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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter III. Of the ordeal by which one who is to be received in the monastery is tested.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter III.

Of the ordeal by which one who is to be received in the monastery is tested.

One, then, who seeks to be admitted to the discipline of the monastery is never received before he gives, by lying outside the doors for ten days or even longer, an evidence of his perseverance and desire, as well as of humility and patience. And when, prostrate at the feet of all the brethren that pass by, and of set purpose repelled and scorned by all of them, as if he was wanting to enter the monastery not for the sake of religion but because he was obliged; and when, too, covered with many insults and affronts, he has given a practical proof of his steadfastness, and has shown what he will be like in temptations by the way he has borne the disgrace; and when, with the ardour of his soul thus ascertained, he is admitted, then they enquire with the utmost care whether he is contaminated by a single coin from his former possessions clinging to him. For they know that he cannot stay for long under the discipline of the monastery, nor ever learn the virtue of humility and obedience, nor be content with the poverty and difficult life of the monastery, if he knows that ever so small a sum of money has been kept hid; but, as soon as ever a disturbance arises on some occasion or other, he will at once dart off from the monastery like a stone from a sling, impelled to this by trusting in that sum of money. 758



Cf. the Rule of Pachomius, c. xxvi.: “If any or comes to the door of the monastery wanting to renounce the world and to join the number of the brethren, he shall not be allowed to enter, but the Abbot of the monastery must first be told, and he shall stay for a few days outside before the gate, and shall be taught the Lord’s Prayer and as many Psalms as he can learn, and shall diligently give proof of himself that he has not done any thing wrong and fled in trouble for the time, and that he is not in any one’s power, and that he can forsake his relations and disregard his property. And if they see that he is apt for everything, then he shall be taught the rest of the rules of the monastery,—what he ought to do, whom he is to obey,” etc.; and, finally, he is to be admitted. See also the Rule of S. Benedict, c. lviii., which is to much the same effect, and S. Basil’s Longer Monastic Rules, Q. x.

Next: Chapter IV. The reason why those who are received in the monastery are not allowed to bring anything in with them.

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