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Praeceptum

1.

1. We enjoin you who are established in the monastery to keep these rules.

2. First, because you have been gathered together as one body, you should live in unanimity in the house, with "one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32) for God.

3. And you should not call anything your own, but everything which you have should be common property and your superior should distribute food and clothing (I Timothy, 6:8) to each of you, not the same to everyone, because you have not all the same strength, but rather to each man as he may have need (Acts 4:35). For this is what you read in the Acts of the Apostles, that "all things were in common to them, and distribution was made to everyone as he had need". (Acts 4:32, 35).

4. Those who owned anything in the world should be willing without begrudging for it to be common property after they have entered the monastery.

5. But those who had nothing ought not to be seeking in the monastery for what they could not have outside. All the same, they should be given what they need when they are weak, even if their poverty, when they were outside, denied them even the bare necessities. Nonetheless, do not let them congratulate themselves because they have found food and clothing such as they never found outside.

6. Nor should they give themselves airs because they are mixing with others whom they never dared to approach outside; rather, let them lift their hearts up to God, and not be seeking after worldly vanities, lest monasteries become profitable to the rich but not to the poor, if the rich are to become humble there and the poor puffed up with pride.

7. Yet, in the same way, those who seemed to be something in the world should not despise their brothers because they were poor before they joined this holy company. They ought rather to strive to take pride, not in the prominence of their rich families, but in the companionship of their poor brethren. Nor should they boast if they have contributed something to the common life out of their means, or take more glory in their wealth because they are sharing it with the monastery than if they were enjoying it in the world. Every other kind of wickedness works in wicked deeds, so that they may be committed, but pride creeps into even good deeds, so that they may come to nothing. What is the use of man's distributing his possessions by giving them to the poor, and making himself poor too, when this contempt for wealth makes his miserable soul more proud than it was when he was wealthy?

8. So all of you live with one soul and one heart, and honor in one another God, whose temples you were made to be (2 Cor. 6:16).

2.

1. Assemble for prayers at the established hours and times. But if someone does not try with all his might and with the help of God's mercy to fulfill these orders, but rather despises them with a stubborn heart, let him be warned once, and a second time, and if he then does not improve, he should know that he is liable for fitting punishment from the monastery. If he is young enough for this, let him even be beaten.

2. Let no one do anything in the oratory except what it was built for and from which it takes its name; so that if by chance there are some who are at leisure and may wish to pray outside the established times, no one who thinks that he has something else to do there should be a hindrance to them.

3. When you pray to God in psalms and hymns, turn over in your heart what your voice is uttering.

4. And do not recite anything unless you read that it is to be recited; if it is not written down that it should be, it ought not to be, recited.

Next page: Praeceptum, continued.

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