The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter Thirty-Four, Getting Your Fair Share

My last post was about private ownership in a monastery. There I discussed how monks were not allowed to own things (unless they had their abbot’s permission of course) as everything was to belong to the community. The chapter I will be analyzing today goes into a bit more detail regarding that.

 

sick-clerk-proposing-to-become-a-monk-from-bl-royal-11-d-ix-f-207v-b595ec
Sick clerk proposing to become a monk | BL Royal 11 D IX, f. 207v | Source: PICRYL.com

 

Chapter Thirty-Four of The Rule of Saint Benedict is titled “Whether all ought alike to Receive what is Needful” (pg. 50). It begins with the bible quote ‘”Distribution was made to every man, according as he had need”‘ (pg. 50). This is the thesis/summary of chapter thirty-four. Saint Benedict goes onto elaborate saying:

“Herein we do not say that there should be respecting of personsGod forbid—but consideration for infirmities.” (pg. 50)

Basically, a monastery is supposed to make accommodations for monks who need them. An elderly sick monk will need more food or blankets than a healthy young one, so it’s important to take a monk’s disabilities into account when items are being distributed in the monastery. This isn’t just a medieval concept. Even in modern times, workplaces are expected to make reasonable accommodations for people.

Saint Benedict is aware that sometimes people get grumbly when they see someone else getting ‘more’ (for lack of a better term) than them. He reminds his monkish reader “that hath need of less [should] give thanks to God, and not be grieved” (pg. 50). In other words, a monk should be thankful he is healthy. The text also tells monks with disabilities that they should “be humbled for his infirmity” (pg. 50). He should “not [be] made proud by the kindness shown to him” (pg. 50). If everyone can do this, then “all the members of the family shall be at peace” (pg. 50).

In case these words don’t convince monks, the text warns the reader about “the evil of murmuring” (pg. 50). If a monk complains even with “the slightest word or sign on any account whatsoever” then he is to “be subjected to very severe punishment” (pg. 50).

 

 

Main Source:

  • Saint Benedict. Blair, D. Oswald Hunter, translator. The Rule of Saint Benedict, With Explanatory Notes. Ichthus Publications.

(I bought my copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict on Amazon. You can purchase my edition of it here.)

Other Sources:

Wikipedia’s overview of The Rule of Saint Benedict to double-check my interpretations of the text. Link to that article here.

Solesme Abbey’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation. (You have to scroll down to see the text.)

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter Thirty-Three, Can You (a Medieval Monk) Own Stuff?

Once again, I am discussing another short chapter in The Rule of Saint Benedict. Like the last chapter (and various other ones) this one is only a paragraph long. Chapter Thirty-Three is titled “Whether Monks ought to have anything of their Own” (pg. 49). The short answer to this is No. The long answer to this is Still No But Sometimes Maybe.

 

Harley MS 5431 f.60r
The Beginning of Chapter Thirty-Three in a Medieval Manuscript | Harley MS 5431 f.60r | Source: The British Library

 

The text begins with “the vice of private ownership is above all to be cut off from the Monastery by the roots” (pg. 49). Saint Benedict definitely had something here. When you own your own things, it is very easy to become greedy and want more and more. Or if you don’t become greedy, you might hesitate to share what you do have. To avoid monks spiraling into absolute corruption, the simplest solution is to have everything belong to the community. (I will note that this sentiment is still extremely relevant in 2020. However, it is much easier to share when your community is twelve or more other monks and not a country of other people.)

Everything was to “be common to all” (pg.49). Or in other words, all things were to be shared by the brethren. A monk was not “to keep anything as their own” (pg. 49). They weren’t even allowed to own little things that might not seem very valuable, such as a “writing-tablet or [a] pen” (pg. 49)! While this does seem a bit extreme, Saint Benedict justifies these regulations by reminding his monkish reader that “they are permitted to have neither body nor will in their own power” (pg. 49). If a monk isn’t even allowed to have his own will, why would he be allowed to have his own pen?

If a monk doesn’t even have his own will, who in the monastery does? The answer is the abbot. One of the abbot’s many duties was to permit his monks to own items if he so chose. Saint Benedict says, “let none presume to give or receive anything without leave of the Abbot” (pg. 49). However, an abbot was not to deprive his monks of things they needed to survive:

“But all that is necessary they [the monks] may hope to receive from the father of the Monastery…” (pg. 49)

However, expecting a person to share absolutely everything can be a bit impractical at times. I imagine that monks were allowed to keep their own habits even if the clothes technically belonged to the monastery. (After all, someone very short and thin won’t fit into the same clothes as someone very tall and fat.) Like in previous chapters, Saint Benedict throws in a loophole. Monks can have some things as long as the Abbot has given it to them “or at least permitted them to have” (pg. 49) it.

What happens if a monk doesn’t follow the rules and sneaks something into the monastery for himself? Well, if any monk is “found to indulge in this most baneful vice” (pg. 50) there must be consequences. At first, the monk should be given “one or two admonitions” (pg. 50). But if he does “not amend” Saint Benedict says the monk must “be subjected to correction” (pg. 50).

 

 

Main Source:

  • Saint Benedict. Blair, D. Oswald Hunter, translator. The Rule of Saint Benedict, With Explanatory Notes. Ichthus Publications.

(I bought my copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict on Amazon. You can purchase my edition of it here.)

Other Sources:

Wikipedia’s overview of The Rule of Saint Benedict to double-check my interpretations of the text. Link to that article here.

Solesme Abbey’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation.

For some reason, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict wasn’t loading today. However, the Wayback Machine has a screenshot of the usual PDF that I reference. You can access that screenshot here. (You have to scroll down to see the text.) I used this to cross-check my translation.

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter Thirty-Two, Who Gets to Keep Track of a Monastery’s Tools

Chapter Thirty-Two of The Rule of Saint Benedict is another shorter chapter. It’s only one paragraph long and it’s titled “Of the Iron Tools, and Property of the Monastery” (pg. 49). As you can probably guess, this chapter is about the monastery’s property. To be more specific, it is about how monks are to treat the tools they use.

 

Harley MS 5431 f.59v
The Beginning of Chapter Thirty-Two in a Medieval Manuscript | BL Harley MS 5431 f.59v | Source: The British Library

 

It starts off with Saint Benedict instructing the abbot how to choose the monks “to the charge of the iron tools, clothes, and other property of the Monastery” (pg. 49). These monks are to be men “on whose manner of life and character he [the abbot] can rely” (pg. 49). They must be dependable. Not only are these monks to make sure the tools are kept in good working order, but they also have to keep track of where the tools are as they are being used. Saint Benedict explicitly says that “the things [are] to be kept and collected after use” (pg. 49).

Furthermore, it’s an abbot’s duty to “keep a list” (pg. 49) of the property. Monks are given different chores to do at different times. A monk working in the kitchen and a monk working in the fields aren’t going to use the same tools. A list will help the abbot “know what he giveth and receiveth back” (pg. 49).

Finally, the chapter ends with what should be done with the monks who “treat the property…in a slovenly or negligent manner” (pg. 49). At first, they are to “be corrected” but “if he do not amend” then the monk should “be subjected to the discipline of the Rule” (pg. 49). (And if you are curious about what exactly this discipline is, I’ve gone into detail about that here.)

This chapter has the same theme as other chapters concerning running a monastery. That theme being important jobs should only go to those responsible enough to handle them. If you’ve ever done yardwork or what have you, you know that high-quality tools can be expensive. And even if you only own a $15 rake, it’s still very annoying to have to go out and buy a new one if it accidentally breaks. It’s even more annoying when something breaks because you left it outside or the person using it wasn’t careful or you misplaced it.

Now imagine that instead of driving down to the hardware store (or buying a tool online and waiting a few days for it to be delivered) you have to make it all from scratch. It’s no wonder that Saint Benedict wants only responsible monks to keep track of everything!

 

Main Source:

The Rule of Saint Benedict, With Explanatory Notes. Ichthus Publications.

(I bought my copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict on Amazon. You can purchase my edition of it here.)

Other Sources:

Wikipedia’s overview of The Rule of Saint Benedict to double-check my interpretations of the text. Link to that article here.

Solesme Abbey’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation. (You have to scroll down to see the text.)

EDIT: In case you can’t access the Christian Classics Ethereal Library’s translation, the Wayback Machine has a screenshot of the PDF I used. That PDF can be accessed here.

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter Thirty-One, What Kind of Man the Cellarer Should be and His Job Duties

To run a monastery efficiently, you have to have more staff than just an abbot and a few deans. There are all kinds of jobs to do. One such job was the cellarer. The cellarer was in charge of giving out a monastery’s food and drink. In an era where food may be scarce depending on how good the harvest was, it was an important job. (And even now when most people can just go to the grocery store, being charge of food is an important job!)

However, not everyone should be a cellarer. Saint Benedict sets out quite a few very specific guidelines for the cellarer’s personal character:

“Let there be chosen out of the community, as Cellarer of the Monastery, a man wise and of mature character, temperate, not a great eater, not haughty, nor headstrong, nor arrogant, not slothful, nor wasteful, but a God-fearing man, who may be like a father to the whole community.” (pg. 47)

According to Saint Benedict, the man in charge of the monastery’s food should have some self-control when it comes to being around food. This is certainly a reasonable requirement. If the cellarer can’t restrain himself, it would be extremely hypocritical to expect the other monks to do the same. As “a father to the whole community” (pg. 47), the cellarer is expected to lead by example and be a good example to the others.

The Rule of Saint Benedict allows the cellarer to make some executive decisions. The text explicitly states, “let him have the care of everything” (pg. 47). However, he is also to “do nothing without leave of the Abbot” (pg. 47). So the cellarer is certainly in charge, but he must always double-check with his abbot before he makes those executive decisions.

 

Harley MS 5431 f.58r
The Beginning of Chapter Thirty-One in a Medieval Manuscript | BL Harley MS 5431 f.58r | Source: The British Library

 

Saint Benedict wants the cellarers to be kind, patient, and mild-mannered. This may seem like a strange requirement (especially for anyone who has ever worked in food service!), but a few sentences later, this is explained:

“Let him take heed to what is commanded him, and not sadden his brethren. If a brother ask him for anything unreasonably, let him not treat him with contempt and so grieve him, but reasonably and with all humility refuse what he asks for amiss.” (pg. 47 and 48)

As someone in charge of the food and drink, the cellarer is going to have quite a few hungry monks asking him for treats/snacks when they aren’t allowed to. It’s his duty to be kind and say no to these requests kindly. He is to make sure that everyone has had their fair share of food. That doesn’t just mean telling gluttonous monks that they may not have extras. It also means giving more to those who need extra nourishment:

“Let him have especial care of the sick, of the children, of guests and of the poor, knowing without doubt that he will have to render an account of all these on the Day of Judgment.” (pg. 48)

The ones listed above are quite often the type of people who need more food and drink than your average healthy adult. The sick need extra to get well, children need extra to grow, guests should have extra to show proper hospitality and the poor need extra because they are lacking. Like in previous chapters, Saint Benedict sprinkles in a little bit of fear-mongering at the end. If the cellarer does not show kindness towards the vulnerable, he will have to explain to God why he was deliberately cruel to those who needed that kindness the most.

Furthermore, the cellarer must “look upon all the vessels and goods of the Monastery as though they were the consecrated vessels of the altar” (pg. 48). Food is just as important as the holy items used in church and it should be treated as such. It is sacred and it must not be wasted. Saint Benedict goes on to write that the cellarer should “not think that he may neglect anything” (pg. 48). It is his responsibility that everything regarding the monastery’s meals goes smoothly. To do so properly, the cellarer must “not be given to covetousness, nor wasteful, nor a squanderer of the goods of the Monastery” (pg. 48). He is to “do all things in proper measure” (pg. 48). However, Saint Benedict reminds his monkish reader once again that the cellarer must listen to “the bidding of his Abbot” (pg. 48).

 

Monk_sneaking_a_drink
A Monk Sneaking a Drink | BL Sloane 2435, f. 44v | Source: Wikipedia

 

As an interesting side note, in the translations I used to cross-check my own copy of The Rule, (as mine uses a lot of archaic words and the syntax can be a little strange) they translate “covetousness” to “avarice.” (Links to those can be found at the end of this post.)

After explaining the degree of reverence he should have for food, the text returns to discussing the ideal cellarer’s personal character. Saint Benedict reiterates that he should in “above all things have humility” (pg. 48). This includes giving “a kind answer” (pg. 48) when monks ask for things the cellarer does not have. And when his abbot tells the cellarer that he can’t have things, he is not “to meddle with what is forbidden him” (pg. 48).

At the end of this chapter, Saint Benedict finally explains the cellarer’s main job (and he throws in a threat at the end!):

“Let him distribute to the brethren their appointed allowance of food, without arrogance or delay, that they not be scandalized: mindful of what the Word of God declareth him to deserve, who ‘shall scandalize one of these little ones:’ namely, ‘that a mill-stone be hanged about his neck and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea.'” (pg. 48)

 

Royal MS 10 E IV f.227r
Technically, the Virgin Mary is saving this monk from drowning, but I felt that this illustration was still appropriate | BL Royal MS 10 E IV f.227r | Source: The British Library

 

It’s certainly quite a threat! God says to do your job compassionately or you’ll be sleeping with the fishes! At least, Saint Benedict claims that God said this. And with a consequence like that, who is going to argue?

Funnily enough, He doesn’t unpack the last few sentences. Saint Benedict just keeps moving on with the text. The chapter ends with a few more practicalities of the job. This includes whether or not the cellarer gets “helpers” (only “if the community be large”) and that “things…[that] are necessary be given and asked for at befitting times” (pg. 48). Then the chapter ends with a much more comforting phrase, “no one may be troubled nor grieved in the house of God” (pg. 48).

 

 

Main Source:

The Rule of Saint Benedict, With Explanatory Notes. Ichthus Publications.

(I bought my copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict on Amazon. You can purchase my edition of it here.)

Other Sources:

Wikipedia’s overview of The Rule of Saint Benedict to double-check my interpretations of the text. Link to that article here.

Solesme Abbey’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation. (You have to scroll down to see the text.)

EDIT: In case you can’t access the Christian Classics Ethereal Library’s translation, the Wayback Machine has a screenshot of the PDF I used. That PDF can be accessed here.

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapters Twenty-Three through Thirty, So You (a Medieval Monk) Have Been Really Bad. Now What?

Despite being men of God, monks didn’t always act holy. Saint Benedict knew that his monks were only human and that humans slip up and make mistakes. This post will be discussing chapters twenty-three through thirty of The Rule of Saint Benedict. While there are other chapters focusing on disciplining bad monks, they focus on minor faults. Today’s post concentrates on what a superior should do if a monk commits a grave fault.

 

ms. Roy.10.E.IV f.187r
A Monk and Nun in the Stocks | BL Royal MS 10 E IV f.187r | Source: The British Library

 

Chapter Twenty-Three is titled “Of Excommunication for Offenses” (pg. 43). Here Saint Benedict lists out what actions are punishable by excommunication:

“If any brother shall be found contumacious, or disobedient, or proud, or a murmurer, or in any way transgressing the Holy Rule, and contemning the orders of his seniors…” (pg. 43)

However, just because a monk does any of these things, it doesn’t mean he should be immediately excommunicated. (Which I will note isn’t necessarily kicking the monk out of the monastery, never to return. I’ll go into more detail about that later on in this post.) Instead, Saint Benedict allows the Abbot to give the monk a little bit of leniency. For the first offense, a monk should “be once or twice privately admonished by his elders” (pg. 43). When you speak to someone privately about their wrongdoings, you can avoid the anger and defensiveness that usually comes out when someone is called out publicly. It also allows the monk some time to reflect and correct himself.

If a monk keeps acting out despite being privately spoken to, “let him be rebuked in public before all” (pg. 43). Unfortunately, some people only change their ways after a bit of public humiliation. That being said, sometimes neither of these tactics work. If the monk is still misbehaving, then “let him be subjected to excommunication, provided that he understand the nature of the punishment” (pg. 43). What happens if a monk doesn’t get why excommunication is so bad? Well, Saint Benedict recommends that the monk “undergo corporal chastisement” (pg. 43).

Chapter Twenty-Four is titled “What the Measure of Excommunication should be” (pg. 43). Here excommunication is a way to isolate the misbehaving monk from the community at large. (Verses permanently throwing the man out on the street.) Saint Benedict reminds his reader that the punishment should fit the crime. Depending on “the gravity of the offence [sic]” how severe the punishment is “left to the judgment of the Abbot” (pg. 43). This is a wise way of going about things. Needless to say, if one monk murders another monk in cold blood, privately talking to him isn’t exactly an effective punishment. Letting an Abbot make his own judgments allows him to look at the surrounding circumstances of the original crime.

The text goes on to describe the proper punishment for “any brother…found guilty of lighter faults” (pg. 43). Saint Benedict recommends that the bad monk “be excluded from the common table” (pg. 43). Not only does he have to “take his meals alone” but a bad monk has to eat “after those of the brethren” (pg. 43). However, the monk can’t eat immediately after his fellow monks are done. He has to wait and be hungry for a good amount of time before he can eat too. So if the community usually eats “at the sixth hour” the bad monk will “eat at the ninth” (pg. 43). And if they usually “eat at the ninth” the monk has to wait to “eat in the evening” (pg. 43). This goes on “until by proper satisfaction he obtain pardon” (pg. 43).

Being excluded doesn’t just mean being left out at mealtimes. It also means being left out of other group activities. This includes worshipping as well:

“And this shall be the rule for one so deprived: he shall intone neither Psalm nor antiphon in the Oratory, nor shall he read a lesson, until he have made satisfaction.” (pg. 43)

 

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Monks Worshipping | Source: PICRYL.com

 

Chapter Twenty-Five is titled “Of Graver Faults” (pg. 44). Here Saint Benedict goes into detail for the punishments suitable for monks who really mess up. Not only is the monk “excluded both from the table and from the Oratory” (pg. 44) like he would be if he just committed a lesser fault, he is also excluded from the monastic community at large. Meaning that “none of the brethren [are allowed to] consort with him or speak to him” (pg. 44). The monk is isolated in all things. He is to “be alone at the work enjoined him” as well as “take his portion of food alone” (pg. 44).

Because he has committed a grave fault, the monk doesn’t just eat a few hours after everyone else. Instead, his food will be “in the measure and at the time that the Abbot shall think best for him” (pg. 44). This means that the abbot may limit the bad monk’s food portions and make him wait all day until he is allowed to eat. This type of control could either be an effective enough punishment or something that a power-hungry (pun unintended) Abbot would take advantage of to the extreme.

The bad monk’s complete isolation is added to with the last sentence of this chapter:

“Let none of those who pass by bless him, nor the food that is given him.” (pg. 44)

If the bad monk isn’t even allowed to be blessed, then that means he really screwed up. But what happens if another monk talks to him anyway? Well, Saint Benedict covers that in the next chapter!

Chapter Twenty-Six is titled “Of those who, without Leave of the Abbot, Consort with the Excommunicate” (pg. 44). This particular chapter is insanely short. It’s only one sentence. That being said, Saint Benedict really only needs to make his point in one sentence:

“If any brother presume without the Abbot’s leave to hold any intercourse whatever with an excommunicated brother, or to speak with him, or to send him a message, let him incur the same punishment of excommunication.” (pg. 44)

One thing I find particularly notable about this passage is how Saint Benedict closes up any potential loopholes. I can imagine a monk saying to his abbot, ‘I only sent him a letter, I didn’t actually talk to him’ in an attempt to avoid getting in trouble himself. It’s also interesting that Saint Benedict is sure to specify that monks are only allowed to talk to their punished brethren with the permission of their abbot. Even if a monk is shunned from the community, eventually there will need to be communication between the two parties. By giving the other monks permission through the abbot, Saint Benedict is relieving the anxiety a monk might have about being punished themselves.

Chapter Twenty-Seven is titled “How Careful the Abbot should be of the Excommunicate” (pg. 45). Here Saint Benedict argues that while an excommunicated monk is still in trouble, an abbot shouldn’t treat him so harshly that the monk gives up on being good forever. Instead, an abbot should “show all care and solicitude towards the offending brethren” (pg. 45). One tactic includes “sending some brethren of mature years and wisdom” to “secretly, console the wavering brother” (pg. 45). The older monks are to “comfort him, that he be not overwhelmed by excess of sorrow” (pg. 45). This section of the text certainly gives a lot more context to the loophole about receiving an abbot’s permission to talk to the fallen monk!

While no one is allowed to bless the bad monk or his food, Saint Benedict encourages “all pray for him” (pg. 45). An abbot needs to “use the greatest care…not to lose any one of the sheep committed to him” (pg. 45). After all, an abbot “hath undertaken the charge of weakly souls” (pg. 45). It’s his job to make sure those who stray come back to the righteous path. If he doesn’t, he’ll face the consequences on Judgment Day.

 

Royal MS 6 E VI:1 f.57r
Judgment Day | Royal MS 6 E VI/1 f.57r | Source: The British Library

 

Chapter Twenty-Eight is titled “Of those Who, being Often Corrected, do not Amend” (pg. 46). Here the text details what an abbot should do if the bad monk refuses to behave himself. These punishments should be given to a monk who “has been frequently corrected for some fault, or even excommunicated” (pg. 46). If a monk has been told not to do something and he keeps doing it, then it’s time for “the punishment of stripes” (pg. 46), or corporal punishment. And of course, during this time it is vital for the monk to say “his own prayers and those of all the brethren for him” (pg. 46).

But what happens if a monk is still bad even if you hit him? What if he keeps doing the things he’s not supposed to despite the community’s prayers? What if he “even wish to defend his deeds” (pg. 46)? Well, it’s important to note that excommunication and hitting the monk is supposed to be “the last remedy” (pg. 46). So, if you’ve done absolutely everything that Saint Benedict has recommended these last few chapters and the monk is still misbehaving then it’s time for “the Abbot [to] use the sword of separation” (pg. 46).  If an abbot doesn’t remove the problem monk then he runs the risk of “one diseased sheep…taint[ing] the whole flock” (pg. 46). However, kicking out a monk is only supposed to be the last resort.

Chapter Twenty-Nine is titled “Whether the Brethren who Leave the Monastery are to be Received Again” (pg. 46). This is another relatively short chapter. This part of the text explains how a community should handle a monk returning after he has either “through his own fault departeth or is cast out of the Monastery” (pg. 46). Not all monks/nuns who left their monasteries did so because they were kicked out. Some simply ran away! (The monastic life isn’t for everyone.) So what happens if a monk regrets leaving and wants to come back? He most certainly can, but there will be consequences for leaving in the first place.

The returning monk must “first to amend entirely the fault for which he went away” (pg. 47). After doing so, he will be welcomed back, but he will “be received back into the lowest place” (pg. 47) in the order of seniority. This is so “his humility may be tried” (pg. 47). This is to test the monk’s dedication to the monastic life. It’s important that the monk is returning for the right reasons and not just because he has nowhere else to go/is hungry/what have you. Monks leaving then coming back several times is implied to be an issue by the text. Saint Benedict specifically says:

“Should he again depart, let him be taken back until the third time: knowing that after this all return will be denied to him.” (pg. 47)

I think coming back three times is a reasonable amount. After three times, it starts to get a little ridiculous. Clearly, the monk isn’t returning for the right reasons.

 

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A Child Being Given to a Monastery as an Oblate |BL Royal 10 D VIII, f. 82v | Source: blogs.brown.edu

 

Our last chapter, Chapter Thirty is titled “How the Younger Boys are to be Corrected” (pg. 47). Once again, it is one of the shorter chapters in The Rule of Saint Benedict. Monasteries weren’t just full of men. Often times they had young children, called oblates, living there as well. Oblates were given to the monastery by their parents for various reasons. Here, it is explained how these boys should be punished.

The first sentence says that “every age and understanding should have its proper measure of discipline” (pg. 47). This is some good common sense. A five-year-old and a fifty-five-year-old should not be punished the same. Saint Benedict recognizes that if a child is “unable to understand the greatness of the penalty of excommunication” (pg. 47) he shouldn’t be excommunicated. However, Saint Benedict is also a product of his time and recommends that a naughty child “be punished by severe fasting or sharp stripes” so “they may be cured” (pg. 47).

 

 

Main Source:

The Rule of Saint Benedict, With Explanatory Notes. Ichthus Publications.

(I bought my copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict on Amazon. You can purchase my edition of it here.)

Other Sources:

Wikipedia’s overview of The Rule of Saint Benedict to double-check my interpretations of the text. Link to that article here. (Accessed on February 16, 2020.)

Solesme Abbey’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library’s translation of The Rule of Saint Benedict can be found here as a PDF. I used this to cross-check my translation. (You have to scroll down to see the text.)

EDIT: In case you can’t access the Christian Classics Ethereal Library’s translation, the Wayback Machine has a screenshot of the PDF I used. That PDF can be accessed here.