The Holy Rule
of Saint Augustine
Translated by Rev. Tarcisius
Rattler, O.S.A .
1. Above all things, dearest brethren, love God,
For these are the main commandments given to us.
2. The following are the things we command you to observe in the
Purpose and Foundation of the Common
The first purpose for
which you have been brought together is that in living in one house you be of
one mind and that you have one heart and soul in God.
4. Do not call anything your own, but
let all things be in common.
food and clothing be distributed to each one of you by your superior, not in
equal measure to all, because you are not all of the same health, but so as to
provide for each one according to his need.
For thus you read in the
Acts of the Apostles: they had all things in common and distribution was made to everyone
according to his need. (Acts. IV, 32,35)
5. Let those who had possessions in the world freely consent, when they
enter the monastery, that these be put to the common use. 6.
But let those who possessed nothing not
look for things in the monastery which they were unable to have in the
Nevertheless, all needful
care of their infirmities must be provided, though their poverty in the world
deprived them of their very necessaries.
However, let them not consider themselves fortunate for having found food
and clothing such as they were not able to obtain in the world. 7.
They should not lift up their heads for
being associated with those whom they would not have dared to approach in the
Let them raise their hearts
to God, instead of seeking earthly and vain things.
Else the monasteries would be useful to
the rich but not to the poor, because the rich would there be humbled, while the
poor become proud. 8.
On the other
hand, let those who seemed to be something in the world not look down upon their
brethren who have come from poverty to this holy society.
They should rather strive to glory, not
in the honored station of their wealthy parents, but in the society of their
Neither should they
be proud if they bestowed any of their possessions on the community, lest the
sharing of their wealth in the monastery fill them with worse pride than its
enjoyment in the world.
other vice brings forth its own evil work, but pride ensnares even good deeds
and destroys them.
does it profit to renounce wealth by giving to the poor and becoming poor
oneself, if the wretched soul becomes prouder by the contempt of wealth than in
its possession? 9.
all of one mind and live in harmony, and honor in one another God whose temple
you have become.
Be diligent in prayer at the appointed
hours and times.
Let no one do anything in the oratory,
except that for which it was made, whence also it has received its name, so that
if anyone wish to pray there in his free time, outside the appointed hours, he
be not disturbed by those who think it necessary to do something else
When you pray to God in psalms and
hymns, let your heart be occupied with what your lips pronounce.
And do not sing, except what you find
set down for singing.
But what is
not so marked shall not be sung.
Simplicity of Life and Mortification of the
Subdue your flesh by
fasting from meat and drink, so far as your health permits.
But if anyone is not able to fast, at
least let him take no food out of meal time, unless he is sick.
While you are at table, listen without
disturbance and dispute to the customary reading.
For not only your palate should be
gratified by taking food, but your ears likewise should relish hearing the word
If those who are weak because of their
former condition of life receive special food, this must not arouse ill-feeling
in others, nor appear unjust to those whom another condition of life has made
Neither should they
consider the former more fortunate for receiving something which they themselves
do not receive.
They should feel
happy that they can bear what these cannot endure. 17.
And if those who come to the monastery
from a softer way of life are given food, clothing, beds, and covers which are
not given to others who are sturdier and, therefore, more fortunate, the ones
who are not granted these things must consider how much those others have given
up of their former secular way of life, although they have not yet been able to
reach the simplicity of those who are stronger in body.
All should not expect the same
consideration they see a few receiving, because these are not thereby honored
but treated with tolerant patience.
Else there might arise the detestable abuse that in the monastery the
rich are subjected to many hardships and the poor become self-indulgent.
As the sick must receive less in order to avoid any strain
on them, so their treatment after sickness must be such as to hasten their
recovery, even though they come from the poorest condition in the world.
For sickness puts them in the same
condition as the former habit of life in the case of the rich.
But when they have recovered their
former strength, let them return to the happier manner of life which is the more
becoming for the Servants of God the less they need.
The pleasing taste for food should not
hold sway over those restored to health who in their sickness had need for
They should esteem those
the richer who in sustaining poverty are stronger.
For it is better to have fewer needs
than to enjoy things beyond what is necessary.
Safeguarding Chastity and Fraternal
19. Let your clothing not be conspicuous.
Do not seek to please by the garment you
wear but by the life you live.
When you go out, go together.
you have reached your destination remain together. 21.
Let there be nothing in your gait,
posture, comportment or any of your movements, that might offend anyone's
Let your manners be such as
are becoming your holy state.
When you see a woman let
your eye not be fixed on her.
you go out, you are not forbidden to see women.
But to desire to see them or to wish for
such desires on their part, is sinful.
For not only by touch and affection, but also by glances such desires are
aroused, and arise also in the women.
Therefore, do not say that your minds are pure if your eyes are not,
because an impure eye reveals an impure heart.
When by an exchange of glances, though
the tongue be silent, the hearts indicate their impurity and delight in each
other's ardent desire of the flesh, there is no chastity in such behavior, even
though the bodies are not defiled by impure touches.
Neither must he who fixes his eye on a
woman and is pleased to have hers fixed on himself, imagine that he is not
observed by others while he does this.
He is indeed seen, and by the very ones whom he thinks unaware of
But granted that it remains
unnoticed and no one on earth sees it, what will he do about Him who looks down
from heaven and from whom no thing can remain hidden?
May He be thought to disregard
because He looks on with a patience
that is as great as His understanding?
Let the religious fear to displease Him lest he desire to please a woman
in a sinful manner.
Indeed it is to
such persons and in such things that fear is recommended by Sacred Scripture
where it says:
before the Lord is he who turns his eye unto evil."
24. When, therefore, you are together in
the church or wherever there are women, safeguard each other's modesty.
For God who dwells in you will also in
this manner protect you through yourselves.
If you observe this wantonness of the
eye, of which I speak in anyone of you, admonish him at once, in order that the
evil begun may not progress but be corrected as soon as possible. 26.
But if after the admonition or on any
other occasion you see him again doing the same, it is necessary that whoever
observed it make it known, for he is wounded and in need of healing.
But first one or two others should be
told that they may convince themselves.
Thus he can be convicted out of two or three and curbed with
Do not think that
you act maliciously in making this known.
Indeed, you are not without blame if by your silence you permit your
brethren to perish, whom you might correct by making them known.
For if your brother had a wound in
his body which he would wish to hide from fear of an incision, would it not be
of you to keep the secret, but
merciful to reveal it?
more then, ought you to make him known lest he suffer worse corruption in his
27. But before his fault is
revealed to others, by whom he is to be convicted in case he denies it, the
matter should be brought to the attention of the superior if he fails to amend
after the admonition.
Thus he may
be reproved in private and his fault remain unknown to the others.
But if he denies it, then the others
must be brought in that he may be accused before the whole community not only
by one witness but by two or three and, thus, stand convicted.
The one convicted must submit to the
penalty decreed for his amendment by the superior or also the priest to whose
ministry such decisions pertain.
he refuses to bear it, and yet does not leave of his own accord, let him be
expelled from your midst.
is not done out of cruelty but out of mercy, lest he ruin many others by his
28. Let what I have
said about the restraint of the eye be diligently and faithfully observed in the
discovery, prevention, manifestation, proving, and punishment of all other sins:
with charity for the neighbor, but with hatred for sin. 29. If anyone has gone
so far in his sin as to receive letters or presents secretly from a woman: if he
confesses it of his own accord, let him be forgiven and let prayers be said for
But if he is apprehended and
convicted, let him be severely corrected according to the judgment of the priest
Goods Needed in this Passing Life and Those Charged with Their Care
30. Your clothes shall be kept
in one place under the charge of one or two or as many as may be required to
care for them, lest they be spoiled by the moths.
And as you are fed by one kitchen, so you
shall be clothed from one wardrobe.
If possible, it shall not be left to you to decide which garment,
according to the requirement of the seasons, be assigned to you: whether you
receive the same that you turned in or another which one of the brethren had
worn; as long as no one is denied what he needs.
But if contention and murmuring arise
among you through someone's complaint that he has received a poorer garment
than he had worn before, and he resent not being clothed so well as someone
else: then learn from this, how much you are still wanting in that inner garment
of the soul, quarrelling as you do about the clothing of the body.
But if consideration is shown to your
weakness, and you are given the same garment which you had laid off, you must
still keep in one place under the charge of those appointed whatever clothing
you put off. 31.
Let no one do
anything for himself.
should be done for the community with greater attention and ready cheerfulness
than if each one were working for himself. Charity of which it is written that
it seeks not its own, is thus to be understood:
that it puts the common good before
private advantage, not private advantage before the common good.
Know, therefore, that your progress is
the more you are intent on the common
good instead of your own.
charity which abides forever, reign supreme in all things required by the
passing needs of this life. 32. Hence, if anyone brings to his children or
relative in the monastery clothing or any other useful object, this must not be
received secretly but must be handed to the superior, that it may be made common
property and given to him who needs it.
He that conceals a gift shall be condemned as guilty of theft. 33. The
cleaning and conditioning of your garments may be done in the monastery or in
question of propriety as to the neat appearance of your clothing shall be
decided by your superior, lest an inordinate desire for elegant attire cause
interior defilement of your soul. 34. Neither shall the body be denied the
proper hygienic care according to the requirements of good health.
Let the directions of the physician be
carried out without objections.
anyone refuses to comply he must, upon the command of the superior, do what is
necessary for his health.
should desire what is perhaps not good, his wish shall not be fulfilled.
For also harmful things are sometimes
believed to be good because they are pleasant. 35.
In the case of an ailment which does not
externally appear, the complaint of the Servant of God should be believed
But if it is not
certain that the remedy he desires is helpful, the physician shall be consulted.
36. In going to the public-health baths or wherever it may be necessary to go,
no fewer than two or three should go together.
And he that is required to go somewhere
must go with those whom the superior appoints.
37. The care of the sick and
convalescent or those suffering from any weakness of health, even without fever,
must be assigned to one who shall request from the dispensary whatever he deems
necessary for each one. 38. Let those who are in charge of the kitchen, clothing
or books serve their brethren without grumbling. 39. The books should be asked
for at a certain hour each day.
who ask for them outside this hour shall not receive them. 40. But clothing and
shoes must be given to those who need them without delay by those in
Asking Pardon and Forgiving Offenses
41. Let there be no quarrels among
you, or if they arise, end them as soon as possible, lest your anger grow into
hatred, making of a mote a beam, and render the soul guilty of murder.
For thus you read: "He that hateth his
brother is a murderer," (John III,15). 42. Whoever has offended another by an
invective, an evil wish, or slander should hasten to make amends as soon as
possible; and he that has been offended should forgive without reproaches.
But if both are guilty of offense, both
must forgive each other.
And this on account of your prayers which must be the better the more often you pray. He
that is tempted to anger, yet hastens to ask forgiveness from him whom he has
offended, is better than he that is slower in becoming angry, but is less
readily disposed to ask pardon.
that refuses to forgive his brother may not hope for any fruits from his
But he that never asks
pardon, or does not ask from his heart, is in the monastery to no purpose, even
though he is not expelled.
therefore, from harsh words; but if such have come forth from your mouth, let it
not be too much for you to offer the remedy just as you have caused the wound.
43. But when you are compelled to use harsh words by any necessity of curbing
irregularities of discipline, you are not obliged to ask pardon of your
subjects, lest by too great humility your authority be weakened with those who
But forgiveness must be
sought from the Lord of all who knows
your kindness even toward those whom you have rebuked perhaps more than
However, not sensual but
spiritual must your love for each other be.
Manner of Commanding and Obeying
44. Obey your superior as a father, but
especially the priest who takes care of you all. 45. In order that all these
things will be observed, and if anything has been observed less faithfully, it
will not be passed over carelessly but carefully amended and corrected. It shall
be the special duty of the superior to refer such things as exceed his authority
and ability to the priest who holds the greater authority among you. 46. Let the
superior consider himself happy, not because of his power to rule, but for his
opportunity to rule in charity.
him hold a position of honor in your midst, but before God let him lie prostrate
at your feet.
He shall show himself
in all things an example of good works.
He shall restrain the restless, comfort the downhearted, care for the
sick and be patient with all.
him eagerly observe discipline but impose it with holy fear.
And although both are necessary, he
should seek to be loved rather than feared by you, always mindful that he shall
have to render an account for you before God.
47. Be, therefore, the more obedient out
of compassion not only for yourselves but also for him, because the higher his
position among you, so much greater is the danger in which he lives.
Observance of the Rule
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