Holy Rule Of Saint Benedict
Of the Manner of Admitting Brethren
Let easy admission not be given to one who newly cometh to change his
life; but, as the Apostle saith, "Try the spirits, whether they be of
God" (1 Jn 4:1). If, therefore, the newcomer keepeth on knocking, and
after four or five days it is seen that he patiently beareth the harsh
treatment offered him and the difficulty of admission, and that he
persevereth in his request, let admission be granted him, and let him
live for a few days in the apartment of the guests.
But afterward let him live in the apartment of novices, and there let
him meditate, eat, and sleep. Let a senior also be appointed for him,
who is qualified to win souls, who will observe him with great care and
see whether he really seeketh God, whether he is eager for the Work of
God, obedience and humiliations. Let him be shown all the hard and
rugged things through which we pass on to God.
If he promiseth to remain steadfast, let this Rule be read to him in
order after the lapse of two months, and let it be said to him: Behold
the law under which thou desirest to combat. If thou canst keep it,
enter; if, however, thou canst not, depart freely. If he still
persevereth, then let him be taken back to the aforesaid apartment of
the novices, and let him be tried again in all patience. And after the
lapse of six months let the Rule be read over to him, that he may know
for what purpose he entereth. And if he still remaineth firm, let the
same Rule be read to him again after four months. And if, after having
weighed the matter with himself he promiseth to keep everything, and to
do everything that is commanded him, then let him be received into the
community, knowing that he is now placed under the law of the Rule, and
that from that day forward it is no longer permitted to him to wrest
his neck from under the yoke of the Rule, which after so long a
deliberation he was at liberty either to refuse or to accept.
Let him who is received promise in the oratory, in the presence of all,
before God and His saints, stability, the conversion of morals, and
obedience, in order that, if he should ever do otherwise, he may know
that he will be condemned by God "Whom he mocketh." Let him make a
written statement of his promise in the name of the saints whose relics
are there, and of the Abbot there present. Let him write this document
with his own hand; or at least, if he doth not know how to write, let
another write it at his request, and let the novice make his mark, and
with his own hand place it on the altar. When he hath placed it there,
let the novice next begin the verse: "Uphold me, O Lord, according to
Thy word and I shall live; and let me not be confounded in my
expectations" (Ps 118:116). Then let all the brotherhood repeat
this verse three times, adding the Gloria Patri.
The let that novice brother cast himself down at the feet of all, that
they may pray for him; and from that day let him be counted in the
brotherhood. If he hath any property, let him first either dispose of
it to the poor or bestow it on the monastery by a formal donation,
reserving nothing for himself as indeed he should know that from that
day onward he will no longer have power even over his own body.
Let him, therefore, be divested at once in the oratory of the garments
with which he is clothed, and be vested in the garb of the monastery.
But let the clothes of which he was divested by laid by in the wardrobe
to be preserved, that, if on the devil's suasion he should ever consent
to leave the monastery (which God forbid) he be then stripped of his
monastic habit and cast out. But let him not receive the document of
his profession which the Abbot took from the altar, but let it be
preserved in the monastery.