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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter X. How thorough is the obedience of the juniors even in those things which are matters of common necessity.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter X.

How thorough is the obedience of the juniors even in those things which are matters of common necessity.

Next, the rule is kept with such strict obedience that, without the knowledge and permission of their superior, the juniors not only do not dare to leave their cell but on their own authority do not venture to satisfy their common and natural needs. And so they are quick to fulfil without any discussion all those things that are ordered by him, as if they were commanded by God from heaven; 764 so that sometimes, when impossibilities are commanded them, they undertake them with such faith and devotion as to strive with all their powers and without the slightest hesitation to fulfil them and carry them out; and out of reverence for their senior they do not even consider whether a command is an impossibility. 765 But of their obedience I omit at present to speak more particularly, for we propose to speak of it in the proper place a little later on, with instances of it, if through your prayers the Lord carry us safely through. We now proceed to the other regulations, passing over all account of those which cannot be imposed on p. 222 or kept in the monasteries in this country, as we promised to do in our Preface; for instance, how they never use woollen garments, but only cotton, and these not double, changes of which each superior gives out to the ten monks under his care when he sees that those which they are wearing are dirty.



Cf. the Rule of S. Benedict, c. v., where it is said that “the first degree of humility is ready obedience. This is peculiar to those who…prefer nothing to Christ, and fulfil the injunctions of their superiors as promptly as if God Himself had given them the command,” etc.


The Rule of S. Benedict has a chapter to explain what is to be done if a brother is commanded to perform impossibilities (c. lxviii.). “If a brother is commanded to do anything that is difficult, or even impossible, let him receive the command with all meekness and obedience; meanwhile, should he see that he is utterly unequal to the task laid upon him, let him represent the matter to his superior calmly and respectfully, without pride, resistance, or contradiction. If the superior, after hearing what he has to say, still insists on the execution of the command, let the junior be persuaded that it is for his spiritual good, and accordingly trusting in God’s assistance, let him for His love undertake the work.”

Next: Chapter XI. The kind of food which is considered the greater delicacy by them.

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