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Monday, 8 October 2012

The Rule of St Benedict - Chapter 1

Chapter 1: On the Kinds of Monk
Source

It is well known that there are four kinds of monks. The first kind are the Cenobites: those who live in monasteries and serve under a rule and an Abbot. The second kind are the Anchorites or Hermits: those who, no longer in the first fervor of their reformation, but after long probation in a monastery, having learned by the help of many brethren how to fight against the devil, go out well armed from the ranks of the community to the solitary combat of the desert. They are able now, with no help save from God, to fight single-handed against the vices of the flesh and their own evil thoughts. The third kind of monks, a detestable kind, are the Sarabaites. These, not having been tested, as gold in the furnace (Wis. 3:6), by any rule or by the lessons of experience, are as soft as lead. In their works they still keep faith with the world, so that their tonsure marks them as liars before God. They live in twos or threes, or even singly, without a shepherd, in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord's.
Their law is the desire for self-gratification: whatever enters their mind or appeals to them,
that they call holy; what they dislike, they regard as unlawful. The fourth kind of monks are those called Gyrovagues. These spend their whole lives tramping from province to province,
staying as guests in different monasteries for three or four days at a time. Always on the move, with no stability, they indulge their own wills and succumb to the allurements of gluttony, and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites. Of the miserable conduct of all such it is better to be silent than to speak. Passing these over, therefore, let us proceed, with God's help, to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks, the Cenobites.

Caput 1: De generibus monachorum

Monachorum quattuor esse genera, manifestum est. Primum coenobitarum, hoc est monasteriale, militans sub regula vel abbate. Deinde secundum genus est anachoritarum id est heremitarum, horum qui non conversationis fervore novicio, sed monasterii probatione diuturna, qui didicerunt contra diabulum multorum solacio iam docti pugnare, et bene extructi fraterna ex acie ad singularem pugnam heremi, securi iam sine consolatione alterius, sola manu vel brachio contra vitia carnis vel cogitationum, Deo auxiliante, pugnare sufficiunt. Tertium vero monachorum teterrimum genus est sarabaitarum, qui nulla regula adprobati, experienta magistra, sicut aurum fornacis, sed in plumbi natura molliti, adhuc operibus servantes sæculo fidem, mentiri Deo per tonsuram noscuntur. Qui bini aut terni aut certe singuli sine pastore, non dominicis sed suis inclusi ovilibus, pro lege eis est desideriorum voluptas, cum quidquid putaverint vel elegerint, hoc dicunt sanctum, et quod noluerint, hoc putant non licere. Quartum vero genus est monachorum quod nominatur girovagum, qui tota vita sua per diversas provincias ternis aut quaternis diebus per diversorum cellas hospitantur, semper vagi et numquam stabiles, et propriis voluntatibus et guilæ inlecebris servientes, et per omnia deteriores sarabaitis. De quorum omnium horum miserrima conversatione melius est silere quam loqui. His ergo omissis, ad coenobitarum fortissimum genus disponendum, adiuvante Domino, veniamus.

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