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AUGUSTINE


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AUGUSTINE


of whom has charge of the sick, another of the cellar, another of the wardrobe, while still another is custodian of the books which she is authorized to distribute among the sisters. The nuns make their own habits, which consist of a dress, a cincture and a veil. Prayer, in common, occupies an important

Elace in their Ufe, being said in the chapel at stated ours and according to prescribed forms, and com- prising hymns, psalms, and readings. Certain prayers are simply recited while others, especially indicated, are chanted; but as St. Augvistine enters into no minute details, it is to be supposed that each monasterj' confonned to the liturgy of the diocese in which it is situated. Those sisters desiring to lead a more contemplative life are allowed to follow special devotions in private. The section of the Rule that applies to eating, although severe in some respects, is by no means strict beyond observance and the Bishop of Hippo tempers it most discreetly. Fasting and abstinence are recommended only in proportion to the physical strength of the individual, and when the saint speaks of obligatory fasting he specifies that such as are unable to wait for the evening or ninth hour meal may eat at noon. The nuns par- take of very frugal fare and, in all probability, ab- stain from meat. However, the sick and infirm are objects of the most tender care and solicitude, and certain concessions are made in favour of those who, before entering religion, led lives of luxury. During meals some instructive matter is to be read aloud to the nuns. Although the Rule of St. Augustine contains but few precepts, it dwells at great length upon religious virtues and the ascetic life, this being characteristic of all primitive rules. In his sermons ccclv and ccclvi the saint discourses on the monastic observance of the vow of poverty. Before making their profession the nuns divest themselves of all their goods, their monastery being responsible for supplying their wants, and whatever they may earn or receive is turned over to a common fund, the monasteries having the right of possession. In his treatise, "De opere monachorum", he inculcates the necessity of labour, without, however, subjecting it to any rule, the gaining of one's livelihood rendering it indispensable. Monks of course, devoted to the ecclesiastical ministry observe, ipso facto, the precept of labour, from which observance the infirm are legitimately dispensed. These, then, are the most important monastic prescriptions foimd in the rule and writings of St. Augustine.

MoN.\STic Life of St. Augustine. — Augustine was a monk; this fact stands out unmistakably in the reading of his hfe and works. Although a priest and bishop, he knew how to combine the practices of the religious life with the duties of his office, and his episcopal house in Hippo was for himself and some of his clergy, a veritaole monastery. Several of his friends and disciples elevated to the episcopacy imitated his example, among them Alypius at Tagaste, Possidius at Calama, Profuturus and Fortunatus at Cirta. Evodius at Uzalis, and Boniface at Carthage. There were still other monks who were priests and who exercised the ministry outside of the episcopal cities. All monks did not live in these episcopal monasteries; the majority were laymen whose com- mimities, although under the authority of the bishops, were entirely distinct from those of the clergy, There were religious who hved in complete isolation, belonging to no commimity and having no legitimate superior; indeed, some wandered aimlessly about, at the risk of giving disedification by their vagabond- age. The fanatics known as Circumcellwnes were recruited from the ranks of these wandering monks, and St. Augustine often censured their way of living. The religious life of the Bishop of Hippo was, for a long time, a matter of dispute between the Canons Regular and the Hermits of St. Augustine, each of


these two families claiming him exclusively as its own. It was not so much the establishing of an historical fact as the settling of a claim of precedence that caused the trotible, and as both sides could not be in the right, the quarrel would have continued indefinitely had not Pope Sixtus IV put an end to it by his Bull "Summum silentium" (1484). The silence thus imposed, however, was not perpetual, and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centtuies controversies were resumed between the Canons and the Hermits, but all to no avail. Pierre de Saint- Trond, Prior of the Canons Regular of St. Martin of Louvain, tells the story of these quarrels in the preface to liis " Examen Tcstamenti S. .\ugustini" (Louvain, 1564). GaV:)riel Pennot, Nicolas Desnos, and Le Large uphold the thesis of the Canons; Gan- dolfo, Lupus, Giles of the Presentation, and Noris sustain that of the Hennits. The Bollandists with- hold their opinion. St. .\ugustine followed the monastic or religious life as it was known to his con- temporaries, and neither he nor they even thought of establishing among those who had embraced it any distinction whatever as to congregations or orders. This idea was conceixed in a subsequent epoch, hence St. Augustine cannot be said to have belonged to any particular order. He made laws for the monks and nuns of Roman Africa, it is true, and he helped to increase their numbers,while they, in turn, revered him as their father, but they cannot be clas.sed as members of any special monastic family.

St. Augu.stine's Influence on Monachism. — When we consider Augustine's great prestige, it is easy to understand why his writings should have so influenced the development of Western monachism. His I^etter ccxi was read and re-read by St. Benedict, who borrowed several important texts from it for insertion in his ovm rule. St. Benedict's chapter on the labour of monks is manifestly inspired by the treati.se "De opere monachorum", that has done so much towards furnisliing an accurate statement of the doctrine commonly accepted in religious orders. The teaching concerning religious poverty is clearly formulated in the sermons " De vita et moribus clericorum suorum" and the authorship of these two works is sufficient to earn for the Bishop of Hippo the title of Patriarch of monks and religious. The influence of Augustine, however, was nowhere stronger than in southern Gaul in the fifth and sixtli centuries. L6rins and the monks of that school were familiar with Augustine's monastic w-ritings, which, together w'ith those of Cassianus, were the mine from which the principal elements of their rules were drawn. St. Csesarius, Archbishop of Aries, the great organizer of religious life in that section, chose some of the most interesting articles of his rule for monks from St. Augustine, and in his rule for nuns quoted at length from Letter ccxi. Sts. Augustine and Ca?sarius were animated by the same spirit which passed from the Archbishop of Aries to St. Aurelian, one of his successors, and, like him, a monastic lawgiver. Augustine's influence also ex- tended to women's monasteries in Gaul, where the Rule of Cajsarius was adopted either wholly or in part, as, for example, at Sainte-Croix of Poitiers, Juxamontier of Besan^on, and Chamalieres near Clermont.

But it was not always enough merely to adopt the teachings of Augustine and to quote him; the author of the regula Tarnatensis (an unknown monastery in the Rhone valley) introduced into his work the entire text of the letter addressed to the mms, having previously adapted it to a community of men by making slight modifications. This adaptation was surely made in other monasteries in the sixth or seventh centuries, and in his "Codex regularum" St. Benedict of Aniane published a text simihirly modified. For want of exact information we cannot