Cassian, INSTITUTES, BK. 6

 St. Mary the Harlot, and the Monk.
Brev of Martin of Aragon,
BNF Roth 2529, 354v.

tr. mod. by L.Dysinger, O.S.B: based on: [1] Terrence Kardong, tr.,. Cassian on Chastity: Institute 6, Conference 12, Conference 22. English trans. and commentary. (Richardton: Assumption Abbey Press, 1993.) & [2] The Monastic Institutes, tr. J. Bertram (St. Austin Press, 1999)

AUDIO LECTURE: Cassian on Lust (Inst. 6)



CHAPTER 1. On the Twofold Fight Against the Spirit of Fornication

CAPUT I. De duplici pugna adversum spiritum fornicationis



No Single, Simple Remedy: The Whole Spiritual Life Must be Activated

§ 1-2



1. THE second war, according to the tradition of our fathers, is against the spirit of fornication. This monstrous war is more extended than the others and of longer duration, and few attain complete victory; for although it’s battle against the human race begins at the onset of puberty, it does not cease until the other vices have been overcome. The enemy’s onslaught is twofold, rushing into battle armed with a double vice. Therefore, we must also resist on two fronts; and just as he battens on both bodily and spiritual weaknesses, just so he cannot be conquered except by those who fight on both of those fronts.

   I. Secundum nobis traditione patrum aduersus spiritum fornicationis certamen est, longum prae ceteris ac diuturnum et perpaucis ad purum deuictum, inmane bellum et quod, cum a primo tempore pubertatis inpugnare incipiat hominum genus, non nisi prius cetera uitia superentur extinguitur. Duplex namque est obpugnatio gemino armata uitio consurgens ad proelium. Et idcirco similiter ei gemina est acie resistendum, siquidem, ut morbo carnis animaeque concretum uires adquirit, ita nisi utrisque pariter dimicantibus nequeat debellari.

For bodily fasting alone does will not suffice to acquire and retain perfect chastity unless we also have [:]

Nec enim sufficit solum corporale ieiunium ad conquirendam uel possidendam perfectae castimoniae puritatem, nisi praecesserit

[1] a contrite spirit

contritio spiritus

[2] and persevere in prayer against this unclean spirit.

et oratio contra hunc inmundissimum spiritum perseuerans,

[3] Then too we need to meditate the Scriptures constantly

dein continuata meditatio scripturarum,

[4] and also have spiritual understanding.

huicque fuerit scientia spiritalis adiuncta,

[5] Further, there must be manual labor to restrain and recall the wanderings of the fickle heart.

labor etiam opusque manuum, instabiles cordis peruagationes cohercens ac reuocans,

[6] And above all, true humility is the foundation without which no vice can ever be conquered.

et ante omnia fundata fuerit humilitas uera, sine qua nullius penitus uitii poterit umquam triumphus adquiri.



CHAPTER 2. The principal remedy against the spirit of fornication

CAPUT II. De principali remedio adversus spiritum fornicationis.



2. BUT the correction of this vice comes mainly from perfecting the heart, the source of the poison of this sickness. The Lord himself instructs us: “From the heart issue forth evil thoughts, homicide, adultery, fornication, theft, false testimony,” and so forth (Mt 15:19). Therefore, we must first purify that spring of life and death, according to the saying of Solomon: “With the closest custody guard your heart, for life comes forth from it (Prov 4:23 LXX). For the flesh obeys its judgment and command. Thus abstemiousness must be care­fully maintained, otherwise the flesh, surfeited with food, may insolently cast aside its spiritual guide. However, if we concentrate exclusively on the punishment of the body and do not engage the soul in abstinence from other vices, nor in holy meditation or spiritual studies, we will never be able to attain the heights of true wholeness. And this is the root cause of bodily defilement. Thus we must first cleanse “the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside might be clean,” as the Lord has taught us (Mt 23:26).

   II. Principaliter enim uitii huius correctio de cordis perfectione descendit, ex quo etiam huius morbi uirus Domini uoce prodire signatur. De corde, inquit, exeunt cogitationes malae, homicidia, adulteria, fornicationes, furta, falsa testimonia et cetera. Illud ergo est primitus expiandum, unde fons uitae mortisque manare cognoscitur dicente Salomone : Omni custodia serua tuum cor : ex his enim sunt exitus uitae. Caro enim eius arbitrio atque imperio famulatur. Et idcirco summo studio parsimonia ieiuniorum sectanda est, ne escarum abundantia refecta caro praeceptis animae salutaribus aduersata rectorem suum spiritum deiciat insolescens. Ceterum si omnem summam in castigatione tantum corporis conlocemus, anima non similiter a ceteris uitiis ieiunante nec meditatione diuina et spiritalibus studiis occupata, nequaquam ad illud sublimissimum uerae integritatis fastigium poterimus ascendere, illo quod in nobis est principali puritatem nostri corporis infestante. Oportet ergo nos mundare prius iuxta sententiam Domini id quod intus est calicis et parabsidis, ut fiat et id quod de foris est mundum.



Solitude, Community, and Gradual Transformation

§ 3-4



CHAPTER 3.. How much of a remedy is conferred by solitude together with abstinence, in overcoming the vice of fornication.

CAPUT III. Quantum ad superandum fornicationis vitium remedii conferat cum continentia solitudo.



3. FURTHER, certain vices can be cured by human commerce and daily living. In a certain way, they are cured by the very committing! Thus for example, anger, sadness and impatience are cured by heartfelt meditation and persistent vigilance, but also by the provocations experienced in the human community. For the more frequently these faults come to the surface and are rebuked, the more quickly they are healed. But if we are to put aside the harmful passionate fever of fornication and attain a state of full health, we must add something to bodily punishment and heartfelt contrition:

   III. Dein cetera uitia etiam usu hominum et exercitio cotidiano purgari solent et quodammodo ipsius lapsus offensione curari : ut puta irae, tristitiae, inpatientiae languor meditatione cordis ac peruigili sollicitudine, fratrum etiam frequentia et adsidua prouocatione sanantur, dumque commota manifestantur saepius et crebrius arguuntur, ocius perueniunt ad salutem. Hic uero morbus cum corporis adflictione et contritione cordis

solitudine quoque ac remotione indiget,

ut possit ad integrum sanitatis statum perniciosa aestuum febri deposita peruenire.

solitude and distance from others.


Just as it is often useful to keep harmful food away from the gaze of those suffering from a certain illness, lest the sight of it provoke a lethal appetite, just so quiet and solitude often serve to drive out this malady. They enable the mind, unharried by many images, to reach a pure inner vision more easily and to utterly quench the pestilential fire of concuplscence .

Sicut plerumque certa aegritudine laborantibus utile est, ut cibi noxii ne oculorum quidem ipsorum obtutibus offerantur, ne quod aspectus occasione desiderium eis letale gignatur, ita plurimum confert ad depellendum hunc specialiter morbum quies ac solitudo, ut mens aegra minime diuersis figuris interpellata ad puriorem perueniens contemplationis intuitum facilius pestiferum concupiscentiae fomitem radicitus possit eruere.



CHAPTER 4. What is the difference between continence and chastity, and whether both are always found together

CAPUT IV. Quid intersit inter continentiam et castitatem, et an utraque simul semper habeatur.



Note that Integrity, once lost CAN be regained!


4.1.  BUT no one should conclude from this that we think that there are no continent persons in monastic communities: we recognize that this can easily be the case. In fact, it is one thing to be continent, that is encratite, and another to be chaste. This latter means to advance to that state of integrity and incorruption that they call agnos, which only refers to those who remain virginal in both mind and body. John in the New Testament, and Elijah, Jeremiah and Daniel in the Old Testament, are known to have been thus. It is not unjust to include in the same category those who, after an experience of corruption, arrive at the same state of purity of mind and body by dint of long labor and industry. In this condition, they feel the stings of the flesh not so much as the assault of base concupiscence as merely the movement of nature.

   IIII. Nemo tamen ex hoc negare nos putet etiam in congregatione fratrum positos inueniri continentes : quod perfacile posse fieri confitemur. Aliud enim est continentem esse, id est ô…Š’ŕ’ć ,aliud castum, et ut ita dicam in affectum integritatis uel incorruptionis transire, quod dicitur ´…ŤđŤ, quae uirtus illis solis tribuitur maxime, qui uirgines uel carne uel mente perdurant, ut uterque Iohannes in nouo testamento, in ueteri quoque Helias, Hieremias, Danihel fuisse noscuntur. In quorum gradu hi quque non inmerito reputabuntur, qui post experimenta corruptionis ad similem puritatis statum per laborem longum et industriam integritate mentis et corporis peruenerunt et aculeos carnis non tam inpugnatione concupiscentiae turpis, quam naturae tantummodo motu sentiunt.

4.2. We hold that this condition is very difficult to attain among crowds of men. But whether it is impossible, each one should personally judge on the basis of conscience. We do not expect everyone to agree with our opinion on this. Moreover, we don’t doubt that there are many continent persons who suffer infrequent or daily assaults of the flesh, but who manage to put them down and repress them either for fear of hell or desire for the kingdom of heaven. But our elders tell us that just as these men cannot be entirely overwhelmed by the assaults of vices, neither can they always be secure and unscathed. For it is inevitable that someone in the midst of the fray sometimes be thrown into confusion himself, even though he frequently conquer his adversary.

 2. Quem statum dicimus difficillime posse inter hominum turbas adprehendi. Vtrum uero et inpossibile sit, unusquisque non nostra sententia expectet agnoscere, sed conscientiae suae rimetur examine. Ceterum continentes multos exsistere non dubitamus, qui inpugnationem carnis, quam uel raro uel cotidie sustinent, seu metu gehennae seu desiderio regni caelorum extingunt atque conpescunt. Quos seniores sicut pronuntiant posse non penitus incentiuis obrui uitiorum, ita securos et insauciatos semper exsistere non posse definiunt. Necesse est enim quemque in conluctation positum, quamuis frequenter aduersarium uincat ac superet, et ipsum tamen aliquando turbari.



Rely Absolutely on Grace; but Practice Spiritual Exercise like a Competitor

§ 5-8



CHAPTER 5. That the assault of fornication are impossible to overcome by human effort alone.

CAPUT V. Quod impugnatio fornicationis solo humano studio non possit evinci.



5. IF we really desire to enter into this spiritual combat on the same terms as the Apostle (2 Tm 4:7), let us concentrate our every effort at dominating this unclean spirit by placing our confidence not in our own forces but on the help of God. Human effort will never be able to win through here. For the soul will be attacked by this vice as long as it does not recognize that it is in a war beyond its powers and that it cannot obtain victory by its own effort unless it is shored up by the help and protection of the Lord.

   V. Quapropter si nobis cordi est agonem spiritalem cum Apostolo legitime decertare, hunc inmundissimum spiritum superare omni mentis intentione non nostris uiribus confidentes - hoc enim perficere industria humana non praeualet -, sed opitulatione Domini festinemus. Tamdiu namque hoc uitio animam necesse est inpugnare, donec se bellum gerere supra uires suas agnoscat nec labore uel studio proprio uictoriam obtinere se posse, nisi Domini fuerit auxilio ac protectione suffulta.



CHAPTER 6. The particular grace of God necessary for the attainment of chastity.

CAPUT VI. De peculiari gratia Dei ad castitatis consecutionem necessaria.



6. WHILE all progress in virtue and successful expulsion of vice is due to the grace of God, the specific aid and special gift of God is necessary for chastity. This is attested by the teaching of the elders and the purgative experience of those upon whom it has been bestowed. In a certain sense, to escape the flesh is to remain in the body while surpassing nature: to remain surrounded by fragile carnality but not to feel the stings of the flesh. Thus it is impossible, as we have said, for us to fly to such an exalted and heavenly reward on our own wings, unless the grace of God lift us up from the slime of the earth by the gift of chastity. There is no virtue which renders the lives of carnal men more similar to that of the angelic spirits than the attainment and the gift of chastity. As the Apostle says, while still living on earth they have their homeland in heaven (Phil 3:20). They already possess in their fragile flesh here in this life that which the saints are promised to possess in the future when they have left their carnal corruptibility behind.

   VI. Et reuera cum in omnibus uirtutum profectibus et cunctorum expugnatione uitiorum Domini sit gratia atque uictoria, in hoc praecipue peculiare beneficium Dei ac speciale donum et patrum sententia et experimento purgationis ipsius manifestissime declaratur his, qui eam meruerint possidere. Quodammodo enim exire de carne est in corpore commorantem et ultra naturam est, fragili carne circumdatum carnis aculeos non sentire. Et idcirco inpossibile est hominem suis ut ita dixerim pinnis ad tam praecelsum caelesteque praemium subuolare, nisi cum gratia Domini de terrae caeno munere castitatis eduxerit. Nulla etenim uirtute tam proprie carnales homines spiritalibus angelis imitatione conuersationis aequantur quam merito et gratia castitatis, per quam adhuc in terra degentes habent secundum Apostolum municipatum in caelis, quod deposita corruptela carnali habituros sanctos promittitur in futurum, hic iam in carne fragili possidentes.



CHAPTER 7. An Example from Worldy Games, According to the Apostle’s Words

CAPUT VII. Exemplum de agone mundiali, secundum sermonem Apostoli.



7.1. HEAR what the Apostle says: “Everyone who enters a contest abstains from all things(1 Cor 9:25). Let us inquire what are “these things” that he mentions so as to acquire instruction for spiritual combat comparable to the carnal combat (see Inst. 5.12). For those who desire to struggle according to the rules in this visible contest do not have the freedom to use just any foods that appetite might suggest, but only those laid down as the training regime for those battles. Not only must they abstain from forbidden foods and all drunkenness and tippling, but also from inertia, idleness and ennui so as to increase their strength by daily exercise and assiduous concentration.

   VII. Audi quid dicat Apostolus : Omnis qui in agone contendit ab omnibus se abstinet. A quibus omnibus dixerit inquiramus, ut possit nobis spiritalis agonis instructio conparatione carnalis adquiri. Illi etenim, qui in hoc agone uisibili student legitime decertare, utendi omnibus escis quas desiderii libido suggesserit non habent facultatem, sed illis tantum quas eorundem certaminum statuit disciplina. Et non solum interdictis escis et ebrietate omnique crapula eos necesse est abstinere, uerum etiam cuncta inertia et otio atque desidia, ut cotidianis exercitiis iugique meditatione uirtus eorum possit adcrescere.

7.2. They are so removed from every care and sadness and business affair, and even affection and conjugal duty, that they know nothing beyond the exercise of discipline. They are completely freed from all worldly care, only hoping to acquire from him who presides at the games the substance of daily food, the crown of glory and prizes worthy of their victory. They guard themselves to such a degree from carnal pollution when they are preparing for the games that they cover their loins with leadfoil so that. the cool metal on their privates might inhibit obscene humors. Otherwise their hard-earned strength might be dissipated by nocturnal delu­sions. No doubt they understand that they will be defeated if a false image of harmful phantasm corrupts the strength produced through continence; nor will they be able to bring off the struggle they have undertaken with their strength gone.

 2. Et ita omni sollicitudine ac tristitia negotiisque saecularibus, affectu etiam et opere coniugali efficiuntur alieni, ut praeter exercitium disciplinae nihil aliud nouerint nec ulli mundiali curae penitus inplicentur, ab eo tantum qui certamini praesidet sperantes cotidiani uictus substantiam et coronae gloriam condignaque praemia uictoriae laude conquirere. Atque in tantum se mundos ab omni coitus pollutione custodiunt, ut, cum se praeparant agonum certamini, ne qua forsitan per somnum noctura delusi fallacia uires minuant multo tempore conquisitas, lamminis plumbeis renium contegant loca, quo scilicet metalli rigor genitalibus membris adplicitus obscenos umores ualeat inhibere, intellegentes se procul dubio esse uincendos nec iam posse propositum certamen demptis uiribus adinplere, si prouisam pudicitiae soliditatem fallax noxiae uoluptatis imago corruperit.



CHAPTER 8. A Comparison with the Purity of those who are About to Compete in Worldly Contests

CAPUT VIII. De comparatione purificationis eorum qui in terreno agone certamen habituri sunt.



8. THEREFORE, if we know all about the discipline for the worldly fight, an example the Apostle wishes us to learn so as to teach us how much concentration, diligence and care goes into it, what ought we do, with what purity ought we guard the chastity of our mind and body, we who must daily eat the sacred flesh of the Lamb, which even the Old Law prohibited anyone unclean to touch! For in Leviticus (7:19-20 LXX) it is laid down: “Everyone pure will eat meat. But if anyone in whom there is uncleanness eats of the meat of the saving sacrifice which is the Lord’s, that one will perish before the Lord.” How great is the boon of integrity, without which even those who were under the Old Law were not able to participate in the typical sacrifices, and without which those who wish to gain a corruptible crown in this world cannot be crowned.

   VIII. Itaque si agonis mundialis intelleximus disciplinam, cuius exemplo beatus Apostolus nos uoluit erudire, docens quanta in illa sit obseruatio, quanta diligentia, quanta custodia, quid nos conueniet facere, qua puritate oportebit custodire nostri corporis atque animae castitatem, quos necesse est cotidie sacrosanctis agni carnibus uesci, quas neminem inmundum contingere etiam ueteris legis praecepta permittunt? In Leuitico namque ita praecipitur : Omnis mundus manducabit carnes. Et anima quaecumque comederit de carnibus sacrificii salutaris quod est Domini, in qua est inmunditia, peribit coram Domino. Quantum est igitur integritatis munus, sine qua et illi, qui erant sub ueteri testamento, sacrificiis typicis non poterant interesse, et qui mundi huius corruptibilem coronam cupiunt adipisci, nequeunt coronari.



The Interior Contest for Purity of Heart

§ 9-12



CHAPTER 9. What purity of heart we should always show before the eyes of God.

CAPUT IX. Quantam semper cordis puritatem parare coram Dei oculis debeamus.



9. IT is first of all necessary to purify carefully the hidden recesses of our heart. For that which we desire to gain by bodily purity we must possess in the depths of our conscience, where the Lord resides as judge and superintendent of the games (see Conf. 7.20) He carefully observes how we run and fight. Thus those things which we are loathe to admit in the open will not even take shape in our interior and we will not even be soiled by any secret connivance. For although it might escape the notice of men, it cannot lie hidden from the knowledge of Almighty God and the holy angels, from whom no secret is hidden.

   VIIII. Itaque omni custodia cordis nostri sunt latebrae primitus expiandae. Quod enim illi in corporis puritate cupiunt adsequi, nos debemus etiam in arcanis conscientiae possidere, in qua Dominus arbiter atque agonotheta residens pugnam cursus et certaminis nostri iugiter spectat, ut ea, quae in propatulo horremus admittere, ne intrinsecus quidem coalescere incauta cogitatione patiamur, et in quibus humana cognitione confundimur, ne occulta quidem coniuentia polluamur. Quae licet possit hominum praeterire notitiam, sanctorum tamen angelorum ipsiusque omnipotentis Dei scientiam, quam nulla subterfugiunt secreta, latere non poterit.



CHAPTER 10. What is the sign of perfect and Integral Purity?

CAPUT X. Quod sit indicium perfectae et integrae puritatis.



10. IT will be an evident sign and full proof of our purity if no lewd image comes to us when we are plunged in sleep. If there be any disturbance, it will still not excite movements of concupiscence. Although such a disturbance may not be thought to bring about the full harm of sin, nevertheless it is a sign of a mind that is not yet perfect and a manifestation of vice that is not yet purified, since illusion is produced by these deceptive images.

   X. Cuius puritatis hoc erit euidens indicium ac plena probatio, si uel nulla imago inliciens quietis nobis et in soporem laxatis occurrat, uel certe interpellans nullos concupiscentiae motus ualeat excitare. Licet enim ad plenam peccati noxam talis commotio minime reputetur, tamen necdum perfectae mentis indicium est nec ad purum excocti uitii manifestatio, cum per fallaces imagines huiusmodi operatur inlusio.



CHAPTER 11. From which Vice Nocturnal Illusions Proceed

CAPUT XI. Quo vitio illusio nocturna procedat.



11. THE quality of the thoughts, which are guarded negligently during the day because of distractions, is tested during the night rest. When such a fantasy occurs, it ought not to be thought a fault of sleep, but rather due to some negligence of the preceding time. It is a manifestation of a hidden interior fault, and not really produced by the hour of the night. Though it has lain hidden in the depths of the soul, sleep brings it to the surface. Repose reveals the hidden fever of passion which we have been stoking all day with harmful thoughts. Likewise, bodily sicknesses are not thought to be caused at the time they emerge, but contracted previously when the person imprudent­ly ate harmful food and so took on harmful and lethal humors.

   XI. Qualitas enim cogitationum, quae distentionibus diei neglegentius custoditur, probatur quiete nocturna. Et idcirco cum intercesserit aliqua talis inlusio, non culpa somni credenda est, sed neglegentia temporis praecedentis et manifestatio morbi latentis intrinsecus, quem non primitus noctis hora parturiit, sed intimis animae reconditum fibris ad cutis superficiem somni refectione produxit, arguens occultas aestuum febres, quas per totum diei spatium noxiis cogitationibus pasti contraximus : ut solent malae quoque ualitudines corporum non ea colligi tempestate in qua uidentur emergere, sed neglegentia sunt praeteriti temporis adquisitae, quo pastus quis inprudenter escis contrariis noxios umores sibimet letalesque contraxit.



CHAPTER 12. That purity of the Flesh Cannot be Obtained without Cleanliness of the Heart

CAPUT XII. Quod carnis puritas sine munditia cordis nequeat obtineri.



12. GOD, the creator and founder of the human race, knew better than anyone the nature of his handiwork and the means to correct it. He applied the medicinal cure to what he knew to be the principal cause of the malady, saying, ‘Whoever looks at a woman with evil intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28). Although he notes wanton eyes, he does not blame them as much as that interior sense which employs them for evil looking. For the heart is sick and wounded by the weapon of lust. It gazes with desire, twisting the gift of sight given to it by the creator for right use to the service of evil works by its own vice. When a spectacle presents itself, it must call forth the evil of concupiscence hidden in itself. This is the reason why this salutary command is enjoined on one whose evil and vicious malady results from the occasion of seeing something. For we are not told to guard our eyes as if they must be guarded as the source of our lustful affections. The eyes perform nothing more than the simple service of vision. Rather it says: “Guard your heart with all vigilance,” (Prov 4:23 LXX) since the remedy is imposed on that which can especially abuse the function of the eyes.

   XII. Ideoque humani generis creator et conditor Deus, opificii sui naturam prae omnibus emendationemque cognoscens, illic curam adhibuit medicinae, unde causas morbi principaliter nouerat emanare quicumque, inquiens, uiderit mulierem ad concupiscendum eam, iam moechatus est eam in corde suo. Petulantes oculos notans non tam eos arguit quam illum interiorem sensum, qui officio eorum male utitur ad uidendum. Cor namque est aegrum et saucium libidinis telo quod ad concupiscendum uidet, beneficium intuitus recte sibimet a creatore concessum suo uitio ad operum prauorum ministeria contorquens et in semet ipso reconditum concupiscentiae morbum contemplationis occasione producens. Idcirco ergo huic praecipitur salutare mandatum, cuius uitio pessimus languor uisus occasione procedit. Non enim dicitur omni custodia serua tuos oculos, quos utique oportuit principaliter custodiri, si ex ipsis concupiscentiae prodiret affectus - nihil enim amplius oculi quam simplex animae praebent uisionis officium -, sed dicit : omni custodia serua tuum cor, illi potissimum inposita medicina, quod ubique abuti potest oculorum ministerio.



Note the Succession of Interior Fantasies

§ 13



CHAPTER 13. What the First Custodian of Fleshly Purgation is.

CAPUT XIII. Quae sit purgationis carnalis prima custodia.



13.1. THIS will be the first concern of the purgation: when the thought of the feminine sex first creeps up on our mind through the subtle suggestions of the crafty demon, beginning with the recollection of our mother, sisters, relatives or of certain pious women, we should hasten to drive it out of our inner being. If we were to linger over it, the tempter might take the occasion to make us gradually think of other women and so introduce evil thoughts. That is why we must carefully remember this precept: “Guard your heart with all vigilance.” We should observe according to God’s chief commandment the deadly head of the serpent. It is the principle of evil thoughts, by which the devil tries to creep into our soul. Nor should we negligently allow the rest of his body to penetrate into our heart, that is, by assenting to temptation. If allowed in, it will doubtless destroy the captive mind with its virulent bite.

   XIII. Haec igitur erit purgationis huius prima custodia, ut, cum menti nostrae memoria sexus feminei per subtilem suggestionem diabolicae calliditatis obrepserit, primum recordatione praemissa matris, sororum uel parentum seu certe feminarum sanctarum quantocius eam de nostris recessibus extrudere festinemus, ne, si fuerimus in ea diutius inmorati, occasionem sexus semel indeptus inlex malorum ad eas personas exinde subtiliter deuoluat ac praecipitet mentem, per quas noxias cogitationes possit inserere. Quamobrem illius praecepti iugiter meminisse debemus : omni custodia serua tuum cor, et secundum Dei principale mandatum sollicite serpentis obseruare noxium caput, id est cogitationum malarum principia, quibus serpere in animam nostram diabolus temptat, nec sinamus per neglegentiam penetrare in cor nostrum reliquum eius corpus, id est oblectationis adsensum, qui procul dubio, si fuerit intromissus, morsu uirulento mentem interimet captiuatam.

13.2. “In the morning” we must extinguish even “the sinners of our land” (Ps 100:8), that is, our carnal sins as they emerge. And while they are still small, “smash the sons of Babylon on a rock (Ps 136:9). Unless they are killed off, they will rise up full-grown to do us damage and that will be through our own complicity. Then they will surely not be conquered without great tribulation and labor. When a “strong, armed man,” that is, our spirit, “guards his house,” fortifying the exits in the fear of the Lord, “his goods are secure.” This refers to the fruit of his labor and the virtues he has acquired over a long time. “But if a stronger man comes and conquers him,” that is, the devil, who makes him think his way, “he will strip him of his arms in which he confides.” This means the memory of Scripture and the fear of God. “And he will divide his spoils,” destroying the merits of his virtues by certain contrary vices. (Lk 11:21-22)

 2. Emergentes etiam peccatores terrae nostrae, id est sensus carnales, in matutinis sui ortus nos oportet extinguere, et dum adhuc paruuli sunt adlidere filios Babylonis ad petram, qui nisi dum tenerrimi sunt fuerint enecati, adulti per coniuentiam in perniciem nostram ualidiores insurgent aut certe non sine magno gemitu ac labore uincentur. Dum enim fortis, spiritus scilicet noster, domum suam custodit armatus, recessus cordis sui Dei timore communiens, in pace erit omnis substantia eius, id est emolumenta laborum ac uirtutes longo tempore conquisitae. Si autem fortior superueniens uicerit eum, id est diabolus cogitationum consensu, arma eius diripiet, in quibus confidebat, id est memoriam scripturarum uel timorem Dei, et spolia eius diuidet, uirtutum scilicet merita per contraria uitia quaeque dispergens.



Praise of Chastity from Different Sources

§ 14-19



CHAPTER 14. That we should not strive to praise chastity but rather to explain its effects.

CAPUT XIV. Quod non laudem studeamus texere castitatis, sed effectum ejus exponere.



14. IT is not my purpose here to sing the praises of chastity, but rather to explain by means of the elders its qualities, how it can be acquired and preserved, and what its purpose is. Therefore, passing over all that is found in Scripture in praise of this virtue, I will offer only one saying of the Blessed Apostle, from the Letter to the Thessalonians, where it is evident how he prefers (chastity) to all other virtues, commending it with great nobility of style.

   XIIII. Et ut cuncta praeteream, quae in sanctis scripturis ob laudem uirtutis huius inserta sunt - non enim mihi propositum est laudem texere castitatis, sed de qualitate ipsius, uel quemadmodum adquiri et custodiri debeat quiue suit finis eius, patrum traditionibus explicare -, unam tantummodo ponam Apostoli beati sententiam, qua pateat qualiter illam Thessalonicensibus scribens uirtutibus praetulerit uniuersis, tali eam uerbi nobilitate commendans.



CHAPTER 15. That the virtue of chastity is specially described by the Apostle as “holiness”.

CAPUT XV. Quod specialiter castitatis virtus ab Apostolo sanctimonia nuncupetur.



15.1. “THIS is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Th 4:3). It is thought that sanctification can be acquired by the virtues of justice or charity or humility or patience. But rather than leave us in doubt what kind of sanctification he means, Paul  says: “This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from fornication. Each one of you must know how to honor and sanctify his vessel and not to give it over to passionate desire as do people who do not know God” (1 Th 4:3-5). See what praises he lavishes on our honorable vessel, that is, our body, and how he pursues its sanctification! On the contrary, those who give in to passionate desire find themselves in uncleanness and shame;  they are strangers to sanctification

   XV. Haec est, inquiens, uoluntas Dei, sanctificatio uestra. Et ne forte dubium nobis relinqueret uel obscurum, quidnam sanctificationem uoluerit appellare, utrum iustitiam an caritatem an humilitatem an patientiam - in omnibus enim istis uirtutibus creditur adquiri sanctificatio -, infert et manifeste designat, quid proprie sanctificationem uoluerit appellare : Haec est uoluntas Dei, sanctificatio uestra, ut abstineatis uos, inquit, a fornicatione, ut sciat unusquisque uestrum uas suum possidere in honore et sanctificatione, non in passione desiderii, sicut et gentes quae ignorant Deum. Vide quibus eam laudibus prosequatur, honorem uasis, id est corporis nostri, et sanctificationem appellans eam. Igitur e contrario, qui in passione desiderii est, in ignominia et inmunditia consistit et alienus a sanctificatione uersatur.

15.2. Thirdly, a little further on he adds something more on the subject of holiness: “God has not called us to immorality but to holiness. Therefore, he who rejects these things spurns not man but God, who also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit” ( 1 Th 4:7-8). He adds an inviolable authority to his precept by saying: “He who rejects these things,” that is, what I have just said about holiness, “spurns not man,” that is, he who commands this, “but God, who speaks in me.” He has also destined our hearts as the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. You see how simple and limpid are the words of esteem and praise he lavishes on this virtue, first of all by attributing to it sanctification in the proper sense; next, by claiming that the vessel of our body must be freed from uncleanness by it; third, that when the body has put aside shame and disgrace, it ought to remain in honor and holiness; finally, he claims that by means of this virtue the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, and that is the greatest of all rewards and happiness.

 2. Tertio quoque post pauca infert, rursus eam sanctimoniam pronuntians : Non enim uocauit nos Deus in ignominiam sed in sanctimoniam. Itaque qui haec spernit, non hominem spernit sed Deum, qui etiam dedit Spiritum suum sanctum in nobis. Auctoritatem praecepto suo inuiolabilem iunxit dicens : qui haec spernit, id est quae de sanctimonia praefatus sum, non hominem spernit, hoc est me qui haec praecipio, sed Deum, qui in me loquitur, qui etiam Spiritui suo sancto cor nostrum habitaculum deputauit. Cernis simplicibus uerbis ac puris quibus eam praeconiis quantisque extulerit laudibus, primum uirtuti huic sanctificationem proprie tribuendo, deinde per hanc adserens uas nostri corporis inmunditia liberandum, tertio, quod abiecta ignominia et contumelia in honore sit et sanctificatione mansurum : postremo, quae summa est perfecti praemii ac beatitudinis remuneratio, per hanc habitatorem pectoris nostri sanctum fore Spiritum designauit.



CHAPTER 16. Another testimony of the Apostle on the same holiness of chastity.

CAPUT XVI. De alio Apostoli testimonio super eadem sanctimonia.



16. ALTHOUGH we are approaching the end of this chapter, I will add yet another testimony from the Apostle like the one already given. Writing to the Hebrews about peace, he says: “Pursue it in all things, and holiness, without which no one will see God” (Heb 12:14). Here also he evidently is referring to that integrity of mind and purity of body which he normally associates with the holiness needed to see God. And he makes the same point when he explains: “Let no one be a fornicator and profaner like Esau” (Heb 12:16).

   XVI. Et licet ad finem libelli tendat oratio, aliud adhuc simile huic praeter promissum eiusdem apostoli testimonium ponam. Ad Hebraeos namque scribens pacem, inquit, sectamini cum omnibus, et sanctimoniam, sine qua nemo uidebit Deum. Hic quoque euidenter sine sanctimonia, quam solet integritatem mentis uel puritatem corporis appellare, pronuntiauit Deum penitus uideri non posse. Siquidem et hic similiter infert eundem sensum explanans : Ne quis fornicator aut profanus ut Esau.



CHAPTER 17. That hope for a more sublime reward should increase our concern for chastity.

CAPUT XVII. Quod spes sublimioris praemii debeat custodiam castitatis augere.



17. FURTHERMORE, the more sublime and heavenly the reward of chastity, the more severe the attacks of the enemy on it. Therefore, it is all the more incumbent on us to add contrition of heart, and not only bodily continence, to our fervent and tearful prayers. Thus the furnace of our flesh, which the Babylonian king does not cease to stoke with carnal suggestions, may be quenched by the dew of the Holy Spirit descending into our hearts.

   XVII. Itaque quantum sublime caelesteque est praemium castitatis, tanto grauioribus aduersariorum insidiis lacessitur. Et idcirco propensius nobis est non solum continentia corporis, uerum etiam contritio cordis adsiduis orationum gemitibus adhibenda, ut clibanus carnis nostrae, quem rex Babylonius incentiuis suggestionum carnalium succendere non desistit, descendente in corda nostra rore sancti Spiritus extinguatur.



CHAPTER 18. That, just as chastity cannot be obtained without humility, so without chastity knowledge [cannot be obtained]

CAPUT XVIII. Quod, sicut absque humilitate castitas obtinere non potest, ita sine castitate scientia.



18. JUST as our elders state that

   XVIII. Vt enim hanc seniores aiunt

[1] chastity cannot be attained before the foundations of humility are laid in our hearts,

adprehendi non posse, nisi prius humilitatis in corde fundamenta fuerint conlocata,

[2] likewise they claim that one cannot reach the source of true knowledge as long as the root of this vice remains in the deep recesses of our hearts.

ita ne ad fontem quidem uerae scientiae perueniri posse definiunt, donec penetralibus animae nostrae radix uitii huius insederit,

And [:]


[1] while integrity can be attained without true knowledge,

possibile quidem esse integritatem sine scientiae gratia repperiri,

[2] spiritual knowledge cannot be had without integral chastity.

inpossibile uero scientiam spiritalem sine integritatis castimonia possideri,

For the gifts of the Spirit are diverse and a grace of the Holy Spirit is not given except to those who make themselves worthy and fit for it by effort and striving. Finally, although the apostles are believed to have possessed the virtue of perfect integrity, still this gift abounded more in Paul because he prepared himself for it by clever study and industry.

quia et diuersa sunt dona et non omnibus una gratia Spiritus sancti tribuitur, sed ad quam se unusquisque studio uel industria sua dignum aptumque praebuerit. Denique cum in omnibus apostolis sanctis uirtus integritatis perfecta fuisse credatur, abundantius tamen scientiae donum exuberauit in Paulo, quia se ad hanc aptum sollerti studio atque industria praeparauit.



CHAPTER 19. A Saying of the Holy Bishop Basil concerning the quality of his virginity.

CAPUT XIX. Sententia sancti episcopi Basilii de qualitate virginitatis suae.



19. THE following severe saying is reported of St. Basil, the Bishop of Caesarea: “I know not woman and yet I am not a virgin.” By this he means that bodily purity consists not so much in foreswearing women but in integrity of heart. For it maintains a perpetual incorrupt holiness of heart whether from the fear of God or from love of purity.

   XVIIII. Fertur sancti Basilii Caesariensis episcopi districta sententia : et mulierem, inquit, ignoro, et uirgo non sum. In tantum intellexit incorruptionem carnis non tam in mulieris esse abstinentia quam in integritate cordis, quae uere incorruptam perpetuo sanctimoniam corporis uel timore Dei uel castitatis amore custodit.



The Body as Indicator of Inward Chastity

§ 20-23



CHAPTER 20. What is the [final] end of true integrity and purity.

CAPUT XX. Qui finis verae integritatis ac puritatis sit



20. THEREFORE, this is the goal of integrity and its perfect proof: that no movement of the flesh creeps up on us while asleep, and that while unconscious we have no impure emissions [except those?] to which nature is subject. While it is beyond nature to avoid these completely and definitively, it is proper to exalted virtue to restrict them to the least frequent and naturally inevitable cases, which for a monk would occur every two months. But we have stated this according to our own experience and not according to the teaching of the elders, who judge that the periods of cessation stated here are still too short. We are afraid that if we expound this as we heard it from them, we might be thought, by those who have experienced a lesser purity due to negligence and less effort, to have described the impossible and the incredible.

   XX. Itaque hic est integritatis finis ac perfecta probatio, si quiescentibus nobis titillatio uoluptatis nulla subrepserit ac pro necessitate naturae nobis inconsciis concretiones egerantur obscenae. Quas sicut abscidere per omnia et in perpetuum amputare supra naturam est, ita reuocare ad ineuitabilem rarissimamque naturae necessitatem summae uirtutis est, quae pulsare monachum duobus interpositis mensibus solet. Quod tamen dictum sit secundum nostram experientiam, non secundum sententiam seniorum, a quibus etiam hae memorati temporis indutiae admodum iudicabantur angustae, ne, si hoc modo quo ab ipsis percepimus uoluerimus exponere, his forte, qui pro neglegentia sua uel remissiore studio puritatem hanc minus experti sunt, incredibilia uel inpossibilia descripsisse credamur.



CHAPTER 21. How it is possible to retain the state of perfect purity.

CAPUT XXI. Quemadmodum perfectae puritatis statum retinere possimus.



21. WE can maintain this condition continually and never  exceed the natural time-limit set down above if we recall that God is not only the observer of our secret actions but also of our thoughts day and night; we must render him an account for everything that transpires in our heart as well as for our works and acts.

   XXI. Quem statum ita tenere perpetuo poterimus ac numquam naturalem modum nec tempus excedere superius conprehensum, si Deum non solum secretorum actuum nostrorum, uerum etiam cogitationum cunctarum diurnum pariter nocturnumque inspectorem esse et conscium cogitemus, ac pro omnibus quae in nostro corde uersantur, sicut pro factis et operibus nostris, rationem nos ei reddituros esse credamus.



CHAPTER 22. To what point may the integrity of our body be brought, and what is the indication of a purified mind

CAPUT XXII. usque ad quem modum possit integritas corporis nostri perduci, vel quod indicium sit ad purum mentis excoctae.



22. THEREFORE we must struggle to attain this point and we must battle against the movements of the mind and the urgings of the flesh to such a degree that the flesh satisfies its natural demands without arousing desire and can rid itself of superfluous humors without any harmful prurience and without necessitating a struggle for chastity. Otherwise, the mind will know that it has not yet attained perfect chastity since it is still subject to fantasies in sleep.

   XXII. Huc usque igitur festinandum est nobis et eo usque aduersus animae motus uel carnis incentiua pugnandum, donec ista carnis condicio necessitatem naturae expleat, non suscitet uoluptatem, concretam exuberantiam sine ullo pruritu noxaque propellens, non pugnam suscitans castitati. Ceterum mens, dum adhuc dormiens imaginum uisione deluditur, nouerit se necdum ad integram perfectionem castitatis excoctam.



CHAPTER 23. The remedy by which perfect purity of our heart and  body may be maintained

CAPUT XXIII. Remedia curationis, quibus perfecta possit cordis et corporis nostri puritas permanere.



23. THEREFORE, we must always maintain a balanced and moderate fast, so that these delusions not even come upon us while asleep. For whoever exceeds the proper measure of fasting will then also need an immoderate relaxation. Whoever is subject to these ups and downs will doubtless not attain that very even state of tranquility, whether from too little or too much food. Finally, we need to have profound humility and a constantly patient heart, and we also must remain cautious against anger and other passions. For when anger burns, the fire of passion will penetrate us as well. But above all, we must remain vigilant during the night. For just as daytime purity and watchfulness prepare us for nighttime chastity, likewise nightly vigils provide a solid and strong basis for our hearts in their daytime watchfulness.

   XXIII. Igitur ut inlusiones hae ne dormientibus quidem nobis subrepere ualeant, aequale moderatumque est semper tenendum ieiunium. Quisquis enim mensuram districtionis excesserit, necesse est ut modum quoque remissionis excedat. Qua inaequalitate detentus ab hoc tranquillitatis planissimo statu sine dubio reuocabitur, nunc quidem nimia inanitate defectus, nunc autem cibo propensiore distentus. Cum inmutatione siquidem refectionis qualitatem quoque puritatis nostrae necesse est inmutari. Deinde iugis humilitas ac patientia cordis adhibenda perpetuo est atque intenta aduersus iram uel ceteras passiones per diem cautio. Vbi enim furoris insidet uirus, libidinis quoque necesse est incendium penetrare. Ante omnia uero peruigil necessaria est sollicitudo nocturna. Nam sicut puritas et custodia diei nocturnam praeparant castitatem, ita nocturnae uigiliae cordi pariter et obseruationi diurnae statum solidissimum roburque praemittunt.






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