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Praeceptum

4.

1. Keep your clothes in a common wardrobe, with one or two brothers in charge, or as many as are needed to ensure that there is no damage from moths. Accept your clothing from one wardrobe-keeper, just as you have your food from one cellarer. If this has been arranged, you ought not to be concerned with what you are given to wear, according to the season of the year, or whether each of you receives back the clothes he turned in or others someone else has worn, provided always that no one is refused what he needs. But if arguments and complaints start among you because someone is grumbling that what he has been given is inferior to what he had, and that it is an indignity for him to be dressed in what another brother has worn, learn from this how meanly your spirit is clothed, when you are quarreling about what you put on your bodies. But even if they indulge you in your weakness, and give you back the clothes you turned in, still everything you are not wearing is to be kept in one place by the same keepers.

2. And make sure that no one is working for his own benefit, but that everything you do is for the common good, with more zeal and greater promptness than if each one of you were working for himself. For love, of which it was written that it "is not self-seeking" (I Cor. 13:5), must be understood as putting the common good before private interests, and not the other way round. And, therefore, the more trouble you take over what you all have in common, and not over what is your own, the more progress people will see that you are making. Let love, which will not pass away, preside over everything our passing needs demand.

3. And so it follows that if someone brings even to his sons or to anyone bound to him by any close tie in the monastery clothes, or anything considered a necessity, it is not to be received in secret, but is to be put at the superior's disposal, so that it belongs to the common property, and can be given to whoever may need it.

4. Your clothing should be washed as the superior decides, whether by you or by the launderers, so that your souls do not become soiled by your craving for clean clothes.

5. Your bodies, too, need to be washed as their infirmity requires, and this should not be refused, but done without complaint according to medical advice, so that everyone, though unwillingly, does as his superior orders for the sake of his health. But if he wants to wash and doing so is bad for him, he ought not to give in to his own wishes, for sometimes he will think that what is pleasing is good, even if it may be harmful.

6. Furthermore, if some servant of God has a bodily infirmity that cannot be seen, when he says what is afflicting him he must be believed without question' but if it is not certain that what he would prefer to take for his sickness will cure it, a doctor should be consulted.

7. No fewer than two or three should go together to the public bath houses or anywhere it is necessary to go. Nor is anyone who needs to go out to be accompanied by companions of his own choosing, but by those the superior directs.

8. The care of the sick, or of those recuperating, or of anyone enfeebled, even if he has no medical symptoms, ought to be entrusted to one particular brother, so that he may ask the cellarer for whatever he may see someone needing.

9. Those who are assigned to serve the brethren as cellarers or wardrobe-keepers or librarians should do so without complaining.

10. Books are to be asked for every day at a fixed time; they should not be given to anyone outside the proper time.

11. Those who are in charge of clothing and footwear should not delay in giving them to those who need them and ask for them.

5.

1. You should either refrain from disputes, or settle them as fast as you can, lest anger grown into hatred, a mountain be made out of a molehill, and you should turn into a murderer. For this is what you read: "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer" (I John 3:15).

2. If anyone injures another by insulting or cursing or even attacking him, he must remember to make amends and put this right as soon as possible, and the injured party must forgive him without further ado. If they have injured one another, they must pardon one another because you have asked them to do so; and the more often you do this the more beneficial it will be. It is better for a man to be much tempted by anger and yet to be quick to acknowledge that he has wronged another and to ask for his forgiveness than to be slow to anger and slower still to submit to asking for pardon. If there is anyone who will never ask forgiveness or who does so insincerely, he has no business in the monastery, even though you do not turn him out. Thus, do not use harsh words; but if your tongue has uttered them, that some tongue ought not to gag over offering words to heal the wound it has made.

3. But when you are controlling your juniors and the needs of discipline require you to say hard things, even if you feel that you are going too far, you do not need to ask pardon from those who must be subject to you; for anyone having office you exceed in humility may weaken his authority. Still you should ask pardon from the Lord of all, who knows with what kindness you love those whom you correct perhaps even more than is fair. For the love between you should be, not fleshly, but spiritual.

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