The Holy Rule of Saint Augustine – Chapter 3

December 31, 2007



Simplicity of Life and Mortification of the Flesh

14. Subdue your flesh by fasting from meat and drink, so far as your health permits. But if anyone is not able to fast, at least let him take no food out of meal time, unless he is sick.

15. While you are at table, listen without disturbance and dispute to the customary reading. For not only your palate should be gratified by taking food, but your ears likewise should relish hearing the word of God.

16. If those who are weak because of their former condition of life receive special food, this must not arouse ill-feeling in others, nor appear unjust to those whom another condition of life has made stronger. Neither should they consider the former more fortunate for receiving something which they themselves do not receive. They should feel happy that they can bear what these cannot endure.

17. And if those who come to the monastery from a softer way of life are given food, clothing, beds, and covers which are not given to others who are sturdier and, therefore, more fortunate, the ones who are not granted these things must consider how much those others have given up of their former secular way of life, although they have not yet been able to reach the simplicity of those who are stronger in body. All should not expect the same consideration they see a few receiving, because these are not thereby honored but treated with tolerant patience. Else there might arise the detestable abuse that in the monastery the rich are subjected to many hardships and the poor become self-indulgent.

18. As the sick must receive less in order to avoid any strain on them, so their treatment after sickness must be such as to hasten their recovery, even though they come from the poorest condition in the world. For sickness puts them in the same condition as the former habit of life in the case of the rich. But when they have recovered their former strength, let them return to the happier manner of life which is the more becoming for the Servants of God the less they need. The pleasing taste for food should not hold sway over those restored to health who in their sickness had need for relief. They should esteem those the richer who in sustaining poverty are stronger. For it is better to have fewer needs than to enjoy things beyond what is necessary.