinquaginta annos non solum uicum, ex quo egressus est, nec fuerit ingressus nec uiderit, sed ne cuiusquam quidem feminae uel ipsius matris suae conspexerit uultum. Interea pater morte praeuentus centum solidorum debitum dereliquit. Cumque hic esset omni inquietudine penitus alienus, utpote qui uniuersis facultatibus paternis esset extorris, a creditoribus tamen inquietari uehementer conperit matrem.

38.2. Then he through consideration of duty somewhat moderated that gospel severity through which formerly, while his parents were prosperous, he did not recognize that he possessed a father or mother on earth; and acknowledged that he had a mother, and hastened to relieve her in her distress, without relaxing anything of the austerity he had set himself. For remaining within the cloister of the monastery he asked that the task of his usual work might be trebled. And there for a whole year toiling night and day alike he paid to the creditors the due measure of the debt secured by his toil and labour, and relieved his mother from all annoyance and anxiety; ridding her of the burden of the debt in such a way as not to suffer aught of the severity he had set himself to be diminished on plea of duteous necessity. Thus did he preserve his wonted austerities, without ever denying to his mother’s heart the work which duty demanded, as, though he had formerly disregarded her for the love of Christ, he now acknowledged her again out of consideration of duty.

 2. Tum hic ab euangelico illo rigore, quo antehac in statu prospero parentibus constitutis nec patrem se in terra norat habuisse nec matrem, pietatis consideratione mollitus ita se habere credidit matrem eique subuenire festinauit oppressae, ut nihil a proposita districtione laxaret. Intra monasterii namque claustra perdurans soliti operis pensum sibimet triplicari poposcit, et ibi per totum anni spatium diebus pariter noctibusque desudans debiti modum operis sudore partum creditoribus soluens matrem omni inquietudinis iniuria liberauit, ita eruens eam debiti sarcina, ut nihil de propositi rigore piae necessitatis obtentu pateretur inminui : ita districtionem solitam custodiuit, ut nequaquam pietatis opus maternis uisceribus denegaret, quam pro Christi caritate prius despexerat, pro eius rursum pietate cognoscens.



CHAPTER 39. Of the device of a certain old man by which some work was found for Abbot Simeon when he had nothing to do.

CAPUT XXXIX. Qua simulatione senis cujusdam, abbati Simeoni, cum otiosus esset, opus manuum sit provisum.



39.1. WHEN a brother who was very dear to us, Simeon by name, a man utterly ignorant of Greek, had come from the region of Italy, one of the elders, anxious to show to him, as he was a stranger, a work of charity, with some pretence of the benefit being mutual, asked him why he sat doing nothing in his cell, guessing from this that he would not be able to stay much longer in it both because of the roving thoughts which idleness produces and because, of his want of the necessities of life; well knowing that no one can endure the assaults made in solitude, but one who is contented to procure food for himself by the labour of his hands.

XXXVIIII. Cum frater nobis optime carus nomine Symeon, penitus graeci sermonis ignarus, e partibus Italiae commeasset, quidam seniorum, erga eum utpote peregrinum caritatis opus quodam redhibitionis colore cupiens exhibere, inquirit ab eo cur otiosus sederet in cella, per hoc coniciens eum tam otii peruagatione quam penuria necessariarum rerum diutius in ea durare non posse, certus neminem posse inpugnationes solitudinis tolerare nisi eum, qui propriis manibus uictum sibimet fuerit parare contentus.

39.2. And when the other replied that he could not do or manage any of the things which were usually done by the brethren there, except write a good hand, if any one in Egypt wanted a Latin book for his use, then he at length seized the opportunity to secure the long wished for work of charity, under colour of its being a mutual benefit; and said, “From God this opportunity comes, for I was just looking for some one to write out for me the Epistles in Latin; for I have a brother who is bound in the chains of military service, and is a good Latin scholar, to whom I want to send something from Scripture for him to read for his edification.”

 2. Quo respondente nihil se nec nosse nec praeualere ex his quae illic exercebantur a fratribus operari praeter librariam manum, si tamen ullus in Aegypti regione latinum codicem usui esset habiturus, tum ille tandem nanctus occasionem, qua posset desideratum pietatis opus uelut debiti colore mercari, ex Deo haec inuenta est, inquit, occasio : nam olim quarebam qui apostolum latinum hac mihi manu perscriberet. Etenim habeo fratrem militiae laqueis obligatum et adprime latinis instructum, cui de scripturis sanctis aliquid ad legendum aedificationis eius obtentu transmittere cupio.

39.3. And so when Simeon gratefully took this as an opportunity offered to him by God, the old man also gladly seized the pretext, under colour of which he could freely carry out his work of charity, and at once not only brought him as a matter of business everything he could want for a whole year, but also conveyed to him parchment and everything requisite for writing, and received afterwards the manuscript, which was not of the slightest use (since in those parts they were all utterly ignorant of this language), and did no good to anybody except that which resulted from this device and large outlay, as the one, without shame or confusion, procured his necessary food and sustenance by the reward of his work and labour, and the other carried out his kindness and bounty as it were by the compulsion of a debt: securing for himself a more abundant reward proportioned to the zeal with which he procured for his foreign brother not only his necessary food, but materials for writing, and an opportunity of work.

 3. Itaque Symeone hanc occasionem uelut ex Deo oblatam sibi gratanter suscipiente senex quoque colorem, cuius praetextu pietatis opus libere posset inplere, libentius amplexatus confestim non solum uniuersas ei necessitates sub obtentu mercedum totius anni conuexit, uerum etiam membranas et utensilia quae ad scribendum necessaria erant conportans recepit post codicem scriptum, nullis usibus uel commodis profuturum - quippe uniuersis in illa regione notitia linguae huius penitus ignaris - praeter id quod hac subtilitate sumptuque prolixiore mercatus est, quemadmodum et ille sine confusionis uerecundia merito laboris et operis sui necessaria uictus alimenta perciperet, et ipse suae munificentiae pietatem tamquam debiti necessitate conpleret : eo abundantius mercedem sibi conquirens, quo ambitu maiore peregrino fratri non solum uictus necessaria, uerum etiam operis instrumenta et operandi occasionem pariter contulisset.



CHAPTER 40. Of the boys who when bringing to a sick man some figs, died in the desert from hunger, without having tasted them.

CAPUT XL. De pueris qui deferentes ad aegrotantem ficus, non degustatis eisdem, fame in eremo defecerunt.



40.1. BUT since in the section in which we proposed to say something about the strictness of fasting and abstinence, kindly acts and deeds of charity seem to have been intermingled, again returning to our design we will insert in this little book a noteworthy deed of some who were boys in years though not in their feelings. For when, to their great surprise, some one had brought to Abbot John, the steward in the desert of Scete, some figs from Libya Mareotis, as being a thing never before seen in those districts,--(John) who had the management of the church in the days of the blessed Presbyter Paphnutius, by whom it had been intrusted to him, at once sent them by the hands of two lads to an old man who was laid up in ill health in the further parts of the desert, and who lived about eighteen miles from the church.

XXXX. Sed quoniam in loco, ubi de ieiuniorum et continentiae rigore dicere aliquid proposuimus, adfectio et opera caritatis uidentur admixta, rursum ad propositum reuertentes quoddam puerorum aetate, non sensu, factum memorabile opusculo huic inseremus. Nam cum ultra omnem admirationem ficus quidam de Mareotae Libyae partibus uelut rem ante in loco non uisam abbati Iohanni oeconomo in heremo Sciti detulisset, qui dispensationem ipsius ecclesiae temporibus beati Pafnutii presbyteri ab eodem sibi creditam gubernabat, hic confestim eas ad senem quendam, qui in interioribus deserti mala ualitudine laborabat, per duos adulescentulos misit : siquidem decem et octo milibus longe ab ecclesia commanebat.

40.2 And when they had received the fruit, and set off for the cell of the above-mentioned old man, they lost the right path altogether--a thing which there easily happens even to elders--as a thick fog suddenly came on. And when all day and night they had wandered about the trackless waste of the desert, and could not possibly find the sick man’s cell, worn out at last both by weariness from their journey, and from hunger and thirst, they bent their knees and gave up their souls to God in the very act of prayer.

 2. Qui pomis acceptis cum ad praedicti senis tenderent cellam, quod ibi perfacile solet etiam senioribus euenire, infusa repente densissima nebula tramitem recti itineris perdiderunt. Cumque tota die ac nocte discurrentes per auiam heremi uastitatem nequaquam potuissent aegrotantis cellulam repperire, tam itineris lassitudine quam inedia sitique confecti fixis genibus in orationis officio spiritum Domino reddiderunt.

40.3. And afterwards, when they had been for a long while sought for by the marks of their footsteps which in those sandy regions are impressed as if on snow, until a thin coating of sand blown about even by a slight breeze covers them up again, it was found that they had preserved the figs untouched, just as they had received them; choosing rather to give up their lives, than their fidelity to their charge, and to lose their life on earth than to violate the commands of their senior.

 3. Qui post heac uestigiorum suorum indiciis diutissime perquisiti, quae in locis illis harenosis tamquam niuibus inpressa signantur, donec ea uel leui uentorum flata tenuis harena discurrens rursus operiat, inuenti sunt ficus intactas ut acceperant reseruasse, eligentes scilicet animam magis quam fidem depositi prodere uitamque potius amittere temporalem quam senioris uiolare mandatum.



CHAPTER 41. The saying of Abbot Macarius of the behaviour of a monk as one who was to live for a long while, and as one who was daily at the point of death.

CAPUT XLI. Sententia abbatis Macarii, de observantia monachi, vel tamquam diutissime victuri, vel tamquam quotidie morituri.



41. THERE is still one valuable charge of the blessed Macarius to be brought forward by us, so that a saying of so great a man may close this book of fasts and abstinence. He said then that a monk ought to bestow attention on his fasts, just as if he were going to remain in the flesh for a hundred years; and to curb the motions of the soul, and to forget injuries, and to loathe sadness, and despise sorrows and losses, as if he were daily at the point of death. For in the former case discretion is useful and proper as it causes a monk always to walk with well-balanced care, and does not suffer him by reason of a weakened body to fall from the heights over most dangerous precipices: in the other high-mindedness is most valuable as it will enable him not only to despise the seeming prosperity of this present world, but also not to be crushed by adversity and sorrow, and to despise them as small and paltry matters, since he has the gaze of his mind continually fixed there, whither daily at each moment he believes that he is soon to be summoned.

XXXXI. Adhuc unum beati Macarii proferetur nobis salutare mandatum, quo libellum ieiuniorum et continentiae tanti uiri claudat sententia. Ita inquit debere monachum ieiuniis operam dare ut centum annis in corpore commoraturum, ita motus animi refrenare et iniuriarum obliuisci tristitiasque respuere, dolores quoque ac detrimenta contemnere tamquam cotidie moriturum. In illo namque utilis est prudensque discretio, aequali monachum districtione faciens semper incedere nec permittens sub occasione debilitati corporis de arduis ad perniciosissima praerupta deuolui, in hoc uero magnanimitas salutaris, quae ualeat non solum quae uidentur prospera mundi praesentis despicere, uerum etiam aduersis tristibusque non frangi et ea uelut parua nullaque contemnere, illic habens defixum iugiter suae mentis intuitum, quo cotidie singulisque momentis accersiendum esse se credit.




xcxxcxxc  F ” “ This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1990....x....   “”.