Of the Work of Monks.

 1. Thy bidding, holy brother Aurelius, it was meet that I should comply withal, with so much the more devotion, by how much the more it became clear u

 2. First then, it is to be seen, what is said by persons of that profession, who will not work: then, if we shall find that they think not aright, wha

 3. Nor do they attend to this, that if another should say, that the Lord indeed, speaking in parables and in similitudes concerning spiritual food and

 4. First then we ought to demonstrate that the blessed Apostle Paul willed the servants of God to work corporal works which should have as their end a

 5. I would, however, proceed to a more searching and diligent consideration and handling of these words, had I not other places of his Epistles much m

 6. Which thing whoso thinks cannot have been done by the Apostles, that with them women of holy conversation should go about wheresoever they preached

 7. But lest any should fancy that this was granted only to the twelve, see also what Luke relateth: “After these things,” saith he, “the Lord chose al

 8. But let us return to the order of our discourse, and the whole of the passage itself of the Epistle let us diligently consider. “Have we not,” sait

 9. But he speaks more openly in the rest which he subjoins, and altogether removes all causes of doubting. “If we unto you,” saith he, “have sown spir

 10. And he comes back again, and in all ways, over and over again, enforceth what he hath the right to do, yet doeth not. “Do ye not know,” saith he,

 11. And he goes on, and adjoins, lest perchance any should imagine that he only therefore received not, because they had not given: “But I have not wr

 12. But now, that as bearing with the infirmity of men he did this, let us hear what follows: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myse

 13. Of this weakness of his, he saith in another place, “We made ourselves small among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.” For in that pass

 14. Here peradventure some man may say, “If it was bodily work that the Apostle wrought, whereby to sustain this life, what was that same work, and wh

 15. But when he might use to work, that is, in what spaces of time, that he might not be hindered from preaching the Gospel, who can make out? Though,

 16. For he himself also, with an eye to the like necessities of saints, who, although they obey his precepts, “that with silence they work and eat the

 17. On account then of these either occupations of the servants of God, or bodily infirmities, which cannot be altogether wanting, not only doth the A

 18. And a little after he saith, “For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you. For I know the forwardness

 19. As therefore the Apostle, nay rather the Spirit of God possessing and filling and actuating his heart, ceased not to exhort the faithful who had s

 20. For what these men are about, who will not do bodily work, to what thing they give up their time, I should like to know. “To prayers,” say they, “

 21. Moreover, if discourse must be bestowed upon any, and this so take up the speaker that he have not time to work with his hands, are all in the mon

 22. There also is said at what work the Apostle wrought. “After these things,” it says, “he departed from Athens and came to Corinth and having found

 23. Hence arises another question for peradventure one may say, “What then? did the other Apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas, sin, in

 24. This question I should briefly solve, if I should say, because I should also justly say, that we must believe the Apostle. For he himself knew why

 25. If at the least they once had in this world wherewithal they might easily without handiwork sustain this life, which property, when they were conv

 26. That, namely, befalleth them which in undisciplined younger widows, the same Apostle saith must be avoided: “And withal they learn to be idle and

 27. As it is, however, they, against the Apostle of Christ, recite a Gospel of Christ. For so marvellous are the works of the sluggards, hindered that

 28. Here then shall these persons in their turn be in another more sublime degree of righteousness outdone, by them who shall so order themselves, tha

 29. But let us grant this also, that the whole year round there may in the fields be found either of tree or of herbs or of any manner of roots, that

 30. Wherefore, that I may briefly embrace the whole matter, let these persons, who from perverse understanding of the Gospel labor to pervert apostoli

 31. For if they be urged from the Gospel that they should put nothing by for the morrow, they most rightly answer, “Why then had the Lord Himself a ba

 32. Some man will say: “What then does it profit a servant of God, that, having left the former doings which he had in the world he is converted unto

 33. Wherefore even they which having relinquished or distributed their former, whether ample or in any sort opulent, means, have chosen with pious and

 34. But then the Lord saith, “Be not solicitous for your life what ye shall eat, nor for the body, what ye shall put on.” Rightly: because He had said

 35. And that which follows concerning birds of the air and lilies of the field, He saith to this end, that no man may think that God careth not for th

 36. Since these things are so, suffer me awhile, holy brother, (for the Lord giveth me through thee great boldness,) to address these same our sons an

 37. We are not binding heavy burdens and laying them upon your shoulders, while we with a finger will not touch them. Seek out, and acknowledge the la

 38. These things, my brother Aurelius, most dear unto me, and in the bowels of Christ to be venerated, so far as He hath bestowed on me the ability Wh

 39. For there is less sin, if people do not praise the sinner in the desires of his soul, and speak good of him who practiseth iniquities. Now what is

 40. And then that further device of theirs, (if words can express it), how painfully ridiculous is it, which they have invented for defense of their l

 41. Wherefore, they which will not do right things, let them give over at least to teach wrong things. Howbeit they be others whom in this speech we r

20. For what these men are about, who will not do bodily work, to what thing they give up their time, I should like to know. “To prayers,” say they, “and psalms, and reading, and the word of God.” A holy life, unquestionably, and in sweetness of Christ worthy of praise; but then, if from these we are not to be called off, neither must we eat, nor our daily viands themselves be prepared, that they may be put before us and taken. Now if to find time for these things the servants of God at certain intervals of times by very infirmity are of necessity compelled, why do we not make account of some portions of times to be allotted also to the observance of Apostolical precepts? For one single prayer of one who obeyeth is sooner heard than ten thousand of a despiser. As for divine songs, however, they can easily, even while working with their hands, say them, and like as rowers with a boat-song,66    Celeumate so with godly melody cheer up their very toil. Or are we ignorant how it is with all workmen, to what vanities, and for the most part even filthinesses, of theatrical fables they give their hearts and tongues, while their hands recede not from their work? What then hinders a servant of God while working with his hands to meditate in the law of the Lord, and sing unto the Name of the Lord Most High?67    Ps. i. 2; xiii. 6 provided, of course, that to learn what he may by memory rehearse, he have times set apart. For to this end also those good works of the faithful ought not to be lacking, for resource of making up what is necessary, that the hours which are so taken up in storing of the mind that those bodily works cannot be carried on, may not oppress with want. But they which say that they give up their time to reading, do they not there find that which the Apostle enjoineth? Then what perversity is this, to refuse to be ruled by his reading while he wishes to give up his time thereto; and that he may spend more time in reading what is good, therefore to refuse to do what is read? For who knows not that each doth the more quickly profit when he reads good things, the quicker he is in doing what he reads?


20. Obtendunt pigri vacare se orationi, psalmis, lectioni et verbo Dei. Inter laborandum licere psallere. Lectionem non prodesse, nisi fiat quod legitur. Quid enim agant qui operari corporaliter nolunt, cui rei vacent scire desidero. Orationibus, inquiunt, et psalmis, et lectioni, et verbo Dei. Sancta plane vita et Christi suavitate laudabilis: sed si ab his avocandi non sumus, nec manducandum est, nec ipsae escae quotidie praeparandae, ut possint apponi 0565 et assumi. Si autem ad ista vacare servos Dei certis intervallis temporum, ipsius infirmitatis necessitas cogit, cur non et apostolicis praeceptis observandis aliquas partes temporum deputamus? Citius enim exauditur una obedientis oratio, quam decem millia contemptoris. Cantica vero divina cantare, etiam manibus operantes facile possunt, et ipsum laborem tanquam divino celeumate consolari . An ignoramus, omnes opifices quibus vanitatibus et plerumque etiam turpitudinibus theatricarum fabularum donent corda et linguas suas, cum manus ab opere non recedant? Quid ergo impedit servum Dei manibus operantem in lege Domini meditari (Psal. I, 2), et psallere nomini Domini Altissimi (Psal, XII, 6): ita sane ut ad ea discenda, quae memoriter recolat, habeat seposita tempora? Ad hoc enim et illa bona opera fidelium, subsidio supplendorum necessariorum deesse non debent, ut horae quibus ad erudiendum animum ita vacatur, ut illa opera corporalia geri non possint, non opprimant egestate. Qui autem se dicunt vacare lectioni, nonne illic inveniunt quod praecipit Apostolus? Quae est ista ergo perversitas, lectioni nolle obtemperare, dum vult ei vacare; et ut quod bonum est diutius legatur, ideo facere nolle quod legitur? Quis enim nesciat tanto citius quemque proficere cum bona legit, quanto citius facit quod legit?