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Cap. LIV

[Ms P, fol. 137vPaulus Diaconus
Ps.-Basil: Ms K1, fol. 146v; Ms E1, fol. 157r; Ms. E2, fol. 237r]

Ch. 54

Translated by: Irene van Renswoude

Quia superius dixerat, qualiter suscipiendi essent hospites, et praeceperat, ut nullus eis loqueretur sine jussione, nunc [vero] disponit, quid agendum sit, si aliquis alicui fratri quidquam forte detulerit, i. e. quod superius non dixit, in hac sententia latius exsequitur; dicit enim, si monachus debeat litteras vel aliquid suscipere.

Because he had indicated above how guests are to be received, and had instructed that no one should talk to them without consent, he now lays out what should be done if someone by chance offers something to a certain brother, that is: what he has not said above follows more elaborately in this idea: for he says, if a monk should accept letters or something else.

Sequitur: 1Nullatenus liceat monacho neque a parentibus suis, nec a quoquam hominum, nec sibi invicem litteras aut eulogias vel quaelibet munuscula accipere vel dare sine praecepto abbatis. 2Quodsi etiam a parentibus suis ei quidquam directum fuerit, non praesumat suscipere illud, nisi prius indicatum fuerit abbati. 3Quodsi jusserit suscipi, in abbatis sit potestate, cui illud jubeat dari, 4et non contristetur frater, cui forte directum fuerit, ut non detur occasio diabolo [page 510].

Then follows: 1In no circumstances is a monk allowed, unless the abbot says he may, to exchange letters, tokens or small gifts of any kind, with his parents or anyone else, or with a fellow monk. 2He must not presume to accept gifts sent him even by his parents without telling the abbot first. 3If the abbot orders acceptance, he still has the power to give the gift to whom he will; 4and the brother to whom it was sent must not be distressed, lest occasion be given to the devil. [page 510]

In hoc quod dicit nullatenus, nihil praetermisit; et cum dicit nec a parentibus nec a quoquam neque sibi invicem, omnia comprehendit, ut non possit excusare monachus.

Where he says in no circumstances, he leaves nothing out, and when he says not to exchange with his parents or anyone else, or with a fellow monk, he covers everything, so that no monk has an excuse.

Notandum est, quia, sicut tres personas comprehendit, ita etiam tria comprehendit munera, videlicet litteras, i. e. epistolas, et codices, h. e. munera minora, eulogias, quae sunt munera majora, veluti sunt cappa, sarica et aliud quid, quae majoris pretii sunt. Munuscula vero sunt munera parvissima sive alicujus pretii parvissimi, veluti est acus; non enim debet accipere vel dare neque etiam acus sine praecepto abbatis.

It should be noted that, just as he covers three persons, he also covers three types of gifts, namely letters, that is epistles and codices, which are minor gifts, and tokens that are major gifts, such as a cloak, a mantle or something different, which are of great worth. Small gifts are presents that are little of very small worth, such as a needle; he should however not accept or give even a needle, unless the abbot says he may.

In hoc, quod dixit non praesumat suscipere illud, nisi prius indicatum fuerit abbati, ita agendum est: quidquid alicui monacho directum fuerit, non debet ille portarius nuntiare illi fratri, nisi abbati. Deinde si abbas jusserit, tunc debet portarius nuntiare illi fratri, quem hospes quaerit, et post ire. Si vero non jusserit ire, tunc non debet portarius nuntiare fratri.

Where he says he must not presume to accept gifts without previously telling the abbot, it should be managed as follows: if something is sent to a certain monk, the doorkeeper must not report it to that brother, but only to the abbot. Next, if the abbot gives his permission, then the doorkeeper must notify that brother whom the guest asked for, and then he may go. But if the abbot does not give him permission to go, then the doorkeeper must not notify the brother.

Et hoc notandum est: si munus est, non debet etiam portarius suscipere illud, nisi prius indicaverit abbati; si jam abbas jusserit, tunc suscipiatur et debet etiam adducere illud in capitulum et ponere ante pedes abbatis, quia, si forte pauper est ille hospes, [et] ob hoc non vult abbas recipere illud.

And this should be noted: if it is a gift, then not even the doorkeeper should accept it, unless he has previously told the abbot. If the abbot has given his permission, then it may be received and he should bring it to the chapter and put it before the feet of the abbot, because if perhaps the guest is poor, the abbot may not want to receive it for that reason.

Quod autem dicit quod si jusserit suscipi, in abbatis sit potestate, cui illud jubeat dari, notandum est: non talem potestatem dedit illi S. Benedictus, ut ille abbas injuste disponat, sed ob hoc dedit illi in potestate sua, quia non potest nec potuit pleniter diffinire in dubiis rebus, propterea constituit in abbatis potestate, non ut ille ad suum libitum aliquid agat, sed ut juste discernat, sicut in hoc loco.

But when he says if the abbot orders acceptance, he still has the power to give the gift to whom he will, it should be noted that St. Benedict did not grant the abbot such power that he would distribute unjustly, but he gave it into the abbot’s power for this reason: because he cannot and could not lay down a complete rule for doubtful cases. Therefore, he placed it in the abbot’s power, not that he would do as he pleases, but that he would make fair decisions, as in this instance.

Debet abbas cognoscere, ut qui plus indiguerit, ille accipiat illud; v. gr. si venerit vestis, et viderit, quia ille frater plus indiget, quam alii, illi debet dare, quia, si non dederit, peccatum facit. Et similiter si minus indiget, et alii plus, et illi fratri dedit, qui minus indiget, peccatum facit; nam si recte disponere vult, illi debet dare, qui indiget, sive illi, cui missa est ipsa vestis, sive alii. [page 511]

The abbot should be aware that he who needs it more should receive the gift. For example, if a garment arrives and he sees that this brother needs it more than others, he should give it to him, because if he does not give it, he commits a sin. And likewise, if a brother needs it less than others, and he gives it to the brother who needs it less, he commits a sin. Because if he wants to distribute justly, he should give [the garment] to one who needs it, either to the person to whom that garment was sent or another. [page 511]

Sequitur: 4et non contristetur frater, cui forte directum fuerit. Usque modo castigavit abbatem, ut recte disponat; nunc castigat monachum, si alicui dederit illud abbas, ut non debeat contristari. Reddit causam, quare, i. e. ut non detur occasio diabolo, quasi diceret: ille abbas debet recte disponere, ne detur occasio diabolo; si aliter fecerit, i. e. si injuste disposuerit, tunc datur occasio murmurandi vel detrahendi. Similiter et monachus non contristetur, ne detur occasio diabolo, subaudiendum est: murmurandi, si illi fratri plus quam alii indigenti, cui directum fuerit, non dederit, aut discordandi, si illi fratri dederit, cui directum fuerit, et minus quam alii indigenti.

It follows: 4and the brother to whom it was originally sent must not be distressed. Up to now he [Benedict] admonished the abbot to distribute justly; now he admonishes the monk that he must not be distressed if the abbot gives it to someone else. He gives a reason why, namely lest occasion be given to the devil, by which he means to say: the abbot should distribute justly, so that no occasion is given to the devil; if he does otherwise, that is, if he distributes unjustly, then occasion is given for murmuring or criticizing. Likewise the monk must not be distressed, lest occasion be given to the devil should be understood as [occasion for] murmuring, if the abbot does not give it to that brother to whom it was sent and who needs more than others, or [occasion for] quarrelling, if he gives it to that brother to whom it was sent and who needs less than others.

Jam quia dare vel accipere monachorum diximus, nec etiam in refectorio secundum hujus capituli auctoritatem debent accipere sibi invicem aut dare. Verum si dederint, isto modo dent aut accipiant: v. gr. si forte abbas aut fleuthomato aut debili transmiserit aliquid, tunc debet ille frater, cui direxerit, erigere se et inspicere ad abbatem. Et si ille innuerit alicui dare, tunc debet dare aut accipere, ut fiat cum licentia. Si autem non innuerit, tunc non debet dare.

For we have already spoken about giving and receiving between monks, that they should not even exchange [food] in the refectory, according to the authority of this chapter. However if they do give [food], they should give or receive in this way: for example if by chance the abbot sends something to a monk who is undergoing bloodletting or disabled, then the brother, to whom he directed it, should rise and look at the abbot. And if he [the abbot] nods to give it to someone else, then he must give or receive, so that it takes place with permission.

Similiter si cellararius forte dederit aut fleuthomato aut debili, et innuerit illi alicui dare, tunc debet dare; si autem non innuerit, non debet dare; ita tamen, si cellarario hoc jussum fuerit ab abbate; si vero non fuerit jussum, non debet cellararius hoc facere. Ideo diximus: si innuerit, ut ille postmodum tribuat, pro duabus causis, i. e. aut propter alium infirmum aut debilem, qui sedet juxta eum, aut certe si sanus fuerit ille frater, cui debet accipiens porrigere, propter honestatem aut etiam, ne revereatur solus manducare, et pro turpitudine singularitatis postmodum non manducabit ille, cui transmissum fuerit.

Likewise if perhaps the cellarer gives something to a monk who is undergoing bloodletting or disabled, and if he [the cellarer] nods to give it to someone else, then he must do so; if the cellarer however does not nod, he [the monk] must not do so; but only if the abbot has ordered the cellarer to do so. If the cellarer, however, was not acting under order of the abbot, then he should not do this. Therefore we have said: If he [the abbot] indicates that [a monk] should then pass on [food], it is for two reasons, that is either on account of another ill or disabled monk sitting next to him, or, in case that the brother, to whom the receiver must reach out, is perfectly healthy, on account of good conduct or even so that he, to whom [the food] was delegated, might not feel uneasy about eating [the food] alone and will not eat due to the shamefulness of special treatment.

Sequitur: 5Qui autem aliter praesumpserit, disciplinae regulari subjaceat. Istud vero, quod dicit disciplinae regulari subjaceat, ad illa omnia, quae superius vetuit, respicit, i. e. si tribuerit vel acceperit aut litteras aut eulogias, i. e. majora munera, aut munuscula, h. e. parva, aut murmuraverit, aut contristatus fuerit, et reliq. disciplinae regulari subjaceat.

It follows: 5Whoever presumes to act otherwise will be subjected to the discipline of the rule. Truly, when he says he will be subjected to the discipline of the rule, this pertains to everything that he [Benedict] forbade above, that is if he [the monk] accepts letters or gifts, that is major gifts or small gifts, that is little gifts, or if he murmurs, or if he becomes sad, and so on, he will be subjected to the discipline of the rule.

1. vel eulogias. Cod. Fürstzell. (Mittermüller).

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