Rule of St Augustine
The Rule of St Augustine
Saint Augustine based his rule on the ideal of the earliest Christian communities. Love and community are at the heart of the rule. Within his rule is something for everyone.
1. Before all else, dear brothers, love God and then your neighbour, because these are the chief commandments given to us.
2. The following are the precepts we order you living in the monastery to observe.
One in mind and heart
3. The main purpose for your having come together is to live harmoniously in your house, intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart.
4. Call nothing your own, but let everything be yours in common.
5. Those who owned something in the world should be cheerful in wanting to share it in common once they have entered the monastery.
6. But they who owned nothing should not look for those things in the monastery that they were unable to have in the world.
Humility the basis of common life
7. Let them not hold their heads high because they associate with people whom they did not dare to approach in the world, but let them rather lift up their hearts and not seek after what is vain and earthly.
8. The rich, for their part, who seemed important in the world, must not look down on their brothers who have come into this holy brotherhood from a condition of poverty. They should seek glory in the fellowship of poor brothers rather than in the reputation of rich relatives.
Exhortation to harmony
9. Let all of you live together in oneness of mind and heart, mutually honouring God in yourselves, whose temples you have become.
10. Be assiduous in prayer, at the hours and times appointed.
11. In the oratory no one should do anything other than for which it was intended and from which it also takes its name. Consequently, if there are some who might wish to pray there during their free time, even outside the hours appointed, they should not be hindered by those who think something else must be done there.
12. When you pray to God in psalms and hymns think over in your hearts the words that come from your lips.
13. Chant only what is prescribed for chant; moreover, let nothing be chanted unless it is so prescribed.
Fasting and abstinence
14. Subdue the flesh, so far as your health permits, by fasting and abstinence from food and drink.
Reading at meals
15. When you come to the table, listen until you leave to what is the custom to read, without disturbance or strife.
Consideration for the weak
16. If those in more delicate health are treated differently in the matter of food, this should not be aa source of annoyance for others.
Austerity and understanding
17. The rest should not want the extra they see given to the few; it is not a special privilege, but a help to support them in their weakness.
Concern for the sick
18. Just as the sick must take less food to avoid discomfort, so too, after their illness, they are to receive the kind of treatment that will quickly restore their strength.
19. There should be nothing about your clothing to attract attention. You should not seek to please by your apparel, but by a good life.
Behaviour outside the monastery
20. Whenever you go out, walk together, and when you reach your destination, stay together.
21. In your walk, comportment, and in all your actions let nothing happen to give offence to anyone who sees you, but only what becomes your holy state of life.
22. When you see a woman, do not keep provocatively looking at her. You cannot say that your inner attitude is good if with your eyes you desire to possess a woman, for the eye is the herald of the heart.
23. Indeed, if a person cannot keep his eyes off a woman and enjoys attracting her attention, he should not imagine that others do not see this, least of all by God.
24. When you are together, in church or anywhere else, exercise a mutual care over purity of life. By mutual vigilance over one another God, who dwells in you, will grant you his protection.
25. If you notice in a brother this spiritual ailment then warn him immediately, so that the evil that has taken root may not worsen and so that he may promptly improve his behaviour.
26. It is your duty to make known a brother's spiritual ailment lest he should become more corrupt at heart.
Severity in love
27. If your brother does not acknowledge his fault and accept correction the community must be informed. But let the matter first be made known to the superior alone. Thus, corrected in private, the fault can perhaps be kept from others.
Hate the sin, love the sinner
28. Let what I have said be carefully observed with regard to all other offences: to find them out, to ward them off, to make them known, to prove and punish them.
29. If anyone should go so far in wrongdoing as to receive secret letters or gifts of any kind, you ought to show mercy and pray for him if he confesses this of his own accord.
30. Keep your clothing in one place in charge of one or two, or of as many as are needed to care for them and prevent damage from moths. Just as you have your food from the one pantry, so too you are to receive your clothing from a single wardrobe.
Put the community first
31. No one should perform any task for his own benefit but all your work shall be done for the common good, with greater zeal and more dispatch than if each one of you were to work for himself alone.
32. Every gift must be placed at the disposal of the superior so that, as common property, it can be given to whoever needs it.
33. Your clothing should be cleaned either by yourselves or by those who perform this service, as the superior shall determine, so that too great a desire for clean clothing may not be the source of interior stains on the soul.
34. A brother must never deny himself use of the (public or thermal) bath when his health requires it. But this should be done on medical advice, without complaining, so that even though unwilling, he shall do what has to be done for his health when the superior orders it.
35. If the cause of a brother's pain is not apparent, you must take the word of God's servant when he indicates what is giving him pain.
Going out together
36. When there is need to frequent the public baths or any other place, no fewer than two or three should go together, and whoever has to go somewhere must not go with those of his own choice but with those designated by the superior.
The charity of fraternal service
37. The care of the sick, whether those in convalescence or others suffering from some indisposition, even though free from fever, shall be assigned to a brother who can personally obtain from the pantry whatever he sees is necessary for each one,
38. Those in charge of the pantry, or of clothing and books, should render cheerful service to their brothers.
39. Books are to be requested at a fixed hour each day, and anyone coming outside that hour is not to receive them.
40. As for clothing and shoes, those in charge shall not delay the giving of them whenever they are required by those in need of them.
The charity of mutual forgiveness
41. You should either avoid quarrels altogether or else put an end to them as quickly as possible; otherwise, anger may grow into hatred, making a plank out of a splinter, and turn the soul into a murderer.
42. A brother who is never willing to ask pardon, or does not do so from his heart, has no reason to be in the monastery, even if he is not expelled.
The charity of authority
43. Whenever the good of discipline compels you to speak harshly in correcting your subjects, then, even if you think you have been unduly harsh in your language, you are not required to ask for forgiveness lest, by practising too great humility towards those who should be your subjects, the authority to rule is undermined.
44. The superior should be obeyed as a father with the respect due to him so as not to offend God in his person.
45. It shall pertain chiefly to the superior to see that these precepts are all observed and, if any point has been neglected, to take care that the transgression is not carelessly overlooked but is punished and corrected.
46. The superior must not think himself fortunate in his exercise of authority but in his role as one serving you in love. Let him be raised above you in honour, in the sight of men; but, in the sight of God, let him humbly consider himself beneath you.
47. It is by being more obedient that you show mercy not only to yourselves but also towards the superior whose higher rank among you exposes him all the more to greater peril.
48. The Lord grant that you may observe all these precepts in a spirit of charity as lovers of spiritual beauty, giving forth the good aroma of Christ in the holiness of your lives; not as slaves living under the law but as men living in freedom under grace.
The rule as a mirror
49. This little book is to be read to you once a week. As in a mirror, you will be able to see in it whether there is anything you are neglecting or forgetting.
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