Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter XVI. On the rules for various rebukes.
On the rules for various rebukes.
If then any one by accident breaks an earthenware jar (which they call “baucalis”), he can only expiate his carelessness by public penance; and when all the brethren are assembled for service he must lie on the ground and ask for absolution until the service of the prayers is finished; and will obtain it when by the Abbots command he is bidden to rise from the ground. The same satisfaction must be given by one who when summoned to some work or to the usual service comes rather late, or who when singing a Psalm hesitates ever so little. Similarly if he answers unnecessarily or roughly or impertinently, if he is careless in carrying out the services enjoined to him, if he makes a slight complaint, if preferring reading to work or obedience he is slow in performing his appointed duties, if when service is over he does not make haste to go back at once to his cell, if he stops for ever so short a time with some one else, if he goes anywhere else even for a moment, if he takes any one else by the hand, if he ventures to discuss anything however small with one who is not the joint-occupant of his cell, 771 if he prays with one who is suspended from prayer, if he sees any of his relations or friends in the world and talks with them without his senior, if he tries to receive a letter from any one or to write back without his Abbots leave. 772 To such an extent does spiritual censure proceed and in such matters and faults like these. But as for other things which when indiscriminately committed among us are treated by us too as blameworthy, viz.: open wrangling, manifest contempt, arrogant contradictions, going out from the monastery freely and without check, familiarity with women, wrath, quarrelling, jealousies, disputes, claiming something as p. 224 ones own property, the infection of covetousness, the desire and acquisition of unnecessary things which are not possessed by the rest of the brethren, taking food between meals and by stealth, and things like these—they are dealt with not by that spiritual censure of which we spoke, but by stripes; or are atoned for by expulsion.
From this passage we gather that in Egypt two monks were often the joint occupants of a single cell. Cf. II. xii. and Conference XX. i., ii.223:772
Many of these faults are noticed in the Rule of Pachomius as deserving censure, e.g., unpunctuality at or carelessness in service (c. viii. ix.), breaking anything (c. cxxv.), murmuring (lxxxvii.), taking the hand of another (xliv.). So also in the Rule of S. Benedict (cc. xliii.–xlvi.) similar directions are given, while in c. xliv. the nature of the penance is more fully described. He who in punishment of a grievous fault has been excluded from the Refectory and the Church, shall lie prostrate at the door of the latter at the end of each office, and shall there remain in silence with his forehead touching the ground, until the brethren retiring from church have all walked over him. This penance he shall continue to perform till it be announced to him that he has made due satisfaction. When commended by the Abbot to appear before him, he shall go and cast himself at his feet and then at the feet of all the brethren, begging of them to pray for him. He shall then be admitted to the choir, if the Abbot so order, and shall take there whatever place he may assign him: but let him not presume to intone a Psalm, read a lesson or perform any similar duty, without the special permission of the Abbot. He shall, moreover, prostrate himself in his place in choir at the end of every office, until the Abbot tells him to discontinue this penance. Those who for light faults are excluded merely from the common table, shall make satisfaction in the church according as the Abbot shall direct, and shall continue to do so until he gives them his blessing and tells them that they have made sufficient atonement.
Next: Chapter XVII. Of those who introduced the plan that the holy Lessons should be read in the Cœnobia while the brethren are eating, and of the strict silence which is kept among the Egyptians.
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