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Jan. 1 - May 2 - Sept. 1

LI S T E N  carefully, my child,
to your master's precepts,
and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).
Receive willingly and carry out effectively 
your loving father's advice, 
that by the labor of obedience 
you may return to Him 
from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, 
whoever you may be, 
who are renouncing your own will 
to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, 
and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first of all, 
whatever good work you begin to do, 
beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, 
that He who has now deigned to count us among His children
may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. 
For we must always so serve Him 
with the good things He has given us, 
that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children, 
nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions, 
deliver us to everlasting punishment 
as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory.

Jan. 2 - May 3 - Sept. 2

Let us arise, then, at last, 
for the Scripture stirs us up, saying, 
"Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 13:11).
Let us open our eyes to the deifying light, 
let us hear with attentive ears 
the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
"Today if you hear His voice, 
harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94[95]:8). 
And again, 
"Whoever has ears to hear, 
hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).
And what does He say? 
"Come, My children, listen to Me; 
I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps. 33[34]:12). 
"Run while you have the light of life, 
lest the darkness of death overtake you" (John 12:35).

Jan. 3 - May 4 - Sept. 3

And the Lord, seeking his laborer 
in the multitude to whom He thus cries out, 
says again, 
"Who is the one who will have life, 
and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33[34]:13)? 
And if, hearing Him, you answer, 
"I am the one," 
God says to you, 
"If you will have true and everlasting life, 
keep your tongue from evil 
and your lips that they speak no guile. 
Turn away from evil and do good; 
seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33[34]:14-15).
And when you have done these things, 
My eyes shall be upon you 
and My ears open to your prayers; 
and before you call upon Me, 
I will say to you, 
'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33[34]:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).

What can be sweeter to us, dear ones, 
than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
Behold, in His loving kindness
the Lord shows us the way of life.

Jan. 4 - May 5 - Sept. 4

Having our loins girded, therefore, 
with faith and the performance of good works (Eph. 6:14),
let us walk in His paths 
by the guidance of the Gospel, 
that we may deserve to see Him 
who has called us to His kingdom (1 Thess. 2:12).

For if we wish to dwell in the tent of that kingdom, 
we must run to it by good deeds 
or we shall never reach it.

But let us ask the Lord, with the Prophet, 
"Lord, who shall dwell in Your tent, 
or who shall rest upon Your holy mountain" (Ps. 14[15]:1)?

After this question, brothers and sisters, 
let us listen to the Lord 
as He answers and shows us the way to that tent, saying, 
"The one Who walks without stain and practices justice; 
who speaks truth from his heart; 
who has not used his tongue for deceit; 
who has done no evil to his neighbor; 
who has given no place to slander against his neighbor."

This is the one who, 
under any temptation from the malicious devil, 
has brought him to naught (Ps. 14[15]:4) 
by casting him and his temptation from the sight of his heart; 
and who has laid hold of his thoughts 
while they were still young 
and dashed them against Christ (Ps. 14[15]:4; 136[137]:9).

It is they who, 
fearing the Lord (Ps. 14[15]:4),
do not pride themselves on their good observance; 
convinced that the good which is in them 
cannot come from themselves and must be from the Lord, 
glorify the Lord's work in them (Ps. 14[15]:4), 
using the words of the Prophet,
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, 
but to Your name give the glory" (Ps. 113[115:1]:9). 
Thus also the Apostle Paul 
attributed nothing of the success of his preaching to himself, 
but said, 
"By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). 
And again he says, 
"He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Cor. 10:17).

Jan. 5 - May 6 - Sept. 5

Hence the Lord says in the Gospel, 
"Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them, 
I will liken to a wise person 
who built a house on rock.
The floods came, 
the winds blew and beat against that house, 
and it did not fall, 
because it had been founded on rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).

Having given us these assurances, 
the Lord is waiting every day 
for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions. 
And the days of this life are lengthened 
and a truce granted us for this very reason, 
that we may amend our evil ways. 
As the Apostle says, 
"Do you not know that God's patience is inviting you to repent" (Rom. 2:4)?
For the merciful Lord tells us, 
"I desire not the death of the sinner, 
but that the sinner should be converted and live" (Ezech. 33:11).

Jan. 6 - May 7 - Sept. 6

So, brothers and sisters, we have asked the Lord 
who is to dwell in His tent, 
and we have heard His commands 
to anyone who would dwell there; 
it remains for us to fulfill those duties.

Therefore we must prepare our hearts and our bodies 
to do battle under the holy obedience of His commands; 
and let us ask God 
that He be pleased to give us the help of His grace 
for anything which our nature finds hardly possible. 
And if we want to escape the pains of hell 
and attain life everlasting, 
then, while there is still time, 
while we are still in the body 
and are able to fulfill all these things 
by the light of this life, 
we must hasten to do now 
what will profit us for eternity.

Jan. 7 - May 8 - Sept. 7

And so we are going to establish 
a school for the service of the Lord. 
In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome. 
But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity 
for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity, 
do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation, 
whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matt. 7:14).
For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, 
our hearts expand 
and we run the way of God's commandments 
with unspeakable sweetness of love.
Thus, never departing from His school, 
but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching 
until death, 
we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.

Chapter 1: On the Kinds of Monks


Jan. 8 - May 9 - Sept. 8

It is well known that there are four kinds of monks. 
The first kind are the Cenobites:
those who live in monasteries 
and serve under a rule and an Abbot.

The second kind are the Anchorites or Hermits: 
those who, 
no longer in the first fervor of their reformation, 
but after long probation in a monastery, 
having learned by the help of many brethren 
how to fight against the devil, 
go out well armed from the ranks of the community 
to the solitary combat of the desert. 
They are able now, 
with no help save from God, 
to fight single-handed against the vices of the flesh 
and their own evil thoughts.

The third kind of monks, a detestable kind, are the Sarabaites.
These, not having been tested, 
as gold in the furnace (Wis. 3:6), 
by any rule or by the lessons of experience, 
are as soft as lead. 
In their works they still keep faith with the world, 
so that their tonsure marks them as liars before God. 
They live in twos or threes, or even singly, 
without a shepherd, 
in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord's. 
Their law is the desire for self-gratification: 
whatever enters their mind or appeals to them, 
that they call holy; 
what they dislike, they regard as unlawful.

The fourth kind of monks are those called Gyrovagues.
These spend their whole lives tramping from province to province, 
staying as guests in different monasteries 
for three or four days at a time.
Always on the move, with no stability, 
they indulge their own wills 
and succumb to the allurements of gluttony, 
and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites. 
Of the miserable conduct of all such 
it is better to be silent than to speak.

Passing these over, therefore, 
let us proceed, with God's help, 
to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks, the Cenobites.

Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be


Jan. 9 - May 10 - Sept. 9

An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery 
should always remember what she is called, 
and live up to the name of Superior. 
For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery, 
being called by a name of His, 
which is taken from the words of the Apostle: 
"You have received a Spirit of adoption ..., 
by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!

Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command 
anything which is against the Lord's precepts; 
on the contrary, 
her commands and her teaching 
should be a leaven of divine justice 
kneaded into the minds of her disciples.

Jan. 10 - May 11 - Sept. 10

Let the Abbess always bear in mind 
that at the dread Judgment of God 
there will be an examination of these two matters:
her teaching and the obedience of her disciples. 
And let the Abbess be sure 
that any lack of profit 
the master of the house may find in the sheep 
will be laid to the blame of the shepherd. 
On the other hand, 
if the shepherd has bestowed all her pastoral diligence
on a restless, unruly flock 
and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior, 
then she will be acquitted at the Lord's Judgment 
and may say to the Lord with the Prophet:
"I have not concealed Your justice within my heart;
Your truth and Your salvation I have declared" (Ps. 39[40]:11).
"But they have despised and rejected me" (Is. 1:2; Ezech. 20:27).
And then finally let death itself, irresistible,
punish those disobedient sheep under her charge.

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