Cassian, CONFERENCE 18:
Conference of Abba Piamun


 St. Bruno Enters the Carthusians
 Belles Heures of John, Duke of Berry

 (tr. adapted. by L.Dysinger, O.S.B: based on  E.C.S. Gibson, , NPNF 2nd ser. , vol 11, pp. 435-445)




How we came to Diolcos and were received by Abbot Piamun.
Quemadmodum Diolcon venientes ab abbate Piammone recepti fuerimus.



AFTER visiting and conversing with those three Elders, whose Conferences we have at the instance of our brother Eucherius tried to describe, as we were still more ardently desirous to seek out the further parts of Egypt, in which a larger and more perfect company of saints dwelt, we came--urged not so much by the necessities of our journey as by the desire of visiting the saints who were dwelling there--to a village named Diolcos, lying on one of the seven mouths of the river Nile.

I.  Post conspectum atque conloquium trium illorum senum, quorum conlationes sancto fratre nostro Eucherio conpellente utcumque digessimus, cum etiam ulteriores Aegypti partes, in quibus amplior atque perfectior sanctorum numerus consistebat, maiore flagrantia desideraremus expetere, ad uicum, cui nomen est Diolcos, uni ex septem Nili fluminis ostiis inminentem, non tam itineris necessitate quam desiderio sanctorum illic commorantium conpellente peruenimus.

For when we heard of very many and very celebrated monasteries founded by the ancient fathers, like most eager merchants, at once we undertook the journey on an uncertain quest, urged on by the hope of greater gain. And when we wandered about there for some long time and fixed our curious eyes on those mountains of virtue conspicuous for their lofty height, the gaze of those around first singled out Abbot Piamun, the senior of all the anchorites living there and their presbyter, as if he were some tall lighthouse.

2. Cum enim uelut cupidissimi mercatores plurima illic celeberrimaque coenobia ab antiquis audissemus patribus instituta, continuo quasi nauigationem inquisitionis incertae spe maioris lucri persuadente suscepimus. Vbi cum diutissime fluctuantes ad illos uirtutum sublimitate conspicuos montes undique curiosos oculos tenderemus, abbatem Piamun, omnium anachoretarum illic inhabitantium seniorem eorundemque presbyterum uelut quandam sublimissimam pharum primus circumspectantium notauit intuitus.

For he was set on the top of a high mountain like that city in the gospel,  (Cf. S. Matt. 5:14) and at once shed his light on our faces, whose virtues and miracles, which were wrought by him under our very eyes, Divine Grace thus bearing witness to his excellence, if we are not to exceed the plan and limits of this volume, we feel we must pass over in silence. For we promised to commit to memory what we could recollect, not of the miracles of God, but of the institutes and pursuits of the saints, so as to supply our readers merely with necessary instruction for the perfect life, and not with matter for idle and useless admiration without any correction of their faults.

3. Hic etenim sicut euangelica illa ciuitas  in excelsi montis uertice constitutus nostro protinus refulsit aspectui. Cuius uirtutes atque mirabilia, quae per eum etiam sub conspectu nostro diuina gratia testimonium meritis eius reddente perfecta sunt, ne uel propositi nostri formam uel modum huius uoluminis excedamus, silentio praetermittenda credimus. Non enim de mirabilibus dei, sed de institutis studiisque sanctorum quaedam quae reminisci possibile est nos spopondimus memoriae tradituros, ut necessariam tantum perfectae uitae instructionem, non inutilem absque ulla emendatione uitiorum ac superuacuam admirationem legentibus praeberemus.

And so when Abbot Piamun had received us with welcome, and had refreshed us with becoming kindness, as he understood that we were not of the same country, he first asked us anxiously whence or why we had visited Egypt, and when he discovered that we had come thither from a monastery in Syria out of desire for perfection he began as follows: --

4. Cum itaque beatus Piamun summa nos gratulatione susceptos humanitate etiam congrua refecisset, intellegens nos non eiusdem esse regionis, primum unde uel cur Aegyptum petissemus sollicite percontatus ac de coenobio Syriae ob desiderium perfectionis nos illo aduenisse cognoscens ita exorsus est.







The words of Abbot Piamun, how monks who were novices ought to be taught by the example of their elders.
 Quomodo rudes monachi exemplo seniorum debeant erudiri.



WHATEVER man, my children, is desirous to attain skill in any art, unless he gives himself up with the utmost pains and carefulness to the study of that system which he is anxious to learn, and observes the rules and orders of the best masters of that work or science, is indulging in a vain hope to reach by idle wishes any similarity to those whose pains and diligence he avoids copying.

II.  Quisque hominum, o filii, cuiuslibet artis peritiam adsequi concupiscit, nisi omni cura atque uigilantia eius se quam nosse desiderat disciplinae studiis manciparit ac perfectissimorum quorumque opificii ipsius uel scientiae magistrorum praecepta atque instituta seruauerit, frustra inanibus uotis eorum similitudinem exoptat adtingere, quorum curam atque industriam detractat aemulari.

For we know that some have come from your country to these parts, only to go round the monasteries for the sake of getting to know the brethren, not meaning to adopt the rules and regulations, for the sake of which they travelled hither, nor to retire to the cells and aim at carrying out in action what they had learnt by sight or by teaching. And these people retained their character and pursuits to which they had grown accustomed, and, as is thrown in their teeth by some, are held to have changed their country not for the sake of their profit, but owing to the need of escaping want.

2. Nouimus enim nonnullos ita ad haec loca de uestris regionibus aduenisse, ut cognoscendi tantummodo gratia fratrum monasteria circumirent, non ut has regulas ob quas huc conmeauerant atque instituta susciperent ac secedentes in cellulis conarentur ea, quae uel uisu uel traditione perceperant, operibus experiri : qui mores suos ac studia quibus inbuti fuerant retentantes, ut eis exprobrari a nonnulis solet, non profectus sui gratia, sed uitandae egestatis necessitate existimati sunt prouincias conmutasse.

For in the obstinacy of their stubborn mind, they not only could learn nothing, but actually would not stay any longer in these parts. For if they changed neither their method of fasting, nor their scheme of Psalms, nor even the fashion of their garments, what else could we think that they were after in this country, except only the supply of their victuals.

3. Non solum enim nihil eruditionis adquirere, sed ne diutius quidem in his partibus conmorari pertinacis animi obstinatione potuerunt. Cum enim nec ieiuniorum morem neque psalmorum ordinem nec ipsorum denique indumentorum habitum permutassent, quid aliud in hac regione sectari quam sola uictus sui conpendia crederentur?



How the juniors ought not to discuss the orders of the seniors
CAPUT III. Quod juniores seniorum praecepta discutere non debeant.



WHEREFORE if, as we believe, the cause of God has drawn you to try to copy our knowledge, you must utterly ignore all the rules by which your early beginnings were trained, and must with all humility follow whatever you see our Elders do or teach. And do not be troubled or drawn away and diverted from imitating it, even if for the moment the cause or reason of any deed or action is not clear to you, because if men have good and simple ideas on all things and are anxious faithfully to copy whatever they see taught or done by their Elders, instead of discussing it, then the knowledge of all things will follow through experience of the work.

III. Quamobrem si uos quemadmodum credimus dei causa ad aemulationem nostrae agnitionis adtraxit, omnibus institutis, quibus illic primordia uestra praeuenta sunt, penitus abdicatis quaecumque seniores nostros agere uel tradere uideritis summa humilitate sectamini. Neque uos moueat aut ab imitatione diuertat ac retrahat, etiamsi uobis ad praesens alicuius rei uel facti ratio uel causa non liqueat, quia eos, qui bene de cunctis ac simpliciter sentiunt et uniuersa quae a senioribus tradi geriue perspexerint fideliter imitari magis quam discutere student, per operis experientiam etiam scientia rerum omnium subsequetur.

But he will never enter into the reason of the truth, who begins to learn by discussion, because as the enemy sees that he trusts to his own judgment rather than to that of the fathers’ he easily urges him on so far till those things which are especially useful and helpful seem to him unnecessary or injurious, and the crafty foe so plays upon his presumption, that by obstinately clinging to his own opinion he persuades himself that only that is holy, which he himself in his pig-headed error thinks to be good and right.

2. Ceterum numquam rationem ueritatis intrabit, quisquis a discussione coeperit erudiri, quia uidens eum inimicus suo potius quam patrum iudicio confidentem facile in id usque propellet, ut etiam illa quae maxime utilia atque saluberrima sunt superflua ei uideantur ac noxia, atque ita praesumptioni eius callidus hostis inludet, ut inrationabilibus definitionibus suis pertinaciter inhaerendo hoc solummodo sibi sanctum esse persuadeat, quod rectum atque iustissimum suae tantum obstinationis errore censuerit.

 CH4 Three Kinds of Monks




Of the three kinds of monks there are in Egypt.
CAPUT IV. De tribus generibus monachorum quae intra Aegyptum sunt.



WHEREFORE you should first hear how or whence the system and beginning of our order took its rise. For only then can a man at all effectually be trained in any art he may wish, and be urged on to practise it diligently, when he has learnt the glory of its authors and founders.

IIII. Quamobrem ordo atque principium professionis nostrae quemadmodum uel unde descenderit, primum debetis agnoscere. Tunc etenim poterit quis desideratae artis efficacius adsequi disciplinam et ad exercendam eam ardentius incitari, cum auctorum ac fundatorum eius agnouerit dignitatem.





There are three kinds of monks in Egypt,
of which two are admirable,
the third is a poor sort of thing and by all means to be avoided.

2. Tria sunt in Aegypto genera monachorum,

 quorum duo sunt optima,

tertium tepidum atque omnimodis euitandum.

[1] The first is that of the coenobites,
who live together in a congregation and are governed by the direction of a single Elder:

and of this kind there is the largest number of monks dwelling throughout the whole of Egypt.

Primum est coenobiotarum, qui scilicet in congregatione pariter consistentes unius senioris iudicio gubernantur :

cuius generis maximus numerus monachorum per uniuersam Aegyptum commoratur.

[2] The second is that of the anchorites,
who were first trained in the coenobium and then being made perfect in practical life chose the recesses of the desert: and in this order we also hope to gain a place.

Secundum anachoretarum, qui prius in coenobiis instituti iamque in actuali conuersatione perfecti solitudinis elegere secreta : cuius professionis nos quoque optamus esse participes.

[3] The third is the reprehensible one of the Sarabaites.

Tertium reprehensibile Sarabaitarum est.





And of these we will discourse more fully one by one in order. Of these three orders then you ought, as we said, first to know about the founders. For at once from this there may arise either a hatred for the order which is to be avoided, or a longing for that which is to be followed, because each way is sure to carry the man who follows it, to that end which its author and discoverer has reached.

3. De quibus singillatim per ordinem plenius disseremus. Harum igitur trium professionum ut diximus fundatores primum debetis agnoscere. Nam profecto ex hoc ipso uel odium professionis illius nasci poterit quae uitanda est uel eius desiderium quae sequenda, quia necesse est unamquamque uiam ad illum finem suum pertrahere sectatorem, ad quem auctor ipsius inuentorque peruenit.

c5 Cenobite Origins




Of the founders who originated the order of coenobites.
Quibus auctoribus coenobitarum sit instituta professio.



AND so the system of coenobites took its rise in the days of the preaching of the Apostles. For such was all that multitude of believers in Jerusalem, which is thus described in the Acts of the Apostles: “But the multitude of believers was of one heart and one soul, neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common. They sold their possessions and property and divided them to all, as any man had need.” And again: “For neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as possessed fields or houses, sold them and brought the price of the things that they sold and laid them before the feet of the Apostles: and distribution was made to every man as he had need.” (Acts 4:32; 2:45; 4:34, 35)

V. Itaque coenobiotarum disciplina a tempore praedicationis apostolicae sumpsit exordium. Nam talis extitit in Hierosolymis omnis illa credentium multitudo, quae in Actibus apostolorum ita describitur : Multitudinis autem credentium erat cor et anima una, nec quisquam eorum quae possidebat aliquid suum esse dicebat, sed erant illis omnia communia . Possessiones et substantias uendebant, et diuidebant ea omnibus prout cuique opus erat . Et iterum : Neque enim quisquam egens erat inter illos : quotquot enim possessores agrorum aut domorum erant, uendentes adferebant pretia eorum quae uendebant et ponebant ante pedes apostolorum ; diuidebatur autem singulis prout cuique opus erat .

The whole Church, I say, was then such as now are those few who can be found with difficulty in coenobia. But when at the death of the Apostles the multitude of believers began to wax cold, and especially that multitude which had come to the faith of Christ from diverse foreign nations, from whom the Apostles out of consideration for the infancy of their faith and their ingrained heathen habits, required nothing more than that they should “abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood,” (Acts 15:29) and so that liberty which was conceded to the Gentiles because of the weakness of their newly-born faith, had by degrees begun to mar the perfection of that Church which existed at Jerusalem, and the fervour of that early faith cooled down owing to the daily increasing number both of natives and foreigners, and not only those who had accepted the faith of Christ, but even those who were the leaders of the Church relaxed somewhat of that strictness.

2. Talis, inquam, erat tunc omnis ecclesia, quales nunc perpaucos in coenobiis inuenire difficile est. Sed cum apostolorum excessu tepescere coepisset credentium multitudo, ea uel maxime quae ad fidem Christi de alienigenis ac diuersis gentibus confluebat, a quibus apostoli pro ipsis fidei rudimentis et inueterata gentilitatis consuetudine nihil amplius expetebant nisi ut ab inmolaticiis idolorum et fornicatione et suffocatis et sanguine  temperarent, atque ista libertas quae gentibus propter infirmitatem primae credulitatis indulta est etiam illius ecclesiae perfectionem quae Hierosolymis consistebat paulatim contaminare coepisset, et crescente cotidie uel indigenarum numero uel aduenarum primae illius fidei refrigesceret feruor, non solum hi qui ad fidem Christi confluxerant, uerum etiam illi qui erant ecclesiae principes ab illa districtione laxati sunt.

For some fancying that what they saw permitted to the Gentiles because of their weakness, was also allowable for themselves, thought that they would suffer no loss if they followed the faith and confession of Christ keeping their property and possessions. But those who still maintained the fervour of the apostles, mindful of that former perfection left their cities and intercourse with those who thought that carelessness and a laxer life was permissible to themselves and the Church of God, and began to live in rural and more sequestered spots, and there, in private and on their own account, to practise those things which they had learnt to have been ordered by the apostles throughout the whole body of the Church in general: and so that whole system of which we have spoken grew up from those disciples who had separated themselves from the evil that was spreading.

3. Nonnulli enim, existimantes id quod uidebant gentibus pro infirmitate concessum sibi etiam licitum, nihil se detrimenti perpeti crediderunt, si cum substantiis ac facultatibus suis fidem Christi confessionemque sequerentur. Hi autem quibus adhuc apostolicus inerat feruor, memores illius pristinae perfectionis, discedentes a ciuitatibus suis illorumque consortio, qui sibi uel ecclesiae dei remissioris uitae neglegentiam licitam esse credebant, in locis suburbanis ac secretioribus conmanere et ea, quae ab apostolis per uniuersum corpus ecclesiae generaliter meminerant instituta, priuatim ac peculiariter exercere coeperunt : atque ita coaluit ista quam diximus discipulorum qui se ab illorum contagio sequestrauerant disciplina.

And these, as by degrees time went on, were separated from the great mass of believers and because they abstained from marriage and cut themselves off from intercourse with their kinsmen and the life of this world, were termed monks or solitaries from the strictness of their lonely and solitary life. Whence it followed that from their common life they were called coenobites and their cells and lodgings coenobia. That then alone was the earliest kind of monks, which is first not only in time but also in grace, and which continued unbroken for a very long period up to the time of Abbot Paul and Antony; and even to this day we see its traces remaining in strict coenobia.

4. Qui paulatim tempore procedente segregati a credentium turbis ab eo, quod a coniugiis abstinerent et a parentum se consortio mundique istius conuersatione secernerent, monachi siue ŚŹŤ÷‡ŹŤ’†¦ a singularis ac solitariae uitae districtione nominati sunt. Vnde consequens fuit ut ex communione consortii coenobiotae cellaeque ac diuersoria eorum coenobia uocarentur. Istud ergo solummodo fuit antiquissimum monachorum genus, quod non solum tempore, sed etiam gratia primum est quodque per annos plurimos inuiolabile usque ad abbatis Pauli uel Antoni durauit aetatem : cuius etiam nunc adhuc in districtis coenobiis cernimus residere uestigia.

 c6 Anchorite Origins




Of the system of the Anchorites and its beginning
De anachoretarum ordine ac principio.



OUT of this number of the perfect, and, if I may use the expression, this most fruitful root of saints, were produced afterwards the flowers and fruits of the anchorites as well. And of this order we have heard that the originators were those whom we mentioned just now; viz., Saint Paul and Antony, men who frequented the recesses of the desert, not as some from faintheartedness, and the evil of impatience, but from a desire for loftier heights of perfection and divine contemplation, although the former of them is said to have found his way to the desert by reason of necessity, while during the time of persecution he was avoiding the plots of his neighbours.

VI. De hoc perfectorum numero et ut ita dixerim fecundissima radice sanctorum etiam anachoretarum post haec flores fructusque prolati sunt. Cuius professionis principes hos quos paulo ante commemorauimus, sanctum scilicet Paulum uel Antonium, nouimus extitisse : qui non ut quidam pusillanimitatis causa nec inpatientiae morbo, sed desiderio sublimioris profectus contemplationisque diuinae solitudinis secreta sectati sunt, licet eorum prior necessitatis obtentu, dum tempore persecutionis adfinium suorum deuitat insidias, heremum penetrasse dicatur.

So then there sprang from that system of which we have spoken another sort of perfection, whose followers are rightly termed anchorites; i.e., withdrawers, because, being by no means satisfied with that victory whereby they had trodden under foot the hidden snares of the devil, while still living among men, they were eager to fight with the devils in open conflict, and a straightforward battle, and so feared not to penetrate the vast recesses of the desert, imitating, to wit, John the Baptist, who passed all his life in the desert, and Elijah and Elisha and those of whom the Apostle speaks as follows: “They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted, of whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts, in mountains and in dens and in caves of the earth.”

2. Ita ergo processit ex illa qua diximus disciplina alius perfectionis genus, cuius sectatores anachoretae id est secessores merito nuncupantur, eo quod nequaquam contenti hac uictoria, qua inter homines occultas insidias diaboli calcauerunt, aperto certamine ac manifesto conflictu daemonibus congredi cupientes uastos heremi recessus penetrare non timeant, ad imitationem scilicet Iohannis Baptistae, qui in heremo tota aetate permansit, Heliae quoque et Helisaei atque illorum de quibus apostolus ita memorat : Circumierunt in melotis et in pellibus caprinis angustiati, adflicti, egentes, quibus dignus non erat mundus, in solitudinibus errantes et montibus et speluncis et in cauernis terrae .

Of whom too the Lord speaks figuratively to Job: “But who hath sent out the wild ass free, and who hath loosed his bands? To whom I have given the wilderness for an house, and a barren land for his dwelling. He scorneth the multitude of the city and heareth not the cry of the driver; he looketh round about the mountains of his pasture, and seeketh for every green thing.” In the Psalms also: “Let now the redeemed of the Lord say, those whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;” and after a little: “They wandered in a wilderness in a place without water: they found not the way of a city of habitation. They were hungry and thirsty: their soul fainted in them. And they cried unto the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them out of their distress;”

3. De quibus etiam figuraliter dominus ad Iob : Quis autem est qui dimisit onagrum liberum, et uincula eius resoluit? Posui habitaculum eius desertum, et tabernacula eius salsuginem : inridens multitudinem ciuitatis, et querellam exactoris non audiens, considerabit montes pascuae suae, et post omne uiride quaerit . In Psalmis quoque : Dicant nunc qui redempti sunt a domino, quos redemit de manu inimici . Et post pauca : Errauerunt in solitudine in inaquoso. Viam ciuitatis habitaculi non inuenerunt, esurientes, et sitientes : anima eorum in ipsis defecit. Et clamauerunt ad dominum cum tribularentur : et de necessitatibus eorum liberauit eos .

whom Jeremiah too describes as follows: “Blessed is the man that hath borne the yoke from his youth. He shall sit solitary and hold his peace because he hath taken it up upon himself,” and there sing in heart and deed these words of the Psalmist: “I am become like a pelican in the wilderness. I watched and am become like a sparrow alone upon the house-top.” (Heb. 11:37, 38; Job 39:5-8; Ps. 106 (107):2, 4-6; Lam. 3:27, 28; Ps. 101 (102):7, 8)

4. Quos etiam Hieremias ita describit : Beatus qui tulit iugum ab adulescentia sua, sedebit solitarius et tacebit, quia leuauit super se. Quique illud Psalmistae adfectu et opere concinunt : Similis factus sum pellicano solitudinis. Vigilaui, et factus sum sicut passer solitarius in tecto.

C7 sarabaite Origins




Of the origin of the Sarabaites and their mode of life
De Sarabaitarum principio et conversatione.



AND while the Christian religion was rejoicing in these two orders of monks though this system had begun by degrees to deteriorate, there arose afterwards that disgusting and unfaithful kind of monks; or rather, that baleful plant revived and sprang up again which when it first shot up in the persons of Ananias and Sapphira in the early Church was cut off by the severity of the Apostle Peter--a kind which among monks has been for a long while considered detestable and execrable, and which was adopted by no one any more, so long as there remained stamped on the memory of the faithful the dread of that very severe sentence, in which the blessed Apostle not merely refused to allow the aforesaid originators of the novel crime to be cured by penitence or any amends, but actually destroyed that most dangerous germ by their speedy death.

VII. Cumque his duabus professionibus monachorum religio Christiana gauderet, coepisset autem in deterius paulatim hic quoque ordo reccidere, emersit post haec illud deterrimum et infidele monachorum genus uel potius noxia illa plantatio rediuiua concreuit, quae per Annaniam et Sapphiram in exordio ecclesiae pullulans apostoli Petri seueritate succisa est : quae inter monachos tamdiu detestabilis execrandaque iudicata est nec a quoquam ulterius usurpata, quamdiu illius tam districtae formido sententiae memoriae fidelium inserta durauit, qua beatus apostolus praedictos noui facinoris principes non paenitentia, non ulla passus est satisfactione curari, sed perniciosissimum germen celeri morte succidit.

When then that precedent, which was punished with Apostolical severity in the case of Ananias and Sapphira had by degrees faded from the minds of some, owing to long carelessness and forgetfulness from lapse of time, there arose the race of Sarabaites, who owing to the fact that they have broken away from the congregations of the coenobites and each look after their own affairs, are rightly named in the Egyptian language Sarabaites,   and these spring from the number of those, whom we have mentioned, who wanted to imitate rather than truly to aim at Evangelical perfection, urged thereto by rivalry or by the praises of those who preferred the complete poverty of Christ to all manner of riches.

2. Illo igitur exemplo, quod in Annaniam et Sapphiram apostolica districtione punitum est, a nonnullorum contemplatione paulatim longa incuria et temporis oblitteratione subtracto emersit istud Sarabaitarum genus, qui ab eo, quod semet ipsos a coenobiorum congregationibus sequestrarent ac singillatim suas curarent necessitates, Aegyptiae linguae proprietate Sarabaitae nuncupati sunt, de illorum quos praediximus numero procedentes, qui euangelicam perfectionem simulare potius quam in ueritate adripere maluerunt, aemulatione scilicet eorum uel laudibus prouocati, qui uniuersis diuitiis mundi perfectam Christi praeferunt nuditatem.

These then while in their feeble mind they make a pretence of the greatest goodness and are forced by necessity to join this order, while they are anxious to be reckoned by the name of monks without emulating their pursuits, in no sort of way practise discipline, or are subject to the will of the Elders, or, taught by their traditions, learn to govern their own wills or take up and properly learn any rule of sound discretion; but making their renunciation only as a public profession, i.e., before the face of men, either continue in their homes devoted to the same occupations as before, though dignified by this title, or building cells for themselves and calling them monasteries remain in them perfectly free and their own masters, never submitting to the precepts of the gospel, which forbid them to be busied with any anxiety for the day’s food, or troubles about domestic matters:

3. Hi igitur dum inbecillo animo rem summae uirtutis adfectant, uel necessitate ad hanc professionem uenire conpulsi dum censeri tantummodo nomine monachorum absque ulla studiorum aemulatione festinant, coenobiorum nullatenus expetunt disciplinam nec seniorum subduntur arbitrio aut eorum traditionibus instituti suas discunt uincere uoluntates nec ullam sanae discretionis regulam legitima eruditione suscipiunt, sed ad publicam tantummodo id est ad hominum faciem renuntiantes aut in suis domiciliis sub priuilegio huius nominis isdem obstricti occupationibus perseuerant, aut construentes sibi cellulas easque monasteria nuncupantes suo iure in eis ac libertate consistunt, nequaquam euangelicis praeceptionibus subcumbentes, ut nulla scilicet cotidiani uictus sollicitudine, nullis rei familiaris distentionibus occupentur .

commands which those alone fulfil with no unbelieving doubt, who have freed themselves from all the goods of this world and subjected themselves to the superiors of the coenobia so that they cannot admit that they are at all their own masters. But those who, as we said, shirk the severity of the monastery, and live two or three together in their cells, not satisfied to be under the charge and rule of an Abbot, but arranging chiefly for this; viz., that they may get rid of the yoke of the Elders and have liberty to carry out their wishes and go and wander where they will, and do what they like, these men are more taken up both day and night in daily business than those who live in the coenobia, but not with the same faith and purpose.

4. Quod illi soli absque ulla infideli dubitatione consummant, qui cunctis mundi huius facultatibus absoluti ita se coenobiorum praepositis subdiderunt, ut ne sui quidem ipsius fateantur esse se dominos. Illi autem qui districtionem ut diximus coenobii declinantes bini uel terni in cellulis commorantur, non contenti abbatis cura atque imperio gubernari, sed hoc praecipue procurantes, ut absoluti a seniorum iugo exercendi uoluntates suas ac procedendi uel quo placuerit euagandi agendiue quod libitum fuerit habeant libertatem, etiam amplius in operibus diurnis quam hi qui in coenobiis degunt diebus ac noctibus consumuntur, sed non ea fide eodemque proposito.

For these Sarabaites do it not to submit the fruits of their labours to the will of the steward, but to procure money to lay by. And see what a difference there is between them. For the others think nothing of the morrow, and offer to God the most acceptable fruits of their toil: while these extend their faithless anxiety not only to the morrow, but even to the space of many years, and so fancy that God is either false or impotent as He either could not or would not grant them the promised supply of food and clothing. The one seek this in all their prayers; viz., that they may gain akthmosunhn, i.e., the deprivation of all things, and lasting poverty: the other that they may secure a rich quantity of all sorts of supplies.

5. Hoc enim isti faciunt non ut fructum sui operis subiciant dispensatoris arbitrio, sed ut adquirant pecunias quas recondant. Inter quos quantum intersit aduertite. Illi nihil de crastino cogitantes gratissimos sudoris sui deo offerunt fructus, isti uero non solum in crastinum, sed etiam in multorum annorum spatia infidelem sollicitudinem prorogantes aut mendacem deum aut inopem credunt, qui promissam cotidiani uictus atque indumentorum sufficientiam praebere eis aut non possit aut nolit. Illi hoc omnibus expetunt uotis, ut akthmosunhn, id est nuditatem omnium rerum ac perpetuam possideant paupertatem, isti ut omnium copiarum afluentiam consequantur.

The one eagerly strive to go beyond the fixed rule of daily work that whatever is not wanted for the sacred purposes of the monastery, may be distributed at the will of the Abbot either among the prisons, or in the guest-chamber or in the infirmary or to the poor; the others that whatever the day’s gorge leaves over, may be useful for extravagant wants or else laid by through the sin of covetousness. Lastly, if we grant that what has been collected by them with no good design, may be disposed of in better ways than we have mentioned, yet not even thus do they rise to the merits of goodness and perfection.

6. Illi ob hoc certatim statutum transcendere canonem diurnis operibus elaborant, ut, quidquid monasterii sanctis usibus redundarit, uel carceribus uel xenodochio uel nosocomio uel indigentibus pro abbatis dispensetur arbitrio, isti ut, quidquid cotidianae superfuerit gulae, aut profusoriae proficiat uoluntati aut certe filargyriae uitio recondatur. Postremo ut concedamus ab istis quoque haec quae non optimo proposito congeruntur melius quam diximus posse distribui, nec sic quidem ad meritum uirtutis illius ac perfectionis adspirant.

For the others bring in such returns to the monastery, and daily report to them, and continue in such humility and subjection that they are deprived of their rights over what they gain by their own efforts, just as they are of their rights over themselves, as they constantly renew the fervour of their original act of renunciation, while they daily deprive themselves of the fruits of their labours: but these are puffed up by the fact that they are bestowing something on the poor, and daily fall headlong into sin. The one party are by patience and the strictness whereby they continue devoutly in the order which they have once embraced, so as never to fulfil their own will, crucified daily to this world and made living martyrs; the others are cast down into hell by the lukewarmness of their purpose.

7. Illi etenim tantos monasterio reditus conferentes eisque cotidie renuntiantes in tanta subiectionis humilitate perdurant, ut quemadmodum sui, ita etiam eorum quae proprio sudore conquirunt potestate priuentur, abrenuntiationis primae feruorem, dum cotidie semet ipsos laboris sui fructibus nudant, iugiter innouantes : isti autem in eo ipso quod aliquid pauperibus largiuntur elati in praeceps cotidie conlabuntur. Illos patientia atque districtio, qua sic deuote in hac quam semel adripuerunt professione perdurant, ut numquam suas expleant uoluntates, crucifixos huic mundo cotidie uiuosque martyras facit, hos arbitrii sui tepor ad inferna demergit.

These two sorts of monks then vie with each other in almost equal numbers in this province; but in other provinces, which the need of the Catholic faith compelled me to visit, we have found that this third class of Sarabaites flourishes and is almost the only one,

8. Haec igitur duo genera monachorum in hac quidem prouincia aequali propemodum inter se numerositate contendunt. Ceterum per alias prouincias, quas me necessitas catholicae fidei conpulit peragrare, istud tertium Sarabaitarum genus abundare ac prope solum esse cognouimus.

since in the time of Lucius who was a Bishop of Arian misbelief in the reign of Valens, while we carried alms (Diaconia. The word is used again by Cassian for almsgiving in Conf. XXI. i., viii., ix., and cf. Gregory the Great, Ep. xxii., and compare eis diakonian in Acts 11:29) to our brethren; viz., those from Egypt and the Thebaid, who had been consigned to the mines of Pontus and Armenia. Temporibus siquidem Luci, qui Arrianae perfidiae episcopus fuit, sub Valentis imperio, dum diaconiam nostris fratribus deferimus, his uidelicet qui de Aegypto ac Thebaida fuerant ob catholicae fidei perseuerantiam metallis Ponti atque Armeniae relegati,
  licet coenobiorum disciplinam in quibusdam ciuitatibus rarissimam uiderimus, anachoretarum tamen ne ipsum quidem apud illos nomen auditum fuisse conperimus.

c8 False Hermits




Of a fourth sort of monks.
[false hermits]
De quarto genere monachorum.



THERE is however another and a fourth kind, which we have lately seen springing up among those who flatter themselves with the appearance and form of anchorites, and who in their early days seem in a brief fervour to seek the perfection of the coenobium, but presently cool off, and, as they dislike to put an end to their former habits and faults, and are not satisfied to bear the yoke of humility and patience any longer, and scorn to be in subjection to the rule of the Elders, look out for separate cells and want to remain by themselves alone, that as they are provoked by nobody they may be regarded by men as patient, gentle, and humble: and, this arrangement, or rather this lukewarmness never suffers those, of whom it has once got hold, to approach to perfection.

VIII.  Sane est etiam aliud quartum genus, quod nuper cernimus emersisse in his qui anachoretarum sibi specie atque imagine blandiuntur quique in primordiis suis feruore quodam breui coenobii perfectionem uidentur expetere, sed continuo tepefacti, dum pristinos mores ac uitia resecare contemnunt nec iugum humilitatis ac patientiae diutius sustinere contenti sunt subdique seniorum imperio dedignantur, separatas expetunt cellas ac solitarie sedere desiderant, ut ita scilicet a nemine lacessiti patientes, mansueti uel humiles possint ab hominibus aestimari : quae institutio, immo tepor eos quos semel infecerit ad perfectionem numquam permittit accedere.

For in this way their faults are not merely not rooted up, but actually grow worse, while they are excited by no one, like some deadly and internal poison which the more it is concealed, so much the more deeply does it creep in and cause an incurable disease to the sick person. For out of respect for each man’s own cell no one ventures to reprove the faults of a solitary, which he would rather have ignored than cured. Moreover virtues are created not by hiding faults but by driving them out.

2. Hoc enim modo non solum non absciduntur, uerum etiam in deterius eorum uitia conualescunt, dum a nemine prouocata ut quoddam letale et intestinum uirus, quanto amplius celatum fuerit, tanto profundius serpens insanabilem morbum generat aegrotanti. Pro reuerentia enim singularis cellae nullus iam uitia solitarii audet arguere, quae ille ignorari maluit quam curari. Porro uirtutes non occultatione uitiorum, sed expugnatione pariuntur.



A question as to what is the difference between a coenobium and a monastery.
Interrogatio quid intersit inter coenobium et monasterium.





GERMANUS: Is there any distinction between a coenobium and a monastery, or is the same thing meant by either name?

VIIII. GERMANVS : Estne aliqua inter coenobium monasteriumque distantia, an utroque nomine res una censetur?



The answer.





PIAMUN: Although many people indifferently speak of monasteries instead of coenobia, yet there is this difference, that monastery is the title of the dwelling, and means nothing more than the place, i.e., the habitation of monks, while coenobium describes the character of the life and its system: and monastery may mean the dwelling of a single monk, while a coenobium cannot be spoken of except where dwells a united community of a large number of men living together. They are however termed monasteries in which groups of Sarabaites live.

X. PIAMVN : Licet a nonnullis soleant indifferenter monasteria pro coenobiis appellari, tamen hoc interest, quod monasterium nomen est diuersorii, nihil amplius quam locum, id est habitaculum significans monachorum, coenobium uero etiam professionis ipsius qualitatem disciplinamque designat. Et monasterium potest etiam unius monachi habitatio nominari, coenobium, nisi ubi plurimorum cohabitantium deget unita communio, non potest appellari. Dicuntur sane monasteria etiam in quibus Sarabaitarum collegia conmorantur.



Of true humility, and how Abbot Serapion exposed the mock humility of a certain man.
De vera humilitate et quomodo falsam cujusdam humilitatem prodiderit abbas Serapion.





WHEREFORE as I see that you have learnt the first principles of this life from the best sort of monks, i.e., that starting from the excellent school of the coenobium you are aiming at the lofty heights of the anchorite’s rule, you should with genuine feeling of heart pursue the virtue of humility and patience, which I doubt not that you learnt there; and not feign it, as some do, by mock humility in words, or by an artificial and unnecessary readiness for some duties of the body.

XI. Quamobrem quoniam de optimo genere monachorum uideo uos professionis huius arripuisse principia, id est de laudabili coenobiorum palaestra ad excelsa fastigia anachoreticae tendere disciplinae, humilitatis patientiaeque uirtutem, quam uos illic didicisse non dubito, uero sectamini cordis adfectu, non eam sicut quidam falsa humiliatione uerborum nec adfectata atque superflua in quibusdam officiis corporis inclinatione fingentes.

And this sham humility Abbot Serapion once laughed to scorn most capitally. For when one had come to him making a great display of his lowliness by his dress and words, and the old man urged him, after his custom, to “collect the prayer” he would not consent to his request, but debasing himself declared that he was involved in such crimes that he did not deserve even to breathe the air which is common to all, and refusing even the use of the mat preferred to sit down on the bare ground.

2. Quod humilitatis figmentum abbas Sarapion quodam tempore eleganter inrisit. Cum enim quidam ad eum summam sui abiectionem habitu ac uerbis praeferens aduenisset eumque senex secundum morem ut orationem colligeret hortaretur, ille nequaquam adnuens deprecanti tantis se subiciens adserebat flagitiis inuolutum, ut ne usum quidem huius communis ae¬ris capere mereretur, psiathii quoque ipsius refugiens sessionem humi potius insidebat.

But when he had shown still less inclination for the washing of the feet, then Abbot Serapion, when supper was finished, and the customary Conference gave him an opportunity, began kindly and gently to urge him not to roam with shifty lightmindedness over the whole world, idly and vaguely, especially as he was young and strong, but to keep to his cell in accordance with the rule of the Elders and to elect to be supported by his own efforts rather than by the bounty of others; which even the Apostle Paul would not allow, and though when he was labouring in the cause of the gospel this provision might lightly have been made for him, yet he preferred to work night and day, to provide daily food for himself and for those who were ministering to him and could not do the work with their own hands.

3. Cum uero ad ablutionem pedum multo minus praebuisset adsensum, tum abbas Sarapion refectione transacta conlationis consuetudine prouocante monere eum benigne ac leniter coepit, ne otiosus ac uagus, praesertim iuuenis tam robustus, instabili leuitate per uniuersa discurreret, sed ut in cella sedens secundum regulam seniorum suo potius opere quam aliena mallet munificentia sustentari. Quod ne apostolus Paulus  incideret et quidem cum ei in euangelio laboranti haec praebitio merito deberetur, diebus tamen ac noctibus maluit operari, ut cotidianum uictum uel sibi uel his qui eidem ministrantes opus exercere non poterant suis manibus praepararet.

Whereupon the other was filled with such vexation and disgust that he could not hide by his looks the annoyance which he felt in his heart. To whom the Elder: Thus far, my son, you have loaded yourself with the weight of all kinds of crimes, not fearing lest by the confession of such awful sins you bring a reproach upon your reputation; how is it then, I pray, that now, at our simple admonition, which involved no reproof, but simply showed a feeling for your edification and love, I see that you are moved with such disgust that you cannot hide it by your looks, or conceal it by an appearance of calmness? Perhaps while you were humiliating yourself, you were hoping to hear from our lips this saying: “The righteous man is the accuser of himself in the opening of his discourse”? (Prov. 18:17)

4. Ad haec ille tanta est tristitia ac dolore suppletus, ut amaritudinem corde conceptam ne uultu quidem dissimulare potuerit. Cui senex : Hactenus, inquit, o fili, cunctis te facinorum ponderibus onerabas, non metuens ne confessione tam atrocium criminum notam existimationis incurreres : quid quaeso nunc est, quod ad simplicem admonitiunculam nostram, quae tamen in se non modo nullum obprobrium, sed etiam aedificationis habuit ac dilectionis adfectum, tanta te uideo indignatione permotum, ut eam ne uultu quidem occulere aut frontis serenitate dissimulare potueris? An fortasse illam dum te humilias expectabas a nostro ore sententiam : Iustus accusator sui est in primordio sermonis?

Further, true humility of heart must be preserved, which comes not from an affected humbling of body and in word, but from an inward humbling of the soul: and this will only then shine forth with clear evidences of patience when a man does not boast about sins, which nobody will believe, but, when another insolently accuses him of them, thinks nothing of it, and when with gentle equanimity of spirit he puts up with wrongs offered to him.

5. Proinde est uera cordis humilitas retinenda, quae non de affectata corporis atque uerborum, sed de intima mentis humiliatione descendit : quae tunc demum euidentissimis patientiae suae fulgebit indiciis, cum quis non ipse de se crimina aliis non credenda iactauerit, sed ab alio sibimet adroganter ingesta contempserit et inrogatas sibi iniurias mansueta spiritus aequanimitate tolerarit.



A question how true patience can be gained.
Interrogatio, quemadmodum vera patientia possit acquiri.





GERMANUS: We should like to know how that calmness can be secured and maintained, that, as when silence is enjoined on us we shut the door of our mouth, and lay an embargo on speech, so also we may be able to preserve gentleness of heart, which sometimes even when the tongue is restrained loses its state of calmness within: and for this reason we think that the blessing of gentleness can only be preserved by one in a remote cell and solitary dwelling.

XII. GERMANVS : Quemadmodum adquiri uel retentari possit ista tranquillitas optamus agnoscere, ut, sicut indicto nobis silentio oris claustra praecludimus uerborumque licentiam cohercemus, ita etiam cordis lenitatem custodire possimus, quod nonnumquam etiam cum lingua refrenatur, intrinsecus tamen statum suae placiditatis amittit : et idcirco mansuetudinis bonum non alias tenere quempiam posse nisi remotione cellae ac solitario putamus habitaculo.



The answer.





PIAMUN: True patience and tranquillity is neither gained nor retained without profound humility of heart: and if it has sprung from this source, there will be no need either of the good offices of the cell or of the refuge of the desert. For it will seek no external support from anything, if it has the internal support of the virtue of humility, its mother and its guardian. But if we are disturbed when attacked by anyone it is clear that the foundations of humility have not been securely laid in us, and therefore at the outbreak even of a small storm, our whole edifice is shaken and ruinously disturbed. For patience would not be worthy of praise and admiration if it only preserved its purposed tranquillity when attacked by no darts of enemies, but it is grand and glorious because when the storms of temptation beat upon it, it remains unmoved

XIII. PIAMVN : Patientia uera atque tranquillitas absque profunda cordis humilitate nec adquiritur nec tenetur : quae si de hoc fonte descenderit, nec beneficio cellae nec perfugio solitudinis indigebit. Non enim patrocinium cuiusquam rei extrinsecus quaerit, quae humilitatis, id est generatricis atque custodis suae intrinsecus uirtute fulcitur. Ceterum si mouemur ab aliquo lacessiti, certum est non esse in nobis humilitatis fundamenta firmiter stabilita, et ideo ad incursum uel exiguae tempestatis aedificium  nostrum ruinosa commotione concutitur. Non enim esset laudabilis nec admiranda patientia, si nullis inimicorum iaculis inpetita tranquillitatis propositum retentaret, sed in eo est praeclara atque gloriosa, quod inruentibus in se temptationum procellis immobilis perseuerat.

. For wherein it is believed that a man is annoyed and hurt by adversity, therein is he strengthened the more; and he is therein the more exercised, wherein he is thought to be annoyed. For everybody knows that patience gets its name from the passions and endurance, and so it is clear that no one can be called patient but one who bears without annoyance all the indignities offered to him, and so it is not without reason that he is praised by Solomon: “Better is the patient man than the strong, and he who restrains his anger than he who takes a city;” and again: “For a long-suffering man is mighty in prudence, but a faint-hearted man is very foolish.” (Prov. 16:32; 14:29)

2. Nam in quo uexari frangique aduersitatibus creditur, in eo potius roboratur, et in eo magis acuitur, in quo putatur obtundi. A passionibus enim ac sustentatione patientiam dici nullus ignorat, ideoque constat patientem pronuntiari neminem posse nisi eum, qui uniuersa quae sibi fuerint inrogata absque indignatione tolerarit. Et ideo non inmerito a Salomone laudatur : Melior patiens forte, et qui continet iram capiente urbem , et iterum : longanimus enim uir nimius in prudentia, pusillanimus autem ualde insipiens est .

When then anyone is overcome by a wrong, and blazes up in a fire of anger, we should not hold that the bitterness of the insult offered to him is the cause of his sin, but rather the manifestation of secret weakness, in accordance with the parable of our Lord and Saviour which He spoke about the two houses, (Cf. S. Matt. 7:24, 59) one of which was founded upon a rock, and the other upon the sand, on both of which He says that the tempest of rain and waters and storm beat equally: but that one which was founded on the solid rock felt no harm at all from the violence of the shock, while that which was built on the shifting and moving sand at once collapsed. And it certainly appears that it fell, not because it was struck by the rush of the storms and torrents, but because it was imprudently built upon the sand.

3. Cum ergo quis uictus iniuria iracundiae igne succenditur, non causa peccati eius acerbitas inlatae contumeliae extitisse credenda est, sed potius manifestatio infirmitatis occultae, secundum illam parabolam domini saluatoris quam de duabus domibus ponit, una quae fundata erat super petram et alia quae super harenam . Quibus aequaliter dicit pluuiarum ac fluminum uel tempestatum turbines inruisse : sed illam quae in petrae soliditate fundata nihil penitus detrimenti ex illa tam uiolenta conlisione sensisse, quae uero in harenarum pendula mobilitate constructa est statim fuisse conlapsam. Quam utique apparet non propterea conruisse, quia imbrium uel torrentum inundatione pulsata, sed quia super harenam inprudenter extructa est.

For a saint does not differ from a sinner in this, that he is not himself tempted in the same way, but because he is not worsted even by a great assault, while the other is overcome even by a slight temptation. For the fortitude of any good man would not, as we said, be worthy of praise, if his victory was gained without his being tempted, as most certainly there is no room for victory where there is no struggle and conflict: for “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he has been proved he shall receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love Him.” (S. James 1:12)

4. Non enim in hoc differt a peccatore uir sanctus, quia non similiter et ipse temptetur, sed quia hic etiam magna inpugnatione non uincitur, ille autem etiam parua temptatione superatur. Neque enim esset ut diximus iusti alicuius uiri laudabilis fortitudo, si uinceret intemptatus, cum utique locum uictoria habere non possit absque aduersitate certaminum. Beatus enim uir qui suffert temptationem, quia cum probatus fuerit accipiet coronam uitae, quam repromisit deus diligentibus se .

According to the Apostle Paul also “Strength is made perfect” not in ease and delights but “in weakness.” “For behold,” says He, “I have made thee this day a fortified city, and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass, over all the land, to the kings of Judah, and to the princes thereof, and to the priests thereof, and to all the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee, and shall not prevail: for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.” (2 Cor. 12:9; Jer. 1:18, 19)

5. Secundum apostolum quoque Paulum uirtus non in otio atque deliciis, sed in infirmitate perficitur . Ecce enim, inquit, dedi te hodie in ciuitatem munitam, et in columnam ferream, et in murum aereum, super omnem terram, regibus Iuda, et principibus eius, et sacerdotibus eius, et omni populo terrae. Et bellabunt aduersum te, et non praeualebunt : quia ego tecum sum, ait dominus, ut eruam te.



Of the example of patience given by a certain religious woman.
De exemplo patientiae cujusdam religiosae feminae.





OF this patience then I want to give you at least two examples: one of a certain religious woman, who aimed at the virtue of patience so eagerly that she not only did not avoid the assaults of temptation, but actually made for herself occasions of trouble that she might not cease to be tried more often. For this woman as she was living at Alexandria and was born of no mean ancestors, and was serving the Lord religiously in the house which had been left to her by her parents, came to Athanasius the Bishop, of blessed memory, and entreated him to give her some other widow to support, who was being provided for at the expense of the Church.

XIIII. Huius ergo patientiae uolo uobis duo saltim exempla proponere : unum religiosae cuiusdam feminae, quae patientiae uirtutem tanta auiditate sectata est, ut non solum temptationum non uitaret incursus, sed etiam occasiones molestiarum sibimet procuraret, quibus frequentius instigata non cederet. Haec namque cum Alexandriae conmaneret essetque non obscuris orta maioribus atque in domo quae sibi fuerat a parentibus derelicta religiose domino deseruiret, ueniens ad beatae memoriae episcopum Athanasium precabatur, ut aliquam sibi alendam uiduam daret, quae ecclesiasticis sumptibus pascebatur.

And, to give her petition in her own words: “Give me,” she said, “one of the sisters to look after.” When then the Bishop had commended the woman’s purpose because he saw that she was very ready for a work of a mercy, he ordered a widow to be chosen out of the whole number, who was preferred to all the rest for the goodness of her character, and her grave and well-regulated life, for fear lest her wish to be liberal might be overcome by the fault of the recipient of her bounty, and she who sought gain out of the poor might be disgusted at her bad character and so suffer an injury to her faith.

2. Et ut petitionem eius uerbis ipsius exprimamus, da mihi, inquit, aliquam de sororibus quam repausem. Pontifex ergo cum laudasset propositum feminae, quod eam ad opus misericordiae uidisset esse promptissimam, iussit ex omnibus eligi uiduam quae et honestate morum et grauitate ac disciplina omnibus praeferretur, ne forte desiderium largitatis percipientis uitio uinceretur et quae mercedem quaereret in egena, prauis eius offensa moribus damnum fidei pateretur.

And when the woman was brought home, she ministered to her with all kinds of service, and found out her excellent modesty and gentleness, and saw that every minute she was honoured by thanks from her for her kind offices, and so after a few days she came back to the aforesaid Bishop, and said: I asked you to bid that a woman be given to me for me to support and to serve with obedient complaisance. And when he, not yet understanding the woman’s object and desire, thought that her petition had been neglected by the deceitfulness of the superior, and inquired not without some anger in his mind, what was the reason of the delay, at once he discovered that a widow who was better than all the rest had been assigned to her, and so he secretly gave orders that the one who was the worst of all should be given to her, the one, I mean, who surpassed in anger and quarrelling and wine-bibbing and talkativeness all who were under the power of these faults.

3. Cui cum domum abductae omnibus deseruiret obsequiis, uirtutem modestiae eius ac lenitatis experta uidensque se ab ipsa momentis singulis gratiarum actione pro officio humanitatis honorari, post dies paucos ad memoratum reuersa pontificem, rogaueram, inquit, ut mihi dari praeciperes quam ego reficerem et cui morigeris famularer obsequiis. Cumque ille necdum propositum feminae ac desiderium intellegens aestimasset petitionem eius dissimulatione praepositi fuisse neglectam, causasque morae illius non absque animi sui commotione perquirens protinus agnouisset honestiorem ei ceteris uiduam deputatam, occulte praecepit ut ea illi quae esset cunctis nequior traderetur, quae scilicet uel iracundia uel rixis uel uinolentia seu uerbositate cunctas quibus haec uitia dominarentur excederet.

And when she was only too easily found and given to her, she began to keep her at home, and to minister to her with the same care as to the former widow, or even more attentively, and this was all the thanks which she got from her for her services; viz., to be constantly tried by unworthy wrongs and continually annoyed by her by reproaches and upbraiding, as she complained of her, and chid her with spiteful and disparaging remarks, because she had asked for her from the Bishop not for her refreshment but rather for her torment and annoyance, and had taken her away from rest to labour instead of from labour to rest. When then her continual reproaches broke out so far that the wanton woman did not restrain herself from laying hands on her, the other only redoubled her services in still humbler offices, and learnt to overcome the vixen not by resisting her, but by subjecting herself still more humbly, so that, when provoked by all kinds of indignities, she might smooth down the madness of the shrew by gentleness and kindness.

4. Quam cum multo facilius inuentam sibique traditam domi habere coepisset atque eadem ei diligentia qua priori illi uiduae uel etiam studiosius ministraret, hoc solum ab ea pro tantis obsequiis recipiebat gratiae, ut indignis iugiter adficeretur iniuriis, conuiciis quoque ab ea exprobationibusque continuis uexaretur, obiciente ei et maledicis obtrectationibus increpante, eo quod eam non ad refrigerium, sed potius ad cruciatum et contumeliam ab episcopo poposcisset magisque se de requie ad laborem quam de labore transtulisset ad requiem. Cum ergo adsiduitas iurgiorum eo usque prorumperet, ut ne ab obiectione quidem manuum procax mulier temperaret, illa autem humilioris obsequii geminaret officia, non furentem uincere renitendo, sed semet ipsam humilius subiciendo discebat, ut multimodis indignitatibus lacessita iurgantis insaniam humanitatis mansuetudine deleniret.

And when she had been thoroughly strengthened by these exercises, and had attained the perfect virtue of the patience she had longed for, she came to the aforesaid Bishop to thank him for his decision and choice as well as for the blessing of her exercise, because he had at last as she wished provided her with a most worthy mistress for her patience, strengthened daily by whose constant annoyance as by some oil for wrestling, she had arrived at complete patience of mind; and, at last, said she, you have given me one to support, for the former one rather honoured and refreshed me by her services. This may be sufficient to have told about the female sex, that by this tale we may not only be edified, but even confounded, as we cannot maintain our patience unless we are like wild beasts removed in caves and cells.

5. Quibus ad plenum exercitiis confirmata perfectamque uirtutem desideratae patientiae consecuta ad memoratum pontificem tam pro electionis illius iudicio quam etiam pro beneficio exercitationis suae gratias ei relatura perrexit, eo quod secundum desiderium suum tandem magistram ei patientiae dignissimam prouidisset, cuius iniuriis iugibus ut quodam palaestrae oleo cotidie roborata ad summam animi patientiam perueniret, tandem, inquiens, dedisti mihi quam repausem, nam illa prior suis me potius honorabat ac refrigerabat obsequiis. Haec de sexu muliebri dixisse sufficiat, ut conmemoratione hac non solum aedificemur, uerum etiam confundamur, qui patientiam nostram, nisi fuerimus in morem ferarum retrusi in caueis cellarum, tenere non possumus.



Of the example of patience given by Abbot Paphnutius.
De exemplo patientiae abbatis Paphnutii.





NOW let us give the other instance of Abbot Paphnutius, who always remained so zealously in the recesses of that renowned and far-famed desert of Scete, in which he is now Presbyter, so that the rest of the anchorites gave him the name of Bubalis, because he always delighted in dwelling in the desert as if with a sort of innate liking.

XV. Nunc aliud abbatis Pafnuti pandamus exemplum, qui in illius insignis et ubique praedicabilis Scitioticae heremi in qua nunc presbyter est secretis tanto studio semper insedit, ut ei ceteri anachoretae Bubali cognomen indiderint, eo quod ingenito ut ita dixerim desiderio solitudinis semper habitatione gauderet.

And so as even in boyhood he was so good and full of grace that even the renowned and great men of that time admired his gravity and steadfast constancy, and although he was younger in age, yet put him on a level with the Elders out of regard for his virtues, and thought fit to admit him to their order, the same envy, which formerly excited the minds of his brethren against the patriarch Joseph, inflamed one out of the number of his brethren with a burning and consuming jealousy. And this man wanting to mar his beauty by some blemish or spot, hit on this kind of devilry, so as to seize an opportunity when Paphnutius had left his cell to go to Church on Sunday:

2. Itaque cum tantae in pueritia esset uirtutis ac gratiae, ut etiam praeclari ac summi id temporis uiri grauitatem eius et inmobilem constantiam mirarentur eumque, licet minor esset aetate, pro uirtutum tamen merito senioribus exaequarent suoque ordini ducerent inserendum, liuor ille qui aduersus Ioseph patriarcham fraternos quondam animos instigauit , quendam de numero fratrum edacis zeli igne succendit : qui naeuo quodam ac macula pulchritudinem eius cupiens deformare hoc genus malignitatis excogitat, ut oportunitatem temporis captaret, quo Pafnutius ad ecclesiam die dominica processurus abesset a cella.

and secretly entering his cell he slyly hid his own book among the boughs which he used to weave of palm branches, and, secure of his well-planned trick, himself went off as if with a pure and clean conscience to Church. And when the whole service was ended as usual, in the presence of all the brethren he brought his complaint to S. Isidore who was Presbyter of this desert before this same Paphnutius, and declared that his book had been stolen from his cell.

3. In quam furtim inruens codicem suum inter eius plectas, quas de palmarum foliis solebat intexere, latenter abscondit, ac de concinnata factione securus ipse quoque uelut purae ac simplicis conscientiae ad ecclesiam uenit. Cumque celebrata omnis fuisset ex more sollemnitas, querellam sancto Isidoro, qui ante hunc eundem Pafnutium eiusdem heremi presbyter fuit, coram cunctis fratribus detulit, adserens sibi codicem de cella furto fuisse sublatum.

And when his complaint had so disturbed the minds of all the brethren, and more especially of the Presbyter, so that they knew not what first to suspect or think, as all were overcome with the utmost astonishment at so new and unheard of a crime, such as no one remembered ever to have been committed in that desert before that time, and which has never happened since, he who had brought forward the matter as the accuser urged that they should all be kept in Church and certain selected men be sent to search the cells of the brethren one by one. And when this had been entrusted to three of the Elders by the Presbyter, they turned over the bed-chambers of them all, and at last found the book hidden in the cell of Paphnutius among the boughs of the palms which they call seira, just as the plotter had hidden it.

4. Quae cum eius querimonia ita cunctorum fratrum praecipueque presbyteri animos permouisset, ut quid primum suspicarentur quidue decernerent non haberent, summa cunctis admiratione perculsis de tam inauditi illic facinoris nouitate, quippe quod nec ante illud tempus factum in illa heremo quis meminerat nec post aliquando conmissum est, ille qui rem detulerat accusator urguebat, ut retentis in ecclesia omnibus missi electi quique cunctorum singillatim fratrum cellulas scrutarentur. Quod cum tribus senioribus a presbytero fuisset iniunctum, uniuersorum cubilia reuolentes ad extremum in Pafnutii cellula absconditum codicem inter plectas palmarum, quas illi siras uocant, sicut eum insidiator occulerat, reppererunt.

And when the inquisitors at once brought it back to the Church and produced it before all, Paphnutius, although he was perfectly clear in the sincerity of his conscience, yet like one who acknowledged the guilt of thieving, gave himself up entirely to make amends and humbly asked for a plan of repentance, as he was so careful of his shame and modesty (and feared) lest if he tried to remove the stain of the theft by words, he might further be branded as a liar, as no one would believe anything but what had been found out. And when he had immediately left the Church not cast down in mind but rather trusting to the judgment of God, he continually shed tears at his prayers, and fasted thrice as often as before, and prostrated himself in the sight of men with all humility of mind.

5. Quem cum inquisitores confestim ad ecclesiam delatum coram omnibus protulissent, Pafnutius, licet de conscientiae suae esset sinceritate securus, tamen uelut qui furti crimen agnosceret satisfactioni se totum tradens locum paenitentiae suppliciter postulauit, hoc uerecundiae suae modestiaeque prospiciens, ne si maculam furti uerbis conaretur abluere, insuper etiam mendacii notaretur, nemine scilicet aliud quam id quod inuentum fuerat suspicante. Cumque de ecclesia non tam mente deiectus quam iudicio dei fidens protinus abscessisset, profusis in oratione iugiter lacrimis triplicatisque ieiuniis summa se etiam in conspectu hominum mentis humilitate prostrauit.

But when he had thus submitted himself with all contrition of flesh and spirit for almost a fortnight, so that he came early on the morning of Saturday and Sunday not to receive the Holy Communion (On the Saturday and Sunday celebration of the Holy Communion in Egypt cf. Institutes III. ii. In Gaul it was apparently received daily: Institutes VI. viii) but to prostrate himself on the threshold of the Church and humbly ask for pardon, He, Who is the witness of all secret things and knows them, suffered him to be no longer tried by Himself or defamed by others. For what the author of the crime, the wicked thief of his own property, the cunning defamer of another’s credit, had done with no man there as a witness, that He made known by means of the devil who was himself the instigator of the sin.

6. Sed cum duabus ferme ebdomadibus ita se omni contritione carnis ac spiritus subiecisset, ut die sabbati uel dominico non ad percipiendam communionem sacram, sed ad prosternendum se in limine ecclesiae atque ad ueniam suppliciter postulandam matutinus occurreret, nequaquam passus est eum occultorum omnium testis et cognitor uel a se amplius conteri uel ab aliis infamari. Nam quod ille inuentor sceleris, rei suae fur inprobus, laudis alienae callidus infamator, nullo hominum teste conmiserat, per diabolum qui ipsius criminis incentor fuerat publicauit.

For possessed by a most fierce demon, he made known all the craft of his secret plot, and the same man who had conceived the accusation and the cheat betrayed it. But he was so long and grievously vexed by that unclean spirit that he could not even be restored by the prayers of the saints living there, who by means of divine gifts can command the devils, nor could the special grace of the Presbyter Isidore himself cast out from him his cruel tormentor, though by the Lord’s bounty such power was given him that no one who was possessed was ever brought to his doors without being at once healed; for Christ was reserving this glory for the young Paphnutius, that the man should be cleansed only by the prayers of him against whom he had plotted, and that the jealous enemy should receive pardon for his offence and an end of his present punishment, only by proclaiming his name, from whose credit he had thought that he could detract.

7. Adreptus namque dirissimo daemone cunctas factionis occultae patefecit insidias criminationumque ac fraudium idem fuit proditor qui commentor. Ita autem spiritu illo inmundo grauiter diuque uexatus est, ut ne orationibus quidem sanctorum illic consistentium, qui diuinorum charismatum merito daemoniis imperabant, potuerit emundari, sed ne ipsius quidem Isidori presbyteri gratia singularis crudelissimum ab eo extruserit uexatorem, cui tanta erat uirtus domini largitate conlata, ut ne usque ad limina quidem eius quisquam adrepticius qui tardius sanaretur aliquando perductus sit, Christo hanc adulescenti Pafnutio gloriam reseruante, ut illius tantum orationibus cui insidiatus fuerat purgaretur, et cuius laudi aliquid inuidus inimicus decerpere se posse crediderat, eius nomen proclamans et delicti sui ueniam et finem supplicii praesentis acciperet.

He then in his early youth already gave these signs of his future character, and even in his boyish years sketched the lines of that perfection which was to grow up in mature age. If then we want to attain to his height of virtue, we must lay the same foundation to begin with.

8. Haec ergo ille in adulescentia sua futurae indolis iam tunc indicia praefigurans lineas quasdam perfectionis illius, quae erat maturitate aetatis augenda, adhuc in annis puerilibus designauit. Si igitur ad culmen uirtutum eius uolumus peruenire, talia nobis exordiorum fundamenta iacienda sunt.



On the perfection of patience.
De perfectione patientiae.





A TWOFOLD reason however led me to relate this fact, first that we may weigh this steadfastness and constancy of the man, and as we are attacked by less serious wiles of the enemy, may the better secure a greater feeling of calmness and patience, secondly that we may with resolute decision hold that we cannot be safe from the storms of temptation and assaults of the devil if we make all the protection for our patience and all our confidence consist not in the strength of our inner man but in the doors of our cell or the recesses of the desert, and companionship of the saints, or the safeguard of anything else outside us.

XVI.  Duplex sane ad narrationem huius facti causa me conpulit, primum ut hanc immobilitatem uiri constantiamque pensantes, quanto minoribus inimici inpugnamur insidiis, tanto maiorem tranquillitatis atque patientiae sumamus affectum, deinde ut firma definitione teneamus a temptationum procellis inpugnationibusque diaboli tutos nos esse non posse, si omne praesidium patientiae nostrae omnemque fiduciam non in interioris hominis nostri uiribus, sed in cellulae claustris aut in solitudinis recessu sanctorumue consortio uel cuiusquam quae extra nos sit rei praesidio conlocemus.

For unless our mind is strengthened by the power of His protection Who says in the gospel “the kingdom of God is within you,” (S. Luke 17:21) in vain do we fancy that we can defeat the plots of our airy foe by the aid of men who are living with us, or that we can avoid them by distance of place, or exclude them by the protection of walls. For though none of these things was wanting to Saint Paphnutius yet the tempter did not fail to find a way of access against him to attack him; nor did the encircling walls, or the solitude of the desert or the merits of all those saints in the congregation repulse that most foul spirit.

2. Nisi enim mentem nostram uirtute protectionis suae ille firmauerit qui in euangelio ait : Regnum dei intra uos est , frustra ae¬rii hostis insidias aut auxilio cohabitantium hominum uincere aut localibus spatiis declinare aut munitione tectorum excludere posse nos credimus. Nam cum haec omnia sancto Pafnutio non deessent, non tamen inpugnationis aditum aduersus eum temptator inuenire non potuit, neque illum nequissimum spiritum saepta parietum aut heremi solitudo aut tot in illa congregatione sanctorum merita reppulerunt.

But because the holy servant of God had fixed the hope of his heart not on those external things but on Him Who is the judge of all secrets, he could not be moved even by the machinations of such an assault as that. On the other hand did not the man whom envy had hurried into so grievous a sin enjoy the benefit of solitude and the protection of a retired dwelling, and intercourse with the blessed Abbot and Presbyter Isidore and other saints? And yet because the storm raised by the devil found him upon the sand, it not only drove in his house but actually overturned it. We need not then seek for our peace in externals, nor fancy that another person’s patience can be of any use to the faults of our impatience.

3. Sed quia sanctus dei famulus non in his quae extrinsecus sunt, sed in ipso occultorum omnium iudice spem sui cordis adfixerat, tantae inpugnationis machinis nequaquam potuit commoueri. E contra ille quem ad tantum facinus praecipitauit inuidia, nonne et solitudinis beneficio et munitione remotioris habitaculi et beati Isidori abbatis atque presbyteri aliorumque sanctorum consortio fruebatur? Et tamen quia eum supra harenam repperit turbo diabolicus, non solum inpegit eius, uerum etiam subuertit habitaculum. Non ergo quietem nostram extrinsecus inquiramus nec opitulari uitiis inpatientiae nostrae alienam putemus posse patientiam.

For just as “the kingdom of God is within you,” so “a man’s foes are they of his own household.” (S. Matt. 10:36) For no one is more my enemy than my own heart which is truly the one of my household closest to me. And therefore if we are careful, we cannot possibly be injured by intestine enemies. For where those of our own household are not opposed to us, there also the kingdom of God is secured in peace of heart. For if you diligently investigate the matter, I cannot be injured by any man however spiteful, if I do not fight against myself with warlike heart. But if I am injured, the fault is not owing to the other’s attack, but to my own impatience.

4. Sicut enim regnum dei intra nos  est, ita inimici hominis domestici eius . Nemo enim mihi magis quam sensus meus, qui mihi est uere intimus domesticus, aduersatur. Et idcirco si fuerimus solliciti, ab intestinis hostibus laedi minime poterimus. Vbi enim nobis nostri domestici non aduersantur, ibi et regnum dei in tranquillitate mentis adquiritur. Nam si rationem diligenter excutias, laedi ab homine quamuis malignante non potero, si ipse impacifico aduersum me corde non dimicem. Si autem laedor, non est uitium inpugnationis alienae, sed inpatientiae meae.

For as strong and solid food is good for a man in good health, so it is bad for a sick one. But it cannot hurt the man who takes it, unless the weakness of its recipient gives it its power to hurt. If then any similar temptation ever arises among brethren, we need never be shaken out of the even tenor of our ways and give an opening to the blasphemous snarls of men living in the world, nor wonder that some bad and detestable men have secretly found their way into the number of the saints, because so long as we are trodden down and trampled in the threshing floor of this world, the chaff which is destined for eternal fire is quite sure to be mingled with the choicest of the wheat.

5. Sicut enim grauis ac solidus cibus sano utilis, ita perniciosus est aegrotanti. Non autem laedere sumentem potest, nisi ei ad nocendum uires adiecerit percipientis infirmitas. Si umquam ergo similis inter fratres fuerit oborta temptatio, nequaquam a cursu tranquillitatis excussi blasphemis saecularium obtrectationibus aditum reseremus nec peruersos atque execrabiles quosque sanctorum uirorum numero insertos latitare miremur, quia, dum in huius saeculi area conculcamur atque conterimur, necesse est etiam paleas igni perpetuo deputandas inter electissima frumenta misceri.

Finally if we bear in mind that Satan was chosen among the angels, and Judas among the apostles, and Nicholas the author of a detestable heresy among the deacons, it will be no wonder that the basest of men are found among the ranks of the saints. For although some maintain that this Nicholas was not the same man who was chosen for the work of the ministry by the Apostles, nevertheless they cannot deny that he was of the number of the disciples, all of whom were clearly of such a character and so perfect as those few whom we can now with difficulty discover in the coenobia.

6. Denique si uel Satanan inter angelos uel Iudam inter apostolos uel Nicolaum prauissimae haereseos inuentorem inter diaconos reminiscamur electos , hoc, quod nequissimi homines sanctorum ordini deprehenduntur inserti, mirum esse non poterit. Nam licet hunc Nicolaum quidam adserant non illum fuisse qui ad opus ministerii ab apostolis est electus, nihilominus tamen eum de illo discipulorum fuisse numero negare non possunt, quos omnes tales tamque perfectos id temporis fuisse manifestum est, quales nunc perpaucos uix in coenobiis inuenimus.

Let us then bring forward not the fall of the above-mentioned brother, who fell in the desert with so grievous a collapse, nor that horrible stain which he afterwards wiped out by the copious tears of his penitence, but the example of the blessed Paphnutius; and let us not be destroyed by the ruin of the former, whose ingrained sin of envy was increased and made worse by his affected piety, but let us imitate with all our might the humility of the latter, which in his case was no sudden production of the quiet of the desert, but had been gained among men, and was consummated and perfected by solitude.

7. Non ergo ruinam illius supra dicti fratris, qui in illa heremo tam lugubri lapsus est casu, neque illam horribilem maculam, quam tamen ille ingentibus paenitentiae lacrimis post deleuit, sed beati potius Pafnutii nobis proponamus exempla, nec subuersione illius destruamur cuius antiquum inuidiae uitium etiam auxit in peius adfectata religio, sed huius humilitatem tota uirtute sectemur, quam non illi quies heremi subito genuit, sed inter homines adquisitam consummauit atque excoluit solitudo.

However you should know that the evil of envy is harder to be cured than other faults, for I should almost say that a man whom it has once tainted with the mischief of its poison is without a remedy. For it is the plague of which it is figuratively said by the prophet: “Behold I will send among you serpents, basilisks, against which there is no charm: and they shall bite you.” (Jer. 8:17) Rightly then are the stings of envy compared by the prophet to the deadly poison of basilisks, as by it the first author of all poisons and their chief perished and died. For he slew himself before him of whom he was envious, and destroyed himself before that he poured forth the poison of death against man: for “by the envy of the devil death entered into the world: they therefore who are on his side follow him.” (Wisd. 2:24, 25)

8. Sciendum sane est inuidiae morbum difficilius ad medellam quam cetera uitia peruenire. Nam eum quem semel ueneni sui peste corruperit paene dixerim carere remedio. Ipsa namque est lues de qua figuraliter dicitur per prophetam : Ecce ego mittam uobis serpentes regulos, quibus non est incantatio : et mordebunt uos . Recte igitur a propheta mortiferis basilisci uenenis morsus inuidiae conparantur, qua primus ille omnium uenenorum auctor et princeps et periit et peremit. Nam ante suus quam eius cui inuiderat interemptor priusquam in hominem mortis uirus effunderet, ipse se perdidit : Inuidia enim diaboli mors introiuit in orbem terrarum : imitantur ergo illum qui sunt ex parte eius .

For just as he who was the first to be corrupted by the plague of that evil, admitted no remedy of penitence, nor any healing plaster, so those also who have given themselves up to be smitten by the same pricks, exclude all the aid of the sacred charmer, because as they are tormented not by the faults but by the prosperity of those of whom they are jealous, they are ashamed to display the real truth and look out for some external unnecessary and trifling causes of offence: and of these, because they are altogether false, vain is the hope of cure, while the deadly poison which they will not produce is lurking in their veins.

9. Sicut enim ille qui primus eiusdem mali peste corruptus est nec medellam paenitentiae nec fomentum ullius curationis admisit, ita et hi qui isdem se percutiendos morsibus tradiderunt omnem opem sancti incantatoris excludunt, quia cum utique non culpa eorum quibus liuent, sed prosperitate crucientur, erubescentes ipsam prodere ueritatem extrinsecus sibi quasdam superfluas et ineptas causas offensionis inquirunt : quarum, quia omnimodis falsae sunt, uana curatio est, cum illud mortiferum uirus quod nolunt prodere lateat in medullis.

Of which the wisest of men has fitly said: “If a serpent bite without hissing, there is no supply for the charmer.” (Eccl. 10:2) For those are silent bites, to which alone the medicine of the wise is no succour. For that evil is so far incurable that it is made worse by attentions, it is increased by services, is irritated by presents, because as the same Solomon says: “envy endures nothing.” (Prov. 27:4) For just in proportion as another has made progress in humble submission or in the virtue of patience or in the merit of munificence, so is a man excited by worse pricks of envy, because he desires nothing less than the ruin or death of the man whom he envies.

10. De quibus sapientissimus ille conpetenter expressit: Si momorderit serpens non in sibilo, non est abundantia incantatori . Isti enim sunt taciti morsus quibus solis sapientium medicina non subuenit. Nam usque adeo incurabilis est ista pernicies, ut blandimentis exasperetur, infletur obsequiis, muneribus inritetur, quia, ut idem Salomon ait, nihil sustinet zelus . Quanto enim amplius alius aut humilitatis subiectione aut patientiae uirtute aut munificentiae laude profecerit, tanto ille maioribus inuidiae stimulis incitatur, quia non nisi ruinam aut mortem eius cui inuidet concupiscit.

Lastly no submission on the part of their harmless brother could soften the envy of the eleven patriarchs, so that Scripture relates of them: “But his brothers envied him because his father loved him, and they could not speak peaceably unto him” (Gen. 37:4) until their jealousy, which would not listen to any entreaties on the part of their obedient and submissive brother, desired his death, and would scarcely be satisfied with the sin of selling a brother. It is plain then that envy is worse than all faults, and harder to get rid of, as it is inflamed by those remedies by which the others are destroyed. For, for example, a man who is grieved by a loss that has been caused to him, is healed by a liberal compensation: one who is sore owing to a wrong done to him, is appeased by humble satisfaction being made.

11. Denique illorum undecim patriarcharum zelus in tantum nulla innoxii fratris subiectione potuit deleniri, ut de his scriptura conmemoret : Inuidebant autem ei fratres sui, eo quod diligeret eum pater suus, et non poterant ei loqui quicquam  pacificum, donec zelus eorum, qui nulla germani obsequentis atque subiecti sustinuit blandimenta, mortem eius cupiens uix posset uenditionis fraternae crimine satiari. Cunctis ergo uitiis perniciosiorem atque ad purgandum difficiliorem esse constat inuidiam, quae ipsis remediis quibus reliqua extinguntur accenditur. Nam uerbi gratia qui damnum sibi inlatum dolet, largitatis conpensatione curatur : qui de inlata indignatur iniuria, humili satisfactione placatur.

What can you do with one who is the more offended by the very fact that he sees you humbler and kinder, who is not aroused to anger by any greed which can be appeased by a bribe; or by any injurious attack or love of vengeance, which is overcome by obsequious services; but is only irritated by another’s success and happiness? But who is there who in order to satisfy one who envies him, would wish to fall from his good fortune, or to lose his prosperity or to be involved in some calamity? Wherefore we must constantly implore the divine aid, to which nothing is impossible, in order that the serpent may not by a single bite of this evil destroy whatever is flourishing in us, and animated as it were by the life and quickening power of the Holy Ghost.

12. Quid illo facias, qui hoc ipso magis quod te humiliorem ac benigniorem sentit offenditur, quem non ad iracundiam cupiditas, quae praemio delenitur, non iniuriae laesio aut amor ultionis accendit, quae officiorum uincitur blandimentis, sed successus tantum alienae felicitatis inritat? Quis autem est qui se, ut satisfaciat inuidenti, a bonis conruere aut a prosperis alienari aut a calamitate aliqua optet inuolui? Quapropter ne totum, quidquid in nobis uiuidum est et quasi uitali uegetatione sancti spiritus animatum, uno tanti huius mali morsu basiliscus interimat, diuinum cui inpossibile nihil est iugiter inploremus auxilium.

For the other poisons of serpents, i.e., carnal sins and faults, in which human frailty is easily entangled and from which it is as easily purified, show some traces of their wounds in the flesh, whereby although the earthly body is most dangerously inflamed, yet if any charmer well skilled in divine incantations applies a cure and antidote or the remedy of words of salvation, the poisonous evil does not reach to the everlasting death of the soul. But the poison of envy as if emitted by the basilisk, destroys the very life of religion and faith, even before the wound is perceived in the body.

13. Cetera enim uenena serpentum, id est carnalia peccata uel uitia, a quibus ut cito inuoluitur, ita facile expurgatur humana fragilitas, habent aliqua uulnerum suorum in carne uestigia, quibus quamuis terrenum corpus perniciosissime contumescat, tamen si theriacae remedium aut illam salutarium uerborum medellam aliquis peritissimus carminum diuinorum incantator admouerit, ad perpetuam animae mortem pernicies uirulenta non peruenit : inuidiae autem quasi a regulo serpente effusum uirus uitam ipsam religionis ac fidei, priusquam uulnus in corpore sentiatur, excludit.

For he does not raise himself up against men, but, in his blasphemy, against God, who carps at nothing in his brother except his felicity, and so blames no fault of man, but simply the judgment of God. This then is that “root of bitterness springing up” (Heb. 12:15) which raises itself to heaven and tends to reproaching the very Author Who bestows good things on man. Nor shall anyone be disturbed because God threatens to send “serpents, basilisks,” (Jer. 8:17) to bite those by whose crimes He is offended. For although it is certain that God cannot be the author of envy, yet it is fair and worthy of the divine judgment that, while good gifts are bestowed on the humble and refused to the proud and reprobate, those who, as the Apostle says, deserve to be given over “to a reprobate mind,” (Rom. 1:28) should be smitten and consumed by envy sent as it were by Him, according to this passage: “They have provoked me to jealousy by them that are no gods: and I will provoke them to jealousy by them that are no nation.” (Deut. 32:21)

14. Non enim aduersus hominem, sed plane aduersus deum blasphemus extollitur, qui nihil in fratre aliud nisi felicitatem carpens non hominis culpam, sed dei tantum iudicia reprehendit. Haec ergo est illa sursum germinans amaritudinis radix , quae se erigens ad superna ad contumeliam ipsius qui bona homini confert tendit auctoris. Nec quemquam moueat quod deus missurum se serpentes  regulos, qui eos quorum criminibus offenditur mordeant, conminatur. Nam licet certum sit deum auctorem inuidiae esse non posse, aequum tamen et diuino dignum iudicio est, ut dum bona data humilibus conferuntur et superbis ac reprobis denegantur, eos qui secundum apostolum tradi in reprobum sensum merentur quasi ab ipso missa percutiat et consumat inuidia secundum illud : Ipsi me ad aemulationem inritauerunt in non deo : et ego ad aemulationem inducam eos in non gente .

By this discourse the blessed Piamun excited still more keenly our desire in which we had begun to be promoted from the infant school of the coenobium to the second standard of the anchorites’ life. For it was under his instruction that we made our first start in solitary living, the knowledge of which we afterwards followed up more thoroughly in Scete.

15. Hac beatus Piamun desiderium nostrum, quo de primis coenobii scolis ad secundum anachoreseos gradum tendere coeperamus, disputatione ardentius inflammauit. Nam primordia solitariae commorationis, cuius scientiam postea sumus Scitii plenius adsecuti, ipso primum inbuente suscepimus.







18,4: 1.6

18, 4–8: 1.1–8

18,6: 1.4–5

18,7: 1.6

18,11: 7.35; 48.8

18,15: 73.9




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