Cassian, INSTITUTES, BK. 10
On the SPIRIT of ACEDIA
LIBER DECIMVS DE SPIRITV ACDIAE
 

 Melancholy,  Fetti, 1620

(tr. mod. in part by L.Dysinger, O.S.B: from  E.C.S. Gibson, , NPNF 2nd ser. , vol 11)


1-3 Caricature;   4-6  Basis and Types;   7-19 Healing Power of Labor (St. Paul);   21-21 Destructive Power of Laziness;   22-25 Desert Father-Examples


 

 

CHAPTER 1. How our sixth combat is against the spirit of acedia, and what its character is.

CAPUT I. Quod sextum certamen sit adversus spiritum acediae, et de natura eius.

 

 

Caricature of acedia based on Evagrius (Prak. 12)

§ 1-3

1. OUR sixth combat is with what the Greeks call akedia, which we may term weariness or distress of heart. This is akin to gloominess, and is especially trying to solitaries, and a dangerous and frequent foe to dwellers in the desert; and especially disturbing to a monk about the sixth hour, like some fever which seizes him at stated times, bringing the burning heat of its attacks on the sick man at usual and regular hours. Lastly, there are some of the elders who declare that this is the “midday demon” spoken of in the ninetieth Psalm. (Ps. 90 [91]:6)

I. Sextum nobis certamen est, quod Graeci ἀκηδίαν uocant, quam nos taedium siue anxietatem cordis possumus nuncupare. Adfinis haec tristitiae ac solitariis magis experta et in heremo commorantibus infestior hostis ac frequens, maxime circa horam sextam monachum inquietans, ut quaedam febris ingruens tempore praestituto ardentissimos aestus accessionum suarum solitis ac statutis horis animae inferens aegrotanti. Denique nonnulli senum hunc esse pronuntiant meridianum daemonem, qui in psalmo nonagensimo nuncupatur.

 

 

CHAPTER 2. A description of acedia, and the way in which it creeps overthe heart of a monk, and the injury it inflicts on the soul.

CAPUT II. Quomodo acedia serpat in corde monachi, quaeve inferat menti dispendia.

 

 

2.1. AND when this has taken possession of some unhappy soul, it produces dislike of the place, disgust with the cell, and disdain and contempt of the brethren who dwell with him or at a little distance, as if they were careless or unspiritual. It also makes the man lazy and sluggish about all manner of work which has to be done within the enclosure of his dormitory. It does not suffer him to stay in his cell, or to take any pains about reading, and he often groans because he can do no good while he stays there, and complains and sighs because he can bear no spiritual fruit so long as he is joined to that society; and he complains that he is cut off from spiritual gain, and is of no use in the place, as if he were one who, though he could govern others and be useful to a great number of people, yet was edifying none, nor profiting any one by his teaching and doctrine.

II. Qui cum miserabilem obsederit mentem, horrorem loci, cellae fastidium, fratrum quoque, qui cum eo uel eminus commorantur, tamquam neglegentium ac minus spiritalium aspernationem gignit atque contemptum. Ad omne quoque opus, quod intra saepta sui cubilis est, facit desidem et inertem : non eum in cellula residere, non operam sinit inpendere lectioni. Nihilque se proficere tanto tempore in eadem commorantem crebrius ingemescit nec habere se fructum aliquem spiritalem, donec fuerit illi consortio copulatus, queritur atque suspirat et ab omni se dolet spiritali quaestu inanem in loco uacuumque consistere, uptote qui, cum posset etiam alios regere ac prodesse plurimus, nullum aedificauerit nec quemquam institutione sua doctrinaque lucratus sit.

2.2. He cries up distant monasteries and those which are a long way off, and describes such places as more profitable and better suited for salvation; and besides this he paints the intercourse with the brethren there as sweet and full of spiritual life. On the other hand, he says that everything about him is rough, and not only that there is nothing edifying among the brethren who are stopping there, but also that even food for the body cannot be procured without great difficulty. Lastly he fancies that he will never be well while he stays in that place, unless he leaves his cell (in which he is sure to die if he stops in it any longer) and takes himself off from thence as quickly as possible.

 2. Absentia longeque posita magnificat monasteria, loca etiam illa magis ad profectum utilia et saluti congruentiora describit, consortia quoque ibidem fratrum suauia et plena spiritali conuersatione depingit : e contra uniuersa quae habentur in manibus aspera, et non solum aedificationem nullam esse in fratribus, qui morantur in loco, sed ne ipsum quidem uictum corporis absque ingenti labore conquiri. Postremo non posse se saluari in eo loco durantem, nisi relicta cella, cum qua sibi, si adhuc in ea fuerit remoratus, pereundum erit, exinde semet ipsum quantocius asportarit.

2.3. Then the fifth or sixth hour brings him such bodily weariness and longing for food that he seems to himself worn out and wearied as if with a long journey, or some very heavy work, or as if he had put off taking food during a fast of two or three days. Then besides this he looks about anxiously this way and that, and sighs that none of the brethren come to see him, and often goes in and out of his cell, and frequently gazes up at the sun, as if it was too slow in setting, and so a kind of unreasonable confusion of mind takes possession of him like some foul darkness, and makes him idle and useless for every spiritual work, so that he imagines that no cure for so terrible an attack can be found in anything except visiting some one of the brethren, or in the solace of sleep alone.

 3. Dein lassitudinem corporis cibique esuriem quinta sextaque hora tantam suscitat, ut uelut longo itinere grauissimoque labore confectus sibimet lassusque uideatur, aut quasi refectionem cibi biduano ieiunio triduanoue distulerit. Tum praeterea huc illucque anxius circumspectat et nec fratrum sibi quempiam aduentare suspirat, saepiusque egreditur et ingreditur cellam ac solem uelut ad occasum tardius properantem crebrius intuetur, et ita quadam inrationabili mentis confusione uelut taetra subpletur caligine omnique actu spiritali redditur otiosus ac uacuus, ut nulla re alia tantae obpugnationis remedium quam uisitatione fratris cuiuspiam seu somni solius solacio posse aestimet inueniri.

2.4. Then the disease suggests that he ought to show courteous and friendly hospitalities to the brethren, and pay visits to the sick, whether near at hand or far off. He talks too about some dutiful and religious offices; that those kinsfolk ought to be inquired after, and that he ought to go and see them oftener; that it would be a real work of piety to go more frequently to visit that religious woman, devoted to the service of God, who is deprived of all support of kindred; and that it would be a most excellent thing to get what is needful for her who is neglected and despised by her own kinsfolk; and that he ought piously to devote his time to these things instead of staying uselessly and with no profit in his cell.

 4. Deinde honestas idem morbus ac necessarias suggerit salutationes fratribus exhibendas uisitationesque infirmorum uel eminus uel longius positorum : quaedam etiam pia ac religiosa dictat officia, illos uel illas debere parentes inquiri et ad salutandos eos crebrius properari, illam religiosam deuotamque Deo feminam, omni praesertim parentum subsidio destitutam, magnum opus esse pietatis frequenter inuisere, ac si quid ei sit necessarium, quae a propriis parentibus neglegitur atque despicitur, sanctissimum procurari, magisque oportere in his operam pietatis inpendi quam infructuosum ac sine ullo profectu in cellula residere.

 

 

CHAPTER 3. Of the different ways in which acedia overcomes a monk.

CAPUT III. Quibus generibus monachum superet acedia.

 

 

3. AND so the wretched soul, embarrassed by such contrivances of the enemy, is disturbed, until, worn out by the spirit of acedia, as by some strong battering ram, it either learns to sink into slumber, or, driven out from the confinement of its cell, accustoms itself to seek for consolation under these attacks in visiting some brother, only to be afterwards weakened the more by this remedy which it seeks for the present. For more frequently and more severely will the enemy attack one who, when the battle is joined, will as he well knows immediately turn his back, and whom he sees to look for safety neither in victory nor in fighting but in flight: until little by little he is drawn away from his cell, and begins to forget the object of his profession, which is nothing but meditation and contemplation of that divine purity which excels all things, and which can only be gained by silence and continually remaining in the cell, and by meditation, and so the soldier of Christ becomes a runaway from His service, and a deserter, and “entangles himself in secular business,” without at all pleasing Him to whom he engaged himself. (2 Tim. 2:4)

III. Agitur itaque infelix anima talibus inimicorum machinis inpetita, donec acediae spiritu uelut ariete ualidissimo fatigata aut in somnum discat concidere aut excussa claustris cellulae suae consolationem inpugnationis huius uisitatione fratris consuescat adquirere, hoc quo utitur ad praesens remedio paulo post acrius infirmanda. Frequentius enim aduersarius ac dirius adtemptabit, quem conserto proelio praebiturum comminus sibi terga cognoscit salutemque sibi non de uictoria nec de conflictu, sed de fuga sperare peruidet, donec paulatim protractus e cella actus suae professionis incipiat obliuisci, qui non est alius quam intuitus et contemplatio diuinae illius et excellentis super omnia puritatis, quae non alibi potest nisi in silentio et iugi cellae perseuerantia ac meditatione conquiri, atque ita militiae suae fugitiuus ac desertor Christi miles effectus inplicet se negotiis saecularibus, ei cui se probauit minime placiturus.

 

 

CHAPTER 4. How acedia hinders the mind from all contemplation of the virtues.

CAPUT IV. Quod acedia excaecat mentem ab omni contemplatione virtutum.

 

 

Basis and Types of Acedia

§ 4-6

4. ALL the inconveniences of this disease are admirably expressed by David in a single verse, where he says, “My soul slept from weariness,” (Ps. 118 [119]:28) that is, from acedia. Quite rightly does he say, not that his body, but that his soul slept. For in truth the soul which is wounded by the shaft of this passion does sleep, as regards all contemplation of the virtues and insight of the spiritual senses.

IIII. Huius aegritudinis uniuersa incommoda uno uersiculo beatus Dauid eleganter expressit dormitauit, inquiens, anima mea prae taedio, id est prae acedia. Proprie satis non corpus dixit, sed animam dormitasse. Vere enim ab omni contemplatione uirtutum et intuitu spiritalium sensuum dormitat anima, quae perturbationis huius telo fuerit sauciata.

 

 

CHAPTER 5. How the attack of acedia is twofold.

CAPUT V. Quod duplex acedia sit in pugna.

 

 

5. AND so the true Christian athlete who desires to strive lawfully in the lists of perfection, should hasten to expel this disease also from the recesses of his soul; and should strive against this most evil spirit of acedia in both directions, so that he may neither fall stricken through by the shaft of slumber, nor be driven out from the monastic cloister, even though under some pious excuse or pretext, and depart as a runaway.

V. Itaque Christi uerus athleta, qui agonem perfectionis cupit legitime decertare, hunc quoque morbum de latebris animae suae festinet extrudere, et ita contra hunc quoque nequissimum acediae spiritum utrubique contendat, ut neque somni telo elisus concidat neque de monasterii claustris expulsus quamuis sub praetextu coloris pii fugitiuus abscedat.

 

 

CHAPTER 6. How injurious are the effects of acedia.

CAPUT VI. Quam pestilentes sint acediae effectus.

 

 

6. AND whenever it begins in any degree to overcome any one, it either makes him stay in his cell idle and lazy, without making any spiritual progress, or it drives him out from thence and makes him restless and a wanderer, and indolent in the matter of all kinds of work, and it makes him continually go round the cells of the brethren and the monasteries, with an eye to nothing but this; viz., where or with what excuse he can presently procure some refreshment. For the mind of an idler cannot think of anything but food and the belly, until the society of some man or woman, equally cold and indifferent, is secured, and it loses itself in their affairs and business, and is thus little by little ensnared by dangerous occupations, so that, just as if it were bound up in the coils of a serpent, it can never disentangle itself again and return to the perfection of its former profession.

VI. Quemcumque enim in parte qualibet coeperit superare, aut tamquam inertem et dediticium sibi patietur absque ullo profectu spiritus in cellula commorari aut excussum exinde instabilem de cetero reddet ac uagum, et ad omne opus desidem cellas fratrum iugiter faciet ac monasteria circumire nihilque aliud procurare, quam ubi quoue colore occasionem refectioni futurae ualeat praeparare. Mens enim otiosi nihil aliud cogitare nouit quam de escis ac uentre, donec inuenta quandoque sodalitate cuiusdam uiri uel feminae aequali tepore torpentis rebus eorum ac necessitatibus inuoluatur et ita paulatim reddatur noxiis occupationibus inretitus, ut tamquam serpentinis spiris obstrictus numquam deinceps ad perfectionem professionis antiquae se ualeat enodare.

 

 

CHAPTER 7. Testimonies from the Apostle concerning the spirit of acedia.

CAPUT VII. Testimonia Apostoli circa spiritum acediae.

 

 

Healing Power of Labor (according to St. Paul)

§ 7-19

7.1. THE blessed Apostle, like a true and spiritual physician, either seeing this disease, which springs from the spirit of acedia, already creeping in, or foreseeing, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, that it would arise among monks, is quick to anticipate it by the healing medicines of his directions. For in writing to the Thessalonians, and at first, like a skilful and excellent physician, applying to the infirmity of his patients the soothing and gentle remedy of his words, and beginning with charity, and praising them in that point, that this deadly wound, having been treated with a milder remedy, might lose its angry festering and more easily bear severer treatment, he says: “But concerning brotherly charity ye have no need that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another. For this ye do toward all the brethren in the whole of Macedonia.” (1 Thess. 4:9, 10)

VII. Hunc morbum, qui de acediae spiritu nascitur, beatus Apostolus ut uerus ac spiritalis medicus uel tunc iam conspiciens serpere uel emersurum Spiritu sancto reuelante prospiciens salutaribus praeceptorum suorum medicamentis praeuenire festinat. Thessalonicensibus enim scribens et primo ut peritissimus quidam perfectusque medicus infirmitatem susceptorum blanda lenique uerbi curatione fomentans ac de caritate incipiens eosque in ea parte conlaudans, quousque letale uulnus leniore remedio delenitum deposita tumoris indignatione facilius medicamina austeriora sustineat, ita ait : De caritate autem fraternitatis non necesse habemus scribere uobis : ipsi enim a Deo docti estis ut diligatis inuicem: etenim facitis illud in omnes fratres in uniuersa Macedonia.

7.2. He first began with the soothing application of praise, and made their ears submissive and ready for the remedy of the healing words. Then he proceeds: “But we ask you, brethren, to abound more.” Thus far he soothes them with kind and gentle words; for fear lest he should find them not yet prepared to receive their perfect cure. Why is it that you ask, O Apostle, that they may abound more in charity, of which you had said above, “But concerning brotherly charity we have no need to write to you”? And why is it necessary that you should say to them: “But we ask you to abound more,” when they did not need to be written to at all on this matter? especially as you add the reason why they do not need it, saying, “For you yourselves have been taught of God to love one another.” And you add a third thing still more important: that not only have they been taught of God, but also that they fulfil in deed that which they are taught. “For ye do this,” he says, not to one or two, but “to all the brethren;” and not to your own citizens and friends only, but “in the whole of Macedonia.”

 2. Praemisit laudis fomenta lenia, fecit eorum aures ad curam salutaris uerbi placidas et paratas. Rursum infert : Rogamus autem uos, fratres, ut abundetis magis. Adhuc eos blanda uerborum lenitate demulcet, ne forte necdum aptos ad perceptionem perfectae curationis inueniat. Quid est quod rogas, Apostole, ut in quo abundent magis? Scilicet in caritate, de qua superius dixerat : De caritate autem fraternitatis non necesse habemus scribere uobis. Et quid necesse est ut dicas eis : Rogamus autem uos, ut abundetis magis, qui super hac re ne scribi quidem sibi aliquid indigent? Cum praesertim et inferas causam ob quam hoc ipso non egeant, dicens : Ipsi enim uos a Deo docti estis ut diligatis inuicem, tertium quoque maius adicias, quod non solum a Deo docti sint, uerum etiam conpleant opere quae docentur. Etenim facitis illud, inquit, non in uno uel duobus, sed in omnes fratres, nec in uestros tantummodo ciues uel notos, sed in uniuersa Macedonia.

7.3. Tell us then, I pray, why it is that you so particularly begin with this. Again he proceeds, “But we ask you, brethren, to abound the more.” And with difficulty at last he breaks out into that at which he was driving before: “and that ye take pains to be quiet.” He gave the first aim. Then he adds a second, “and to do your own business;” and a third as well: “and work with your own hands, as we commanded you;” a fourth: “and to walk honestly towards those that are without;” a fifth: “and to covet no man’s goods.” Lo, we can see through that hesitation, which made him with these preludes put off uttering what his mind was full of: “And that ye take pains to be quiet;” i.e., that you stop in your cells, and be not disturbed by rumours, which generally spring from the wishes and gossip of idle persons, and so yourselves disturb others.

 3. Dic igitur tandem, quid est quod tanto opere haec praemittis? Iterum infert : Rogamus autem uos, fratres, ut abundetis magis, et uix aliquando in id quod olim moliebatur erumpit : Et operam detis ut quieti sitis. Dixit primam causam, deinde infert secundam : Et ut uestra negotia agatis, tertiam quoque : Et operemini manibus uestris, sicut praecepimus uobis, quartam : Et ut honeste ambuletis ad eos qui foris sunt, quintam: Et nullius aliquid desideretis. Ecce illa cunctatio, quam tantis proferre prooemiis differebat, quid in eius pectore parturire agnoscitur? Et operam detis ut quieti sitis, id est in uestris cellulis commorantes nec diuersis rumoribus, qui solent otiosorum uotis uel fabulis generari, inquieti effecti aliis quoque inquietudines inferatis.

7.4. And, “to do your own business,” you should not want to inquire curiously of the world’s actions, or, examining the lives of others, want to spend your strength, not on bettering yourselves and aiming at virtue, but on depreciating your brethren. “And work with your own hands, as we charged you;” to secure that which he had warned them above not to do; i.e., that they should not be restless and anxious about other people’s affairs, nor walk dishonestly towards those without, nor covet another man’s goods, he now adds and says, “and work with your own hands, as we charged you.”

 4. Et ut uestra negotia agatis, non curiositate uestra actus mundi uelitis inquirere ac diuersorum conuersationes explorantes operam uestram non erga correctionem uestram seu uirtutum studia, sed ad detractationes fratrum uelitis inpendere. Et operemini manibus uestris, sicut praecepimus uobis. Cur illa fierent quae monuerat superius ne agerent, id est ne inquieti essent uel aliena curarent negotia uel inhoneste ambularent ad eos qui foris sunt uel alterius aliquid desiderarent, nunc intulit dicens : Et operemini manibus uestris, sicut praecepimus uobis.

7.5. For he has clearly shown that leisure is the reason why those things were done which he blamed above. For no one can be restless or anxious about other people’s affairs, but one who is not satisfied to apply himself to the work of his own hands. He adds also a fourth evil, which springs also from this leisure, i.e., that they should not walk dishonestly: when he says: “And that ye walk honestly towards those without.” He cannot possibly walk honestly, even among those who are men of this world, who is not content to cling to the seclusion of his cell and the work of his own hands; but he is sure to be dishonest, while he seeks his needful food; and to take pains to flatter, to follow up news and gossip, to seek for opportunities for chattering and stories by means of which he may gain a footing and obtain an entrance into the houses of others.

 5. Vt enim fierent illa, quae superius reprehendit, otii causam esse euidenter expressit. Nullus enim potest uel inquietus esse uel aliena curare negotia, nisi qui operi manuum suarum non adquiescit insistere. Quartum quoque intulit morbum, qui ex hoc ipso otio nascitur, id est ut inhoneste non ambulent, dicens : Et ut honeste ambuletis ad eos qui foris sunt. Numquam potest ne apud eos quidem qui saeculi homines sunt honeste incedere, qui nequaquam claustris cellae et operi manuum suarum inhaerere contentus est, sed necesse est eum inhonestum esse, dum necessaria uictus requirit, adulationi quoque operam dare, nouitates etiam rumorum sectari, causarum fabularumque occasiones conquirere, per quas sibimet ipsi aditum paret ac facultatem, qua diuersorum domos ualeat penetrare.

7.6. “And that you should not covet another man’s goods.” He is sure to look with envious eyes on another’s gifts and boons, who does not care to secure sufficient for his daily food by the dutiful and peaceful labour of his hands. You see what conditions, and how serious and shameful ones, spring solely from the malady of leisure. Lastly, those very people, whom in his first Epistle he had treated with the gentle application of his words, in his second Epistle he endeavours to heal with severer and sterner remedies, as those who had not profited by more gentle treatment; and he no longer applies the treatment of gentle words, no mild and kindly expressions, as these, “But we ask you, brethren,” but “We adjure you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly.” (2 Thess. 3:6)

 6. Et nullius aliquid desideretis. Non potest non alienis donis et muneribus inhiare, qui non delectatur pio quietoque labore operis sui cotidiani uictus parare substantiam. Videtis tot causas, tam graues ac turpes una uitii labe generari. Denique hos ipsos, quos in epistula prima molli fouerat palpatione uerborum, qualiter in secunda, uelut qui non profecissent ad remedia leniora, austerioribus quibusdam et causticis medicamentis sanare adgreditur nullaque iam mitium uerborum fomenta praemittit, non illam teneram uocem ac blandam, ut ibi : Rogamus autem uos, fratres, sed : Denuntiamus uobis, fratres, in nomine Domini nostri Iesu Christi, ut subtrahatis uos ab omni fratre ambulante inordinate.

7.7. There he asks; here he adjures. There is the kindness of one who is persuading; here the sternness of one protesting and threatening. “We adjure you, brethren:” because, when we first asked you, you scorned to listen; now at least obey our threats. And this adjuration he renders terrible, not by his bare word, but by the imprecation of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: for fear lest they might again scorn it, as merely man’s word, and think that it was not of much importance. And forthwith, like a well-skilled physician with festering limbs, to which he could not apply the remedy of a mild treatment, he tries to cure by an incision with a spiritual knife, saying, “that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not according to the tradition which ye received of us.”

 7. Ibi rogat, hic denuntiat : in illa blandientis affectus, in hac obtestantis seueritas et minantis. Denuntiamus uobis, fratres: quia prius rogantes contempsistis audire, saltim nunc denuntiantibus oboedite. Ipsamque denuntiationem non nudo uerbo, sed cum obtestatione nominis Domini nostri Iesu Christi terribilem infert, ne forte simplicem uelut humana uoce prolatam rursum contemnerent nec magnopere ducerent obseruandam, statimque ut peritissimus medicus putribus membris, quibus leni medicamento remedium ferre non potuit, mederi spiritalis ferri incisione pertemptat ut subtrahatis uos, inquiens, ab omni fratre ambulante inordinate et non secundum traditionem quam acceperunt a nobis.

7.8. And so he bids them withdraw from those who will not make time for work, and to cut them off like limbs tainted with the festering sores of leisure: lest the malady of idleness, like some deadly contagion, might infect even the healthy portion of their limbs, by the gradual advance of infection. And when he is going to speak of those who will not work with their own hands and eat their bread in quietness, from whom he urges them to withdraw, hear with what reproaches he brands them at starting. First he calls them “disorderly,” and “not walking according to the tradition.” In other words, he stigmatizes them as obstinate, since they will not walk according to his appointment; and “dishonest,” i.e., not keeping to the right and proper times for going out, and visiting, and talking. For a disorderly person is sure to be subject to all those faults.

 8. Itaque ab his, qui uacare operi nolunt, iubet subtrahi et uelut membra otii corrupta putredine desecari, ne inertiae morbus uelut letale contagium etiam sanas membrorum partes tabo serpente corrumpat. Dicturusque de his, qui operari suis manibus nolunt et panem suum cum silentio manducare, a quibus etiam praecepit subtrahendum, qualibus eos a principio probris inurat adtendite. In primis inordinatos dicit nec secundum suam traditionem ambulare, aliis uerbis contumaces eos, utpote qui nollent iuxta institutionem eius incedere, et inhonestos esse designans, id est non processionis, non uisitationis, non uerbi, non temporis oportunitatem congruam honestamque sectantes. Omnibus enim uitiis istis inordinatum quemque necesse est subiacere.

7.9. “And not according to the tradition which they received from us.” And in this he stamps them as in some sort rebellious, and despisers, who scorned to keep the tradition which they had received from him, and would not follow that which they not only remembered that the master had taught in word, but which they knew that he had performed in deed. “For you yourselves know how ye ought to be followers of us.” He heaps up an immense pile of censure when he asserts that they did not observe that which was still in their memory, and which not only had they learned by verbal instruction, but also had received by the incitement of his example in working.

 9. Et non secundum traditionem quam acceperunt a nobis: et in hoc rebelles eos quodammodo et contemptores notat, qui traditionem, quam acceperunt ab eo, tenere contemnant nec imitari uelint id, quod magistrum non solum uerbo docuisse meminerint sed etiam opere nouerint perfecisse. Ipsi enim scitis quemadmodum oporteat imitari nos. Inmanem cumulum reprehensionis exaggerat, cum hoc eos adserit non obseruare, quod et memoriae eorum inhaereat et ad imitandum non solum uerbo instruente didicerint, sed etiam exemplo operum prouocante susceperint.

 

 

CHAPTER 8. That he is sure to be restless who will not be content with the work of his own hands.

CAPUT VIII. Quod necesse sit inquietum esse eum qui opere manuum suarum non vult esse contentus.

 

 

8.1.BECAUSE we were not restless among you.” When he wants to prove by the practice of work that he was not restless among them, he fully shows that those who will not work are always restless, owing to the fault of idleness. “Nor did we eat any man’s bread for nought.” By each expression the teacher of the Gentiles advances a step in the rebuke. The preacher of the gospel says that he has not eaten any man’s bread for nought, as he knows that the Lord commanded that “they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel:” (1 Cor. 9:14) again, “The labourer is worthy of his meat.” (Matt. 10:10)

VIII. Quia non inquieti fuimus inter uos. Cum se uult inquietum inter eos non fuisse per operis exercitium conprobare, eos qui operari nolunt abunde notat otiositatis uitio inquietos semper exsistere. Neque gratis panem manducauimus ab aliquo. Per singula uerba increpationis auxesin facit doctor gentium. Praedicator euangelii dicit se non gratis panem ab aliquo manducasse, qui nouit Dominum praecepisse, ut qui euangelium denuntiant de euangelio uiuant, et rursum : dignus est operarius cibo suo.

8.2. And so if he who preached the gospel, performing a work so lofty and spiritual, did not venture in reliance on the Lord’s command to eat his bread for nought, what shall we do to whom not merely is there no preaching of the word intrusted, but no cure of souls except our own committed? with what confidence shall we dare with idle hands to eat our bread for nought, when the “chosen vessel,” constrained by his anxiety for the gospel and his work of preaching, did not venture to eat without labouring with his own hands? “But in labour,” he says “and weariness, working night and day lest we should be burdensome to any of you.” (2 Thess. 3:8)

 2. Cum utique non gratis, qui euangelium praedicabat, tam sublime ac spiritale opus exercens cibum sibi dominicae iussionis auctoritate praesumeret, quid nos faciemus, quibus non solum nulla praedicatio uerbi commissa est, sed ne ulla quidem nisi animae nostrae solius cura mandatur? Qua fiducia otiosis manibus gratis panem comedere audebimus, quem uas electionis, euangelica sollicitudine et praedicatione constrictus, sine opere manuum comedere non praesumit, sed in labore, inquit, et fatigatione nocte et die operantes, ne quem uestrum grauaremus?

8.3. Up to this point he amplifies and adds to his rebuke. For he did not simply say, “We did not eat bread for nought from any of you,” and then stop short. For it might have been thought that he was supported by his own private means, and by money which he had saved, or by other people’s, though not by their collections and gifts. “But in labour,” he says, “and weariness, working night and day;” that is, being specially supported by our own labour. And this, he says, we did not of our own wish, and for our own pleasure, as rest and bodily exercise suggested, but as our necessities and the want of food compelled us to do, and that not without great bodily weariness. For not only throughout the whole day, but also by night, which seems to be granted for bodily rest, I was continually plying the work of my hands, through anxiety for food.

 3. Adhuc additamenta suae castigationis exaggerat. Non enim simpliciter dixit 'non comedimus gratis panem ab aliquo uestrum' et huc usque stetit - poterat enim uideri proprio otiosoque sumptu ac recondita pecunia uel aliorum, licet non istorum, conlatione seu muneribus sustentatus fuisse -, sed in labore, inquit, et fatigatione nocte et die operantes, id est nostro opere specialiter sustentati. Et hoc, inquit, non pro nostra uoluntate perpetrabamus nec pro delectatione, ut requies et exercitium corporis inuitabat, sed ut necessitas et inopia uictus non sine ingenti fatigatione corporis facere conpellebat. Non solum namque per totum diei spatium, sed etiam noctis, quod quieti corporis uidetur indultum, hoc opus manuum pro escae sollicitudine indesinenter urguebam.

 

 

CHAPTER 9. That not the Apostle only, but those two who were with him laboured with their own hands.

CAPUT IX. Quod non solum Apostolus, sed etiam hi qui cum illo erant manibus suis operati sunt.

 

 

9. AND he testifies that it was not he alone who so lived among them, lest haply this method might not seem important or general if he depended only on his example. But he declares that all those who were appointed with him for the ministry of the gospel, i.e., Silvanus and Timothy, who wrote this with him, worked in the same fashion. For by saying, “lest we should be burdensome to any of you,” he covers them with great shame. For if he who preached the gospel and commended it by signs and mighty works, did not dare to eat bread for nought, lest he should be burdensome to any, how can those men help thinking that they are burdensome who take it every day in idleness and at their leisure?

VIIII. Nec tamen se solum taliter inter eos conuersatum fuisse testatur, ne forte non magna nec generalis uideretur haec forma, si ipsius tantum traderetur exemplo, sed etiam omnes, qui erant secum ad ministerium euangelii deputati, id est Siluanum et Timotheum, qui haec eadem cum eo scribunt, adserit simili opere laborasse. In eo etiam quod dicit ne quem uestrum grauaremus, uerecundiam eis incutit magnam. Si enim ille, qui euangelium praedicabat signis illud uirtutibusque conmendans, ne grauaret quempiam, gratis panem manducare non audet, quomodo illi non aestiment se grauare, qui cotidie eum otiosi uacantesque praesumunt?

 

 

CHAPTER 10. That for this reason the Apostle laboured with his own hands,that he might set us an example of work.

CAPUT X. Quod ob hoc manibus suis Apostolus operatus sit, ut nobis operandi praeberet exemplum.

 

 

10.NOT as if we had not power; but that we might give ourselves a pattern to you to imitate us.” He lays bare the reason why he imposed such labour on himself: “that we might,” says he, “give a pattern to you to imitate us,” that if by chance you become forgetful of the teaching of our words which so often passes through your ears, you may at least keep in your recollection the example of my manner of life given to you by ocular demonstration. There is here too no slight reproof of them, where he says that he has gone through this labour and weariness by night and day, for no other reason but to set an example, and that nevertheless they would not be instructed, for whose sakes he, although not obliged to do it, yet imposed on himself such toil. “And indeed,” he says, “though we had the power, and opportunities were open to us of using all your goods and substance, and I knew that I had the permission (1) of our Lord to use them: yet I did not use this power, lest what was rightly and lawfully done on my part might set an example of dangerous idleness to others. And therefore when preaching the gospel, I preferred to be supported by my own hands and work, that I might open up the way of perfection to you who wish to walk in the path of virtue, and might set an example of good life by my work.”

X. Non quasi non habuerimus potestatem, sed ut nosmet ipsos formam daremus uobis ad imitandum nos. Pandit causam cur tantum sibi laboris indixerit : ut, inquit, formam daremus uobis ad imitandum nos, ut, si forte doctrinam uerborum auribus uestris frequenter ingestam obiuioni traderetis, saltim conuersationis exempla sub oculorum fide uobis tradita memoriter retineretis. Haud leuis eorum et in hoc reprehensio, cum dicit se nulla alia quam exempli gratis laborem hunc et fatigationem die noctuque corporis exegisse, et eos nihilominus erudiri nolle, propter quos ipse necessitatem non habens tantum sibi fatigationis indixerit. Et quidem, inquit, cum haberemus potestatem et paterent nobis facultates omnium uestrum atque substantiae, et utendi eis Domini nostri nossem me habere permissum, non sum tamen usus hac potestate, ne, quod a me bene ac licito fieret, aliis otii noxii praeberet exemplum. Et idcirco euangelium praedicans meis manibus atque opere malui sustentari, ut uobis quoque uolentibus iter uirtutis incedere uiam perfectionis aperirem et conuersationis formam meo labore praeberem.

 

 

CHAPTER 11. That he preached and taught men to work not only by his example, but also by his words.

CAPUT XI. Quod non solum exemplo, sed etiam verbis praedicans, monuerit operari.

 

 

11. BUT lest haply it might be thought that, while he worked in silence and tried to teach them by example, he had not instructed them by precepts and warnings, he proceeds to say: “For when we were with you, this we declared to you, that if a man will not work neither should he eat.” Still greater does he make their idleness appear, for, though they knew that he, like a good master, worked with his hands for the sake of his teaching and in order to instruct them, yet they were ashamed to imitate him; and he emphasizes our diligence and care by saying that he did not only give them this for an example when present, but that he also proclaimed it continually in words; saying that if any one would not work, neither should he eat.

XI. Sed ne forte tacitus operans et erudire eos uolens exemplis minime illos etiam praeceptorum monitis instruxisse uideretur, infert : Nam et cum essemus, inquit, apud uos, hoc denuntiabamus uobis, quoniam, si quis non uult operari, nec manducet. Adhuc illorum desidiam, qui scientes eum ut magistrum bonum doctrinae gratia et institutionis obtentu suis manibus operatum imitari contemnunt, et diligentiam cautionemque suam exaggerat, dicens non tantum se hoc illis exemplo tradidisse praesentem, sed etiam uerbis iugiter praedicasse, ut, si quis scilicet non uult operari, nec manducet.

 

 

CHAPTER 12. Of his saying: “If any will not work, neither shall he eat.”

CAPUT XII. Quod non contentus sola monitione, auctoritatem quoque et praeceptum adjunxerit Apostolus.

 

 

12. AND now he no longer addresses to them the advice of a teacher or physician, but proceeds with the severity of a judicial sentence, and, resuming his apostolic authority, pronounces sentence on his despisers as if from the judgment seat: with that power, I mean, which, when writing with threats to the Corinthians, he declared was given him of the Lord, when he charged those taken in sin, that they should make haste and amend their lives before his coming: thus charging them, “I beseech you that I may not be bold when I am present, against some, with that power which is given to me over you.” And again: “For if I also should boast somewhat of the power which the Lord has given me unto edification, and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed.” (2 Cor. 10:2, 8) With that power, I say, he declares, “If a man will not work, neither let him eat.” Not punishing them with a carnal sword, but with the power of the Holy Ghost forbidding them the goods of this life, that if by chance, thinking but little of the punishment of future death, they still should remain obstinate through love of ease, they may at last, forced by the requirements of nature and the fear of immediate death, be compelled to obey his salutary charge.

XII. Non iam doctoris uel medici utitur ad eos consilio, sed districtione in eos iudiciariae pronuntiationis inuehitur et apostolica potestate resumpta uelut e tribunali in contemptores sententiam dicit : illa nempe potestate, quam cum interminatione scribens ad Corinthios a Domino sibi adseruit datam, cum eos in delicto positos praemoneret, ut ante aduentum suum semet ipsos corrigere festinarent, ita praecipiens : Rogo uos ne praesens conpellar audere in quosdam potestate illa quae data est mihi in uobis, et iterum : Si enim uoluero aliquid gloriari de potestate, quam dedit mhi Dominus in aedificatione et non in destructione uestra, non erubescam. Illa, inquam, potestate pronuntiat : Si quis non uult operari, nec manducet, non gladio carnali eos addicens, sed auctoritate sancti Spiritus huius uitae eis interdicens substantiam, ut, si forte poenam futurae mortis minime cogitantes adhuc uelint amore otii exsistere contumaces, saltim necessitate naturali constricti et metu praesentis interitus salutaria praecepta suscipere cogantur.

 

 

CHAPTER 13. Of his saying: “We have heard that some among you walk disorderly.”

CAPUT XIII. De eo quod dicit, Audivimus enim inter vos quosdam ambulare inquiete.

 

 

13. THEN after all this rigour of gospel severity, he now lays bare the reason why he put forward all these matters. “For we have heard that some among you walk disorderly, working not at all, but curiously meddling.” He is nowhere satisfied to speak of those who will not give themselves up to work, as if they were victims of but a single malady. For in his first Epistle (2 Thess. 3:6) he speaks of them as “disorderly,” and not walking according to the traditions which they had received from him: and he also asserts that they were restless, and ate their bread for nought. Again he says here, “We have heard that there are some among you who walk disorderly.” And at once he subjoins a second weakness, which is the root of this restlessness, and says, “working not at all;” a third malady as well he adds, which springs from this last like some shoot: “but curiously meddling.”

XIII. Post tantum itaque rigorem euangelicae districtionis nunc causam exponit, cur haec uniuersa praemiserit : Audimus enim inter uos quosdam ambulare inquiete, nihil operantes sed curiose agentes. Nusquam eos, qui dediti esse operi nolunt, uno tantum morbo corruptos pronuntiare contentus est. In priore namque epistula inordinatos eos appellat nec secundum traditionem ambulare, quam acceperunt ab eo, inquietos etiam esse definit et gratis panem manducare. Rursum hic : Audimus, inquit, quosdam inter uos ambulare inquiete. Et subiungit statim secundum languorem, qui inquietudinis huius est radix : Nihil, inquit, operantes, tertium quoque morbum, qui ex isto uelut quidam ramunculus oritur : Sed curiose agentes.

 

 

CHAPTER 14. How manual labour prevents many faults.

CAPUT XIV. Quod multa vitia amputet oratio.

 

 

14. AND so he loses no time in at once applying a suitable remedy to the incentive to so many faults, and laying aside that apostolic power of his which he had made use of a little before, he adopts once more the tender character of a good father, or of a kind physician, and, as if they were his children or his patients, applies by his healing counsel remedies to cure them, saying: “Now we charge them that are such, and beseech them by the Lord Jesus, that working with silence they would eat their own bread.” The cause of all these ulcers, which spring from the root of idleness, he heals like some well-skilled physician by a single salutary charge to work; as he knows that all the other bad symptoms, which spring as it were from the same clump, will at once disappear when the cause of the chief malady has been removed.

XIIII. Itaque fomiti uitiorum tantorum congruam nunc emendationem conferre festinat, et illa apostolica qua usus fuerat paulo ante deposita potestate iterum ad uiscera pii patris uel clementis reuertitur medici, et uelut filiis susceptisque suis consilio salubri infert remedia sanitatis dicens : His autem qui huiusmodi sunt denuntiamus et obsecramus in Domino Iesu, ut cum silentio operantes panem suum manducent. Causas tantorum ulcerum, quae de radice otiositatis emergunt, uno operationis salutari praecepto curauit ut peritissimus medicorum, ceteras quoque ualitudines malas eodem cespite pullulantes sciens protinus extinguendas origine morbi principalis exempta.

 

 

CHAPTER 15. How kindness should be shown even to the idle and careless.

CAPUT XV. De humanitate etiam otiosis et negligentibus impartienda.

 

 

15. NEVERTHELESS, like a far-sighted and careful physician, he is not only anxious to heal the wounds of the sick, but gives suitable directions as well to the whole, that their health may be preserved continually, and says: “But be not ye weary in well doing:” ye who following us, i.e., our ways, copy the example given to you by imitating us m work, and do not follow their sloth and laziness: “Do not be weary in well doing;” i.e., do you likewise show kindness towards them if by chance they have failed to observe what we said. As then he was severe with those who were weak, for fear lest being enervated by laziness they might yield to restlessness and inquisitiveness, so he admonishes those who are in good health neither to restrain that kindness which the Lord’s command bids us show to the good and evil, (Matt. 5:43-45) even if some bad men will not turn to sound doctrine; nor to desist from doing good and encouraging them both by words of consolation and by rebuke as well as by ordinary kindness and civility.

XV. Nihilominus tamen ut perspicacissimus ac prouidus medicus non solum infirmantum cupit mederi uulneribus, sed etiam sanis, quibus eorum possit perpetua sospitas custodiri, similiter congruentia praecepta commendat dicens : Vos autem nolite deficere bene facientes. Qui nos, id est uias nostras sectantes exempla uobis tradita operis imitatione conpletis ac nequaquam eorum desidiam inertiamque sectamini, nolite deficere bene facientes, id est humanitatem uestram erga eos, si forte neglexerint obseruare quae diximus, similiter inpertite. Vt castigauit illos qui erant infirmi, ne otio dissoluti inquietudini et curiositati operam darent, ita hos qui sani sunt praemonet, ut humanitatem, quam bonis ac malis inpertire Domini praecepto iubemur, si forte quidam praui ad sanam doctrinam conuerti noluerint, non abscidant ab eis, sed bene facere et fouere eos tam consolationis et correptionis sermone quam beneficiis solitis et humanitate non desinant.

 

 

CHAPTER 16. How we ought to admonish those who go wrong, not out of hatred, but out of love.

CAPUT XVI. Quod non odii, sed dilectionis causa eos qui delinquunt corripere debemus.

 

 

16. BUT again in case some might be encouraged by this gentleness, and scorn to obey his commands, he proceeds with the severity of an apostle: “But if any man obey not our word by this Epistle, note that man and do not keep company with him that he may be ashamed.” And in warning them of what they ought to observe out of regard for him and for the good of all, and of the care with which they should keep the apostolic commands, at once he joins to the warning the kindness of a most indulgent father; and teaches them as well, as if they were his children, what a brotherly disposition they should cultivate towards those mentioned above, out of love. “Yet do not esteem him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” With the severity of a judge he combines the affection of a father, and tempers with kindness and gentleness the sentence delivered with apostolic sternness. For he commands them to note that man who scorns to obey his commands, and not to keep company with him; and yet he does not bid them do this from a wrong feeling of dislike, but from brotherly affection and out of consideration for their amendment. “Do not keep company,” he says, “with him that he may be ashamed;” so that, even if he is not made better by my mild charges, he may at last be brought to shame by being publicly separated from all of you, and so may some day begin to be restored to the way of salvation.

XVI. Rursum tamen, ne forte hac lenitate prouocati quidam praeceptis eius oboedire contemmnant, intermiscet apostolicam seueritatem : Quodsi quis non oboedit uerbo nostro per epistulam, hunc notate et nolite commisceri cum illo, ut confundatur. Monensque eos pro reuerentia sui et utilitate communi quid oporteat obseruari quaque cautione apostolica mandata custodiant, subiungit confestim patris indulgentissimi lenitatem, et ut filios suos, quem erga praedictos pro caritate fraternitatis affectum debeant retinere, similiter docet : Et nolite quasi inimicum existimare, sed corripite ut fratrem. Seueritati iudiciariae paternam intermiscuit pietatem et sententiam apostolico rigore prolatam clementi mansuetudine temperauit. Nam et notari iubet eum, qui oboedire suis praeceptis contempserit, et cum illo non commisceri : et tamen haec fieri non odii uitio praecepit, sed fraternae dilectionis et eorum emendationis intuitu. Nolite, inquit, commisceri cum illo, ut confundatur, ut, qui non est meis praeceptis mitibus emendatus, saltim publica omnium uestrum segregatione confusus ad tramitem salutis incipiat aliquando reuocari.

 

 

CHAPTER 17. Different passages in which the Apostle declares that we ought to work, or in which it is shown that he himself worked.

CAPUT XVII. Diversa testimonia, quibus Apostolus praecipit operari debere, vel quibus ipse operatus fuisse monstratur.

 

 

17. IN the Epistle to the Ephesians also he thus gives a charge on this subject of work, saying: “He that stole, let him now steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need.” (Eph. 4:28) And in the Acts of the Apostles too we find that he not only taught this, but actually practised it himself. For when he had come to Corinth, he did not permit himself to lodge anywhere except with Aquila and Priscilla, because they were of the same trade which he himself was accustomed to practise. For we thus read: “After this, Paul departing from Athens came to Corinth; and finding a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, and Priscilla his wife, he came to them because they were of the same trade; and abode with them, and worked: for they were tent-makers by trade.” (Acts 18:1-3)

XVII. In epistula quoque ad Ephesios de hoc ipso opere ita praecepit dicens : Qui furabatur, iam non furetur, magis autem laboret operando manibus suis quod bonum est, ut habeat unde tribuat necessitatem patientibus. In Actibus etiam apostolorum haec eadem non solum docuisse eum, sed etiam opere perfecisse similiter inuenimus. Nam cum uenisset Corinthum, alibi se manere non patitur nisi apud Aquilam et Priscillam, eo quod eiusdem artis essent opifices quam ipse erat solitus exercere. Ita enim habes : Post haec Paulus egressus ab Athenis uenit Corinthum, et inueniens quendam Iudaeum nomine Aquilam, Ponticum genere, et Priscillam uxorem eius, accessit ad eos, eo quod eiusdem esset artis, et manebat cum eis et operabatur: erat enim scenofactoriae artis.

 

 

CHAPTER 18. That the Apostle wrought what he thought would be sufficient for him and for others who were with him.

CAPUT XVIII. Quod tantum operatus sit Apostolus, quantum et sibi et aliis qui cum eo erant sufficere posse arbitrabatur.

 

 

18. THEN going to Miletus, and from thence sending to Ephesus, and summoning to him the elders of the church of Ephesus, he charged them how they ought to rule the church of God in his absence, and said: “I have not coveted any man’s silver and gold; you yourselves know how for such things as were needful for me and them that are with me these hands have ministered. I have showed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33-35) He left us a weighty example in his manner of life, as he testifies that he not only wrought what would supply his own bodily wants alone, but also what would be sufficient for the needs of those who were with him: those, I mean, who, being taken up with necessary duties, had no chance of procuring food for themselves with their own hands. And as he tells the Thessalonians that he had worked to give them an example that they might imitate him, so here too he implies something of the same sort when he says: “I have showed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak,” viz., whether in mind or body; i.e., that we should be diligent in supplying their needs, not from the store of our abundance, or money laid by, or from another’s generosity and substance, but rather by securing the necessary sum by our own labour and toil.

XVIII. Dein procedens Miletum et exinde mittens Ephesum conuocansque ad se presbyteros Ephesiorum ecclesiae et dans eis praecepta, quemadmodum regere ecclesiam Dei se absente deberent, ait : Argentum et aurum nullius concuiui: ipsi scitis quoniam ad ea quae mihi opus erant et his qui mecum sunt ministrauerunt manus istae. Omnia ostendi uobis, quia sic laborantes oportet suscipere infirmos ac meminisse uerbi Domini Iesu, quoniam ipse dixit: beatius est magis dare quam accipere. Graue nobis suae conuersationis reliquit exemplum, cum se non solum id operatum esse testatur, quod necessitatem sui tantummodo corporis expediret, sed etiam quod usibus eorum qui secum erant posset sufficere, his uidelicet qui cotidie necessariis ministeriis occupati nequaquam sibi parare similiter uictum suis manibus occurrebant. Et sicut ad Thessalonicenses operatum se dixit, ut illis formam daret ad imitandum eum, et hic tale aliquid intulit dicens : Omnia ostendi uobis, quia sic laborantes oportet suscipere infirmos, scilicet uel mente uel corpore, id est ut nostro potius labore sumptuque operis sudore quaesito et non de abundantiae cumulo seu reposita pecunia, sed ne de aliena quidem largitate ac substantia eos reficere festinemus.

 

 

CHAPTER 19. How we should understand these words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

CAPUT XIX. Quemadmodum intelligi debeat: Beatius est magis dare quam accipere.

 

 

19. AND he says that this is a command of the Lord: “For He Himself,” namely the Lord Jesus, said he, “said it is more blessed to give than to receive.” That is, the bounty of the giver is more blessed than the need of the receiver, where the gift is not supplied from money that has been kept back through unbelief or faithlessness, nor from the stored-up treasures of avarice, but is produced from the fruits of our own labour and honest toil. And so “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” because while the giver shares the poverty of the receiver, yet still he is diligent in providing with pious care by his own toil, not merely enough for his own needs, but also what he can give to one in want; and so he is adorned with a double grace, since by giving away all his goods he secures the perfect abnegation of Christ, and yet by his labour and thought displays the generosity of the rich; thus honouring God by his honest labours, and plucking for him the fruits of his righteousness, while another, enervated by sloth and indolent laziness, proves himself by the saying of the Apostle unworthy of food, as in defiance of his command he takes it in idleness, not without the guilt of sin and of obstinacy.

XVIIII. Et hoc ipsum Domini dicit esse mandatum. Quoniam ipse, inquit, dixit, id est Dominus Iesus : Beatius est magis dare quam accipere. Haec est inpertientis beatior largitas quam accipientis penuria, quae non de pecunia per infidelitatem uel diffidentiam reseruata nec de reconditis auaritiae thesauris inpenditur, sed quae de fructu operis proprii et pio sudore profertur. Et idcirco beatius est magis dare quam accipere, quia, cum illius qui accipit hic qui tribuit habeat paupertatem, nihilominus labore proprio non solum suae necessitati sufficientiam, uerum etiam quod tribuat indigenti pia sollicitudine parare festinat, duplici gratia decoratus, quod et perfectam nuditatem Christi uniuersarum rerum suarum abiectione possideat et munificentiam diuitis labore suo exhibeat et affectu, hic quidem honorans Deum de suis iustis laboribus et delibans ei de fructibus iustitiae suae : ille uero otii torpore et inertia resolutus indignum se etiam cibo panis Apostoli probat sententia, contra eius scilicet interdictum otiosus eum non sine reatu peccati contumaciaeque praesumens.

 

 

CHAPTER 20. Of a lazy brother who tried to persuade others to leave the monastery.

CAPUT XX. De fratre desidioso, qui alios egredi de coenobio sollicitabat.

 

 

Destructive Power of Laziness

§ 20-21

20. WE know a brother, whose name we would give if it would do any good, who, although he was remaining in the monastery and compelled to deliver to the steward his fixed task daily, yet for fear lest he might be led on to some larger portion of work, or put to shame by the example of one labouring more zealously, when he had seen some brother admitted into the monastery, who in the ardour of his faith wanted to make up the sale of a larger piece of work, if he found that he could not by secret persuasion check him from carrying out his purpose, he would by bad advice and whisperings persuade him to depart thence. And in order to get rid of him more easily he would pretend that he also had already been for many reasons offended, and wanted to leave, if only he could find a companion and support for the journey. And when by secretly running down the monastery he had wheedled him into consenting, and arranged with him the time at which to leave the monastery, and the place to which he should go before, and where he should wait for him, he himself, pretending that he would follow, stopped where he was. And when the other out of shame for his flight did not dare to return again to the monastery from which he had run away, the miserable author of his flight stopped behind in the monastery. It will be enough to have given this single instance of this sort of men in order to put beginners on their guard, and to show clearly what evils idleness, as Scripture says, (Ecclus. 23:29) can produce in the mind of a monk, and how “evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Cor. 15:33)

XX. Nouimus fratrem, cuius etiam nomen, si amplius aliquid ex hoc instructionis accederet, proderemus. Qui cum in coenobio moraretur eumque necessitas coartaret, ut statutum operis pensum cotidie oeconomo traderet, ne in maiorem operis modum alicuius propensius laborantis tenderetur uel confunderetur exemplo, cum in coenobio quempiam fratrum uidisset ingressum, qui ardore fidei uellet aliquid amplius operis consignare, si clandestinis eum persuasionibus reuocare ab huiusmodi intentione minime potuisset, consiliis prauis ac susurrationibus ad transmigrandum exinde persuadebat : et quo eum facilius asportaret, se quoque iam olim multis ex causis offensum confingebat uelle discedere, si solacium itineris uel comitis repperisset. Cumque eum ad consensum occultis obtrectationibus monasterii pellexisset, condicens ei horam qua de monasterio deberet exire uel locum quo se praeueniens expectaret, ipse uelut ilico subsecuturus ibidem subsistebat, illoque iam pro discessus sui uerecundia non audente ad monasterium de quo aufugerat ulterius adgregari, inlex fugae eius in coenobio residebat. Hoc unum exemplum de istiusmodi genere hominum pro incipientium cautione posuisse sufficiat, quo pateat euidentius, quanta mala otiositas secundum scripturae sententiam in monachi mente parturiat, uel quemadmodum corrumpant mores bonos conloquia mala.

 

 

CHAPTER 21. Different passages from the writings of Solomon against acedia.

CAPUT XXI. Diversa ex Salomone contra acediam testimonia.

 

 

21.1. AND Solomon, the wisest of men, clearly points to this fault of idleness in many passages, as he says: “He that followeth idleness shall be filled with poverty,” (Prov. 28:19) either visible or invisible, in which an idle person and one entangled with different faults is sure to be involved, and he will always be a stranger to the contemplation of God, and to spiritual riches, of which the blessed Apostle says: “For in all things ye were enriched in him, in all utterance and in all knowledge.” (1 Cor. 1:5) But concerning this poverty of the idler elsewhere he also writes thus: “Every sluggard shall be clothed in torn garments and rags.” (Prov. 23:21 [LXX])

XXI. Quod otiositatis uitium eitam sapientissimus Salomon euidentissime notat in multis, ita dicens : Qui sectatur otium, replibitur paupertate, uel uisibili scilicet uel inuisibili, qua necesse est otiosum quemque et diuersis uitiis inuolutum teneri et alienum semper exsistere a contemplatione Dei uel diuitiis spiritalibus, de quibus beatus Apostolus: Quia in omnibus, inquit, diuites facti estis in illo, in omni uerbo et in omni scientia. De hac autem otiosi paupertate alibi quoque ita describitur : Et uestietur conscissa et pannosa omnis somniculosus.

21.2. For certainly he will not merit to be adorned with that garment of incorruption (of which the Apostle says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 13:14) and again: “Being clothed in the breastplate of righteousness and charity,” (1 Thess. 5:8) concerning which the Lord Himself also speaks to Jerusalem by the prophet: “Arise, arise, O Jerusalem, put on the garments of thy glory),” (Isa. 52:1) whoever, overpowered by lazy slumber or by acedia, prefers to be clothed, not by his labour and industry, but in the rags of idleness, which he tears off from the solid piece and body of the Scriptures, and fits on to his sloth no garment of glory and honour, but an ignominious cloak and excuse.

 2. Sine dubio enim non merebitur illo incorruptionis uestimento ornari, de quo Apostolus praecepit : Induite uos Dominum Iesum Christum, et iterum : Induti lurica iustitiae et caritatis, et de quo etiam Dominus ad Hierusalem loquitur per prophetam : Exsurge, exsurge, Hierusalem, induere uestimentis gloriae tuae, quisque somno otii uel acediae superatus non industriae suae labore, sed inertiae pannis operiri maluerit, quos abscidens de perfecta plenitudine et corpore scripturarum non uestimentum gloriae nec decoris, sed ignominiosum excusationis uelamen suae coaptabit ignauiae.

21.3. For those, who are affected by this laziness, and do not like to support themselves by the labour of their own hands, as the Apostle continually did and charged us to do, are wont to make use of certain Scripture proofs by which they try to cloak their idleness, saying that it is written, “Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which remains to life eternal;” (John 6:27) and “My meat is to do the will of my Father.” (John 4:34)

 3. Solent enim hi, qui sunt hac segnitie dissoluti, nolentes opere manuum sustentari, quod Apostolus indesinenter exercuit uel nosbis exercere praecepit, quibusdam uti testimoniis scripturarum, quibus quoddam inertiae suae uelamen inponant, dicentes scriptum esse : Operamini non cibum qui perit, sed qui permanet in uitam aeternam, et : Meus cibus est ut faciam uoluntatem patris mei.

21.4. But these proofs are (as it were) rags, from the solid piece of the gospel, which are adopted for this purpose, viz., to cover the disgrace of our idleness and shame rather than to keep us warm, and adorn us with that costly and splendid garment of virtue which that wise woman in the Proverbs, who was clothed with strength and beauty, is said to have made either for herself or for her husband; of which presently it is said: “Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she rejoices in the latter days.” (Prov. 31:25 [LXX]) Of this evil of idleness Solomon thus makes mention again: “The ways of the idlers are strown with thorns;” (Prov. 15:19 [LXX]) i.e., with these and similar faults, which the Apostle above declared to spring from idleness. And again: “Every sluggard is always in want.” (Prov. 13:4 [LXX]) And of these the Apostle makes mention when he says, “And that you want nothing of any man’s.” (1 Thess. 4:11) And finally: “For idleness has been the teacher of many evils:” (Ecclus. 33:29) which the Apostle has clearly enumerated in the passage which he expounded above: “Working not at all, but curiously meddling.” To this fault also he joins another: “And that ye study to be quiet;” and then, “that ye should do your own business and walk honestly towards them that are without, and that you want nothing of any man’s.” Those also whom he notes as disorderly and rebellious, from these he charges those who are earnest to separate themselves: “That ye withdraw yourselves,” says he, “from every brother that walketh disorderly and not according to the tradition which they received from us.” (2 Thess. 3:11, 6; 1 Thess. 4:11)

 4. Sed haec testimonia panni quidam sunt de solida euangelicae lectionis plenitudine et ad hoc adsuuntur, ut contegant potius ignominiam otiositatis ac uerecundiae nostrae quam ut calefaciant et exornent nos illa pretiosa ueste perfectaque uirtutum, quam in Prouerbiis mulier illa sapiens, quae fortitudine et decore induta est, uel sibi uel uiro suo fecisse describitur : de qua etiam consequenter infertur : Fortitudine et decore induta est, et laetata est in diebus nouissimis. De hoc inertiae morbo rursus idem Salomon ita commemorat : Viae nihil operantium stratae sunt spinis, id est illis ac similibus uitiis, quae Apostolus in superioribus de otio pullulare praefatus est, et iterum : In desideriis est omnis otiosus, de quibus Apostolus commemorat dicens : Et nullius aliquid desideretis, et ad extremum : Multa enim mala docuit otiositas. 5. Quae euidenter Apostolus in his quae supra exposuimus enumerauit dicens : Nihil operantes sed curiose agentes, huicque uitio subiunxit aliud : Et orem detis ut quieti sitis, et deinde : Vt uestra negotia agatis, et ut honeste ambuletis ad eos qui foris sunt, et nullius aliquid desideretis. Quos etiam inordinatos ac rebelles notat, ab his studiosos quosque segregari praecipiens : Vt subtrahatis uos, inquit, ab omni fratre ambulante inordinate et non secundum traditionem quam acceperunt a nobis.

 

 

CHAPTER 22. How the brethren in Egypt work with their hands, not only to supply their own needs, but also to minister to those who are in prison.

CAPUT XXII. Quod per Aegyptum fratres ita suis manibus operantur, ut non solum propriis necessitatibus satisfaciant, sed etiam his qui in carceribus sunt subministrent.

 

 

Examples from the Desert Fathers

§ 22-25

22. AND so taught by these examples the Fathers in Egypt never allow monks, and especially the younger ones, to be idle, estimating the purpose of their hearts and their growth in patience and humility by their diligence in work; and they not only do not allow them to receive anything from another to supply their own wants, but further, they not merely refresh pilgrims and brethren who come to visit them by means of their labours, but actually collect an enormous store of provisions and food, and distribute it in the parts of Libya which suffer from famine and barrenness, and also in the cities, to those who are pining away in the squalor of prison; as they believe that by such an offering of the fruit of their hands they offer a reasonable and true sacrifice to the Lord.

XXII. His itaque exemplis per Aegyptum patres eruditi nullo modo otiosos esse monachos ac praecipue iuuenes sinunt, actum cordis et profectum patientiae et humilitatis sedulitate operis metientes, et non solum a nullo quicquam ad usum uictus sui accipere patiuntur, sed etiam de laboribus suis non tantum superuenientes ac peregrinos reficiunt fratres, uerum etiam per loca Libyae, quae sterilitate ac fame laborant, nec non etiam per ciuitates his, qui squalore carcerum contabescunt, inmanem conferentes dirigunt alimoniae uictusque substantiam, de fructu manuum suarum rationabile ac uerum sacrificium Domino tali oblatione se offerre credentes.

 

 

CHAPTER 23. That idleness is the reason why there are not monasteries for monks in the West.

CAPUT XXIII. Quod otii causa faciat in partibus Occidentis non esse coenobia monachorum.

 

 

23. HENCE it is that in these countries we see no monasteries found with such numbers of brethren: for they are not supported by the resources of their own labour in such a way that they can remain in them continually; and if in some way or other, through the liberality of another, there should be a sufficient provision to supply them, yet love of ease and restlessness of heart does not suffer them to continue long in the place. Whence this saying has been handed down from the old fathers in Egypt: that a monk who works is attacked by but one devil; but an idler is tormented by countless spirits.

XXIII. Hinc est quod in his regionibus nulla uidemus monasteria tanta fratrum celebritate fundata, quia nec operum suorum facultatibus fulciuntur, ut possint in eis iugiter perdurare, et si eis subpeditare quoquo modo ualeat sufficientia uictus alterius largitate, uoluptas tamen otii et peruagatio cordis diutius eos in loco perseuerare non patitur. Vnde haec est apud Aegyptum ab antiquis patribus sancta sententia, operantem monachum daemone uno pulsari, otiosum uero innumeris spiritibus deuastari.

 

 

CHAPTER 24. Of Abbot Paul who every year burnt with fire all the works of his hands.

CAPUT XXIV. De abbate Paulo, qui singulis annis omne opus manuum suarum igne supposito concremabat.

 

 

24. LASTLY, Abbot Paul, one of the greatest of the Fathers, while he was living in a vast desert which is called the Porphyrian desert, and being relieved from anxiety by the date palms and a small garden, had plenty to support himself, and an ample supply of food, and could not find any other work to do, which would support him, because his dwelling was separated from towns and inhabited districts by seven days’ journey, or even more, through the desert, and more would be asked for the carriage of the goods than the price of the work would be worth; he collected the leaves of the palms, and regularly exacted of himself his daily task, as if he was to be supported by it. And when his cave had been filled with a whole year’s work, each year he would burn with fire that at which he had so diligently laboured: thus proving that without manual labour a monk cannot stop in a place nor rise to the heights of perfection: so that, though the need for food did not require this to be done, yet he performed it simply for the sake of purifying his heart, and strengthening his thoughts, and persisting in his cell, and gaining a victory over acedia and driving it away.

XXIIII. Denique abba Paulus, probatissimus patrum, cum in heremo uastiore consistens, quae Porphyrio nuncupatur, palmarum fructibus et horto modico securus haberet sufficientem alimoniae suae uictusque substantiam nec posset aliquid aliud unde sustentaretur operis exercere, eo quod ab oppidis uel habitabili terra septem mansionibus uel eo amplius deserti illius separaretur habitatio, plusque expeteretur pro mercede uecturae quam ualere posset pretium operis desudati, conlectis palmarum foliis cotidianum pensum uelut exinde sustentandus a semet ipso iugiter exigebat. Cumque opere totius anni antrum eius fuisset impletum, id quod sollicita cura laborauerat annis singulis igne subposito concremabat, in tantum probans sine opere manuum nec in loco posse monachum perdurare nec ad perfectionis culmen aliquando conscendere, ut, cum hoc fieri nequaquam necessitas uictus exigeret, pro sola purgatione cordis et cogitationum soliditate ac perseuerantia cellae uel acediae ipsius uictoria et expugnatione perficeret.

 

 

CHAPTER 25. The words of Abbot Moses which he said to me about the cure of acedia.

CAPUT XXV. Verba abbatis Moysis quae dixerat mihi de remedio acediae.

 

 

25. WHEN I was beginning my stay in the desert, and had said to Abbot Moses, the chief of all the saints, that I had been terribly troubled yesterday by an attack of acedia, and that I could only be freed from it by running at once to Abbot Paul, he said, “You have not freed yourself from it, but rather have given yourself up to it as its slave and subject. For the enemy will henceforth attack you more strongly as a deserter and runaway, since it has seen that you fled at once when overcome in the conflict: unless on a second occasion when you join battle with it you make up your mind not to dispel its attacks and heats for the moment by deserting your cell, or by the inactivity of sleep, but rather learn to triumph over it by endurance and conflict.” Whence it is proved by experience that a fit of acedia should not be evaded by running away from it, but overcome by resisting it.

XXV. Cum incipiens in heremo commorari abbati Moysi omnium sanctorum summo dixissem me aegritudine acediae hesterno die grauissime fuisse confectum nec ab ea potuisse alias liberari, nisi ad abbatem Paulum protinus cucurrissem, ille : non te, ait, ab ea liberasti, sed magis ei te dediticium ac subditum praebuisti. Grauius enim ut desertorem te ac fugitiuum deinceps aduersarius inpugnabit, quem de conflictu superatum protinus aufugisse conspexit, nisi de cetero commissa congressione non desertione cellae uel somni torpore ingruentes aestus eius ad horam euaporare malueris, sed tolerantia potius et conflictu didiceris triumphare. Vnde experimento probatum est acediae inpugnationem non declinando fugiendam, sed resistendo superandam.

 


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