The Kinds, Drink, Conduct, and
Life of Monks in Monasteries



transl. based on that of Luke Eberle, modified. and adapted for this webpage by L. Dysinger

I. The Kinds, Drink, Conduct, and Life of Monks in Monasteries.

[ JER. Eustoch.;   Cass., Conf. 18;   RB 1]

Incipivnt Capitvla Incipit de generibvs vel potvs vel actvs et vita monachorvm in coenobiis.




1 Of monks, it is well known, there are four kinds [sic. 5]. 2 The first are the cenobites, namely, those who live in monasteries and serve under a rule and an abbot.

1 Monachorum quattuor esse genera manifestum est. 2  Primum coenobiotarum, hoc est monasteriale, militans sub regula uel abbate.



3 Then the second kind are the anchorites, that is, hermits, who are no longer in the first fervor of conversion but by long probation in the monastery 4 have learned, taught by association with many others, to fight against the devil; 5 well-equipped, they leave the ranks of the brethren for the single combat of the desert. Fearless now, deprived of the encouragement of others, they are able by themselves with God and the spirit to do battle against the vices of the flesh and of thought.

3 Deinde secundum genus est anachoritarum id est heremitarum, horum qui non conuersionis feruore nouicio, sed monasterii probatione diuturna, 4 qui didicerunt contra diabolum multorum solacio iam docti pugnare, 5 et bene instructi fraterna ex acie ad singularem pugnam heremi, securi iam sine consolatione alterius sola manu uel brachio contra uitia carnis uel cogitationum cum Deo et spiritu repugnare sufficiunt.



6 The third kind of monks the sarabaites, is the worst. I would do better to call them still of the world, except that the tonsure of their religious intent prevents me from doing so. Untested, as gold in the furnace, (Prov 27:21; Wis. 3:6) by any rule or by experience as a master, soft as lead, 7 they still keep faith with the world and manifestly lie to God by their tonsure. 8 Two or three together, or even alone, without a shepherd, enclosed not in the Lord’s but in their own sheepfold, they have as their law the wilfulness of their own desires; 9 whatever they think and decide, that they call holy, and what they do not want, that they consider forbidden. 10 And while they want to have cells, chests and various things according to their own judgment, they are unaware that they are losing their own petty souls. [cf. Cass., Conf. 18, 4,7]

6 Tertium uero monachorum deterrimum genus est sarabaitarum, quem melius adhuc laicum dixissem, si me propositi sancti non inpediret tunsura. Qui nulla regula adprobati et experientia magistro sicut aurum fornacis, sed in plumbi natura molliti, 7 adhuc factis seruantes saeculo fidem mentiri Deo per tunsuram noscuntur. 8 Qui bini aut terni aut certe singuli sine pastore, non dominicis sed suis inclusi ouilibus, pro lege eis est desideriorum uoluntas, 9 cum quidquid putauerint uel elegerint, hoc dicunt sanctum, et quod noluerint, hoc putant non licere. 10 Et dum in proprio arbitrio quaerunt habere cellas, arcellas et rescellas, ignorant quia perdunt suas animellas.



 11 Likewise there are those who, recently converted, in unrestrained fervor think that the desert is a place of repose. 12 Giving no thought to the devil’s lying in wait to harm them, untrained but confident, they go forth to single combat with him, doubtlessly only to fall victim to the jaws of the experienced wolf. [cf. Cass., Conf. 18, 8]

11 Simul et hii qui nuper conuersi inmoderato feruore heremum putant esse quietem, 12 et non putantes insidiari et nocere diabolum, singularem cum eo pugnam indocti et securi inuadunt, sine dubio docti lupi faucibus occursuri.



 13 The fourth kind of monks, who should not even be called that and about whom I would do better to keep silence than to say anything, 14 are called gyrovagues. They spend their whole life as guests for three or four days at a time at various cells and monasteries of others in various provinces. 15 Taking advantage of hospitality, they want to be received every day anew at different places. 16 They oblige their successive hosts, who rejoice at the arrival of a guest, to prepare choice dishes for them and to put the axe to poultry because of their coming—this, every day by different hosts. 17 They think that in this way they are not imposing on their successive hosts, since by changing hosts every day they aim at having one meal here, another there, prepared for them when, abusing charity, they arrive at a new place. 18 They force upon their various hosts, in spite of themselves as it were, the precept of the apostle wherein he says, ‘You should make hospitality your special care’. (Rom. 12, 13) 19 Making use of this precept, they demand care for their restless feet after their journey, but using traveling as a pretext, are thinking of their guts, defiled by endless drinking, rather than their feet, when they want a big supper or dinner. 20 And when, after the journey, the greedy guest has cleaned the table down to the last crumb, he shamelessly declares his thirst to his host, and if there is nothing there to drink, the host is asked to prepare it on the spot. 21 And when after the double excess of food and drink they are stuffed to the point of vomiting, they attribute to their laborious journey, all that their gluttony has got them.

13 Quartum uero genus est monachorum nec nominandum, quod melius tacerem quam de talibus aliquid dicerem, 14 quod genus nominatur gyrouagorum, qui tota uita sua per diuersas prouincias ternis aut quaternis diebus per diuersorum cellas et monasteria hospitantes, 15 cum pro hospitis aduentu a diuersis uolunt cottidie nouiter suscipi, 16 et pro gaudio superuenientis exquisita sibi pulmentaria adparari et animantia pullorum sibi creant cottidie a diuersis hospitibus pro aduentu cultello occidi, 17 grauare se ita diuersos non credunt, cum mutando cottidie hospites pro aduentu nouitatis sub inportuna caritate diuersos conant sibi praeparare diuersa. 18 Et uelut ab inuito a diuersis hospitibus exigentes praeceptum apostoli, in quo dicit: Hospitalitatem sectantes, 19 per occasionem praecepti, cum inquietos sibi pedes post uiam fomentari expostulant, per occasionem itineris intestinas suas latiori cena uel prandio inquinatas infinitis poculis magis quam pedes desiderent. 20 Et post exinanitam a familico hospite mensam et miculas ipsas panis post uiam detersas sitim suam sine uerecundia hospiti ingerentes, si calix hostasus defuerit, rogatur hospis in ipsa patella ut misceat. 21 Et postquam ex utraque nimietate cibi et potus percalcati usque ad uomitum fuerint, totum laboriosae uiae inputant, quod gula lucrauit.

 22 And before a new bed receives his guest, exhausted from drinking and eating more than from traveling, they give their host an exaggerated account of the hardship of their journey, 23 and while they compel their host to offer them an abundance of food and endless drink as a reward for their visit, they pretend that the reason for their wandering is a pilgrimage and captivity. 24 Moreover they are soon inquiring whether there is a monk or a monastery nearby, so that after leaving this place they can stop and stay there, 25 feigning fatigue, as if the whole world were shutting them out and as if in all of it there were neither place nor forest nor the wide expanse of the Egyptian desert itself to take them in, 26 not even any monastery to receive them for the service of God—as if, as we have said, the whole world were rejecting them. 27 Hence they say that it is with good reason they are wandering about and that nowhere at all can they find a place to stay, nor refreshment for their soul, nor full observance of discipline— 28 which amounts to their saying that they are so very wise that they alone are displeased by what is pleasing to God and to all others. 29 Therefore they choose instead to keep on the move, so that by changing hosts every day they may get a change and variety of meals and much to drink on the plea that traveling has caused their thirst. 30 It is therefore evident that they do this in order by their wandering to cater to their gullet rather than to their soul.

22 Et antequam nouus lectus lassatum magis a potionibus uel ab escis quam a uia hospitem suscipiat, laborem uiae suae pro magno hospiti enarrantes, 23 dum mercedem repausationis largioribus pulmentariis et infinitis poculis hospitem sibi cogunt largire, rationem erroris sui per peregrinationem et captiuitatem celando excusat. 24 Et mox de uicini monachi aut monasterii positione interrogant, ubi, cum inde leuauerint, ponant uel adplicent, 25 uelut lassi et quasi quibus iam uniuersus clausus sit mundus, et ex toto eos nec loca nec siluae nec latus ipse Aegypti heremus capiat, 26 nec uniuersa monasteria ad seruitium Dei eos suscipiant, et eos, ut diximus, totus mundus non capiat. 27 Inde se dicunt iuste errare et ex toto locum repausationis et refrigerium animae et integram se obseruationem disciplinae nusquam posse inuenire, 28 quasi dicunt se ita multum sapientes, ut totum ipsis solis displiceat, quodquod Deo et omnibus placet. 29 Ideoque magis eligunt ambulare, ut nouiter per diuersos cottidie hospites mutatas et uarias refectiones et per occasionem sitientis uiae repropinata pocula sumant. 30 Hoc ergo agunt, ut gulae suae magis cottidie peregrinari uideantur quam animae.

 31 And when after spending a couple of days with one host they are served less food, 32 and on the morrow see that their host is busy with work in his cell instead of cooking their meal, 33 they quickly decide to seek another host. Hardly arrived, they are off again. 34 They take hurried leave of their now stingy host, and while getting ready to leave this hospitality behind, they ask their host to say a leave-taking prayer. 35 Thus they hurry as if someone were pushing them, as if meals prepared for them by other hosts were already awaiting them.

31 Et cum eis post biduum ad unum hospitem adparatus ipse in pulmentariis iam minuendo subducitur, 32 et mane alia die facto cum non ad refectionem coquendam sed ad laborem cellulae suae uiderit hospitem occupari, 33 mox quaeri sibi alium hospitem placet, et adhuc non uenit et iam uadet. 34 Tunc ualem festinant auaro iam hospiti dicere, et cum migrare de tali hospitalia satagent, orare pro egressu suo hospitem postulant. 35 Sic festinant quasi ab aliquo inpellantur, quasi eos iam expectent aliorum hospitum prandia praeparata.

 36 And if, not far from this monastery, they find a monk’s cell, they stop there, saying they have come from far-off Italy. 37 With head bowed as if in humility, they lie again about pilgrimage and captivity to this new host, 38 forcing the good man out of sympathy for their long journey to use up his whole scanty means in cooking and serving them food, 39 most certainly only to be left destitute and plundered by these gluttons after a couple of days. 40 When the next day he himself, his cell, his customs and rule of life do not please them, 41 and when after two days he, like the others, reduces the fare, 42 he too is soon driven to give them back their pouches which have already been filled with bread baked and given them by various hosts. 43 Although the bread is fresh when they take it from the table in the various hostels, they cause it by their avarice to become moldy by hoarding it.

36 Et non longe ab ipso monasterio si inuenerint cellulam monachi, repausantes dicunt se porro a finibus aduenire Italiae. 37 Et nouiter aliquid de peregrinatione aut de captiuitate et ipsi hospiti quasi humili et inclinato capite mentientes, 38 cum pro pietate longi itineris cogunt pii hospitis totam paupertatem in caccabis et in mensam exinaniri, 39 sine dubio et ipse hospis nudus et a gluttonibus exinanitus post biduum relinquendus. 40 Et cum postriduo et ipse et cella eius et mores et eius displicuerit disciplina, 41 et cum subducta eis post biduum ab eo item minus exhibuerit mensa, 42 mox et ipse reconsignare bisacias cogitur, quas diuersorum hospitum iam panes tosti inpleuerant. 43 Cum in diuersorum hospitaliis in mensas recentes sumunt, illos seruatos cogunt per auaritiam mucidare.

 44 After their pouches have been returned to them then, their poor donkey is called from the pasture. The poor thing was enjoying the pasture after the labor of the recent trip, and now after a couple of days its masters are dissatisfied with the hospitality they have received. 45 When it has again been harnessed and loaded with various tunics and cowls which their insolence has extorted from others or of which, taking advantage of the occasion, they have defrauded their various hosts— 46 they make a show of wearing ragged clothing so that they can ask for a replacement 47 they say farewell to this host too. Hardly have they arrived when they leave again, for mentally they see themselves already invited to other guest quarters. 48 The poor donkey is whipped, prodded, singed, but it hunches its back and does not budge. 49 They beat its ears when its haunches are down. 50 And so the poor thing is almost killed and, [already] worn out, is beaten, because they are in a hurry and cannot wait to get to another monastery for a meal.

44 Ergo postquam eis bisaciae consignantur, mox et de pastura miser asinus reuocatur, cui post recentis uiae laborem misero pastura placuerat, si dominis eius hospitalia non displicuisset in biduo. 45 Et nouiter restratus et diuersis tunicis et cucullis resarcinatus, quas aut inportunitas a diuersis exigerat aut inuenta occasio fraudis diuersos hospites nudauerat, 46 et ut alios petant, fingunt se pannos aduestiri, 47 et ualem et ipsi hospiti dicentes, adhuc non uenerunt et iam uadent, cum ab alia iam hospitalia in animo inuitantur. 48 Caeditur, pungitur, ustulatur, lordicat miser asellus et non uadet. 49 Vapulant aures eius, postquam clunes defecerint. 50 Ideo miser perocciditur et manibus lassus inpingitur, quia festinatur et satagitur, ut ad alterius monasterii prandium occurratur.

 51 As soon as they have arrived at another monastery or monk’s cell, they cry out Benedicite gaily and loudly, from outside, 52 as if they already had in their hands the cup which they are going to request to assuage their thirst once they have entered the monastery. 53 Once inside and not yet announced and received, they unload. 54 As if they had come to discharge some obligation or as someone’s delegate, their baggage is brought in before the guest himself has been received. 55 If they hurry to the oratory, it is only because they are driven to it by their desire for wine to satisfy the thirst caused by their traveling; knowing that you will, out of charity, offer wine to a guest, in the morning they ask for water.

51 Et cum peruenerint ad alterius monasterii aut monachi regias, ita hilari et clamosa uoce de foris “Benedicite” clamant, 52 et quasi iam illum calicem in manum acceperint, quem mox ingressi monasterium pro siti sunt petituri. 53 Et intrantes regias, adhuc non nuntiati et suscepti excarricant, 54 et quasi pro aliquo debito aut ex alicuius delegatione ibi adueniant, ante intus bisaciae porriguntur, quam ipse hospis suscipitur. 55 Et non prius ad oratorium festinatur, nisi pro labore desiderandi uini per occasionem uiaticae sitis, ut tu pro caritate hospiti uinum porrigas, ab illis sic mane aqua exposcitur.

 56 When such as these, who ignore the fast because traveling, 57 arrive somewhere and find the monks fasting, they either force their hosts to break the fast for the sake of hospitality 58 or they brazenly tell them straight out that they are fasting out of avarice because they do not want to give their guests any refreshments after their journey. 59 Because of the habitual gluttony which goes with their vagrancy, they force the settled monks to break their fast, ascribing this presumption to travel fatigue. 60 They ignore the fact that it is not necessity that compels them to travel so that they do not need to fast and abstain or remain anywhere for any length of time, 61 but that it is their deliberate gluttony that motivates them when they boldly come with the intention of eating bread earned by another’s labor and love to wipe off their sweat on beds or couches provided at the various places for travelers.

56 Ilii enim tales, cum ipsi ieiunia ambulando ignorent, 57 et ad quoscumque superuenerint ieiunantes, aut pro superuentu hospitali cogunt eos ieiunia frangere, 58 aut non erubescunt sua uoce eis hoc dicere, magis eum propter auaritiam ieiunare, ut non hospitem uelint recreare post uiam. 59 Et per uagam suae consuetudinis gulam cogunt perseuerantium ieiunia uiolari, cum illi laborioso itineri inputant quidquid praesumunt. 60 Et nesciunt quia, ut eis non liceat ieiunare aut abstinere, aut aliquo nesciant aliquando loco stare, non eos aliqua ambulare conpellit necessitas, sed gulae cogit uoluntas, 61 cum securi et superuenientes alieni laboris quaerunt panes comedere, et diuersorum lectis peregrinis straminibus sudores suos amant abstergere.

 62 Once on these couches, they try to get the satisfaction of sleep while suffering from indigestion because of their surfeit of food and drink, 63 and even though they never bothered to pray the psalms because of their preoccupation with their gluttonous travels, 64 they bluntly say that their bones are so weary after the trip that getting up from bed [for prayers] is impossible—though they were manifestly hale and hearty at table the evening before. 65 As soon as the night office of the Work of God is finished they get up, groaning and feigning exhaustion. 66 After being warmed up by wine in the early morning and asking for a piece of bread or, pretending to be ill, requesting a potion, 67 they leave the monastery or cell, deceitfully bent over because of feigned weakness but secretly assured that the gait of a healthy man will be recovered as soon as they have left the place.

62 In quibus straminibus cum indigesti per crepulam cibi et potus cupiunt satisfacere somno 63 uel cum quidem occupatione gulosae ambulationis psalmos aliquando neglexerint meditare, 64 ipsorum ore respondunt se lassis post uiam ossibus non posse de lectulo surgere, cum uisi fuerint sani in mensa serotina manducare. 65 Mox matutinorum expleto opere Dei surgunt uelut gementes et lassi. 66 Sic prima mane calefacti mero, petito panis fragmento aut fincti aegroti sucus desiderantes, 67 monasteria ipsa aut cellulas false exeunt lordicando de fincta infirmitate, absconse securi quod sanitatis gressos sint ab ipso limine reformantes.

 68 Now, since they do not want to be under the regime of a monastery or to have an abbot to look after all their needs, 69 they should put up a cell somewhere and stay there, living as they please, and should provide the necessities of life for themselves. 70 If our way of life does not please them, they should let us see theirs. 71 As it is, never settling down, they are impelled always to go about begging, sweating, and groaning, instead of remaining in one place to work and live. 72 They are always coming anew to a succession of cells as humble guests with no more than their head bowed, only to leave again after a couple days as proud ingrates. 73 Since the manner of life at these various places and the discipline of all monasteries does not please them, they choose to travel rather than to settle down. 74 Always on the go from place to place, they do not know where they will next be a nuisance and, to top it all, they do not know where they will be buried.

68 Nam cum sibi nolunt sub imperio monasterii abbatem de omnibus necessariis cogitare, 69 uel ipsi alicubi suo uiuentes arbitrio facta cellula persistando, uel ipsi sibi necessaria uitae debuerant cogitare, 70 et si nostra illis displicet uita, uel suam nobis ostenderent formam. 71 Vnde numquam persistantes acti sunt cottidie ambulando mendicare, sudare et gemere, quam uno loco stando laborare et uiuere. 72 Et cottidie nouiter diuersorum cellas ut humiles intrant hospites solo capite inclinati, deinde superbi et uelut ingrati post biduum migraturi. 73 Et ueluti quibus diuersorum uita et actus et omnium monasteriorum disciplina non placeat, eligunt magis ambulare quam sistere. 74 Qui per diuersa semper uagando ignorant apud quem tedia sua suscipiant, et quod est ultimum, nesciunt ubi suam constituant sepulturam.





 75 And now, in accordance with our high esteem for the first kind of monks, the cenobites, whose service and probation are the will of God, let us return to their rule.

75 Vnde ergo magnum existimantes primum genus coenobitarum, cuius militia uel probatio uoluntas est Dei, ad ipsorum regulam reuertamur.





 76 Brothers, the Lord cries out to us daily, saying: ‘Return to me, and I will return to you’. (Zach 1:3) 77 Therefore our return to God, brothers, is nothing else than a turning back from evil, as Scripture says: ‘Turn away from evil, and do good’. (Ps 34:14) 78 When we turn away from these evils we look toward the Lord, 79 and he, immediately causing the light of his countenance to shine upon us (2Pet. 2, 19) and coming to our assistance, gives his grace without delay to those who ask for it, shows himself to those who seek him, opens to those who knock. 80 These three gifts granted by the Lord are deserved by those who desire to do God’s will, not their own, for what the Lord commands us in the spirit is one thing, what the flesh has in mind to force upon us is another— 81 and ‘if anyone lets himself be dominated by a thing, then he is a slave to it’.

76 Fratres, clamat nobis cottidie Dominus dicens: Convertimini ad me et ego conuertar ad uos. 77 Conuersio ergo nostra ad Deum, fratres, non aliud est nisi a malis reuersio, dicente scribtura: Diverte a malo et fac bonum. 78 A quibus autem malis cum auertimur, Dominum intuemur, 79 et ille nos statim suo inluminans uultu, donans nobis adiutorium suum, mox gratiam suam petentibus tribuit, quaerentibus ostendit, pulsantibus patefacit. 80 Haec tria Domini dona concessa ipsi conueniunt, qui Dei uoluerint, non suam facere uoluntatem, quia aliud nobis Dominus in spiritu imperat, aliud caro cogit in anima, 81 et quis a quo uictus fuerit, ipsius et seruus est.

 82 Now, the Lord has given his Church, in conformity with the Trinity, three series of teaching: first, that of the prophets; secondly, that of the apostles; thirdly, that of the teachers. (1 Cor 12:28; cf. Eph. 4, 11) 83 According to their authority and teaching, the churches and schools of Christ are governed. 84 Like shepherds they enclose and teach the sheep of God in holy sheepfolds, as the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah: ‘I will give you shepherds after my own heart, and these shall feed you on knowledge and discretion.’ (Jer 3:15) 85 And the Lord himself says to Peter: ‘Simon son of John, feed my sheep, (Jn 21:17)  86 teaching them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always, even to the end of time’. (Mt. 28, 20)

82 Ecclesiae suae namque Dominus secundum Trinitatis nomine tres grados doctrinae constituit, primum prophetarum, apostolorum secundum, doctorum tertium, 83 sub quorum imperio uel doctrina Christi regerentur ecclesiae et scolae, 84 ut pastorum uice sanctis ouilibus diuinas oues et claudant et doceant, dicente Domino per Esaiam prophetam: Dabo uobis pastores secundum cor meum et pascent uos pascentes cum disciplina, 85 et ipso Domino dicente Petro: Simon Iohannis, pasce oues meas, 86 docentes eas seruare ea quae mandaui uobis. Et ecce ego uobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi.

 87 Therefore all who still have folly as their mother ought be subject to the authority of a superior so that, guided on their way by the judgment of a teacher, they may learn to avoid the way of self-will. 88 The Lord gives us his commands through a teacher since, as he said above, he is always with these teachers, to the end of time, (Mt. 28, 20) 89 certainly for no other purpose than to instruct us through them. As the Lord himself says to his disciples who are our teachers: ‘Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you rejects me’. (Lk 10:16) 90 Thus if we put into practice what we hear from these teachers, we no longer do our own will, 91 so that on the day of judgment the devil will have in us no basis to claim us for himself in hell, 92 because the Lord has always accomplished in us what will be judged worthy of glory.

87 Ideoque omnes quibus adhuc insipientia mater est, expedit sub unius esse potestate maioris, ut doctoris arbitrio ambulantes iter uoluntatis propriae discant nescire. 88 Per doctorem enim nobis imperat Dominus, quia, sicut dixit superius, cum ipsis doctoribus est semper omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi, 89 sine dubio non aliud nisi nos aedificaturus per eos, dicente ipso Domino discipulis suis doctoribus nostris: Qui uos audit, me audit, et qui uos spernit, me spernit. 90 Ergo si quoe a doctoribus audimus, et facimus, non iam quae uolumus exercemus, 91 ut in die iudicii nihil habeat in nobis, quod secum diabolus uindicet in gehenna. 92 quando in nobis hoc semper egit Dominus, quod adiudicaret ad gloriam.








xcxxcxxc  F ” “ This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 2011....x....   “”.