Jan. 1—May 2—Sept. 1
Listen, my son, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.
To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.
And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, that He who has now deigned to count us among His sons may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children, nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions, deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory.
Jan. 2—May 3—Sept. 2
Let us arise, then, at last, for the Scripture stirs us up, saying, “Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep.” Let us open our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with attentive ears the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us, “Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” And again, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” And what does He say? “Come, My children, listen to Me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you.”
Jan. 3—May 4—Sept. 3
And the Lord, seeking His laborer in the multitude to whom He thus cries out, says again, “Who is the man who will have life, and desires to see good days?” And if, hearing Him, you answer, “I am he,” God says to you, “If you will have true and everlasting life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips that they speak no guile. Turn away from evil and do good; seek after peace and pursue it. And when you have done these things, My eyes shall be upon you and My ears open to your prayers; and before you call upon Me, I will say to you, ‘Behold, here I am.’”
What can be sweeter to us, dear brethren, than this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold, in His loving kindness the Lord shows us the way of life.
Jan. 4—May 5—Sept. 4
Having our loins girded, therefore, with faith and the performance of good works, let us walk in His paths by the guidance of the Gospel, that we may deserve to see Him who has called us to His kingdom.
For if we wish to dwell in the tent of that kingdom, we must run to it by good deeds or we shall never reach it.
But let us ask the Lord, with the Prophet, “Lord, who shall dwell in Your tent, or who shall rest upon Your holy mountain?”
After this question, brethren, let us listen to the Lord as He answers and shows us the way to that tent, saying, “He who walks without stain and practices justice; he who speaks truth from his heart; he who has not used his tongue for deceit; he who has done no evil to his neighbor; he who has given no place to slander against his neighbor.”
It is he who, under any temptation from the malicious devil, has brought him to naught by casting him and his temptation from the sight of his heart; and who has laid hold of his thoughts while they were still young and dashed them against Christ.
It is they who, fearing the Lord, do not pride themselves on their good observance; but, convinced that the good which is in them cannot come from themselves and must be from the Lord, glorify the Lord’s work in them, using the words of the Prophet, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give the glory.” Thus also the Apostle Paul attributed nothing of the success of his preaching to himself, but said, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” And again he says, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
Jan. 5—May 6—Sept. 5
Hence the Lord says in the Gospel, “Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on rock. The floods came, the winds blew and beat against that house, and it did not fall, because it was founded on rock.”
Having given us these assurances, the Lord is waiting every day for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions. And the days of this life are lengthened and a truce granted us for this very reason, that we may amend our evil ways. As the Apostle says, “Do you not know that God’s patience is inviting you to repent?” For the merciful Lord tells us, “I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should be converted and live.”
Jan. 6—May 7—Sept. 6
So, brethren, we have asked the Lord who is to dwell in His tent, and we have heard His commands to anyone who would dwell there; it remains for us to fulfil those duties.
Therefore we must prepare our hearts and our bodies to do battle under the holy obedience of His commands; and let us ask God that He be pleased to give us the help of His grace for anything which our nature finds hardly possible. And if we want to escape the pains of hell and attain life everlasting, then, while there is still time, while we are still in the body and are able to fulfil all these things by the light of this life, we must hasten to do now what will profit us for eternity.
Jan. 7—May 8—Sept. 7
And so we are going to establish a school for the service of the Lord. In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome. But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity, do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation, whose entrance cannot but be narrow. For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God’s commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love. Thus, never departing from His school, but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching until death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.
On the Kinds of Monks
Jan. 8—May 9—Sept. 8
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, 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 men 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.
What Kind of Man the Abbot Ought to Be
Jan. 9—May 10—Sept. 9
An Abbot who is worthy to be over a monastery should always remember what he is called, and live up to the name of Superior. For he is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery, being called by a name of His, which is taken from the words of the Apostle: “You have received a Spirit of adoption as sons, by virtue of which we cry, ‘Abba—Father!’”
Therefore the Abbot ought not to teach or ordain or command anything which is against the Lord’s precepts; on the contrary, his commands and his teaching should be a leaven of divine justice kneaded into the minds of his disciples.
Jan. 10—May 11—Sept. 10
Let the Abbot always bear in mind that at the dread Judgment of God there will be an examination of these two matters: his teaching and the obedience of his disciples. And let the Abbot be sure that any lack of profit the master of the house may find in the sheep will be laid to the blame of the shepherd. On the other hand, if the shepherd has bestowed all his pastoral diligence on a restless, unruly flock and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior, then he will be acquitted at the Lord’s Judgment and may say to the Lord with the Prophet: “I have not concealed Your justice within my heart; Your truth and Your salvation I have declared. But they have despised and rejected me.” And then finally let death itself, irresistible, punish those disobedient sheep under his charge.
Jan. 11—May 12—Sept. 11
Therefore, when anyone receives the name of Abbot, he ought to govern his disciples with a twofold teaching. That is to say, he should show them all that is good and holy by his deeds even more than by his words, expounding the Lord’s commandments in words to the intelligent among his disciples, but demonstrating the divine precepts by his actions for those of harder hearts and ruder minds. And whatever he has taught his disciples to be contrary to God’s law, let him indicate by his example that it is not to be done, lest, while preaching to others, he himself be found reprobate, and lest God one day say to him in his sin, “Why do you declare My statutes and profess My covenant with your lips, whereas you hate discipline and have cast My words behind you?” And again, “You were looking at the speck in your brother’s eye, and did not see the beam in your own.”
Jan. 12—May 13—Sept. 12
Let him make no distinction of persons in the monastery. Let him not love one more than another, unless it be one whom he finds better in good works or in obedience. Let him not advance one of noble birth ahead of one who was formerly a slave, unless there be some other reasonable ground for it. But if the Abbot for just reason think fit to do so, let him advance one of any rank whatever. Otherwise let them keep their due places; because, whether slaves or freemen, we are all one in Christ and bear an equal burden of service in the army of the same Lord. For with God there is no respect of persons. Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight: if we be found better than others in good works and humility. Therefore let the Abbot show equal love to all and impose the same discipline on all according to their deserts.
Jan. 13—May 14—Sept. 13
In his teaching the Abbot should always follow the Apostle’s formula: “Reprove, entreat, rebuke”; threatening at one time and coaxing at another as the occasion may require, showing now the stern countenance of a master, now the loving affection of a father. That is to say, it is the undisciplined and restless whom he must reprove rather sharply; it is the obedient, meek and patient whom he must entreat to advance in virtue; while as for the negligent and disdainful, these we charge him to rebuke and correct.
And let him not shut his eyes to the faults of offenders; but, since he has the authority, let him cut out those faults by the roots as soon as they begin to appear, remembering the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo. The well-disposed and those of good understanding let him correct with verbal admonition the first and second time. But bold, hard, proud and disobedient characters he should curb at the very beginning of their ill-doing by stripes and other bodily punishments, knowing that it is written, “The fool is not corrected with words,” and again, “Beat your son with the rod and you will deliver his soul from death.”
Jan. 14—May 15—Sept. 14
The Abbot should always remember what he is and what he is called, and should know that to whom more is committed, from him more is required. Let him understand also what a difficult and arduous task he has undertaken: ruling souls and adapting himself to a variety of characters. One he must coax, another scold, another persuade, according to each one’s character and understanding. Thus he must adjust and adapt himself to all in such a way that he may not only suffer no loss in the flock committed to his care, but may even rejoice in the increase of a good flock.
Jan. 15—May 16—Sept. 15
Above all let him not neglect or undervalue the welfare of the souls committed to him, in a greater concern for fleeting, earthly, perishable things; but let him always bear m mind that he has undertaken the government of souls and that he will have to give an account of them.
And if he be tempted to allege a lack of’ earthly means, let him remember what is written: “First seek the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides.” And again: “Nothing is wanting to those who fear Him.”
Let him know, then, that he who has undertaken the government of souls must prepare himself to render an account of them. Whatever number of brethren he knows he has under his care, he may be sure beyond doubt that on Judgment Day he will have to give the Lord an account of all these souls, as well as of his own soul.
Thus the constant apprehension about his coming examination as shepherd concerning the sheep entrusted to him, and his anxiety over the account that must be given for others, make him careful of his own record. And while by his admonitions he is helping others to amend, he himself is cleansed of his faults.
On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
Jan. 16—May 17—Sept. 16
Whenever any important business has to be done in the monastery, let the Abbot call together the whole community and state the matter to be acted upon. Then, having heard the brethren’s advice, let him turn the matter over in his own mind and do what he shall judge to be most expedient. The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.
Let the brethren give their advice with all the deference required by humility, and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions; but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot’s judgment, and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.
However, just as it is proper for the disciples to obey their master, so also it is his function to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
Jan. 17—May 18—Sept. 17
In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide, and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it. Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart’s fancy; and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery. But if anyone should presume to do so, let him undergo the discipline of the Rule. At the same time, the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God and in observance of the Rule, knowing that beyond a doubt he will have to render an account of all his decisions to God, the most just Judge.
But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery be of lesser importance, let him take counsel with the seniors only. It is written, “Do everything with counsel, and you will not repent when you have done it.”
What Are the Instruments of Good Works
Jan. 18—May 19—Sept. 18
In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength.
Then, one’s neighbor as oneself.
Then not to murder.
Not to commit adultery.
Not to steal.
Not to covet.
Not to bear false witness.
To respect all men.
And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
To chastise the body.
Not to become attached to pleasures.
To love fasting.
To relieve the poor.
To clothe the naked.
To visit the sick.
To bury the dead.
To help in trouble.
To console the sorrowing.
To become a stranger to the world’s ways.
To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
Jan. 19—May 20—Sept. 19
Not to give way to anger.
Not to nurse a grudge.
Not to entertain deceit in one’s heart.
Not to give a false peace.
Not to forsake charity.
Not to swear, for fear of perjuring oneself.
To utter truth from heart and mouth.
Not to return evil for evil.
To do no wrong to anyone, and to bear patiently wrongs done to oneself.
To love one’s enemies.
Not to curse those who curse us, but rather to bless them.
To bear persecution for justice’ sake.
Not to be proud.
Not addicted to wine.
Not a great eater.
Not a grumbler.
Not a detractor.
To put one’s hope in God.
To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself.
But to recognize always that the evil is one’s own doing, and to impute it to oneself.
Jan. 20—May 21—Sept. 20
To fear the Day of Judgment.
To be in dread of hell.
To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
To keep death daily before one’s eyes.
To keep constant guard over the actions of one’s life.
To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
When evil thoughts come into one’s heart, to dash them against Christ immediately.
And to manifest them to one’s spiritual father.
To guard one’s tongue against evil and depraved speech.
Not to love much talking.
Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
To listen willingly to holy reading.
To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
Daily in one’s prayers, with tears and sighs, to confess one’s past sins to God, and to amend them for the future.
Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh; to hate one’s own will.
To obey in all things the commands of the Abbot, even though he himself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the Lord’s precept, “Do what they say, but not what they do.”
Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be holy, that one may be truly so called.
Jan. 21—May 22—Sept. 21
To fulfil God’s commandments daily in one’s deeds.
To love chastity.
To hate no one.
Not to be jealous, not to harbor envy.
Not to love contention.
To beware of haughtiness.
And to respect the seniors.
To love the juniors.
To pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.
To make peace with one’s adversary before the sun sets.
And never to despair of God’s mercy.
These, then, are the tools of the spiritual craft. If we employ them unceasingly day and night, and return them on the Day of Judgment, our compensation from the Lord will be that wage He has promised: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Now the workshop in which we shall diligently execute all these tasks is the enclosure of the monastery and stability in the community.
Jan. 22—May 23—Sept. 22
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This is the virtue of those who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ; who, because of the holy service they have professed, and the fear of hell, and the glory of life everlasting, as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior, receive it as a divine command and cannot suffer any delay in executing it. Of these the Lord says, “As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me.” And again to teachers He says, “He who hears you, hears Me.”
Such as these, therefore, immediately leaving their own affairs and forsaking their own will, dropping the work they were engaged in and leaving it unfinished, with the ready step of obedience follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands. And so as it were at the same moment the master’s command is given and the disciple’s work is completed, the two things being speedily accomplished together in the swiftness of the fear of God by those who are moved with the desire of attaining life everlasting. That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way, of which the Lord says, “Narrow is the way that leads to life,” so that, not living according to their own choice nor obeying their own desires and pleasures but walking by another’s judgment and command, they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them. Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord in which He says, “I have come not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Jan. 23—May 24—Sept. 23
But this very obedience will be acceptable to God and pleasing to men only if what is commanded is done without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection. For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God, since He Himself has said, “He who hears you, hears Me.” And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will, for “God loves a cheerful giver.” For if the disciple obeys with an ill will and murmurs, not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart, then even though he fulfil the command yet his work will not be acceptable to God, who sees that his heart is murmuring. And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this, he will incur the punishment due to murmurers, unless he amend and make satisfaction.
On the Spirit of Silence
Jan. 24—May 25—Sept. 24
Let us do what the Prophet says: “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue. I have set a guard to my mouth.’ I was mute and was humbled, and kept silence even from good things.” Here the Prophet shows that if the spirit of silence ought to lead us at times to refrain even from good speech, so much the more ought the punishment for sin make us avoid evil words.
Therefore, since the spirit of silence is so important, permission to speak should rarely be granted even to perfect disciples, even though it be for good, holy, edifying conversation; for it is written, “In much speaking you will not escape sin,” and in another place, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
For speaking and teaching belong to the master; the disciple’s part is to be silent and to listen. And for that reason if anything has to be asked of the Superior, it should be asked with all the humility and submission inspired by reverence.
But as for coarse jests and idle words or words that move to laughter, these we condemn everywhere with a perpetual ban, and for such conversation we do not permit a disciple to open his mouth.
Jan. 25—May 26—Sept. 25
Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying, “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” In saying this it shows us that all exaltation is a kind of pride, against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard when he says, “Lord, my heart is not exalted, nor are mine eyes lifted up; neither have I walked in great matters, nor in wonders above me.” But how has he acted? “Rather have I been of humble mind than exalting myself; as a weaned child on its mother’s breast, so You solace my soul.”
Hence, brethren, if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life, we must by our ascending actions erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream, on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending. By that descent and ascent we must surely understand nothing else than this, that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility. And the ladder thus set up is our life in the world, which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled. For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder, and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.
Jan. 26—May 27—Sept. 26
The first degree of humility, then, is that a person keep the fear of God before his eyes and beware of ever forgetting it. Let him be ever mindful of all that God has commanded; let his thoughts constantly recur to the hell-fire which will burn for their sins those who despise God, and to the life everlasting which is prepared for those who fear Him. Let him keep himself at every moment from sins and vices, whether of the mind, the tongue, the hands, the feet, or the self-will, and check also the desires of the flesh.
Jan. 27—May 28—Sept. 27
Let a man consider that God is always looking at him from heaven, that his actions are everywhere visible to the divine eyes and are constantly being reported to God by the Angels. This is what the Prophet shows us when he represents God as ever present within our thoughts, in the words “Searcher of minds and hearts is God” and again in the words “The Lord knows the thoughts of men.” Again he says, “You have read my thoughts from afar” and “The thoughts of men will confess to You.”
In order that he may be careful about his wrongful thoughts, therefore, let the faithful brother say constantly in his heart, “Then shall I be spotless before Him, if I have kept myself from my iniquity.”
Jan. 28—May 29—Sept. 28
As for self-will, we are forbidden to do our own will by the Scripture, which says to us, “Turn away from your own will,” and likewise by the prayer in which we ask God that His will be done in us. And rightly are we taught not to do our own will when we take heed to the warning of Scripture: “There are ways which to men seem right, but the ends of them plunge into the depths of hell”; and also when we tremble at what is said of the careless: “They are corrupt and have become abominable in their wills.”
And as for the desires of the flesh, let us believe with the Prophet that God is ever present to us, when he says to the Lord, “Every desire of mine is before You.”
Jan. 29—May 30—Sept. 29
We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires, for death lies close by the gate of pleasure. Hence the Scripture gives this command: “Go not after your concupiscences.”
So therefore, since the eyes of the Lord observe the good and the evil and the Lord is always looking down from heaven on the children of men “to see if there be anyone who understands and seeks God,” and since our deeds are daily, day and night, reported to the Lord by the Angels assigned to us, we must constantly beware, brethren, as the Prophet says in the Psalm, lest at any time God see us falling into evil ways and becoming unprofitable; and lest, having spared us for the present because in His kindness He awaits our reformation, He say to us in the future, “These things you did, and I held My peace.”
Jan. 30—May 31—Sept. 30
The second degree of humility is that a person love not his own will nor take pleasure in satisfying his desires, but model his actions on the saying of the Lord, “I have come not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” It is written also, “Self-will has its punishment, but constraint wins a crown.”
Jan. 31—June 1—Oct. 1
The third degree of humility is that a person for love of God submit himself to his Superior in all obedience, imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle says, “He became obedient even unto death.”
Feb. 1—June 2—Oct. 2
The fourth degree of humility is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind when in this obedience he meets with difficulties and contradictions and even any kind of injustice, enduring all without growing weary or running away. For the Scripture says, “He who perseveres to the end, he it is who shall be saved”; and again, “Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord!”
And to show how those who are faithful ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord, the Scripture says in the person of the suffering, “For Your sake we are put to death all the day long; we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter.” Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense, they go on with joy to declare, “But in all these trials we conquer, through Him who has granted us His love.” Again, in another place the Scripture says, “You have tested us, O God; You have tried us as silver is tried, by fire; You have brought us into a snare; You have laid afflictions on our back.” And to show that we ought to be under a Superior, it goes on to say, “You have set men over our heads.”
Moreover, by their patience those faithful ones fulfil the Lord’s command in adversities and injuries: when struck on one cheek, they offer the other; when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak; when forced to go a mile, they go two; with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren and bless those who curse them.
Feb. 2—June 3—Oct. 3
The fifth degree of humility is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts that enter his heart or the sins committed in secret, but that he humbly confess them. The Scripture urges us to this when it says, “Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him,” and again, “Confess to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” And the Prophet likewise says, “My offense I have made known to You, and my iniquities I have not covered up. I said: ‘I will declare against myself my iniquities to the Lord;’ and ‘You forgave the wickedness of my heart.’”
Feb. 3—June 4—Oct. 4
The sixth degree of humility is that a monk be content with the poorest and worst of everything, and that in every occupation assigned him he consider himself a bad and worthless workman, saying with the Prophet, “I am brought to nothing and I am without understanding; I have become as a beast of burden before You, and I am always with You.”
Feb. 4—June 5—Oct. 5
The seventh degree of humility is that he consider himself lower and of less account than anyone else, and this not only in verbal protestation but also with the most heartfelt inner conviction, humbling himself and saying with the Prophet, “But I am a worm and no man, the scorn of men and the outcast of the people. After being exalted, I have been humbled and covered with confusion.” And again, “It is good for me that You have humbled me, that I may learn Your commandments.”
Feb. 5—June 6—Oct. 6
The eighth degree of humility is that a monk do nothing except what is commended by the common Rule of the monastery and the example of the elders.
Feb. 6—June 7—Oct. 7
The ninth degree of humility is that a monk restrain his tongue and keep silence, not speaking until he is questioned. For the Scripture shows that “in much speaking there is no escape from sin” and that “the talkative man is not stable on the earth.”
Feb. 7—June 8—Oct. 8
The tenth degree of humility is that he be not ready and quick to laugh, for it is written, “The fool lifts up his voice in laughter.”
Feb. 8—June 9—Oct. 9
The eleventh degree of humility is that when a monk speaks he do so gently and without laughter, humbly and seriously, in few and sensible words, and that he be not noisy in his speech. It is written, “A wise man is known by the fewness of his words.”
Feb. 9—June 10—Oct. 10
The twelfth degree of humility is that a monk not only have humility in his heart but also by his very appearance make it always manifest to those who see him. That is to say that whether he is at the Work of God, in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road, in the fields or anywhere else, and whether sitting, walking or standing, he should always have his head bowed and his eyes toward the ground. Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment, he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment and constantly say in his heart what the publican in the Gospel said with his eyes fixed on the earth: “Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven”; and again with the Prophet: “I am bowed down and humbled everywhere.” Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore, the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God which casts out fear. And all those precepts which formerly he had not observed without fear, he will now begin to keep by reason of that love, without any effort, as though naturally and by habit. No longer will his motive be the fear of hell, but rather the love of Christ, good habit and delight in the virtues which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.
On the Divine Office During the Night
Feb. 10—June 11—Oct. 11
In winter time, that is from the Calends of November until Easter, the brethren shall rise at what is calculated to be the eighth hour of the night, so that they may sleep somewhat longer than half the night and rise with their rest completed. And the time that remains after the Night Office should be spent in study by those brethren who need a better knowledge of the Psalter or the lessons.
From Easter to the aforesaid Calends of November, the hour of rising should be so arranged that the Morning Office, which is to be said at daybreak, will follow the Night Office after a very short interval, during which the brethren may go out for the necessities of nature.
How Many Psalms Are to Be Said at the Night Office
Feb. 11—June 12—Oct. 12
In winter time as defined above, there is first this verse to be said three times: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Your praise.” To it is added Psalm 3 and the “Glory be to the Father,” and after that Psalm 94 to be chanted with an antiphon or even chanted simply. Let the Ambrosian hymn follow next, and then six Psalms with antiphons. When these are finished and the verse said, let the Abbot give a blessing; then, all being seated on the benches, let three lessons be read from the book on the lectern by the brethren in their turns, and after each lesson let a responsory be chanted. Two of the responsories are to be said without a “Glory be to the Father”; but after the third lesson let the chanter say the “Glory be to the Father,” and as soon as he begins it let all rise from their seats out of honor and reverence to the Holy Trinity.
The books to be read at the Night Office shall be those of divine authorship, of both the Old and the New Testament, and also the explanations of them which have been made by well known and orthodox Catholic Fathers.
After these three lessons with their responsories let the remaining six Psalms follow, to be chanted with “Alleluia.” After these shall follow the lesson from the Apostle, to be recited by heart, the verse and the petition of the litany, that is “Lord, have mercy on us.” And so let the Night Office come to an end.
How the Night Office Is to Be Said in Summer Time
Feb. 12—June 13—Oct. 13
From Easter until the Calends of November let the same number of Psalms be kept as prescribed above; but no lessons are to be read from the book, on account of the shortness of the nights. Instead of those three lessons let one lesson from the Old Testament be said by heart and followed by a short responsory. But all the rest should be done as has been said, that is to say that never fewer than twelve Psalms should be said at the Night Office, not counting Psalm 3 and Psalm 94.
How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays
Feb. 13—June 14—Oct. 14
On Sunday the hour of rising for the Night Office should be earlier. In that Office let the measure already prescribed be kept, namely the singing of six Psalms and a verse. Then let all be seated on the benches in their proper order while the lessons and their responsories are read from the book, as we said above. These shall be four in number, with the chanter saying the “Glory be to the Father” in the fourth responsory only, and all rising reverently as soon as he begins it.
After these lessons let six more Psalms with antiphons follow in order, as before, and a verse; and then let four more lessons be read with their responsories in the same way as the former.
After these let there be three canticles from the book of the Prophets, as the Abbot shall appoint, and let these canticles be chanted with “Alleluia.” Then when the verse has been said and the Abbot has given the blessing, let four more lessons be read, from the New Testament, in the manner prescribed above.
After the fourth responsory let the Abbot begin the hymn “We praise You, O God.” When this is finished the Abbot shall read the lesson from the book of the Gospels, while all stand in reverence and awe. At the end let all answer “Amen,” and let the Abbot proceed at once to the hymn “To You be praise.” After the blessing has been given, let them begin the Morning Office.
This order for the Night Office on Sunday shall be observed the year around, both summer and winter; unless it should happen (which God forbid) that the brethren be late in rising, in which case the lessons or the responsories will have to be shortened somewhat. Let every precaution be taken, however, against such an occurrence; but if it does happen, then the one through whose neglect it has come about should make due satisfaction to God in the oratory.
How the Morning Office Is to Be Said
Feb. 14—June 15—Oct. 15
The Morning Office on Sunday shall begin with Psalm 66 recited straight through without an antiphon. After that let Psalm 50 be said with “Alleluia,” then Psalms 117 and 62, the Canticle of Blessing and the Psalms of praise; then a lesson from the Apocalypse to be recited by heart, the responsory, the Ambrosian hymn, the verse, the canticle from the Gospel book, the litany and so the end.
How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays
Feb. 15—June 16—Oct. 16
On weekdays the Morning Office shall be celebrated as follows. Let Psalm 66 be said without an antiphon and somewhat slowly, as on Sunday, in order that all may be in time for Psalm 50, which is to be said with an antiphon. After that let two other Psalms be said according to custom, namely: on Monday Psalms 5 and 35, on Tuesday Psalms 42 and 56, on Wednesday Psalms 63 and 64, on Thursday Psalms 87 and 89, on Friday Psalms 75 and 91, and on Saturday Psalm 142 and the canticle from Deuteronomy, which is to be divided into two sections each terminated by a “Glory be to the Father.” But on the other days let there be a canticle from the Prophets, each on its own day as chanted by the Roman Church. Next follow the Psalms of praise, then a lesson of the Apostle to be recited from memory, the responsory, the Ambrosian hymn, the verse, the canticle from the Gospel book, the litany, and so the end.
Feb. 16—June 17—Oct. 17
The Morning and Evening Offices should never be allowed to pass without the Superior saying the Lord’s Prayer in its place at the end so that all may hear it, on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up. Thus those who hear it, being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer when they say, “Forgive us as we forgive,” may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.
But at the other Offices let the last part only of that prayer be said aloud, so that all may answer, “But deliver us from evil.”
How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the Saints
Feb. 17—June 18—Oct. 18
On the feasts of Saints and on all festivals let the Office be performed as we have prescribed for Sundays, except that the Psalms, the antiphons and the lessons belonging to that particular day are to be said. Their number, however, shall remain as we have specified above.
At What Times “Alleluia” Is to Be Said
Feb. 18—June 19—Oct. 19
From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption let “Alleluia” be said both in the Psalms and in the responsories. From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent let it be said every night with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only. On every Sunday, however, outside of Lent, the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None shall be said with “Alleluia,” but Vespers with antiphons.
The responsories are never to be said with “Alleluia” except from Easter to Pentecost.
How the Work of God Is to Be Performed During the Day
Feb. 19—June 20—Oct. 20
“Seven times in the day,” says the Prophet, “I have rendered praise to You.” Now that sacred number of seven will be fulfilled by us if we perform the Offices of our service at the time of the Morning Office, of Prime, of Terce, of Sext, of None, of Vespers and of Compline, since it was of these day Hours that he said, “Seven times in the day I have rendered praise to You.” For as to the Night Office the same Prophet says, “In the middle of the night I arose to glorify You.”
Let us therefore bring our tribute of praise to our Creator “for the judgments of His justice” at these times: the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline; and in the night let us arise to glorify Him.
How Many Psalms Are to Be Said at These Hours
Feb. 20—June 21—Oct. 21
We have already arranged the order of the psalmody for the Night and Morning Offices; let us now provide for the remaining Hours.
At Prime let three Psalms be said, separately and not under one “Glory be to the Father.” The hymn of that Hour is to follow the verse “Incline unto my aid, O God,” before the Psalms begin. Upon completion of the three Psalms let one lesson be recited, then a verse, the “Lord, have mercy on us” and the concluding prayers.
The Offices of Terce, Sext and None are to be celebrated in the same order, that is: the “Incline unto my aid, O God,” the hymn proper to each Hour, three Psalms, lesson and verse, “Lord, have mercy on us” and concluding prayers.
If the community is a large one, let the Psalms be sung with antiphons; but if small, let them be sung straight through.
Let the Psalms of the Vesper Office be limited to four, with antiphons. After these Psalms the lesson is to be recited, then the responsory, the Ambrosian hymn, the verse, the canticle from the Gospel book, the litany, the Lord’s Prayer and the concluding prayers.
Let Compline be limited to the saying of three Psalms, which are to be said straight through without antiphon, and after them the hymn of that Hour, one lesson, a verse, the “Lord, have mercy on us,” the blessing and the concluding prayers.
In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said
Feb. 21—June 22—Oct. 22
Let this verse be said: “Incline unto my aid, O God; O Lord, make haste to help me,” and the “Glory be to the Father”; then the hymn proper to each Hour.
Then at Prime on Sunday four sections of Psalm 118 are to be said; and at each of the remaining Hours, that is Terce, Sext and None, three sections of the same Psalm 118.
At Prime on Monday let three Psalms be said, namely Psalms 1, 2 and 6. And so each day at Prime until Sunday let three Psalms be said in numerical order, to Psalm 19, but with Psalms 9 and 17 each divided into two parts. Thus it comes about that the Night Office on Sunday always begins with Psalm 20.
Feb. 22—June 23—Oct. 23
At Terce, Sext and None on Monday let the nine remaining sections of Psalm 118 be said, three at each of these Hours.
Psalm 118 having been completed, therefore, on two days, Sunday and Monday, let the nine Psalms from Psalm 119 to Psalm 127 be said at Terce, Sext and None, three at each Hour, beginning with Tuesday. And let these same Psalms be repeated every day until Sunday at the same Hours, while the arrangement of hymns, lessons and verses is kept the same on all days; and thus Prime on Sunday will always begin with Psalm 118.
Feb. 23—June 24—Oct. 24
Vespers are to be sung with four Psalms every day. These shall begin with Psalm 109 and go on to Psalm 147, omitting those which are set apart for other Hours; that is to say that with the exception of Psalms 117 to 127 and Psalms 133 and 142, all the rest of these are to be said at Vespers. And since there are three Psalms too few, let the longer ones of the above number be divided, namely Psalms 138, 143 and 144. But let Psalm 116 because of its brevity be joined to Psalm 115.
The order of the Vesper Psalms being thus settled, let the rest of the Hour—lesson, responsory, hymn, verse and canticle—be carried out as we prescribed above.
At Compline the same Psalms are to be repeated every day, namely Psalms 4, 90 and 133.
(Feb. 24 in leap year; otherwise added to the preceding)—June 25—Oct. 25
The order of psalmody for the day Hours being thus arranged, let all the remaining Psalms be equally distributed among the seven Night Offices by dividing the longer Psalms among them and assigning twelve Psalms to each night.
We strongly recommend, however, that if this distribution of the Psalms is displeasing to anyone, he should arrange them otherwise, in whatever way he considers better, but taking care in any case that the Psalter with its full number of 150 Psalms be chanted every week and begun again every Sunday at the Night Office. For those monks show themselves too lazy in the service to which they are vowed, who chant less than the Psalter with the customary canticles in the course of a week, whereas we read that our holy Fathers strenuously fulfilled that task in a single day. May we, lukewarm that we are, perform it at least in a whole week!
On the Manner of Saying the Divine Office
Feb. 24 (25)—June 26—Oct. 26
We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that “the eyes of the Lord are looking on the good and the evil in every place.” But we should believe this especially without any doubt when we are assisting at the Work of God. To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet’s words, “Serve the Lord in fear” and again “Sing praises wisely” and “In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to You.” Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves in the sight of the Godhead and of His Angels, and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.
On Reverence in Prayer
Feb. 25 (26)—June 27—Oct. 27
When we wish to suggest our wants to men of high station, we do not presume to do so except with humility and reverence. How much the more, then, are complete humility and pure devotion necessary in supplication of the Lord who is God of the universe! And let us be assured that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard, but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction. Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure, unless it happens to be prolonged by an inspiration of divine grace. In community, however, let prayer be very short, and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.
On the Deans of the Monastery
Feb. 26 (27)—June 28—Oct. 28
If the community is a large one, let there be chosen out of it brethren of good repute and holy life, and let them be appointed deans. These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things, observing the commandments of God and the instructions of their Abbot.
Let men of such character be chosen deans that the Abbot may with confidence share his burdens among them. Let them be chosen not by rank but according to their worthiness of life and the wisdom of their doctrine.
If any of these deans should become inflated with pride and found deserving of censure, let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time. If he will not amend, then let him be deposed and another be put in his place who is worthy of it.
And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.
How the Monks Are to Sleep
Feb. 27 (28)—June 29—Oct. 29
Let each one sleep in a separate bed. Let them receive bedding suitable to their manner of life, according to the Abbot’s directions. If possible let all sleep in one place; but if the number does not allow this, let them take their rest by tens or twenties with the seniors who have charge of them.
A candle shall be kept burning in the room until morning.
Let the monks sleep clothed and girded with belts or cords—but not with their knives at their sides, lest they cut themselves in their sleep—and thus be always ready to rise without delay when the signal is given and hasten to be before one another at the Work of God, yet with all gravity and decorum.
The younger brethren shall not have beds next to one another, but among those of the older ones.
When they rise for the Work of God let them gently encourage one another, that the drowsy may have no excuse.
On Excommunication for Faults
Feb. 28 (29)—June 30—Oct. 30
If a brother is found to be obstinate, or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring, or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors, the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time, as Our Lord commands. If he fails to amend, let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community. But if even then he does not reform, let him be placed under excommunication, provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty; if he is perverse, however, let him undergo corporal punishment.
What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be
Mar. 1—July 1—Oct. 31
The measure of excommunication or of chastisement should correspond to the degree of fault, which degree is estimated by the Abbot’s judgment.
If a brother is found guilty of lighter faults, let him be excluded from the common table. Now the program for one deprived of the fellowship of the table shall be as follows: In the oratory he shall intone neither Psalm nor antiphon nor shall he recite a lesson until he has made satisfaction; in the refectory he shall take his food alone after the community meal, so that if the brethren eat at the sixth hour, for instance, that brother shall eat at the ninth, while if they eat at the ninth hour he shall eat in the evening, until by a suitable satisfaction he obtains pardon.
On Weightier Faults
Mar. 2—July 2—Nov. 1
Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault be excluded both from the table and from the oratory. Let none of the brethren join him either for company or for conversation. Let him be alone at the work assigned him, abiding in penitential sorrow and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle where he says that a man of that kind is handed over for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Let him take his meals alone in the measure and at the hour which the Abbot shall consider suitable for him. He shall not be blessed by those who pass by, nor shall the food that is given him be blessed.