Hieronymus Stridonensis
Prominent Istrians


Letter - Epistle 12
(alias quoque 22; scripta an. 384)

Perhaps the most famous of all the letters. In it Jerome lays down at great length (1) the motives which ought to actuate those who devote themselves to a life of virginity, and (2) the rules by which they ought to regulate their daily conduct. The letter contains a vivid picture of Roman society as it then was—the luxury, profligacy, and hypocrisy prevalent among both men and women, besides some graphic autobiographical details (§§7, 30), and concludes with a full account of the three kinds of monasticism then practised in Egypt (§§34–36). Thirty years later Jerome wrote a similar letter to Demetrias (CXXX.), with which this ought to be compared. Written at Rome 384 a.d.

(Note: This English synopsis is not a translation of the Latin version.)

De custodia virginitatis. Eustochium Virginem, Paulae nobiliss. apud Romanos Matronae filiam, docet quomodo Virginitatem custodire debeat, quam professa erat: atque eos qui castitatis specie ventri avaritiaeque inserviunt, acriter insectatur.

To Eustochium

Ad Eustochium

1. “Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people and thy father’s house, and the king shall desire thy beauty.”1 In this forty-fourth2 psalm God speaks to the human soul that, following the example of Abraham,3 it should go out from its own land and from its kindred, and should leave the Chaldeans, that is the demons, and should dwell in the country of the living, for which elsewhere the prophet sighs: “I think to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.”4 But it is not enough for you to go out from your own land unless you forget your people and your father’s house; unless you scorn the flesh and cling to the bridegroom in a close embrace. “Look not behind thee,” he says, “neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain lest thou be consumed.”5 He who has grasped the plough must not look behind him6 or return home from the field, or having Christ’s garment, descend from the roof to fetch other raiment.7 Truly a marvellous thing, a father charges his daughter not to remember her father. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do.”8 So it was said to the Jews. And in another place, “He that committeth sin is of the devil.”9 Born, in the first instance, of such parentage we are naturally black, and even when we have repented, so long as we have not scaled the heights of virtue, we may still say: “I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.”10 But you will say to me, “I have left the home of my childhood; I have forgotten my father, I am born anew in Christ. What reward do I receive for this?” The context shows—“The king shall desire thy beauty.” This, then, is the great mystery. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be” not as is there said, “of one flesh,”11 but “of one spirit.” Your bridegroom is not haughty or disdainful; He has “married an Ethiopian woman.”12 When once you desire the wisdom of the true Solomon and come to Him, He will avow all His knowledge to you; He will lead you into His chamber with His royal hand;13 He will miraculously change your complexion so that it shall be said of you, “Who is this that goeth up and hath been made white?”14 1. "Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam, et obliviscere populum tuum, et domum patris tui; et concupiscet rex decorem tuum" (Ps. 44. 11). In quadragesimo quarto Psalmo Deus ad animam loquitur humanam, ut secundum exemplum Abrahae, exiens de terra sua, et de cognatione sua, relinquat Chaldaeos qui quasi doemonia interpretantur, et habitet in regione viventium, quam alibi Propheta suspirat, dicens: "Credo videre bona Domini in terra viventium" (Ps. 26. 13). Verum non sufficit tibi exire de terra tua, nisi obliviscaris populi tui, et domus patris tui, ut carne contempta, sponsi jungaris amplexibus. "Ne respexeris, inquit, retro: nec steteris in omni circa regione, sed in monte salvum te fac, ne forte comprehendaris" (Gen. 19. 17). Non expedit apprehenso aratro, respicere post tergum, nec de agro reverti domum, nec post Christi tunicam, ad tollendum aliud vestimentum tecto descendere (Matth. 24). Grande miraculum: Pater filiam cohortatur, ne meminerit patris sui. "Vos de patre diabolo estis, et desideria patris vestri vultis facere" (Joan. 8. 44), dicitur ad Judaeos. Et alibi: "Qui facit peccatum, de diabolo est" (Joan. 3. 8). Tali primum parente generati, nigri sumus, et post poenitentiam, nec dum culmine virtutis ascenso, dicimus: Nigra sum, sed speciosa, filiae Jerusalem (Cant. 1. 4). Exivi de domo infantiae meae, oblita sum patris mei, renascor in Christo. Quid pro hoc mercedis accipio? Sequitur: Et concupiscet rex decorem tuum. Hoc ergo illud magnum est Sacramentum. Propter hoc relinquet homo patrem, et matrem suam, et adhaerebit uxori suae, et erunt ambo, jam non, ut ibi, in una carne (Gen. 2. 44), sed in uno spiritu. Non est sponsus tuus arrogans, non superbus, Aethiopissam duxit uxorem: statim ut volueris sapientiam audire veri Salomonis, et ad eum veneris, confitebitur tibi cuncta quae novit, et inducet te rex in cubiculum suum, et mirum in modum colore mutato, sermo tibi ille conveniet: Quae est ista, quae ascendit dealbata (Cant. 3. 6. et 8. 5).
2. I write to you thus, Lady Eustochium (I am bound to call my Lord’s bride “lady”), to show you by my opening words that my object is not to praise the virginity which you follow, and of which you have proved the value, or yet to recount the drawbacks of marriage, such as pregnancy, the crying of infants, the torture caused by a rival, the cares of household management, and all those fancied blessings which death at last cuts short. Not that married women are as such outside the pale; they have their own place, the marriage that is honorable and the bed undefiled.15 My purpose is to show you that you are fleeing from Sodom and should take warning by Lot’s wife.16 There is no flattery, I can tell you, in these pages. A flatterer’s words are fair, but for all that he is an enemy. You need expect no rhetorical flourishes setting you among the angels, and while they extol virginity as blessed, putting the world at your feet. 2. Dominae virgines vocandae. — Haec idcirco, mi Domina Eustochium, scribo (Dominam quippe vocare debeo sponsam Domini mei) ut ex ipso principio lectionis agnosceres, non me nunc laudem Virginitatis esse dicturum, quam probasti optimam, et consecuta es: nec enumeraturum molestias nuptiarum, quomodo uterus intumescat, infans vagiat, cruciet pellex, domus cura sollicitet, et omnia quae putantur bona, mors extrema praecidat. Habent enim et maritatae ordinem suum, honorabiles nuptias, et cubile immaculatum (Hebr. 13); sed ut intelligeres tibi exeunti de Sodoma, timendum esse Lot uxoris exemplum (Genes. 19). Nulla est enim in hoc libello adulatio. Adulator quippe blandus inimicus est. Nulla erit Rhetorici pompa sermonis, quae te etiam inter Angelos statuat, et beatitudine Virginitatis exposita, mundum subjiciat pedibus tuis.
3. I would have you draw from your monastic vow not pride but fear.17 You walk laden with gold; you must keep out of the robber’s way. To us men this life is a race-course: we contend here, we are crowned elsewhere. No man can lay aside fear while serpents and scorpions beset his path. The Lord says: “My sword hath drunk its fill in heaven,”18 and do you expect to find peace on the earth? No, the earth yields only thorns and thistles, and its dust is food for the serpent.19 “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”20 We are hemmed in by hosts of foes, our enemies are upon every side. The weak flesh will soon be ashes: one against many, it fights against tremendous odds. Not till it has been dissolved, not till the Prince of this world has come and found no sin therein,21 not till then may you safely listen to the prophet’s words: “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the trouble which haunteth thee in darkness; nor for the demon and his attacks at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”22 When the hosts of the enemy distress you, when your frame is fevered and your passions roused, when you say in your heart, “What shall I do?” Elisha’s words shall give you your answer, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”23 He shall pray, “Lord, open the eyes of thine handmaid that she may see.” And then when your eyes have been opened you shall see a fiery chariot like Elijah’s waiting to carry you to heaven,24 and shall joyfully sing: “Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken and we are escaped.”25 3. Nolo tibi venire superbiam de proposito, sed timorem. Onusta incedis auro, latro tibi vitandus est. Stadium est haec vita mortalibus, hic contendimus, ut alibi coronemur. Nemo inter serpentes et scorpiones securus ingreditur. Et inebriatus est, inquit Dominus, gladius meus in coelo (Isai. 34), et tu pacem arbitraris in terra, quae tribulos generat, et spinas, quam serpens comedit? Non est nobis colluctatio adversus carnem et sanguinem, sed adversus principatus, et potestates hujus mundi, et rectores harum tenebrarum, adversus spiritualia nequitiae in caelestibus (Ephes. 6. 12). Magnis inimicorum circumdamur agminibus, bostium plena sunt omnia. CARO FRAGILIS, et cinis futura post modicum, pugnat sola cum pluribus. Cum autem fuerit dissoluta, et venerit princeps mundi hujus, et invenerit in ea peccati nihil, tunc secura audies per Prophetam: Non timebis a timore nocturno: a sagitta volante per diem, a negotio perambulante in tenebris, ab incursu et daemonio meridiano. Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem millia a dextris tuis, ad te autem non appropinquabunt (Ps. 90. 5. 6). Quod si eorum te multitudo turbaverit, et ad singula incitamenta vitiorum coeperis aestuare, et dixerit tibi cogitatio tua: quid faciemus? respondebit tibi Elisaeus: Noli timere, quia plures nobiscum sunt, quam cum illis, et orabit, et dicet: Domine, aperi oculos puellae tuae, ut videat (4. Reg. 6. 16): et apertis oculis videbis igneum currum, qui te ad exemplum Eliae in astra sustollat (Ps. 123. 7); et tunc laeta cantabis: Anima nostra sicut passer erepta est de laqueo venantium: Laqueus contritus est, et nos liberati sumus (Ibid. 2).
4. So long as we are held down by this frail body, so long as we have our treasure in earthen vessels;26 so long as the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh,27 there can be no sure victory. “Our adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”28 “Thou makest darkness,” David says, “and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their meat from God.”29 The devil looks not for unbelievers, for those who are without, whose flesh the Assyrian king roasted in the furnace.30 It is the church of Christ that he “makes haste to spoil.”31 According to Habakkuk, “His food is of the choicest.”32 A Job is the victim of his machinations, and after devouring Judas he seeks power to sift the [other] apostles.33 The Saviour came not to send peace upon the earth but a sword.34 Lucifer fell, Lucifer who used to rise at dawn;35 and he who was bred up in a paradise of delight had the well-earned sentence passed upon him, “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.”36 For he had said in his heart, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,” and “I will be like the Most High.”37 Wherefore God says every day to the angels, as they descend the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream,38 “I have said ye are Gods and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men and fall like one of the princes.”39 The devil fell first, and since “God standeth in the congregation of the Gods and judgeth among the Gods,”40 the apostle writes to those who are ceasing to be Gods—“Whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal and walk as men?”41 4. In hac vita nulla est certa victoria. — Quamdiu hoc fragili corpore detinemur, quamdiu habemus thesaurum istum in vasis fictilibus (2. Cor. 4), et concupiscit spiritus adversus carnem, et caro adversus spiritum (Galat. 5), nulla est certa victoria. Adversarius noster diabolus, tanquam leo rugiens aliquem devorare quaerens, circumit (1. Petr. 5). Posuisti tenebras, ait David, et facta est nox. In ipsa pertransibunt omnes bestiae sylvae. Catuli leonum rugientes, ut rapiant, et quoerant a Deo escam sibi (Ps. 103. 20). Non quaerit diabolus homines infideles: non eos qui foris sunt, et quorum carnes rex Assyrius in olla succendit: de Ecclesia Christi rapere festinat. Escae ejus secundum Abacuc electae sunt. Job subvertere cupit, et devorato Juda, ad cribrandos Apostolos expetit potestatem. Non venit Salvator pacem mittere super terram, sed gladium. Cecidit Lucifer, qui mane oriebatur; et ille qui in Paradiso deliciarum nutritus est, meruit audire: Si exaltatus fueris, ut aquila, inde detraham te, dicit Dominus (Abdiae. 4). Dixerat enim in corde suo; Super sidera coeli ponam sedem meam, et ero similis Altissimo (Isai. 14. 13). Unde quotidie ad eos qui per scalam Jacob somniantis descendunt, loquitur Deus: Ego dixi dii estis, et filii Altissimi omnes. Vos autem sicut homines moriemini, et tanquam unus de principibus cadetis (Ps. 81. 6. 7). Cecidit enim primus diabolus, et cum stet Deus in synagoga deorum, in medio autem deos discernat, Apostolus iis qui dii esse desinunt, scribit: Ubi enim in vobis sunt dissensiones et aemulationes, nonne homines estis, et secundum hominem ambulatis (2. Cor. 3. 3)?
5. If, then, the apostle, who was a chosen vessel42 separated unto the gospel of Christ,43 by reason of the pricks of the flesh and the allurements of vice keeps under his body and brings it into subjection, lest when he has preached to others he may himself be a castaway;44 and yet, for all that, sees another law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin;45 if after nakedness, fasting, hunger, imprisonment, scourging and other torments, he turns back to himself and cries “Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”46 do you fancy that you ought to lay aside apprehension? See to it that God say not some day of you: “The virgin of Israel is fallen and there is none to raise her up.”47 I will say it boldly, though God can do all things He cannot raise up a virgin when once she has fallen. He may indeed relieve one who is defiled from the penalty of her sin, but He will not give her a crown. Let us fear lest in us also the prophecy be fulfilled, “Good virgins shall faint.”48 Notice that it is good virgins who are spoken of, for there are bad ones as well. “Whosoever looketh on a woman,” the Lord says, “to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”49 So that virginity may be lost even by a thought. Such are evil virgins, virgins in the flesh, not in the spirit; foolish virgins, who, having no oil, are shut out by the Bridegroom.50 5. Si Apostolus vas electionis, et separatus in Evangelium Christi, ob carnis aculeos et incentiva vitiorum reprimit corpus suum, et servituti subjicit, ne aliis praedicans ipse reprobus inveniatur; et tamen videt aliam legem in membris suis repugnantem legi mentis suae, et captivum se in legem duci peccati, si post nuditatem, jejunia, famem, carcerem, flagella, supplicia, in semetipsum reversus exclamat: Infelix ego homo, quis me liberabit de corpore mortis hujus (Rom. 7. 24), tu te putas securam esse debere? Cave, quaeso, ne quando de te dicat Deus: Virgo Israel cecidit, et non est qui suscitet eam (Amos. 5. 2). Audenter loquar: Cum omnia possit Deus, suscitare virginem non potest post ruinam. Valet quidem liberare de poena, sed non vult coronare corruptam. Timeamus illam Prophetiam, ne in nobis etiam compleatur: Virgines bonae deficient (Amos. 8. 13). Observa quid dicat, et virgines bonae deficient; quia sunt et virgines malae. Qui viderit, inquit, mulierem ad concupiscendum eam, jam moechatus est eam in corde suo (Matth. 5. 28). Perit ergo, et mente virginitas. Istae sunt virgines malae, virgines carne, non spiritu: virgines stultae, quae oleum non habentes, excluduntur a sponso.
6. But if even real virgins, when they have other failings, are not saved by their physical virginity, what shall become of those who have prostituted the members of Christ, and have changed the temple of the Holy Ghost into a brothel? Straightway shall they hear the words: “Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground; there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldæans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. Take the millstone and grind meal; uncover thy locks, make bare the legs, pass over the rivers; thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen.”51 And shall she come to this after the bridal-chamber of God the Son, after the kisses of Him who is to her both kinsman and spouse?52 Yes, she of whom the prophetic utterance once sang, “Upon thy right hand did stand the queen in a vesture of gold wrought about with divers colours,”53 shall be made naked, and her skirts shall be discovered upon her face.54 She shall sit by the waters of loneliness, her pitcher laid aside; and shall open her feet to every one that passeth by, and shall be polluted to the crown of her head.55 Better had it been for her to have submitted to the yoke of marriage, to have walked in level places, than thus, aspiring to loftier heights, to fall into the deep of hell. I pray you, let not Zion the faithful city become a harlot:56 let it not be that where the Trinity has been entertained, there demons shall dance and owls make their nests, and jackals build.57 Let us not loose the belt that binds the breast. When lust tickles the sense and the soft fire of sensual pleasure sheds over us its pleasing glow, let us immediately break forth and cry: “The Lord is on my side: I will not fear what the flesh can do unto me.”58 When the inner man shows signs for a time of wavering between vice and virtue, say: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God.”59 You must never let suggestions of evil grow on you, or a babel of disorder win strength in your breast. Slay the enemy while he is small; and, that you may not have a crop of tares, nip the evil in the bud. Bear in mind the warning words of the Psalmist: “Hapless daughter of Babylon, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”60 Because natural heat inevitably kindles in a man sensual passion, he is praised and accounted happy who, when foul suggestions arise in his mind, gives them no quarter, but dashes them instantly against the rock. “Now the Rock is Christ.”61 6. Si autem et illae quae virgines sunt, ob alias tamen culpas, virginitate corporum non salvantur: quid fiet illis, quae prostituerunt membra Christi, et mutaverunt templum Sancti Spiritus in lupanar? Illico audient: "Descende, sede in terra virgo filia Babylonis: sede in terra, non est solium filiae Chaldaeorum: non vocaberis ultra mollis, et delicata. Accipe molam, mole farinam, discooperi velamen tuum, denuda crura, transi flumina, revelabitur ignominia tua, apparebunt opprobria tua" (Isai. 47). Et hoc post Dei Filii thalamos, post oscula fratruelis, et sponsi, illa de qua quondam sermo Propheticus concinebat: Astitit regina a dextris tuis, in vestitu deaurato, circumdata varietate (Ps. 44. 10), nudabitur; et posteriora ejus ponentur in faciem ipsius: sedebit ad aquas solitudinis, posito vase, et divaricabit pedes suos omni transeunti, et usque ad verticem polluetur. RECTIUS FUERAT hominis [al. homini] subiisse conjugium, ambulasse per plana, quam ad altiora tendentem, in profundum inferni cadere. Ne fiat obsecro civitas meretrix, fidelis Sion, ne post Trinitatis hospitium, ibi daemones saltent, et sirenae nidificent, et hericii. Non solvatur fascia pectoralis; sed statim ut libido titillaverit sensum, aut blandum voluptatis incendium dulci nos calore perfuderit, erumpamus in vocem: Dominus auxiliator meus, non timebo quid faciat mihi caro (Psal. 117. 9). Cum paululum interior homo inter vitia atque virtutes coeperit fluctuare, dicito: "Quare tristis es anima mea, et quare conturbas me? Spera in Domino [al. Deo], quia confitebor illi, salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus" (Ps. 41. 12). Nolo sinas cogitationes crescere. Nihil in te Babylonium, nihil confusionis adolescat. Dum parvus est hostis, interfice: nequitia, ne zizania crescant, elidatur in semine. Audi Psalmistam dicentem: "Filia Babylonis misera, beatus qui retribuet tibi retributionem tuam quam retribuisti nobis. Beatus qui tenebit, et allidet parvulos tuos ad Petram" (Ps. 136. 8). Quia enim impossibile est in sensum hominis non irruere innatum medullarum calorem, ille laudatur, ille praedicatur beatus, qui ut coeperit cogitare sordida, statim interficit cogitatus, et allidit ad petram: petra autem Christus est (1. Cor. 104).
7. How often, when I was living in the desert, in the vast solitude which gives to hermits a savage dwelling-place, parched by a burning sun, how often did I fancy myself among the pleasures of Rome! I used to sit alone because I was filled with bitterness. Sackcloth disfigured my unshapely limbs and my skin from long neglect had become as black as an Ethiopian’s. Tears and groans were every day my portion; and if drowsiness chanced to overcome my struggles against it, my bare bones, which hardly held together, clashed against the ground. Of my food and drink I say nothing: for, even in sickness, the solitaries have nothing but cold water, and to eat one’s food cooked is looked upon as self-indulgence. Now, although in my fear of hell I had consigned myself to this prison, where I had no companions but scorpions and wild beasts, I often found myself amid bevies of girls. My face was pale and my frame chilled with fasting; yet my mind was burning with desire, and the fires of lust kept bubbling up before me when my flesh was as good as dead. Helpless, I cast myself at the feet of Jesus, I watered them with my tears, I wiped them with my hair: and then I subdued my rebellious body with weeks of abstinence. I do not blush to avow my abject misery; rather I lament that I am not now what once I was. I remember how I often cried aloud all night till the break of day and ceased not from beating my breast till tranquillity returned at the chiding of the Lord. I used to dread my very cell as though it knew my thoughts; and, stern and angry with myself, I used to make my way alone into the desert. Wherever I saw hollow valleys, craggy mountains, steep cliffs, there I made my oratory, there the house of correction for my unhappy flesh. There, also—the Lord Himself is my witness—when I had shed copious tears and had strained my eyes towards heaven, I sometimes felt myself among angelic hosts, and for joy and gladness sang: “because of the savour of thy good ointments we will run after thee.”62 7. Hieronymi tentationes in eremo. — O quoties ego ipse in eremo constitutus, et in illa vasta solitudine, quae exusta solis ardoribus, horridum Monachis praestat habitaculum, putabam me Romanis interesse deliciis. Sedebam solus, quia amaritudine repletus eram. Horrebant sacco membra deformia, et squalida cutis situm aethiopicae carnis obduxerat. Quotidie lacrymae, quotidie gemitus, et si quando repugnantem somnus imminens oppressisset, nuda humo ossa vix haerentia collidebam. De cibis vero et potu taceo, cum etiam languentes Monachi aqua frigida utantur, et coctum aliquid accepisse, luxuria sit. Ille igitur ego, qui ob gehennae metum, tali me carcere ipse damnaveram, scorpionum tantum socius et ferarum, saepe choris intereram puellarum. Pallebant ora jejuniis, et mens desideriis aestuabat in frigido corpore, et ante hominem sua jam in carne praemortuum, sola libidinum incendia balliebant. Itaque omni auxilio destitutus, ad Jesu jacebam pedes, rigabam lacrymis, crine tergebam; et repugnantem carnem hebdomadarum inedia subjugabam. Non erubesco infelicitatis meae miseriam confiteri, quin potius plango me non esse, quod fuerim. Memini me clamantem, diem crebro junxisse cum nocte, nec prius a pectoris cessasse verberibus, quam rediret, Domino increpante, tranquillitas. Ipsam quoque cellulam meam, quasi cogitationum mearum consciam pertimescebam. Et mihimet iratus et rigidus, solus deserta penetrabam. Sicubi concava vallium, aspera montium, rupium praerupta cernebam, ibi meae orationis locus, ibi illud miserrimae carnis ergastulum; et, ut ipse mihi testis est Dominus, post multas lacrymas, post coelo inhaerentes oculos, nonnunquam videbar mihi interesse agminibus Angelorum, et laetus gaudensque cantabam: Post te in odorem unguentorum tuorum curremus (Cant. 1. 3).
8. Now, if such are the temptations of men who, since their bodies are emaciated with fasting, have only evil thoughts to fear, how must it fare with a girl whose surroundings are those of luxury and ease? Surely, to use the apostle’s words, “She is dead while she liveth.”63 Therefore, if experience gives me a right to advise, or clothes my words with credit, I would begin by urging you and warning you as Christ’s spouse to avoid wine as you would avoid poison. For wine is the first weapon used by demons against the young. Greed does not shake, nor pride puff up, nor ambition infatuate so much as this. Other vices we easily escape, but this enemy is shut up within us, and wherever we go we carry him with us. Wine and youth between them kindle the fire of sensual pleasure. Why do we throw oil on the flame—why do we add fresh fuel to a miserable body which is already ablaze. Paul, it is true, says to Timothy “drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and for thine often infirmities.”64 But notice the reasons for which the permission is given, to cure an aching stomach and a frequent infirmity. And lest we should indulge ourselves too much on the score of our ailments, he commands that but little shall be taken; advising rather as a physician than as an apostle (though, indeed, an apostle is a spiritual physician). He evidently feared that Timothy might succumb to weakness, and might prove unequal to the constant moving to and fro involved in preaching the Gospel. Besides, he remembered that he had spoken of “wine wherein is excess,”65 and had said, “it is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine.”66 Noah drank wine and became intoxicated; but living as he did in the rude age after the flood, when the vine was first planted, perhaps he did not know its power of inebriation. And to let you see the hidden meaning of Scripture in all its fulness (for the word of God is a pearl and may be pierced on every side) after his drunkenness came the uncovering of his body; self-indulgence culminated in lust.67 First the belly is crammed; then the other members are roused. Similarly, at a later period, “The people sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to play.”68 Lot also, God’s friend, whom He saved upon the mountain, who was the only one found righteous out of so many thousands, was intoxicated by his daughters. And, although they may have acted as they did more from a desire of offspring than from love of sinful pleasure—for the human race seemed in danger of extinction—yet they were well aware that the righteous man would not abet their design unless intoxicated. In fact he did not know what he was doing, and his sin was not wilful. Still his error was a grave one, for it made him the father of Moab and Ammon,69 Israel’s enemies, of whom it is said: “Even to the fourteenth generation they shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord forever.”70 8. Si autem hoc sustinent illi, qui exeso corpore, solis cogitationibus oppugnantur, quid patitur puella, quae deliciis fruitur? Nempe illud Apostoli: Vivens mortua est (1 Tim 5. 6). Si quid itaque in me potest esse consilii, si experto creditur, hoc primum moneo, hoc obtestor, ut sponsa Christi vinum fugiat pro veneno. Haec adversus adolescentiam prima arma sunt daemonum. Non sic avaritia quatit, infiat superbia, delectat ambitio. Facile aliis caremus vitiis; hic hostis nobis inclusus est. Quocumque pergimus, nobiscum portamus inimicum. VINUM ET ADOLESCENTIA, duplex incendium voluptatis est. Quid oleum flammae adjicimus? Quid ardenti corpusculo fomenta ignium ministramus? Paulus ad Timotheum: "Jam noli, inquit, aquam bibere, sed vinum modico utere, propter stomachum tuum, et frequentes tuas infirmitates" (1. Tim. 5. 23). Vide quibus causis vini potio concedatur, ut ex hoc stomachi dolor, et frequens mederetur infirmitas. Et ne nobis forsitan de aegrotationibus blandiremur, modicum praecepit esse sumendum, medici potius consilio, quam Apostoli: licet et Apostolus sit medicus spiritualis: et ne Timotheus imbecillitate superatus, Evangelii praedicandi non posset implere discursus: alioquin se dixisse meminerat: "Vinum in quo est luxuria" (Ephes. 5. 18) Et, "bonum est homini vinum non bibere, et carnem non manducare" (Rom. 14. 21). Noe vinum bibit, et inebriatus est (Gen. 9. 21). Post Diluvium, rudi adhuc saeculo, et tunc primum plantata vinea inebriare vinum forsitan nesciebat. Et ut intelligas Scripturae in omnibus sacramentum, Margarita quippe est sermo Dei, et ex omni parte forari potest, post ebrietatem nudatio femorum subsecuta est, libido juncta luxuriae. Prius enim venter extenditur, et sic caetera membra concitantur. "Manducavit enim populus, et bibit, et surrexerunt ludere" (Exod. 32. 6). Lot amicus Dei in monte salvatus (Genes. 19), et de tot millibus populi solus justus inventus, inebriatur a filiabus suis; et licet illae putarent genus hominum defecisse, et hoc facerent liberorum magis desiderio, quam libidinis: tamen sciebant virum justum, hoc nisi ebrium non esse facturum. Denique quid fecerit, ignoravit: et quanquam voluntas non sit in crimine, tamen error in culpa est. Inde nascuntur Moabitae, et Ammonitae, inimici Israel, qui usque ad quartam et decimam progeniem, et usque in aeternum, non ingrediuntur in Ecclesiam Dei.
9. When Elijah, in his flight from Jezebel, lay weary and desolate beneath the oak, there came an angel who raised him up and said, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold there was a cake and a cruse of water at his head.71 Had God willed it, might He not have sent His prophet spiced wines and dainty dishes and flesh basted into tenderness? When Elisha invited the sons of the prophets to dinner, he only gave them field-herbs to eat; and when all cried out with one voice: “There is death in the pot,” the man of God did not storm at the cooks (for he was not used to very sumptuous fare), but caused meal to be brought, and casting it in, sweetened the bitter mess72 with spiritual strength as Moses had once sweetened the waters of Mara.73 Again, when men were sent to arrest the prophet, and were smitten with physical and mental blindness, that he might bring them without their own knowledge to Samaria, notice the food with which Elisha ordered them to be refreshed. “Set bread and water,” he said, “before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.”74 And Daniel, who might have had rich food from the king’s table,75 preferred the mower’s breakfast, brought to him by Habakkuk,76 which must have been but country fare. He was called “a man of desires,”77 because he would not eat the bread of desire or drink the wine of concupiscence. 9. Elias cum Jezabel fugeret, et sub quercu jaceret lassus in solitudine, veniente ad se Angelo suscitatur, et dicitur ei: "Surge, et manduca. Respexit, et ecce ad caput ejus panis collyrida, et vas aquae (4. Reg. 19. 5 et 6). Revera nunquid non poterat Deus conditum ei merum mittere, et electos cibos, et carnes contusione mutatas? Elisaeus filios Prophetarum invitat ad prandium, et herbis agrestibus eos alens, consonum prandentium audit clamorem: "Mors in olla" (4. Reg. 4. 40). Homo Dei non iratus est cocis, lautioris enim mensae consuetudinem non habebat, sed farina desuper jacta, amaritudinem dulcoravit: eadem spiritus virtute, qua Moyses mutaverat Maram in dulcedinem. Necnon et illos qui ad eum comprehendendum venerant, oculis pariter ac mente caecatos, cum in Samariam nescios induxisset, qualibus eos epulis refici imperaverit, ausculta, "Pone eis, inquit, panem et aquam; manducent, et bibant, et remittantur ad Dominum suum" (4. Reg. 6. 22). Potuit et Danieli de regiis ferculis opulentior mensa transferri; sed Abacuc ei messorum prandium portat, arbitror rusticanum. Ideoque et desideriorum vir appellatus est, quia panem desiderii non manducavit, et vinum concupiscentiae non bibit.
10. There are, in the Scriptures, countless divine answers condemning gluttony and approving simple food. But as fasting is not my present theme and an adequate discussion of it would require a treatise to itself, these few observations must suffice of the many which the subject suggests. By them you will understand why the first man, obeying his belly and not God, was cast down from paradise into this vale of tears;78 and why Satan used hunger to tempt the Lord Himself in the wilderness;79 and why the apostle cries: “Meats for the belly and the belly for meats, but God shall destroy both it and them;”80 and why he speaks of the self-indulgent as men “whose God is their belly.”81 For men invariably worship what they like best. Care must be taken, therefore, that abstinence may bring back to Paradise those whom satiety once drove out. 10. Innumerabilia sunt de Scripturis divina responsa, quae gulam damnent, et simplices cibos probent [al. praebeant]. Verum quia nunc non est propositum de jejuniis disputare, et universa exequi, sui et tituli sit et voluminis, haec sufficiant pauca de plurimis. Alioquin ad exemplum horum, poteris tibi ipsa colligere, quomodo primus de paradiso homo, ventri magis obediens, quam Deo, in hanc lacrymarum dejectus est vallem. Et ipsum Dominum Satanas fame tentaverit in deserto. Et Apostolus clamitet: "Escae ventri, et venter escis: Deus autem hunc et illas destruet" (1. Cor. 6. 13). Et de luxuriosis, "quorum Deus venter est" (Philipp. 3). Id enim colit unusquisque, quod diligit. Ex quo sollicite providendum est, ut quos saturitas de paradiso expulit, reducat esuries.
11. You will tell me, perhaps, that, high-born as you are, reared in luxury and used to lie softly, you cannot do without wine and dainties, and would find a stricter rule of life unendurable. If so, I can only say: “Live, then, by your own rule, since God’s rule is too hard for you.” Not that the Creator and Lord of all takes pleasure in a rumbling and empty stomach, or in fevered lungs; but that these are indispensable as means to the preservation of chastity. Job was dear to God, perfect and upright before Him;82 yet hear what he says of the devil: “His strength is in the loins, and his force is in the navel.”83

The terms are chosen for decency’s sake, but the reproductive organs of the two sexes are meant. Thus, the descendant of David, who, according to the promise is to sit upon his throne, is said to come from his loins.84 And the seventy-five souls descended from Jacob who entered Egypt are said to come out of his thigh.85 So, also, when his thigh shrank after the Lord had wrestled with him,86 he ceased to beget children. The Israelites, again, are told to celebrate the passover with loins girded and mortified.87 God says to Job: “Gird up thy loins as a man.”88 John wears a leathern girdle.89 The apostles must gird their loins to carry the lamps of the Gospel.90 When Ezekiel tells us how Jerusalem is found in the plain of wandering, covered with blood, he uses the words: “Thy navel has not been cut.”91 In his assaults on men, therefore, the devil’s strength is in the loins; in his attacks on women his force is in the navel.

11. Deus non delectatur nostra inedia. — Quod si volueris respondere, te nobili stirpe generatam, semper in deliciis, semper in plumis, non posse a vino et esculentioribus cibis abstinere, nec his legibus vivere districtius, respondebo: Vive ergo lege tua, quae Dei non potes. Non quod Deus universitatis Creator et Dominus, intestinorum nostrorum rugitu et inanitate ventris, pulmonisque delectetur ardore; sed quod aliter pudicitia tuta esse non possit. Job Deo carus, et testimonio ipsius immaculatus et simplex, audi quid de diabolo suspicetur: "Virtus ejus in lumbis, et potestas ejus in umbilico" (Job. 4). Honeste viri mulierisque genitalia immutatis sunt appellata nominibus. Unde et de lumbis David super sedem ejus promittitur esse sessurus. Et septuaginta quinque animae introierunt in Aegyptum, quae exierunt de femore Jacob. At postquam colluctante Domino, latitudo femoris ejus emarcuit, a liberorum opere cessavit. Et qui Pascha facturus est, accinctis mortificatisque lumbis, facere praecipitur. Et ad Job dicit Deus: "Accinge sicut vir lumbos tuos" (Ibid. 38. 3): Et Joannes zona pellicea cingitur et Apostoli jubentur accinctis lumbis, Evangelii tenere lucernas. Ad Jerusalem vero, quae respersa sanguine, in campo invenitur erroris, in Ezechiele dicitur: "Non est praecisus umbilicus tuus" (Ezech. 16. 4). Omnis igitur adversus viros diaboli virtus in lumbis est: omnis in umbilico contra feminas fortitudo.
12. Do you wish for proof of my assertions? Take examples. Sampson was braver than a lion and tougher than a rock; alone and unprotected he pursued a thousand armed men; and yet, in Delilah’s embrace, his resolution melted away. David was a man after God’s own heart, and his lips had often sung of the Holy One, the future Christ; and yet as he walked upon his housetop he was fascinated by Bathsheba’s nudity, and added murder to adultery.92 Notice here how, even in his own house, a man cannot use his eyes without danger. Then repenting, he says to the Lord: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight.”93 Being a king he feared no one else. So, too, with Solomon. Wisdom used him to sing her praise,94 and he treated of all plants “from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall;”95 and yet he went back from God because he was a lover of women.96 And, as if to show that near relationship is no safe guard, Amnon burned with illicit passion for his sister Tamar.97 12. Vis scire ita esse, ut dicimus? Accipe exempla: Samson leone fortior et saxo durior, qui et unus et nudus mille persecutus est armatos, in Dalilae mollescit amplexibus. David secundum cor Domini electus, et qui venturum Christum sanctum saepe ore cantaverat, postquam deambulans super tectum domus suae, Bethsabee captus est nuditate, adulterio junxit homicidium. Ubi, et ILLUD BREVITER ATTENDE, quod nullus sit, etiam in domo, tutus aspectus. Quapropter ad Dominum poenitens loquitur: "Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci" (Psal. 50. 5). Rex enim erat, alium non timebat. Salomon, per quem se cecinit ipsa Sapientia, qui disputavit a cedro Libani usque ad hyssopum, quae exit per parietem, recessit a Domino, quia amator mulierum fuit. Et ne quis sibi de sanguinis propinquitate confideret, illicito Thamar sororis Amnon frater exarsit incendio.
13. I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the church, their mother: stars over which the proud foe sets up his throne,98 and rocks hollowed by the serpent that he may dwell in their fissures. You may see many women widows before wedded, who try to conceal their miserable fall by a lying garb. Unless they are betrayed by swelling wombs or by the crying of their infants, they walk abroad with tripping feet and heads in the air. Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when (as often happens) they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder. Yet it is these who say: “‘Unto the pure all things are pure;’99 my conscience is sufficient guide for me. A pure heart is what God looks for. Why should I abstain from meats which God has created to be received with thanksgiving?”100 And when they wish to appear agreeable and entertaining they first drench themselves with wine, and then joining the grossest profanity to intoxication, they say “Far be it from me to abstain from the blood of Christ.” And when they see another pale or sad they call her “wretch” or “manichæan;”101 quite logically, indeed, for on their principles fasting involves heresy. When they go out they do their best to attract notice, and with nods and winks encourage troops of young fellows to follow them. Of each and all of these the prophet’s words are true: “Thou hast a whore’s forehead; thou refusest to be ashamed.”102 Their robes have but a narrow purple stripe,103 it is true; and their head-dress is somewhat loose, so as to leave the hair free. From their shoulders flutters the lilac mantle which they call “ma-forte;” they have their feet in cheap slippers and their arms tucked up tight-fitting sleeves. Add to these marks of their profession an easy gait, and you have all the virginity that they possess. Such may have eulogizers of their own, and may fetch a higher price in the market of perdition, merely because they are called virgins. But to such virgins as these I prefer to be displeasing. 13. Pudet [al. Piget] dicere, quot quotidie Virgines ruant, quantas de suo gremio mater perdat Ecclesia, super quae sidera inimicus superbus ponat thronum suum: quot petras excavet, et habitet coluber in foraminibus earum. Videas plerasque viduas, antequam nuptas, infelicem conscientiam mentita tantum veste protegere. Quas nisi tumor uteri, et infantium prodiderit vagitus, erecta cervice, et ludentibus pedibus incedunt. Aliae vero sterilitatem praebibunt, et necdum sati hominis homicidium faciunt. Nonnullae cum se senserint concepisse de scelere, abortii venena meditantur, et frequenter etiam ipsae commortuae, trium criminum reae, ad inferos perducuntur, homicidae sui, Christi adulterae, necdum nati filii parricidae. Istae sunt quae solent dicere: "Omnia munda mundis" (Rom. 14. 20). Sufficit mihi conscientia mea. Cor mundum desiderat Deus. Cur me abstineam a cibis quos creavit Deus ad utendum? Et si quando lepidae et festivae volunt videri, ubi se mero ingurgitaverint, ebrietati sacrilegium copulantes, aiunt: Absit, ut ego me a Christi Sanguine abstineam. Et quam viderint pallentem atque tristem, miseram, et Manichaeam vocant: et consequenter: tali enim proposito jejunium haeresis est. Hae sunt, quae per publicum notabiliter incedunt, et furtivis oculorum nutibus, adolescentium greges post se trahunt, quae semper audiunt per Prophetam: "Facies meretricis facta est tibi, impudorata es tu" (Jerem. 3). Purpura tantum in veste tenuis, et laxius, ut crines decidant, ligatum caput, soccus vilior, et super humeros hyacinthina laena Maforte volitans: succinctae manichae brachiis adhaerentes, et solutis genubus factus incessus. Haec est apud illas tota virginitas. Habeant istiusmodi laudatores suos, ut sub virginali nomine lucrosius pereant. Libenter talibus non placemus.
14. I blush to speak of it, it is so shocking; yet though sad, it is true. How comes this plague of the agapetæ104 to be in the church? Whence come these unwedded wives, these novel concubines, these harlots, so I will call them, though they cling to a single partner? One house holds them and one chamber. They often occupy the same bed, and yet they call us suspicious if we fancy anything amiss. A brother leaves his virgin sister; a virgin, slighting her unmarried brother, seeks a brother in a stranger. Both alike profess to have but one object, to find spiritual consolation from those not of their kin; but their real aim is to indulge in sexual intercourse. It is on such that Solomon in the book of proverbs heaps his scorn. “Can a man take fire in his bosom,” he says, “and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals and his feet not be burned?”105 14. Pudet dicere, proh nefas: triste, sed verum est: unde in Ecclesias Agapetarum pestis introiit? unde sine nuptiis aliud nomen uxorum? imo unde novum concubinarum genus? Plus inferam: unde meretrices univirae? Eadem domo, uno cubiculo, saepe uno tenentur et lectulo, et suspiciosos nos vocant, si aliquid existimamus. Frater sororem virginem deserit, coelibem spernit virgo germanum, fratrem quaerit extraneum, et cum in eodem proposito esse se simulent, quaerunt alienorum spiritale solatium, ut domi habeant carnale commercium. Istiusmodi homines Salomon in Proverbiis spernit [al. arguit.]: dicens; "Alligabit quis in sinu ignem, et vestimenta ejus non comburentur? Aut ambulabit super carbones ignis, et pedes illius non ardebunt" (Prov. 6. 27. 28)?
15. We cast out, then, and banish from our sight those who only wish to seem and not to be virgins. Henceforward I may bring all my speech to bear upon you who, as it is your lot to be the first virgin of noble birth in Rome, have to labor the more diligently not to lose good things to come, as well as those that are present. You have at least learned from a case in your own family the troubles of wedded life and the uncertainties of marriage. Your sister, Blæsilla, before you in age but behind you in declining the vow of virginity, has become a widow but seven months after she has taken a husband. Hapless plight of us mortals who know not what is before us! She has lost, at once, the crown of virginity and the pleasures of wedlock. And, although, as a widow, the second degree of chastity is hers, still can you not imagine the continual crosses which she has to bear, daily seeing in her sister what she has lost herself; and, while she finds it hard to go without the pleasures of wedlock, having a less reward for her present continence? Still she, too, may take heart and rejoice. The fruit which is an hundredfold and that which is sixtyfold both spring from one seed, and that seed is chastity.106 15. Explosis igitur et exterminatis his quae nolunt esse virgines, sed videri, nunc ad te mihi omnis dirigatur oratio, quae quanto prima Romanae urbis virgo nobilis esse coepisti, tanto tibi amplius laborandum est, ne et praesentibus bonis careas, et futuris. Et quidem molestias nuptiarum, et incerta conjugii domestico exemplo didicisti, cum soror tua Blesilla aetate major, sed proposito minor, post acceptum maritum, septimo mense viduata est. O infelix humana conditio et futuri nescia: et virginitatis coronam, et nuptiarum perdidit voluptatem. Et quanquam secundum pudicitiae gradum teneat viduitas, tamen quas illam per momenta sustinere existimas cruces, spectantem quotidie in sorore; quod ipsa perdiderit, et cum difficilius experta careat voluptate, minorem continentiae habere mercedem? Sit tamen et illa secura, sit gaudens. Centesimus et sexagesimus fructus de uno sunt semine castitatis.
16. Do not court the company of married ladies or visit the houses of the high-born. Do not look too often on the life which you despised to become a virgin. Women of the world, you know, plume themselves because their husbands are on the bench or in other high positions. And the wife of the emperor always has an eager throng of visitors at her door. Why do you, then, wrong your husband? Why do you, God’s bride, hasten to visit the wife of a mere man? Learn in this respect a holy pride; know that you are better than they. And not only must you avoid intercourse with those who are puffed up by their husbands’ honors, who are hedged in with troops of eunuchs, and who wear robes inwrought with threads of gold. You must also shun those who are widows from necessity and not from choice. Not that they ought to have desired the death of their husbands; but that they have not welcomed the opportunity of continence when it has come. As it is, they only change their garb; their old self-seeking remains unchanged. To see them in their capacious litters, with red cloaks and plump bodies, a row of eunuchs walking in front of them, you would fancy them not to have lost husbands but to be seeking them. Their houses are filled with flatterers and with guests. The very clergy, who ought to inspire them with respect by their teaching and authority, kiss these ladies on the forehead, and putting forth their hands (so that, if you knew no better, you might suppose them in the act of blessing), take wages for their visits. They, meanwhile, seeing that priests cannot do without them, are lifted up into pride; and as, having had experience of both, they prefer the license of widowhood to the restraints of marriage, they call themselves chaste livers and nuns. After an immoderate supper they retire to rest to dream of the apostles.107 16. Virgo debet fugere Matronarum consortium. Viduarum vitia, et Clericorum. — Nolo habeas consortia matronarum: nolo ad nobilium domos accedas: nolo te frequenter videre, quod contemnens, virgo esse voluisti. Sic sibi solent applaudere mulierculae de judicibus viris, et in aliqua positis dignitate. Si ad Imperatoris uxorem concurrit ambitio salutantium, cur tu facis injuriam viro tuo? Ad hominis conjugem, Dei sponsa quid properas? Disce in hac parte superbiam sanctam: scito te illis esse meliorem. Neque vero earum tantum te cupio declinare congressus, quae maritorum inflantur honoribus, quas eunuchochorum greges sepiunt, et in quarum vestibus attenuata in filum auri metalla texuntur; sed etiam eas fuge, quas viduas necessitas fecit, non voluntas: non quod mortem optare debuerint maritorum; sed quod datam occasionem pudicitiae non libenter acceperint. Nunc vero tantum veste mutata pristina non mutatur ambitio. Praecedit caveas Basternarum ordo semivirorum: et rubentibus buccis, cutis farta distenditur, ut eas putes maritos non amisisse, sed quaerere. Plena adulatoribus domus, plena conviviis. Clerici ipsi, quos in magisterio esse oportuerat doctrinae pariter et timoris, osculantur capita matronarum, et extenta manu, ut benedicere eos putes velle, si nescias, pretia accipiunt salutandi. Illae interim, quae Sacerdotes suo viderint indigere praesidio, eriguntur in superbiam: et quia maritorum expertae dominatum, viduitatis praeferunt libertatem, castae vocantur, et Nonnae, et post coenam dubiam, Apostolos somniant.
17. Let your companions be women pale and thin with fasting, and approved by their years and conduct; such as daily sing in their hearts: “Tell me where thou feedest thy flock, where thou makest it to rest at noon,”108 and say, with true earnestness, “I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ.”109. Be subject to your parents, imitating the example of your spouse.110.Rarely go abroad, and if you wish to seek the aid of the martyrs seek it in your own chamber. For you will never need a pretext for going out if you always go out when there is need. Take food in moderation, and never overload your stomach. For many women, while temperate as regards wine, are intemperate in the use of food. When you rise at night to pray, let your breath be that of an empty and not that of an overfull stomach. Read often, learn all that you can. Let sleep overcome you, the roll still in your hands; when your head falls, let it be on the sacred page. Let your fasts be of daily occurrence and your refreshment such as avoids satiety. It is idle to carry an empty stomach if, in two or three days’ time, the fast is to be made up for by repletion. When cloyed the mind immediately grows sluggish, and when the ground is watered it puts forth the thorns of lust. If ever you feel the outward man sighing for the flower of youth, and if, as you lie on your couch after a meal, you are excited by the alluring train of sensual desires; then seize the shield of faith, for it alone can quench the fiery darts of the devil.111 “They are all adulterers,” says the prophet; “they have made ready their heart like an oven.”112 But do you keep close to the footsteps of Christ, and, intent upon His words, say: “Did not our heart burn within us by the way while Jesus opened to us the Scriptures?”113 and again: “Thy word is tried to the uttermost, and thy servant loveth it.”114 It is hard for the human soul to avoid loving something, and our mind must of necessity give way to affection of one kind or another. The love of the flesh is overcome by the love of the spirit. Desire is quenched by desire. What is taken from the one increases the other. Therefore, as you lie on your couch, say again and again: “By night have I sought Him whom my soul loveth.”115 “Mortify, therefore,” says the apostle, “your members which are upon the earth.”116 Because he himself did so, he could afterwards say with confidence: “I live, yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me.”117 He who mortifies his members, and feels that he is walking in a vain show,118 is not afraid to say: “I am become like a bottle in the frost.119 Whatever there was in me of the moisture of lust has been dried out of me.” And again: “My knees are weak through fasting; I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.”120 17. Sint tibi sociae, quas jejunia tenuant, quibus, pallor in facie est, quas et aetas probavit et vita, quae quotidie in cordibus suis canunt: "Ubi pascis? ubi cubas in meridie" (Cant. 1. 6)? Quae ex affectu dicunt: "Cupio dissolvi, et esse cum Christo" (Philipp. 1. 23). Esto subjecta parentibus: imitare sponsum tuum. Rarus sit egressus in publicum. Martyres tibi quaerantur in cubiculo tuo. Nunquam causa deerit procedendi, si semper quando necesse est, processura sis. Sit tibi moderatus cibus, et nunquam venter expletus. Plures quippe sunt, quae cum vino sint sobriae, ciborum largitate sunt ebriae. Ad orationem tibi nocte surgenti, non indigestio ructum faciat, sed inanitas. Crebrius lege, disce quamplurima. Tenenti codicem somnus obrepat, et cadentem faciem pagina sancta suscipiat. Sint tibi quotidiana jejunia, et refectio satietatem fugiens. NIHIL PRODEST BIDUO triduoque transmisso, vacuum portare ventrem, si pariter obruatur, si compensetur, saturitate jejunium. Illico mens repleta torpescit, et irrigata humus spinas libidinum germinat. Si quando senseris exteriorem hominem florem adolescentiae suspirare, et accepto cibo, cum te in lectulo compositam dulcis libidinum pompa concusserit, arripe scutum fidei, in quo ignitae diaboli exstinguuntur sagittae. "Omnes adulterantes, quasi clibanus" (Ose. 7. 4) corda eorum. At tu Christi comitata vestigiis, et sermonibus ejus intenta, dic: "Nonne cor nostrum ardens erat in via, cum aperiret nobis Jesus Scripturas" (Luc. 24. 32)? Et illud: "Ignitum eloquium tuum vehementer, et servus tuus dilexit illud" (Psal. 118). Difficile est humanam animam aliquid non amare, et necesse est, ut in quoscumque mens nostra trahatur affectus. Carnis amor spiritus amore superatur. Desiderium desiderio restinguitur. Quidquid inde minuitur, hinc crescit. Quin potius semper ingemina, et dicito super lectulum tuum: "In noctibus quaesivi quem dilexit anima mea (Cant. 3. 1). Mortificate ergo, inquit Apostolus, membra vestra quae sunt super terram" (Coloss. 3. 5). Unde et ipse postea confidenter aiebat: "Vivo autem, jam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus" (Galat. 2. 20). Qui mortificat membra sua, et in imagine perambulat, non timet dicere: "Factus sum sicut uter in pruina" (Psal. 118. 83). Quidquid in me fuit humoris libidinis excoctum est; Et: "Infirmata sunt in jejunio genua mea;" Et: "oblitus sum manducare panem meum. A voce gemitus mei adhaesit os meum carni meae" (Ps. 101. 6).
18. Be like the grasshopper and make night musical. Nightly wash your bed and water your couch with your tears.121 Watch and be like the sparrow alone upon the housetop.122 Sing with the spirit, but sing with the understanding also.123 And let your song be that of the psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction.”124 Can we, any of us, honestly make his words our own: “I have eaten ashes like bread and mingled my drink with weeping?”125 Yet, should we not weep and groan when the serpent invites us, as he invited our first parents, to eat forbidden fruit, and when after expelling us from the paradise of virginity he desires to clothe us with mantles of skins such as that which Elijah, on his return to paradise, left behind him on earth?126 Say to yourself: “What have I to do with the pleasures of sense that so soon come to an end? What have I to do with the song of the sirens so sweet and so fatal to those who hear it?” I would not have you subject to that sentence whereby condemnation has been passed upon mankind. When God says to Eve, “In pain and in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children,” say to yourself, “That is a law for a married woman, not for me.” And when He continues, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband,”127 say again: “Let her desire be to her husband who has not Christ for her spouse.” And when, last of all, He says, “Thou shalt surely die,”128 once more, say, “Marriage indeed must end in death; but the life on which I have resolved is independent of sex. Let those who are wives keep the place and the time that properly belong to them. For me, virginity is consecrated in the persons of Mary and of Christ.” 18. Esto cicada noctium. Lava per singulas noctes lectum tuum, lacrymis tuis stratum riga. Vigila, et sis sicut passer in solitudine. Psalle spiritu, psalle et sensu: "Benedic, anima mea, Dominum, et ne obliviscaris omnes retributiones ejus: qui propitiatur cunctis iniquitatibus tuis: Qui sanat omnes infirmitates tuas, et redimit ex corruptione vitam tuam" (Psal. 101. 1. et seqq). Et quis nostrum ex corde dicere potest: "Quia cinerem tanquam panem manducabam, et potionem meam cum fletu miscebam" (Ps. 101. 10). An non flendum est, non gemendum, cum me rursus serpens invitat ad illicitos cibos? Cum de paradiso Virginitatis ejectos, tunicis vult vestire pelliceis, quas Elias ad paradisum rediens, projecit in terram? Quid mihi et voluptati, quae brevi perit? quid cum hoc dulci et mortifero carmine sirenarum? Nolo te illi subjacere sententiae, qua in hominem est illata damnatio: "In doloribus, et in anxietatibus paries" (Gen. 3. 16). Mulieris lex ista est, non mea: "Et ad virum conversio tua." Sit conversio illius ad maritum, quae virum non habet Christum. Et ad extremum, "morte morieris." Finis iste conjugii; meum propositum sine sexu est. Habeant nuptae suum tempus, et titulum. Mihi virginitas in Maria dedicatur et Christo.
19. Some one may say, “Do you dare detract from wedlock, which is a state blessed by God?” I do not detract from wedlock when I set virginity before it. No one compares a bad thing with a good. Wedded women may congratulate themselves that they come next to virgins. “Be fruitful,” God says, “and multiply, and replenish the earth.”129 He who desires to replenish the earth may increase and multiply if he will. But the train to which you belong is not on earth, but in heaven. The command to increase and multiply first finds fulfilment after the expulsion from paradise, after the nakedness and the fig-leaves which speak of sexual passion. Let them marry and be given in marriage who eat their bread in the sweat of their brow; whose land brings forth to them thorns and thistles,130 and whose crops are choked with briars. My seed produces fruit a hundredfold.131 “All men cannot receive God’s saying, but they to whom it is given.”

Some people may be eunuchs from necessity; I am one of free will.132 “There is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. There is a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together.”133 Now that out of the hard stones of the Gentiles God has raised up children unto Abraham,134 they begin to be “holy stones rolling upon the earth.”135 They pass through the whirlwinds of the world, and roll on in God’s chariot on rapid wheels. Let those stitch coats to themselves who have lost the coat woven from the top throughout;136 who delight in the cries of infants which, as soon as they see the light, lament that they are born. In paradise Eve was a virgin, and it was only after the coats of skins that she began her married life. Now paradise is your home too. Keep therefore your birthright and say: “Return unto thy rest, O my soul.”137 To show that virginity is natural while wedlock only follows guilt, what is born of wedlock is virgin flesh, and it gives back in fruit what in root it has lost. “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a flower shall grow out of his roots.”138 The rod139 is the mother of the Lord—simple, pure, unsullied; drawing no germ of life from without but fruitful in singleness like God Himself. The flower of the rod is Christ, who says of Himself: “I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.”140 In another place He is foretold to be “a stone cut out of the mountain without hands,”141 a figure by which the prophet signifies that He is to be born a virgin of a virgin. For the hands are here a figure of wedlock as in the passage: “His left hand is under my head and his right hand doth embrace me.”142 It agrees, also, with this interpretation that the unclean animals are led into Noah’s ark in pairs, while of the clean an uneven number is taken.143 Similarly, when Moses and Joshua were bidden to remove their shoes because the ground on which they stood was holy,144 the command had a mystical meaning. So, too, when the disciples were appointed to preach the gospel they were told to take with them neither shoe nor shoe-latchet;145 and when the soldiers came to cast lots for the garments of Jesus146 they found no boots that they could take away. For the Lord could not Himself possess what He had forbidden to His servants.

19. Dicat aliquis: Et audes nuptiis detrahere, quae a Deo benedictae sunt? Non est detrahere nuptiis, cum illis virginitas antefertur. Nemo malum bono comparat. Glorientur et nuptae, cum a virginibus sint secundae. "Crescite, ait, et multiplicamini, et replete terram" (Genes. 1. 28). Crescat et multiplicetur ille, qui impleturus est terram. Tuum agmen in coelis est. "Crescite et multiplicamini," hoc expletur edictum post paradisum et nuditatem, et ficus folia, auspicantia pruriginem nuptiarum. Nubat, et nubatur ille, qui in sudore faciei comedit panem suum, cujus terra tribulos et spinas generat, et cujus herba sentibus suffocatur. Meum semen centenaria fruge foecundum est. "Non omnes capiunt verbum Dei, sed hi quibus datum est" (Matth. 19. 11).

Alium eunuchum necessitas faciat, me voluntas. "Tempus amplexandi, et tempus abstinendi a complexibus: tempus mittendi lapides, et tempus colligendi" (Eccles. 3. 5). Postquam de duritia nationum generati sunt filii Abrahae, coeperunt "sancti lapides volvi super terram" (Zach. 9. 16). Petranseunt quippe mundi istius turbines, et in curru Dei, rotarum celeritate volvuntur. Consuant tunicas, qui inconsutam desursum tunicam perdiderunt, quos vagitus delectat infantium, in ipso lucis exordio fletu lugentium quod nati sunt. Eva in paradiso virgo fuit: post pelliceas tunicas, initium sumpsit nuptiarum. Tua regio paradisus est. Serva quod nata es, et dic: "Revertere anima mea in requiem tuam" (Ps. 124. 7). Et ut scias virginitatem esse naturae, nuptias post delictum: virgo nascitur caro de nuptiis, et in fructu reddens, quod in radice perdiderat. "Exiet virga de radice Jesse, et flos de radice ejus ascendet" (Isai. 11. 1). Virga Mater est Domini, simplex, pura, sincera, nullo extrinsecus germine cohaerente, et ad similitudinem Dei unione foecunda. Virgae flos Christus est, dicens: "Ego flos campi, et lilium convallium" (Cant. 2. 1). Qui et in alio loco, lapis praedicatur abscissus de monte sine manibus" (Dan. 2), significante Propheta, virginem nasciturum esse de Virgine. Manus quippe accipiuntur pro opere nuptiarum, ut ibi: "Sinistra ejus sub capite meo, et dextera illius amplexabitur me" (Cant. 2). In hujus sensus congruit voluntatem etiam illud, quod animalia, quae in Arcam Noe bina inducuntur, immunda sunt: impar enim numerus est mundus. Et Moyses et Jesus Nave nudis in sanctam Terram pedibus jubentur incedere. Et discipuli sine calceamentorum onere, et vinculis pellium ad praedicationem novi Evangelii destinantur: Et milites, vestimentis Jesu sorte divisis, caligas non habebant [al. habuere] quas tollerent. Nec enim poterat habere Dominus, quod prohibuerat servis.

20. I praise wedlock, I praise marriage, but it is because they give me virgins. I gather the rose from the thorns, the gold from the earth, the pearl from the shell. “Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?”147 Shall he not also enjoy the fruit of his labor? Wedlock is the more honored, the more what is born of it is loved. Why, mother, do you grudge your daughter her virginity? She has been reared on your milk, she has come from your womb, she has grown up in your bosom. Your watchful affection has kept her a virgin. Are you angry with her because she chooses to be a king’s wife and not a soldier’s? She has conferred on you a high privilege; you are now the mother-in-law of God. “Concerning virgins,” says the apostle, “I have no commandment of the Lord.”148 Why was this? Because his own virginity was due, not to a command, but to his free choice. For they are not to be heard who feign him to have had a wife; for, when he is discussing continence and commending perpetual chastity, he uses the words, “I would that all men were even as I myself.” And farther on, “I say, therefore, to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.”149 And in another place, “have we not power to lead about wives even as the rest of the apostles?”150 Why then has he no commandment from the Lord concerning virginity? Because what is freely offered is worth more than what is extorted by force, and to command virginity would have been to abrogate wedlock. It would have been a hard enactment to compel opposition to nature and to extort from men the angelic life; and not only so, it would have been to condemn what is a divine ordinance. 20. Laudo nuptias, laudo conjugium, sed quia mihi virgines generant: lego de spinis rosam, de terra aurum, de concha margaritam. Nunquid qui arat, tota die arabit? Nonne et laboris sui fruge laetabitur? Plus honorantur nuptiae, quando quod de illis nascitur plus amatur. Quid invides mater filiae? Tuo lacte nutrita est, tuis educata visceribus, in tuo adolevit sinu. Tu illam virginem sedula pietate servasti. Indignaris, quod noluit militis esse uxor, sed regis? Grande tibi beneficium praestitit. Socrus Dei esse coepisti. "De Virginibus, inquit Apostolus, praeceptum Domini non habeo" (1. Cor. 7. 25). Cur? Quia et ipse ut esset virgo, non fuit imperii, sed propriae voluntatis. Neque enim audiendi sunt, qui eum uxorem habuisse confingunt, cum de continentia disserens et suadens perpetuam castitatem, intulerit: "Volo autem omnes esse sicut meipsum" (1. Cor. 7. 8). Et infra: "Dico autem innuptis et viduis: Bonum est illis, si sic permaneant, sicut et ego." Et in alio loco: "Nunquid non habemus potestatem circumducendi mulieres, sicut et caeteri Apostoli" (Ibid. 9. 5). Quare ergo non habet Domini de Virginitate praeceptum? Quia majoris est mercedis, quod non cogitur, et offertur. Quia, si fuisset Virginitas imperata, nuptiae videbantur ablatae: et durissimum erat contra naturam cogere, Angelorumque vitam ab hominibus extorquere, et id quodam modo damnare, quod conditum est.
21. The old law had a different ideal of blessedness, for therein it is said: “Blessed is he who hath seed in Zion and a family in Jerusalem:”151 and “Cursed is the barren who beareth not:”152 and “Thy children shall be like olive-plants round about thy table.”153 Riches too are promised to the faithful and we are told that “there was not one feeble person among their tribes.”154 But now even to eunuchs it is said, “Say not, behold I am a dry tree,”155 for instead of sons and daughters you have a place forever in heaven. Now the poor are blessed, now Lazarus is set before Dives in his purple.156 Now he who is weak is counted strong. But in those days the world was still unpeopled: accordingly, to pass over instances of childlessness meant only to serve as types, those only were considered happy who could boast of children. It was for this reason that Abraham in his old age married Keturah;157 that Leah hired Jacob with her son’s mandrakes,158 and that fair Rachel—a type of the church—complained of the closing of her womb.159 But gradually the crop grew up and then the reaper was sent forth with his sickle. Elijah lived a virgin life, so also did Elisha and many of the sons of the prophets. To Jeremiah the command came: “Thou shalt not take thee a wife.”160 He had been sanctified in his mother’s womb,161 and now he was forbidden to take a wife because the captivity was near. The apostle gives the same counsel in different words. “I think, therefore, that this is good by reason of the present distress, namely that it is good for a man to be as he is.”162 What is this distress which does away with the joys of wedlock? The apostle tells us, in a later verse: “The time is short: it remaineth that those who have wives be as though they had none.”163 Nebuchadnezzar is hard at hand. The lion is bestirring himself from his lair. What good will marriage be to me if it is to end in slavery to the haughtiest of kings? What good will little ones be to me if their lot is to be that which the prophet sadly describes: “The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst; the young children ask for bread and no man breaketh it unto them”?164 In those days, as I have said, the virtue of continence was found only in men: Eve still continued to travail with children. But now that a virgin has conceived165 in the womb and has borne to us a child of which the prophet says that “Government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called the mighty God, the everlasting Father,”166 now the chain of the curse is broken. Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary. And thus the gift of virginity has been bestowed most richly upon women, seeing that it has had its beginning from a woman. As soon as the Son of God set foot upon the earth, He formed for Himself a new household there; that, as He was adored by angels in heaven, angels might serve Him also on earth. Then chaste Judith once more cut off the head of Holofernes.167 Then Haman—whose name means iniquity—was once more burned in fire of his own kindling.168 Then James and John forsook father and net and ship and followed the Saviour: neither kinship nor the world’s ties, nor the care of their home could hold them back. Then were the words heard: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”169 For no soldier goes with a wife to battle. Even when a disciple would have buried his father, the Lord forbade him, and said: “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.”170 So you must not complain if you have but scanty house-room. In the same strain, the apostle writes: “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married careth for the things of the world how she may please her husband.”171 21. Alia fuit in veteri Lege felicitas. Ibi dicitur: "Beatus qui habet semen in Sion, et domesticos in Jerusalem." Et: "maledicta sterilis, quae non pariebat" (Esai. 10). Et: "filii tui sicut novellae olivarum, in circuitu mensae tuae" (Ps. 127). Et repromissio divitiarum. Et, "non erit infirmus in tribubus tuis" (Isai. 56). Nunc dicitur, ne te lignum arbitreris aridum: habes locum pro filiis et filiabus in coelestibus sempiternum. Nunc benedicuntur pauperes, et Lazarus diviti praefertur in purpura. Nunc qui infirmus est, fortior est. Vacuus erat orbis: et ut de typicis taceam, sola erat benedictio liberorum. Propterea et Abraham jam senex Cethurae copulatur: et Jacob mandragoris redimitur: et conclusam vulvam in Ecclesiae figuram Rachel pulchra conqueritur. Paulatim vero increscente segete, messor immissus est. Virgo Elias, Eliscus virgo, virgines multi filii Prophetarum. Jeremiae dicitur: "Et tu ne accipias uxorem" (Jerem. 16. 2). Sanctificatus in utero, captivitate propinqua, uxorem prohibetur accipere. Aliis verbis idipsum Apostolus loquitur: "Existimo hoc bonum esse propter instantem necessitatem, quoniam bonum est homini sic esse" (1. Cor. 7. 26). Quae est ista necessitas, quae aufert gaudia nuptiarum? "Tempus breviatum est: Reliquum est, ut et qui habent uxores, sic sint quasi non habeant" (Ibid. 19). In proximo est Nabuchodonosor. Promovit se leo de cubili suo. Quo mihi superbissimo regi servitura conjugia? Quo parvulos, quos Propheta complorat, dicens: "Adhaesit lingua lactentis ad faucem ipsius in siti. Parvuli postulaverunt panem, et qui frangeret eis, non erat" (Thren. 4. 4). Inveniebatur ergo, ut diximus, in viris tantum hoc continentiae bonum, et in doloribus jugiter Eva parturiebat. Postquam vero Virgo concepit in utero, et peperit nobis puerum, "cujus principatus in humeros ejus" (Isai. 9. 6), Deum, fortem, patrem futuri saeculi, soluta maledictio est. Mors per Evam: vita per Mariam. Ideoque et ditius virginitatis donum fluxit in feminas, quia coepit a femina. Statim ut filius Dei ingressus est super terram, novam sibi familiam instituit, UT QUI AB ANGELIS adorabatur in coelo, haberet Angelos et in terris. Tunc Holofernis caput, Judith continens amputavit (Judith. 13). Tunc Aman, qui interpretatur iniquitas, suo combustus est igni (Esther. 15). Tunc Jacobus et Joannes relicto patre, rete, navicula, secuti sunt Salvatorem; affectum sanguinis et vincula saeculi, et curam domus pariter relinquentes. Tunc primum auditum est: "Qui vult venire post me, abneget semetipsum: et tollat crucem suam, et sequatur me." Nemo enim miles cum uxore pergit ad praelium. Discipulo ad sepulturam patris ire cupienti, non permittitur (Matth. 8). Vulpes foveas habent, et volucres coeli nidos, ubi requiescant: Filius autem hominis, non habet ubi caput suum reclinet (Luc. 9. 58). Ne forsitan contristeris, si anguste manseris. "Qui sine uxore est, sollicitus est quae Domini sunt, quomodo placeat Domino. Qui autem cum uxore est, sollicitus est quae sunt mundi; quomodo placeat uxori. Divisa est mulier, et Virgo. Quae non est nupta, cogitat quae sunt Domini, ut sit sancta corpore et spiritu" (I Cor. 7. 31. et seqq). Nam quae nupta est, cogitat quae sunt mundi, quomodo placeat viro.
22. How great inconveniences are involved in wedlock and how many anxieties encompass it I have, I think, described shortly in my treatise—published against Helvidius172—on the perpetual virginity of the blessed Mary. It would be tedious to go over the same ground now; and any one who pleases may draw from that fountain. But lest I should seem wholly to have passed over the matter, I will just say now that the apostle bids us pray without ceasing,173 and that he who in the married state renders his wife her due174 cannot so pray. Either we pray always and are virgins, or we cease to pray that we may fulfil the claims of marriage. Still he says: “If a virgin marry she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh.”175 At the outset I promised that I should say little or nothing of the embarrassments of wedlock, and now I give you notice to the same effect. If you want to know from how many vexations a virgin is free and by how many a wife is fettered you should read Tertullian “to a philosophic friend,”176 and his other treatises on virginity, the blessed Cyprian’s noble volume, the writings of Pope Damasus177 in prose and verse, and the treatises recently written for his sister by our own Ambrose.178 In these he has poured forth his soul with such a flood of eloquence that he has sought out, set forth, and put in order all that bears on the praise of virgins. 22. Quantas molestias habeant nuptiae, et quot sollicitudinibus vinciantur, in eo libro quem adversus Helvidium de beatae Mariae perpetua Virginitate edidimus, puto breviter expressum. Nunc eadem replicare perlongum esset; et si cui placet, de illo potest haurire fonticulo. Verum ne penitus videar omisisse: nunc dicam, quod cum Apostolus sine intermissione orare nos jubeat, et qui in conjugio debitum solvit, orare non possit: aut oramus semper, et virgines sumus: aut orare desinimus, ut conjugio serviamus. "Et si nupserit, inquit, virgo, non peccat: Tribulationem tamen carnis habebunt hujusmodi" (1. Cor. 7. 28). Et in principio libelli praefatus sum, me de angustiis nuptiarum, aut nihil omnino, aut pauca dicturum: et nunc eadem admoneo, ut si tibi placet scire quot molestiis virgo libera, quot uxor astricta sit, legas Tertullianum ad amicum Philosophum, et de Virginitate alios libellos, et beati Cypriani volumen egregium, et Papae Damasi super hac re, versu, prosaque composita; et Ambrosii nostri quae nuper scripsit ad Sororem opuscula. In quibus tanto se effudit eloquio, ut quidquid ad laudes virginum pertinet, exquisierit, expresserit, ordinarit.
23. We must proceed by a different path, for our purpose is not the praise of virginity but its preservation. To know that it is a good thing is not enough: when we have chosen it we must guard it with jealous care. The first only requires judgment, and we share it with many; the second calls for toil, and few compete with us in it. “He that shall endure unto the end,” the Lord says, “the same shall be saved,”179 and “many are called but few are chosen.”180 Therefore I conjure you before God and Jesus Christ and His elect angels to guard that which you have received, not readily exposing to the public gaze the vessels of the Lord’s temple (which only the priests are by right allowed to see), that no profane person may look upon God’s sanctuary. Uzzah, when he touched the ark which it was not lawful to touch, was struck down suddenly by death.181 And assuredly no gold or silver vessel was ever so dear to God as is the temple of a virgin’s body. The shadow went before, but now the reality is come. You indeed may speak in all simplicity, and from motives of amiability may treat with courtesy the veriest strangers, but unchaste eyes see nothing aright. They fail to appreciate the beauty of the soul, and only value that of the body. Hezekiah showed God’s treasure to the Assyrians,182 who ought never to have seen what they were sure to covet. The consequence was that Judæa was torn by continual wars, and that the very first things carried away to Babylon were these vessels of the Lord. We find Belshazzar at his feast and among his concubines (vice always glories in defiling what is noble) drinking out of these sacred cups.183 23. Nobis diverso tramite incedendum. Virginitatem non tantum efferimus, sed servamus. Nec sufficit scire, quod bonum est, nisi custodiatur attentius quod electum est: quia illud judicii est, hoc laboris: et illud commune cum pluribus, hoc cum paucis. "Qui perseveraverit, inquit usque in finem, hic salvus erit" (Matth. 24. 13). Et, "multi vocati, pauci vero electi" (Ibid. 20. 16. et 22. 14). Itaque obtestor te coram Deo, et Christo Jesu, et electis Angelis ejus ut custodias quae coepisti, ne vasa templi Domini, quae solis Sacerdotibus videre concessum est, facile in publicum proferas; ne sacrarium Dei quisquam profanus aspiciat. Oza Arcam, quam non licebat tangere, attingens, subita morte prostratus est. Neque enim vas aureum, et argenteum tam carum Deo fuit, quam templum corporis virginalis. Praecessit umbra, nunc veritas est. Tu quidem simpliciter loqueris, et ignotos quosque blanda non despicis, sed aliter vident impudici oculi. NON NORUNT animae pulchritudinem considerare, sed corporum Ezechias thesaurum Dei monstrat Assyriis: sed Assyrii non debuerunt videre, quod cuperent. Denique frequentibus bellis Judaea convulsa, vasa primum Domini capta atque translata sunt. Inter epulas et concubinarum greges (quia palma vitiorum est honesta polluere) Balthasar potat in phialis.
24. Never incline your ear to words of mischief. For men often say an improper word to make trial of a virgin’s steadfastness, to see if she hears it with pleasure, and if she is ready to unbend at every silly jest. Such persons applaud whatever you affirm and deny whatever you deny; they speak of you as not only holy but accomplished, and say that in you there is no guile. “Behold,” say they, “a true hand-maid of Christ; behold entire singleness of heart. How different from that rough, un sightly, countrified fright, who most likely never married because she could never find a husband.” Our natural weakness induces us readily to listen to such flatterers; but, though we may blush and reply that such praise is more than our due, the soul within us rejoices to hear itself praised.

Like the ark of the covenant Christ’s spouse should be overlaid with gold within and without;184 she should be the guardian of the law of the Lord. Just as the ark contained nothing but the tables of the covenant,185 so in you there should be no thought of anything that is outside. For it pleases the Lord to sit in your mind as He once sat on the mercy-seat and the cherubims.186 As He sent His disciples to loose Him the foal of an ass that he might ride on it, so He sends them to release you from the cares of the world, that leaving the bricks and straw of Egypt, you may follow Him, the true Moses, through the wilderness and may enter the land of promise. Let no one dare to forbid you, neither mother nor sister nor kinswoman nor brother: “The Lord hath need of you.”187 Should they seek to hinder you, let them fear the scourges that fell on Pharaoh, who, because he would not let God’s people go that they might serve Him,188 suffered the plagues described in Scripture. Jesus entering into the temple cast out those things which belonged not to the temple. For God is jealous and will not allow the father’s house to be made a den of robbers.189 Where money is counted, where doves are sold, where simplicity is stifled where, that is, a virgin’s breast glows with cares of this world; straightway the veil of the temple is rent,190 the bridegroom rises in anger, he says: “Your house is left unto you desolate.”191 Read the gospel and see how Mary sitting at the feet of the Lord is set before the zealous Martha. In her anxiety to be hospitable Martha was preparing a meal for the Lord and His disciples; yet Jesus said to her: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things. But few things are needful or one.192 And Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.”193 Be then like Mary; prefer the food of the soul to that of the body. Leave it to your sisters to run to and fro and to seek how they may fitly welcome Christ. But do you, having once for all cast away the burden of the world, sit at the Lord’s feet and say: “I have found him whom my soul loveth; I will hold him, I will not let him go.”194 And He will answer: “My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.”195 Now the mother of whom this is said is the heavenly Jerusalem.196

24. Ne declines aurem tuam in verba malitiae. Saepe enim indecens aliquid loquentes, tentant mentis arbitrium, si libenter audias virgo quod dicitur, si ad ridicula quaeque solvaris, quidquid dixeris, laudant; quidquid negaveris, negant: facetam vocant et sanctam, et in qua nullus sit dolus: Ecce vere ancilla Christi, dicentes: ecce tota simplicitas. Non ut illa horrida, turpis, rusticana, terribilis, et quae ideo forsitan maritum non habuit, quia invenire non potuit. Naturali ducimur malo. Adulatoribus nostris libenter favemus, et quanquam nos respondeamus indignos, et calidus rubor ora perfundat; attamen ad laudem suam intrinsecus anim laetatur. Sponsa Christi arca est Testamenti, intrinsecus et extrinsecus deaurata, custos legis Domini. Sicut in illa nihil aliud fuit, nisi tabulae Testamenti, ita et in te nullus sit extrinsecus cogitatus. Super hoc propitiatorium quasi super Cherubim, sedere vult Dominus. Mittit discipulos suos, ut in te sicut in pullo asinae sedeat, curis te saecularibus solvat, ut paleas et lateres Aegypti derelinquens, Moysen sequaris in eremo, et terram repromissionis introeas. Nemo sit qui prohibeat, non mater, non soror, non cognata, non germanus: Dominus te necessariam habet. Quod si voluerint impedire, timeant flagella Pharaonis, qui populum Dei ad colendum cum nolens dimittere, passus est ea quae scripta sunt. Jesus ingressus in Templum, ea quae Templi non erant, projecit. Deus enim zelotes est, et non vult Patris domum fieri speluncam latronum, Alioquin ubi aera numerantur, ubi sunt caveae columbarum, et simplicitas enecatur, ubi in pectore virginali saecularium negotiorum cura aestuat, statim velum Templi scinditur; sponsus consurgit iratus, et dicit: Relinquetur vobis domus vestra deserta (Matth. 15. 38). Lege Evangelium, et vide quomodo Maria ad pedes Domini sedens, Marthae studio praeferatur. Et certe Martha sedulo hospitalitatis officio, Domino atque discipulis ejus convivium praeparabat, cui Jesus, "Martha, inquit, Martha, sollicita es, et turbaris erga plurima: pauca autem necessaria sunt, ut unum: Maria bonam partem elegit, quae non auferetur ab ea" (Luc. 10. 41. et seqq), Esto et tu Maria, cibis praeferto doctrinam. Sorores tuae cursitent, et quaerant quomodo Christum hospitem suscipiant. Tu semel saeculi onere [al. honore] projecto, sede ad pedes Domini, et dic: "Inveni eum, quem quaerebat anima mea: tenebo eum, et non dimittam" (Cant. 3. 4): et ille respondeat: "Una est columba mea, perfecta mea: una est matri suae, electa genitrici suae" (Ibid. 6. 8), coelesti videlicet Jerusalem.
25. Ever let the privacy of your chamber guard you; ever let the Bridegroom sport with you within.197 Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you. When sleep overtakes you He will come behind and put His hand through the hole of the door, and your heart198 shall be moved for Him; and you will awake and rise up and say: “I am sick of love.”199 Then He will reply: “A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.”200

Go not from home nor visit the daughters of a strange land, though you have patriarchs for brothers and Israel for a father. Dinah went out and was seduced.201 Do not seek the Bridegroom in the streets; do not go round the corners of the city. For though you may say: “I will rise now and go about the city: in the streets and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth,” and though you may ask the watchmen: “Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?”202 no one will deign to answer you. The Bridegroom cannot be found in the streets: “Strait and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life.”203 So the Song goes on: “I sought him but I could not find him: I called him but he gave me no answer.”204 And would that failure to find Him were all. You will be wounded and stripped, you will lament and say: “The watchmen that went about the city found me: they smote me, they wounded me, they took away my veil from me.”205 Now if one who could say: “I sleep but my heart waketh,”206 and “A bundle of myrrh is my well beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts”;207 if one who could speak thus suffered so much because she went abroad, what shall become of us who are but young girls; of us who, when the bride goes in with the Bridegroom, still remain without? Jesus is jealous. He does not choose that your face should be seen of others. You may excuse yourself and say: “I have drawn close my veil, I have covered my face and I have sought Thee there and have said: ‘Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest Thy flock, where Thou makest it to rest at noon. For why should I be as one that is veiled beside the flocks of Thy companions?’”208 Yet in spite of your excuses He will be wroth, He will swell with anger and say: “If thou know not thyself, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock and feed thy goats beside the shepherd’s tents.”209 You may be fair, and of all faces yours may be the dearest to the Bridegroom; yet, unless you know yourself, and keep your heart with all diligence,210 unless also you avoid the eyes of the young men, you will be turned out of My bride-chamber to feed the goats, which shall be set on the left hand.211

25. In oratione ad Deum loquimur, etc. — Semper te cubiculi tui secreta custodiant, semper tecum sponsus ludat intrinsecus. Oras, loqueris ad Sponsum: legis, ille tibi loquitur: et cum te somnus oppresserit, veniet post parietem, et mittet manum suam per foramen, et tanget ventrem tuum: et expergefacta consurges, et dices: "Vulnerata caritate ego sum": et rursus ab eo audies, "Hortus conclusus soror mea sponsa: hortus conclusus, fons signatus" (Cant. 4. 12).

Cave ne domum exeas, et velis videre filias regionis alienae, quamvis fratres habeas Patriarchas, et Israel parente laeteris: Dina egressa corrumpitur. Nolo te Sponsum quaerere per plateas. Nolo te circumire angulos civitatis, dicas licet: "Surgam, et circumibo civitatem, et in foro, et in plateis quaeram quem dilexit anima mea" (Ibid. 3. 2); et interroges: "Num quem dilexit anima mea, vidistis" (Ibid. 3)? nemo tibi respondere dignabitur. Sponsus in plateis non potest inveniri. "Arcta, et angusta via est, quae ducit ad vitam" (Matth. 7. 14). Denique sequitur: "Quaesivi eum, et non inveni, vocavi eum, et non respondit mihi" (Cant. 5. 6). Atque utinam non invenisse sufficiat! Vulneraberis, nudaberis, et gemebunda narrabis: "Invenerunt me custodes, qui circumeunt civitatem: percusserunt me, et vulneraverunt me, tulerunt theristrum meum mihi" (Ibid. v. 7). Si autem hoc exiens patitur illa, quae dixerat: "Ego dormio, et cor meum vigilat" (Cant. 5. 2). Et, "fasciculus stactes fratruelis meus mihi, in medio uberum meorum commorabitur;" quid de nobis fiet, quae adhuc adolescentulae sumus; quae sponsa intrante cum sponso, remanemus extrinsecus? Zelotypus est Jesus, non vult ab aliis videri faciem tuam. Excuses licet, atque causeris, obducto velamine ora contexi, et quaesivi te ibi, et dixi: "Annuntia mihi, quem dilexit anima mea: ubi pascis, ubi cubas in meridie, ne quando efficiar sicut operta super greges sodalium tuorum" (Cant. 1. 6. juxt. LXX): indignabitur, tumebit, et dicet: "Si non cognoveris teipsam, o pulchra inter mulieres, egredere tu in vestigiis gregum, et pasce haedos tuos in tabernaculis pastorum." Sis licet pulchra, et inter omnes mulieres species tua diligatur a Sponso, nisi te cognoveris, et omni custodia servaveris cor tuum: nisi oculos juvenum fugeris, egredieris de thalamo meo, et pasces haedos, qui statuendi [al. staturi] sunt a sinistris.

26. These things being so, my Eustochium, daughter, lady, fellow-servant, sister—these names refer the first to your age, the second to your rank, the third to your religious vocation, the last to the place which you hold in my affection—hear the words of Isaiah: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation” of the Lord “be overpast.”212 Let foolish virgins stray abroad, but for your part stay at home with the Bridegroom; for if you shut your door, and, according to the precept of the Gospel,213 pray to your Father in secret, He will come and knock, saying: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man…open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”214 Then straightway you will eagerly reply: “It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled.” It is impossible that you should refuse, and say: “I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?”215 Arise forthwith and open. Otherwise while you linger He may pass on and you may have mournfully to say: “I opened to my beloved, but my beloved was gone.”216 Why need the doors of your heart be closed to the Bridegroom? Let them be open to Christ but closed to the devil according to the saying: “If the spirit of him who hath power rise up against thee, leave not thy place.”217 Daniel, in that upper story to which he withdrew when he could no longer continue below, had his windows open toward Jerusalem.218 Do you too keep your windows open, but only on the side where light may enter and whence you may see the eye of the Lord. Open not those other windows of which the prophet says: “Death is come up into our windows.”219 26. Itaque, mi Eustochium, filia, domina, conserva, germana (aliud enim aetatis, aliud meriti, aliud religionis, hoc caritatis est nomen) audi Isaiam loquentem: "Populus meus intra cubiculum tuum. Claude ostium tuum, abscondere pusillum aliquantulum, donec transeat ira Domini" (Isai. 26). Foris vagentur virgines stultae, tu intrinsecus esto cum Sponso; quia si ostium clauseris, et secundum Evangelii praeceptum in occulto oraveris Patrem tuum, veniet, et pulsabit, et dicet: "Ecce ego sto ante januam, et pulso. Si quis mihi aperuerit, introibo et coenabo cum eo, et ipse mecum" (Apoc. 3. 20), et tu statim sollicita, respondebis: "Vox fratruelis mei pulsantis [al. additur et dicentis]: Aperi mihi soror mea, proxima mea, columba mea, perfecta mea" (Cant. 5, 2). Nec est ut dicas: "Despoliavi me tunica mea, quomodo induam illam? lavi pedes meos, quomodo inquinabo eos?" Illico consurge, et aperi, ne te remorante, pertranseat, et postea conqueraris, et dicas: "Aperui ego fratrueli meo, fratruelis meus pertransivit." Quid enim necesse est, ut cordis tui ostia clausa sint sponso? Pateant Christo, claudantur diabolo, secundum illud. "Si spiritus potestatem habentis ascenderit super te, ne dimiseris locum tuum" (Eccl. 10. 4). Daniel in coenaculo suo manebat in superioribus (neque enim manere poterat in humili) fenestras apertas ad Jerusalem habuit. Et tu habeto apertas fenestras, sed unde lumen introeat, unde videas civitatem Domini. Ne aperias illas fenestras, de quibus dicitur: "Intravit mors per fenestras vestras" [al. nostras] (Jer. 9. 21).
27. You must also be careful to avoid the snare of a passion for vainglory. “How,” Jesus says, “can ye believe which receive glory one from another?”220 What an evil that must be the victim of which cannot believe! Let us rather say: “Thou art my glorying,”221 and “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord,”222 and “If I yet pleased men I should not be the servant of Christ,”223 and “Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world hath been crucified unto me and I unto the world;”224 and once more: “In God we boast all the day long; my soul shall make her boast in the Lord.”225 When you do alms, let God alone see you. When you fast, be of a cheerful countenance.226 Let your dress be neither too neat nor too slovenly; neither let it be so remarkable as to draw the attention of passers-by, and to make men point their fingers at you. Is a brother dead? Has the body of a sister to be carried to its burial? Take care lest in too often performing such offices you die yourself. Do not wish to seem very devout nor more humble than need be, lest you seek glory by shunning it. For many, who screen from all men’s sight their poverty, charity, and fasting, desire to excite admiration by their very disdain of it, and strangely seek for praise while they profess to keep out of its way. From the other disturbing influences which make men rejoice, despond, hope, and fear I find many free; but this is a defect which few are without, and he is best whose character, like a fair skin, is disfigured by the fewest blemishes. I do not think it necessary to warn you against boasting of your riches, or against priding yourself on your birth, or against setting yourself up as superior to others. I know your humility; I know that you can say with sincerity: “Lord, my heart is not haughty nor mine eyes lofty;”227 I know that in your breast as in that of your mother the pride through which the devil fell has no place. It would be time wasted to write to you about it; for there is no greater folly than to teach a pupil what he knows already. But now that you have despised the boastfulness of the world, do not let the fact inspire you with new boastfulness. Harbor not the secret thought that having ceased to court attention in garments of gold you may begin to do so in mean attire. And when you come into a room full of brothers and sisters, do not sit in too low a place or plead that you are unworthy of a footstool. Do not deliberately lower your voice as though worn out with fasting; nor, leaning on the shoulder of another, mimic the tottering gait of one who is faint. Some women, it is true, disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.228 As soon as they catch sight of any one they groan, they look down; they cover up their faces, all but one eye, which they keep free to see with. Their dress is sombre, their girdles are of sackcloth, their hands and feet are dirty; only their stomachs—which cannot be seen—are hot with food. Of these the psalm is sung daily: “The Lord will scatter the bones of them that please themselves.”229 Others change their garb and assume the mien of men, being ashamed of being what they were born to be—women. They cut off their hair and are not ashamed to look like eunuchs. Some clothe themselves in goat’s hair, and, putting on hoods, think to become children again by making themselves look like so many owls.230 27. Inanis gloria fugienda. — Illud quoque tibi vitandum est cautius, ne inanis gloriae ardore capiaris. "Quomodo, inquit Jesus, potestis credere, gloriam ab hominibus accipientes" (Joan. 5)? Vide quale malum sit, quod qui habuerit, non potest credere. Nos vero dicamus: "Quoniam gloriatio mea tu es" (Psal. 3. 4). Et: "Qui gloriatur, in Domino glorietur" (2. Cor. 10. 17). Et: "Si adhuc hominibus placerem, Christi servus non essem" (Galat. 1. 10). Et: "Mihi autem absit gloriari, nisi in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi, per quem mihi mundus crucifixus est, et ego mundo." Et illud: "In te laudabimur tota die, in Domino laudabitur anima mea" (Psal. 33). Cum facis eleemosynam, Deus solus videat. Cum jejunas, laeta sit facies tua. Vestis nec satis munda, nec sordida, et nulla diversitate notabilis; ne ad te obviam praetereuntium turba consistat, et digito monstreris. Frater est mortuus, sororis est corpusculum deducendum: cave ne dum haec saepius facis, ipsa moriaris. Nec satis religiosa velis videri, nec plus humilis quam necesse est, ne gloriam fugiendo quaeras. Plures enim paupertatis, misericordiae, atque jejunii arbitros declinantes, HOC IPSO CUPIUNT placere, quod placere contemnunt: et mirum in modum laus, dum vitatur, appetitur. Caeteris perturbationibus quibus hominis mens gaudet, aegrescit, sperat et metuit, plures invenio extraneos. Hoc vitio pauci admodum sunt qui caruerint: et ille est optimus, qui quasi in pulchro corpore, rara naevorum sorde respergitur. Neque vero moneo, ne de divitiis glorieris, ne de generis nobilitate te jactes, ne te caeteris praeferas. Scio humilitatem tuam: scio te ex affectu dicere: "Domine, non est exaltatum cor meum, neque elati sunt oculi mei" (Psal. 130. 1). Novi apud te, et apud matrem tuam, superbiam, per quam diabolus cecidit, penitus locum non habere. Unde ad te super ea scribere superfluum sit. Stultissimum quippe est docere, quod noverit ille quem doceas. Sed ne hoc ipsum tibi jactantiam generet, quod saeculi jactantiam contempsisti; ne cogitatio tacita subrepat, ut quia in auratis vestibus placere desisti, placere coneris in sordidis: et si quando in conventum fratrum veneris vel sororum, humilies sedeas, scabello te causeris indignam. Vocem ex industria, quasi confecta jejuniis, non tenues; et deficientis imitata gressum, humeris innitaris alterius. Sunt quippe nonnullae exterminantes facies suas, ut appareant hominibus jejunantes: quae statim ut aliquem viderint, ingemiscunt, demittunt supercilium, et operta facie, vix unum oculum, liberant [Mss. librant] ad videndum. Vestis pulla, cingulum sacceum, et sordidis manibus pedibusque, venter solus, quia videri non potest, aestuat cibo. His quotidie Psalmus ille canitur: "Dominus dissipabit ossa hominum sibi placentium" (Psal. 52. 6). Aliae virili habitu, veste mutata, erubescunt esse feminae quod natae sunt, crinem amputant, et impudenter erigunt facies eunuchinas. Sunt quae ciliciis vestiuntur, et cucullis fabrefactis, ut ad infantiam redeant, imitantur noctuas et bubones.
28. But I will not speak only of women. Avoid men, also, when you see them loaded with chains and wearing their hair long like women, contrary to the apostle’s precept,231 not to speak of beards like those of goats, black cloaks, and bare feet braving the cold. All these things are tokens of the devil. Such an one Rome groaned over some time back in Antimus; and Sophronius is a still more recent instance. Such persons, when they have once gained admission to the houses of the high-born, and have deceived “silly women laden with sins, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,”232 feign a sad mien and pretend to make long fasts while at night they feast in secret. Shame forbids me to say more, for my language might appear more like invective than admonition. There are others—I speak of those of my own order—who seek the presbyterate and the diaconate simply that they may be able to see women with less restraint. Such men think of nothing but their dress; they use perfumes freely, and see that there are no creases in their leather shoes. Their curling hair shows traces of the tongs; their fingers glisten with rings; they walk on tiptoe across a damp road, not to splash their feet. When you see men acting in this way, think of them rather as bridegrooms than as clergymen. Certain persons have devoted the whole of their energies and life to the single object of knowing the names, houses, and characters of married ladies. I will here briefly describe the head of the profession, that from the master’s likeness you may recognize the disciples. He rises and goes forth with the sun; he has the order of his visits duly arranged; he takes the shortest road; and, troublesome old man that he is, forces his way almost into the bedchambers of ladies yet asleep. If he sees a pillow that takes his fancy or an elegant table-cover—or indeed any article of household furniture—he praises it, looks admiringly at it, takes it into his hand, and, complaining that he has nothing of the kind, begs or rather extorts it from the owner. All the women, in fact, fear to cross the news-carrier of the town. Chastity and fasting are alike distasteful to him. What he likes is a savory breakfast—say off a plump young crane such as is commonly called a cheeper. In speech he is rude and forward, and is always ready to bandy reproaches. Wherever you turn he is the first man that you see before you. Whatever news is noised abroad he is either the originator of the rumor or its magnifier. He changes his horses every hour; and they are so sleek and spirited that you would take him for a brother of the Thracian king.233 28. Sed ne tantum videar disputare de feminis, viros quoque fuge, quos videris catenatos, quibus feminei contra Apostolum crines, hircorum barba, nigrum pallium, et nudi in patientia frigoris pedes. Haec omnia argumenta sunt diaboli. Talem olim Antimum, talem nuper Sophronium Roma congemuit. Qui postquam nobilium introierunt domus, et deceperunt mulierculas oneratas peccatis, semper discentes, et nunquam ad scientiam veritatis pervenientes, tristitiam simulant; et quasi longa jejunia, furtivis noctium cibis protrahunt. Pudet dicere reliqua, ne videar potius invehi, quam monere. Sunt alii (de mei ordinis hominibus loquor) qui ideo Presbyteratum et Diaconatum ambiunt, ut mulieres licentius videant. Omnis his cura de vestibus, si bene oleant, si pes, laxa pelle, non folleat. Crines calamistri vestigio rotantur; digiti de annulis radiant: et ne plantas humidior via aspergat, vix imprimunt summa vestigia. Tales cum videris, sponsos magis aestimato quam Clericos. Quidam in hoc omne studium vitamque posuerunt, ut matronarum nomina, domos, moresque cognoscant. Ex quibus unum, qui hujus artis est princeps, breviter strictimque describam: quo facilius magistro cognito, discipulos recognoscas. Cum sole festinus exurgit; salutandi ei ordo disponitur; viarum compendia requiruntur, et pene usque ad cubicula dormientium, senex importunus ingreditur. Si pulvillum viderit, si mantile elegans, si aliquid domesticae suppellectilis, laudat, miratur, attrectat, et se his indigere conquerens, non tam impetrat, quam extorquet: quia singulae metuunt Veredarium urbis offendere. Huic inimica castitas, inimica jejunia: prandium nidoribus probat et altili geranopepa, quae vulgo pipizo nominatur. Os barbarum et procax, et in convicia semper armatum. Quocumque te verteris, primus in facie est. Quidquid novum insonuerit, aut auctor, aut exaggerator est famae. Equi per horarum momenta mutantur, tam nitidi, tamque feroces, ut Thracii regis illum putes esse germanum.
29. Many are the stratagems which the wily enemy employs against us. “The serpent,” we are told, “was more subtile than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.”234 And the apostle says: “We are not ignorant of his devices.”235 Neither an affected shabbiness nor a stylish smartness becomes a Christian. If there is anything of which you are ignorant, if you have any doubt about Scripture, ask one whose life commends him, whose age puts him above suspicion, whose reputation does not belie him; one who may be able to say: “I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Or if there should be none such able to explain, it is better to avoid danger at the price of ignorance than to court it for the sake of learning. Remember that you walk in the midst of snares, and that many veteran virgins, of a chastity never called in question, have, on the very threshold of death, let their crowns fall from their hands. If any of your handmaids share your vocation, do not lift up yourself against them or pride yourself because you are their mistress. You have all chosen one Bridegroom; you all sing the same psalms; together you receive the Body of Christ. Why then should your thoughts be different?236 You must try to win others, and that you may attract the more readily you must treat the virgins in your train with the greatest respect. If you find one of them weak in the faith, be attentive to her, comfort her, caress her, and make her chastity your treasure. But if a girl pretends to have a vocation simply because she desires to escape from service, read aloud to her the words of the apostle: “It is better to marry than to burn.”237

Idle persons and busybodies, whether virgins or widows; such as go from house to house calling on married women and displaying an unblushing effrontery greater than that of a stage parasite, cast from you as you would the plague. For “evil communications corrupt good manners,”238 and women like these care for nothing but their lowest appetites. They will often urge you, saying, “My dear creature, make the best of your advantages, and live while life is yours,” and “Surely you are not laying up money for your children.” Given to wine and wantonness, they instill all manner of mischief into people’s minds, and induce even the most austere to indulge in enervating pleasures. And “when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ they will marry, having condemnation because they have rejected their first faith.”239

Do not seek to appear over-eloquent, nor trifle with verse, nor make yourself gay with lyric songs. And do not, out of affectation, follow the sickly taste240 of married ladies who, now pressing their teeth together, now keeping their lips wide apart, speak with a lisp, and purposely clip their words, because they fancy that to pronounce them naturally is a mark of country breeding. Accordingly they find pleasure in what I may call an adultery of the tongue. For “what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?”241 How can Horace go with the psalter, Virgil with the gospels, Cicero with the apostle?242 Is not a brother made to stumble if he sees you sitting at meat in an idol’s temple?243 Although “unto the pure all things are pure,”244 and “nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving,”245 still we ought not to drink the cup of Christ, and, at the same time, the cup of devils.246 Let me relate to you the story of my own miserable experience.

29. Variis callidus hostis pugnat insidiis. Sapientior erat coluber omnibus bestiis, quas creaverat Dominus super terram. Unde et Apostolus: Non, inquit, ignoramus ejus astutias. NEC AFFECTATAE SORDES, nec exquisitae munditiae conveniunt Christiano. Si quid ignoras, si quid de Scripturis dubitas, interroga eum, quem vita commendat, excusat aetas, fama non reprobat; qui possit dicere, "Desponsavi enim vos uni viro, virginem castam exhibere Christo" (2. Cor. 11. 2). Aut si non est qui possit exponere, MELIUS EST ALIQUID nescire secure, quam cum periculo discere. Memento, quia in medio laqueorum ambulas: et multae veteranae virgines castitatis indubitatae in ipso mortis limine coronam perdidere de manibus. Si quae ancillulae sunt comites propositi tui, ne erigaris adversus eas, ne infleris ut domina. Unum sponsum habere coepistis, simul psallitis, Christi simul corpus accipitis, cur menda diversa sit? Provocentur et aliae. Honor virginum sit invitatio caeterarum. Quod si aliquam senseris infirmiorem in fide, suscipe, consolare, blandire, et pudicitiam illius fac lucrum tuum. Si qua simulat, fugiens servitutem, huic aperte Apostolum lege: "Melius est nubere, quam uri" (1 Cor. 7. 9). Eas autem virgines et viduas, quae otiosae et curiosae domos circumeunt matronarum, quae rubore frontis attrito, parasitos vincunt mimorum, quasi quasdam pestes abjice. "Corrumpunt mores bonos confabulationes pessimae" (1. Cor. 15. 33). Nulla illis nisi ventris cura est, et quae ventri sunt proxima. Istiusmodi hortari solent, et dicere: Mi catella, rebus tuis utere, et vive dum vivis: et nunquid filiis tuis servas? Vinosae atque lascivae, quidvis mali insinuant, ac ferreas quoque mentes ad delicias emolliunt. "Et cum luxuriatae fuerint in Christo, nubere volunt, habentes damnationem, quod primam fidem irritam fecerunt" (1. Tim. 5. 11. 12). Nec tibi diserta multum velis videri, aut Lyricis festiva carminibus, metro ludere. Non delumbem matronarum salivam delicata secteris, quae nunc strictis dentibus, nunc labiis dissolutis, balbutientem linguam in dimidiata verba moderantur, rusticum putantes omne quod nascitur. Adeo illis adulterium etiam linguae placet: "Quae enim communicatio luci ad tenebras? Qui consensus Christo cum Belial" (2. Cor. 6. 14)? Quid facit cum Psalterio Horatius? cum Evangeliis Maro? cum Apostolo Cicero? Nonne scandalizatur frater, si te viderit in idolio recumbentem? Et licet omnia munda mundis, et nihil rejiciendum, quod cum gratiarum actione percipitur: tamen simul bibere non debemus calicem Christi, et calicem daemoniorum. Referam tibi meae infelicitatis historiam.
30. Many years ago, when for the kingdom of heaven’s sake I had cut myself off from home, parents, sister, relations, and—harder still—from the dainty food to which I had been accustomed; and when I was on my way to Jerusalem to wage my warfare, I still could not bring myself to forego the library which I had formed for myself at Rome with great care and toil. And so, miserable man that I was, I would fast only that I might afterwards read Cicero. After many nights spent in vigil, after floods of tears called from my inmost heart, after the recollection of my past sins, I would once more take up Plautus. And when at times I returned to my right mind, and began to read the prophets, their style seemed rude and repellent. I failed to see the light with my blinded eyes; but I attributed the fault not to them, but to the sun. While the old serpent was thus making me his plaything, about the middle of Lent a deep-seated fever fell upon my weakened body, and while it destroyed my rest completely—the story seems hardly credible—it so wasted my unhappy frame that scarcely anything was left of me but skin and bone. Meantime preparations for my funeral went on; my body grew gradually colder, and the warmth of life lingered only in my throbbing breast. Suddenly I was caught up in the spirit and dragged before the judgment seat of the Judge; and here the light was so bright, and those who stood around were so radiant, that I cast myself upon the ground and did not dare to look up. Asked who and what I was I replied: “I am a Christian.” But He who presided said: “Thou liest, thou art a follower of Cicero and not of Christ. For ‘where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.’”247 Instantly I became dumb, and amid the strokes of the lash—for He had ordered me to be scourged—I was tortured more severely still by the fire of conscience, considering with myself that verse, “In the grave who shall give thee thanks?”248 Yet for all that I began to cry and to bewail myself, saying: “Have mercy upon me, O Lord: have mercy upon me.” Amid the sound of the scourges this cry still made itself heard. At last the bystanders, falling down before the knees of Him who presided, prayed that He would have pity on my youth, and that He would give me space to repent of my error. He might still, they urged, inflict torture on me, should I ever again read the works of the Gentiles. Under the stress of that awful moment I should have been ready to make even still larger promises than these. Accordingly I made oath and called upon His name, saying: “Lord, if ever again I possess worldly books, or if ever again I read such, I have denied Thee.” Dismissed, then, on taking this oath, I returned to the upper world, and, to the surprise of all, I opened upon them eyes so drenched with tears that my distress served to convince even the incredulous. And that this was no sleep nor idle dream, such as those by which we are often mocked, I call to witness the tribunal before which I lay, and the terrible judgment which I feared. May it never, hereafter, be my lot to fall under such an inquisition! I profess that my shoulders were black and blue, that I felt the bruises long after I awoke from my sleep, and that thenceforth I read the books of God with a zeal greater than I had previously given to the books of men. 30. Cum ante annos plurimos domo, parentibus sorore, cognatis, et quod his difficilius est, consuetudine lautioris cibi, propter coelorum me regna castrassem, et Jerosolymam militaturus pergerem, Bibliotheca, quam mihi Romae summo studio ac labore confeceram, carere omnino non poteram. Itaque miser ego lecturus Tullium, jejunabam. Post noctium crebras vigilias, post lacrymas, quas mihi praeteritorum recordatio peccatorum ex imis visceribus eruebat, Plautus sumebatur in manus [al. manibus]. Si quando in memetipsum reversus, Prophetas legere coepissem, sermo horrebat incultus; et quia lumen caecis oculis non videbam, non oculorum putabam culpam esse, sed solis. Dum ita me antiquus serpens [al. hostis] illuderet, in media ferme Quadragesima medullis infusa febris, corpus invasit exhaustum: et sine ulla requie (quod dictu quoque incredibile sit) sic infelicia membra depasta est, ut ossibus vix haererem. Interim parantur exequiae, et vitalis animae calor, toto frigescente jam corpore, in solo tantum tepente pectusculo palpitabat: Cum subito raptus in spiritu, ad tribunal judicis pertrahor; ubi tantum luminis, et tantum erat ex circumstantium claritate fulgoris, ut projectus in terram, sursum aspicere non auderem. Interrogatus de conditione, Christianum me esse respondi. Et ille qui praesidebat: Mentiris, ait, Ciceronianus es, non Christianus: ubi enim thesaurus tuus, ibi et cor tuum (Matth. 6. 21). Illico obmutui, et inter verbera (nam caedi me jusserat) conscientiae magis igne torquebar, illum mecum versiculum reputans: "In inferno autem quis confitebitur tibi" (Ps. 6. 6)? Clamare tamen coepi, et ejulans dicere: Miserere mei, Domine, miserere mei. Haec vox inter flagella resonabat. Tandem ad praesidentis genua provoluti qui astabant, precabantur, ut veniam tribueret adolescentiae, et errori locum poenitentiae commodaret, exacturus deinde cruciatum, si Gentilium litterarum libros aliquando legissem. Ego qui in tanto constrictus articulo, vellem etiam majora promittere, dejerare coepi, et nomen ejus obtestans, dicere, Domine, si unquam habuero codices saeculares, si legero, te negavi. In haec sacramenti verba dimissus, revertor ad superos; et mirantibus cunctis, oculos aperto tanto lacrymarum imbre perfusos, ut etiam, incredulis fidem facerem ex dolore. Nec vero sopor ille fuerat, aut vana somnia, quibus saepe deludimur. Testis est tribunal illud, ante quod jacui, testis judicium triste, quod timui: ita mihi nunquam contingat in talem incidere quaestionem. Liventes fateor habuisse me scapulas, plagas sensisse post somnum, et tanto dehinc studio divina legisse, quanto non ante mortalia legeram.
31. You must also avoid the sin of covetousness, and this not merely by refusing to seize upon what belongs to others, for that is punished by the laws of the state, but also by not keeping your own property, which has now become no longer yours. “If have not been faithful,” the Lord says, “in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?”249 “That which is another man’s” is a quantity of gold or of silver, while “that which is our own” is the spiritual heritage of which it is elsewhere said: “The ransom of a man’s life is his riches.”250 “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.”251 Riches, that is; for in the heathen tongue of the Syrians riches are called mammon. The “thorns” which choke our faith252 are the taking thought for our life.253 Care for the things which the Gentiles seek after254 is the root of covetousness.

But you will say: “I am a girl delicately reared, and I cannot labor with my hands. Suppose that I live to old age and then fall sick, who will take pity on me?” Hear Jesus speaking to the apostles: “Take no thought what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.”255 Should clothing fail you, set the lilies before your eyes. Should hunger seize you, think of the words in which the poor and hungry are blessed. Should pain afflict you, read “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities,” and “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”256 Rejoice in all God’s judgments; for does not the psalmist say: “The daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O Lord”?257 Let the words be ever on your lips: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither;”258 and “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”259

31. Avaritiae tibi quoque vitandum est malum, non ut aliena non appetas (hoc enim et publicae leges puniunt) sed quo tua, quae tibi sunt aliena, non serves. "Si in alieno, inquit, fideles non fuistis, quod vestrum est, quis dabit vobis" (Luc. 16. 12)? Aliena nobis auri argentique sunt pondera, nostra possessio spiritalis est: de qua alibi dicitur: "Redemptio animae viri, propriae divitiae (Prov. 13). Nemo potest duobus dominis servire: aut enim unum odiet, et alterum amabit; aut unum patietur, et alterum contemnet. Non potestis Deo servire, et mammonae" (Matth. 6. 24), id est "divitiis." Nam gentili Syrorum lingua, Mammona divitiae nuncupantur. COGITATIO VICTUS, spinae sunt fidei. Radix avaritiae, cura gentilium. At dicis: Puella sum delicata, et quae manibus meis laborare non possim. Si ad senectam venero, si aegrotare coepero, quis mei miserebitur? Audi Apostolis loquentem Jesum: "Ne cogitetis in corde vestro, quid manducetis: neque corpori vestro, quid induamini. Nonne anima plus est quam esca, et corpus plus quam vestimentum? Respicite volatilia caeli, quoniam non serunt, neque metunt, neque congregant in horrea, et Pater vester coelestis pascit illa" (Matth. 5. 25. 26). Si vestis defuerit, lilia proponantur. Si esurieris, audias beatos pauperes et esurientes. Si aliquis te afflixerit dolor, legito: "Propter hoc complaceo mihi in infirmitatibus meis." Et, "datus est mihi stimulus carnis meae, angelus Satanae, qui me colaphizet" (1. Cor. 12 30. 7), extollar. Laetare in omnibus judiciis Dei. "Exultaverunt enim filiae Judae in omnibus Judiciis tuis, Domine." Illa tibi semper in ore vox resonet: "Nudus exivi de utero matris meae, nudus redeam" (Job. 1. 21). Et: "Nihil intulimus in hunc mundum, neque auferre quid possumus."
32. To-day you may see women cramming their wardrobes with dresses, changing their gowns from day to day, and for all that unable to vanquish the moths. Now and then one more scrupulous wears out a single dress; yet, while she appears in rags, her boxes are full. Parchments are dyed purple, gold is melted into lettering, manuscripts are decked with jewels, while Christ lies at the door naked and dying. When they hold out a hand to the needy they sound a trumpet;260 when they invite to a love-feast261 they engage a crier. I lately saw the noblest lady in Rome—I suppress her name, for I am no satirist—with a band of eunuchs before her in the basilica of the blessed Peter. She was giving money to the poor, a coin apiece; and this with her own hand, that she might be accounted more religious. Hereupon a by no means uncommon incident occurred. An old woman, “full of years and rags,”262 ran forward to get a second coin, but when her turn came she received not a penny but a blow hard enough to draw blood from her guilty veins.

“The love of money is the root of all evil,”263 and the apostle speaks of covetousness as being idolatry.264 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”265 The Lord will never allow a righteous soul to perish of hunger. “I have been young,” the psalmist says, “and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.”266 Elijah is fed by ministering ravens.267 The widow of Zarephath, who with her sons expected to die the same night, went without food herself that she might feed the prophet. He who had come to be fed then turned feeder, for, by a miracle, he filled the empty barrel.268 The apostle Peter says: “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.”269 But now many, while they do not say it in words, by their deeds declare: “Faith and pity have I none; but such as I have, silver and gold, these I will not give thee.” “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”270 Hear the prayer of Jacob: “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, then shall the Lord be my God.”271 He prayed only for things necessary; yet, twenty years afterwards, he returned to the land of Canaan rich in substance and richer still in children.272 Numberless are the instances in Scripture which teach men to “Beware of covetousness.”273

32. At nunc plerasque videas armaria vestibus stipare, tunicas mutare quotidie, et tamen tineas non posse superare. Quae religiosior fuerit, unum exterit [al. exerit] vestimentum, et plenis arcis pannos trahit. Inficiuntur membranae colore purpureo. Aurum liquescit in litteras, gemmis codices vestiuntur, et nudus ante fores earum Christus emoritur. Cum manum egenti porrexerint, buccinant. Cum ad agapen vocaverint, praeco conducitur. Vidi nuper (nomen taceo, ne Satyram putes) nobilissimam mulierum Romanarum in Basilica Beati Petri, semiviris antecedentibus, propria manu, quo religiosior putaretur, singulos nummos dispertire pauperibus. Interea [ut usu nosse perfacile est] anus quaedam annis pannisque obsita praecucurrit, ut alterum nummum acciperet: ad quam cum ordine pervenisset, pugnus porrigitur pro denario, et tanti criminis reus sanguis effunditur. Radix omnium malorum est avaritia, ideoque ab Apostolo idolorum servitus appellatur. Quaere primum regnum Dei, et haec omnia apponentur tibi. Non occidet fame animam justam Dominus. "Junior fui, et senui, et non vidi justum derelictum, neque semen ejus quaerens panem" (Ps. 36. 25). Elias corvis ministrantibus pascitur. Vidua Sareptana, ipsa cum filiis nocte moritura, Prophetam pascit esuriens: et mirum in modum capsace completo, qui alendus venerat, alit. Petrus Apostolus inquit: "Argentum, et aurum non habeo, quod autem habeo, hoc tibi do. In nomine Domini Jesu surge, et ambula" (Act. 3. 6). At nunc multi, licet sermone taceant, opere loquuntur: Fidem et misericordiam non habeo: quod autem habeo, argentum et aurum, hoc tibi non do. "Habentes autem victum et vestitum, his contenti sumus" (1. Tim. 6. 8). Audi Jacob, quid sua oratione postulet: "Si fuerit Dominus meus mecum, et servaverit me in via hac, per quam ego iter facio, et dederit mihi panem ad manducandum, et vestitum ad vestiendum" (Gen. 28. 20). Tantum necessaria deprecatus est: et post annos viginti dives dominus, et ditior pater, ad terram revertitur Chanaan. Infinita de Scripturis exempla suppetunt, quae avaritiam doceant esse fugiendam.
33. As I have been led to touch to the subject—it shall have a treatise to itself if Christ permit—I will relate what took place not very many years ago at Nitria. A brother, more thrifty than covetous, and ignorant that the Lord had been sold for thirty pieces of silver,274 left behind him at his death a hundred pieces of money which he had earned by weaving linen. As there were about five thousand monks in the neighborhood, living in as many separate cells, a council was held as to what should be done. Some said that the coins should be distributed among the poor; others that they should be given to the church, while others were for sending them back to the relatives of the deceased. However, Macarius, Pambo, Isidore and the rest of those called fathers, speaking by the Spirit, decided that they should be interred with their owner, with the words: “Thy money perish with thee.”275 Nor was this too harsh a decision; for so great fear has fallen upon all throughout Egypt, that it is now a crime to leave after one a single shilling. 33. Verum quia nunc ex parte de ea dicitur (et suo, si Christus annuerit volumini reservatur) quid ante non plures annos Nitriae gestum sit, referemus. Quidam ex fratribus parcior magis quam avarior, et nesciens triginta argenteis Dominum venditum, centum solidos, quos lino texendo acquisierat, moriens dereliquit. Initum est inter Monachos consilium (nam in eodem loco circiter quinque millia divisis cellulis habitabant) quid facto opus esset. Alii pauperibus distribuendos esse dicebant: alii dandos Ecclesiae: nonnulli parentibus remittendos. Macarius vero, et Pambo, et Isidorus, et caeteri, quos Patres vocant, Sancto in eis loquente Spiritu, decreverunt infodiendos esse cum domino suo, dicentes: "Pecunia tua tecum sit in perditionem" (Act. 8. 10). Nec hoc crudeliter quisquam putet factum: tantus cunctos per totam Aegyptum terror invasit, ut unum solidum dimisisse, sit criminis.
34. As I have mentioned the monks, and know that you like to hear about holy things, lend an ear to me for a few moments. There are in Egypt three classes of monks. First, there are the cœnobites,276 called in their Gentile language Sauses,277 or, as we should say, men living in a community.278 Secondly, there are the anchorites,279 who live in the desert, each man by himself, and are so called because they have withdrawn from human society. Thirdly, there is the class called Remoboth,280 a very inferior and little regarded type, peculiar to my own province,281 or, at least, originating there. These live together in twos and threes, but seldom in larger numbers, and are bound by no rule; but do exactly as they choose. A portion of their earnings they contribute to a common fund, out of which food is provided for all. In most cases they reside in cities and strongholds; and, as though it were their workmanship which is holy, and not their life, all that they sell is extremely dear. They often quarrel because they are unwilling, while supplying their own food, to be subordinate to others. It is true that they compete with each other in fasting; they make what should be a private concern an occasion for a triumph. In everything they study effect: their sleeves are loose, their boots bulge, their garb is of the coarsest. They are always sighing, or visiting virgins, or sneering at the clergy; yet when a holiday comes, they make themselves sick—they eat so much. 34. Et quoniam Monachorum fecimus mentionem, et te scio libenter audire, quae sancta sunt, aurem paulisper accommoda. Tria sunt in Aegypto genera Monachorum. Unum, Coenobitae, quod illi Sauses gentili lingua vocant, nos in commune viventes possumus appellare. Secundum, Anachoretae, qui soli habitant per deserta; et ab eo quod procul ab hominibus recesserint, nuncupantur. Tertium genus est, quod Remoboth dicunt, deterrimum [al. teterrimum] atque neglectum, et quod in nostra provincia aut solum, aut primum est. Hi bini vel terni, nec multo plures simul habitant, suo arbitratu ac ditione viventes: et de eo quod laboraverint, in medium partes conferunt, ut habeant alimenta communia. Habitant autem quam plurimum in urbibus et castellis: et quasi ars sit sancta, non vita, quidquid vendiderint, majoris est pretii. Inter hos saepe sunt jurgia: quia suo viventes cibo, non patiuntur se alicui esse subjectos. Revera solent certare jejuniis; et rem secreti, victoriae faciunt. Apud hos affectata sunt omnia; laxae manicae, caligae follicantes, vestis crassior [Mss. grossior], crebra suspiria; visitatio Virginum, detractio Clericorum: et si quando dies festus venerit, saturantur ad vomitum.
35. Having then rid ourselves of these as of so many plagues, let us come to that more numerous class who live together, and who are, as we have said, called Cœnobites. Among these the first principle of union is to obey superiors and to do whatever they command. They are divided into bodies of ten and of a hundred, so that each tenth man has authority over nine others, while the hundredth has ten of these officers under him. They live apart from each other, in separate cells. According to their rule, no monk may visit another before the ninth hour;282 except the deans283 above mentioned, whose office is to comfort, with soothing words, those whose thoughts disquiet them. After the ninth hour they meet together to sing psalms and read the Scriptures according to usage. Then when the prayers have ended and all have sat down, one called the father stands up among them and begins to expound the portion of the day. While he is speaking the silence is profound; no man ventures to look at his neighbor or to clear his throat. The speaker’s praise is in the weeping of his hearers.284 Silent tears roll down their cheeks, but not a sob escapes from their lips. Yet when he begins to speak of Christ’s kingdom, and of future bliss, and of the glory which is to come, every one may be noticed saying to himself, with a gentle sigh and uplifted eyes: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away and be at rest.”285 After this the meeting breaks up and each company of ten goes with its father to its own table. This they take in turns to serve each for a week at a time. No noise is made over the food; no one talks while eating. Bread, pulse and greens form their fare, and the only seasoning that they use is salt. Wine is given only to the old, who with the children often have a special meal prepared for them to repair the ravages of age and to save the young from premature decay. When the meal is over they all rise together, and, after singing a hymn, return to their dwellings. There each one talks till evening with his comrade thus: “Have you noticed so-and-so? What grace he has! How silent he is! How soberly he walks!” If any one is weak they comfort him; or if he is fervent in love to God, they encourage him to fresh earnestness. And because at night, besides the public prayers, each man keeps vigil in his own chamber, they go round all the cells one by one, and putting their ears to the doors, carefully ascertain what their occupants are doing. If they find a monk slothful, they do not scold him; but, dissembling what they know, they visit him more frequently, and at first exhort rather than compel him to pray more. Each day has its allotted task, and this being given in to the dean, is by him brought to the steward. This latter, once a month, gives a scrupulous account to their common father. He also tastes the dishes when they are cooked, and, as no one is allowed to say, “I am without a tunic or a cloak or a couch of rushes,” he so arranges that no one need ask for or go without what he wants. In case a monk falls ill, he is moved to a more spacious chamber, and there so attentively nursed by the old men, that he misses neither the luxury of cities nor a mother’s kindness. Every Lord’s day they spend their whole time in prayer and reading; indeed, when they have finished their tasks, these are their usual occupations. Every day they learn by heart a portion of Scripture. They keep the same fasts all the year round, but in Lent they are allowed to live more strictly. After Whitsuntide they exchange their evening meal for a midday one; both to satisfy the tradition of the church and to avoid overloading their stomachs with a double supply of food.

A similar description is given of the Essenes by Philo,286 Plato’s imitator; also by Josephus,287 the Greek Livy, in his narrative of the Jewish captivity.

35. Coenobitae. — His igitur quasi quibusdam pestibus exterminatis, veniamus ad eos qui plures sunt, et in commune habitant, id est, quos vocari Coenobitas diximus. Prima apud eos confoederatio est, obedire majoribus, et quidquid jusserint, facere. Divisi sunt per decurias atque centurias, ita ut novem hominibus decimus praesit. Et rursus decem praepositos sub se centesimus habeat. Manent separati sejunctis cellulis. Usque ad horam nonam, ut institutum est, nemo pergit ad alium, exceptis his Decanis, quos diximus, ut si cogitationibus forte quis fluctuat, illius consoletur alloquiis. Post horam nonam in commune concurritur, Psalmi resonant, Scripturae recitantur ex more. Et completis orationibus, cunctisque residentibus, medius, quem Patrem vocant, incipit disputare. Quo loquente, tantum silentium fit, ut nemo alium respicere, nemo audeat excreare. Dicentis laus in fletu est audientium. Tacite [Leg. Tacitae] volvuntur per ora lacrymae, et ne in singultus quidem erumpit dolor. Cum vero de regno Christi, et de futura beatitudine, et de gloria coeperit annuntiare ventura, videas cunctos moderato suspirio, et oculis ad coelum levatis, intra se dicere: "Quis dabit mihi pennas sicut columbae, et volabo, et requiescam" (Ps. 54. 7)? Post haec concilium solvitur, et unaquaeque decuria cum suo parente pergit ad mensas, quibus per singulas hebdomadas vicissim ministrant. Nullus in cibo strepitus est; nemo comedens loquitur. Vivitur pane, legumini bus et oleribus, quae sale solo condiuntur. Vinum tantum senes accipiunt, quibus cum parvulis saepe fit prandium, ut aliorum fessa sustentetur aetas, aliorum non frangatur incipiens. Dehinc consurgunt pariter, et hymno dicto, ad praesepia redeunt: ibi usque ad vesperam cum suis unusquisque loquitur, et dicit: Vidistis illum et illum? quanta in ipso sit gratia? quantum silentium? quam moderatus incessus? Si infirmum viderint, consolantur: si in Dei amore ferventem, cohortantur ad studium. Et quia nocte extra orationes publicas in suo cubili [Aliquot Mss. cubiculo] unusquisque vigilat, circumeunt cellulas singulorum; et aure apposita, quid faciant, diligenter explorant. Quem tardiorem deprehenderint, non increpant: sed dissimulato quod norunt, eum saepius visitant: et prius incipientes, provocant magis orare quam cogunt. Opus diei statum est: quod Decano redditum, fertur ad Oeconomum, qui et ipse per singulos menses Patri omnium cum magno tremore reddit rationem. A quo etiam cibi cum facti fuerint, praegustantur: et quia non licet dicere cuiquam: Tunicam et sagum textaque juncis strata non habeo, ille ita universa moderatur, ut nemo quid postulet, nemo dehabeat. Si quis vero coeperit aegrotare, transfertur ad exedram latiorem, et tanto senum ministerio confovetur, ut nec delicias urbium, nec matris quaerat affectum. Dominicis diebus orationi tantum et lectionibus vacant: quod quidem et omni tempore completis opusculis faciunt. Quotidie aliquid de Scripturis discitur. Jejunium totius anni aequale est, excepta Quadragesima, in qua sola conceditur districtius vivere. A Pentecoste coenae mutantur in prandia: quo et traditioni Ecclesiasticae satisfiat, et ventrem cibo non onerent duplicato. Tales Philo Platonici sermonis imitator: tales Josephus, Graecus Livius, in secunda Judaicae captivitatis historia Essenos refert.
36. As my present subject is virgins, I have said rather too much about monks. I will pass on, therefore, to the third class, called anchorites, who go from the monasteries into the deserts, with nothing but bread and salt. Paul288 introduced this way of life; Antony made it famous, and—to go farther back still—John the Baptist set the first example of it. The prophet Jeremiah describes one such in the words: “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him, he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off forever.”289 The struggle of the anchorites and their life—in the flesh, yet not of the flesh—I will, if you wish, explain to you at some other time. I must now return to the subject of covetousness, which I left to speak of the monks. With them before your eyes you will despise, not only gold and silver in general, but earth itself and heaven. United to Christ, you will sing, “The Lord is my portion.”290 36. Verum quia nunc de Virginibus scribens, pene superfluum de Monachis disputavi, ad tertium genus veniam, quos Anachoretas vocant; qui et de Coenobiis exeuntes, excepto pane et sale, ad deserta nihil perferunt amplius. Hujus vitae auctor Paulus, illustrator Antonius: et ut ad superiora conscendam, princeps Joannes Baptista fuit. Talem vero virum Jeremias quoque Propheta describit, dicens: "Bonum est viro cum portaverit jugum ab adolescentia sua. Sedebit solitarius, et tacebit, quoniam sustulit super se jugum, et dabit percutienti se maxillam: saturabitur opprobriis, quia non in sempiternum abjiciet Dominus" (Thren. 27. et seqq.). Horum laborem et conversationen in carne non carnis, alio tempore, si volueris, explicabo. Nunc ad propositum redeam, quia de avaritia disserens, ad Monachos veneram. Quorum tibi exempla proponens, non dico aurum atque argentum, et caeteras opes, sed ipsam terram et coelum despiciens, et Christo copulata cantabis: "Pars mea Dominus."
37. Farther, although the apostle bids us to “pray without ceasing,”291 and although to the saints their very sleep is a supplication, we ought to have fixed hours of prayer, that if we are detained by work, the time may remind us of our duty. Prayers, as every one knows, ought to be said at the third, sixth and ninth hours, at dawn and at evening.292 No meal should be begun without prayer, and before leaving table thanks should be returned to the Creator. We should rise two or three times in the night, and go over the parts of Scripture which we know by heart. When we leave the roof which shelters us, prayer should be our armor; and when we return from the street we should pray before we sit down, and not give the frail body rest until the soul is fed. In every act we do, in every step we take, let our hand trace the Lord’s cross. Speak against nobody, and do not slander your mother’s son.293 “Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? To his own lord he standeth or falleth; yea, he shall be made to stand, for the Lord hath power to make him stand.”294 If you have fasted two or three days, do not think yourself better than others who do not fast. You fast and are angry; another eats and wears a smiling face. You work off your irritation and hunger in quarrels. He uses food in moderation and gives God thanks.295 Daily Isaiah cries: “Is it such a fast that I have chosen, saith the Lord?”296 and again: “In the day of your fast ye find your own pleasure, and oppress all your laborers. Behold ye fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness. How fast ye unto me?”297 What kind of fast can his be whose wrath is such that not only does the night go down upon it, but that even the moon’s changes leave it unchanged? 37. Post haec quanquam Apostolus orare nos semper jubeat, ET SANCTIS etiam ipse sit somnus oratio, sic tamen divisas orandi horas debemus habere, ut si forte aliquo fuerimus opere detenti, ipsum nos ad officium tempus admoneat. Horam tertiam, sextam, nonam, diluculum quoque et vesperam, nemo est qui nesciat. Nec cibi sumantur, nisi oratione praemissa: nec recedatur a mensa, nisi referatur Creatori gratia. Noctibus bis terque surgendum, revolvenda quae de Scripturis memoriter retinemus. Egredientes de hospitio, armet oratio: regredientibus de platea, oratio occurrat antequam sessio: nec prius corpusculum requiescat, quam anima pascatur. Ad omnem actum, ad omnem incessum manus pingat Domini crucem. Nulli detrahas, nec adversus filium matris tuae ponas scandalum. Tu quae [Ms. quis] es, ut alienum servum judices? "Suo Domino stat, aut cadit. Stabit autem: potens est enim Dominus statuere illum" (Rom. 14. 4). Nec si biduo triduoque jejunaveris, putes te non jejunantibus esse meliorem. Tu jejunas, et irasceris: ille comedit, et fronte blanditur. Tu vexationem mentis et ventris esuriem rixando digeris [al. detegis]: ille moderatius alitur, et Deo gratias agit. Unde quotidie clamat Isaias: "Non tale jejunium elegi, dicit Dominus" (Isai. 58. 5). Et iterum: "In diebus jejuniorum vestrorum inveniuntur voluntates vestrae, et omnes qui sub vestra potestate sunt, stimulatis. In judiciis et litibus jejunatis, et percutitis pugnis humilem" (Ibid. v. 3). Ut quid mihi jejunatis? Quale illud potest esse jejunium, cujus iram non dicam nox occupat, sed luna integram derelinquit? Te ipsam considerans, NOLI IN ALTERIUS ruina, sed in tuo opere gloriari.
38. Look to yourself and glory in your own success and not in others’ failure. Some women care for the flesh and reckon up their income and daily expenditure: such are no fit models for you. Judas was a traitor, but the eleven apostles did not waver. Phygellus and Alexander made shipwreck; but the rest continued to run the race of faith.298 Say not: “So-and-so enjoys her own property, she is honored of men, her brothers and sisters come to see her. Has she then ceased to be a virgin?” In the first place, it is doubtful if she is a virgin. For “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”299 Again, she may be a virgin in body and not in spirit. According to the apostle, a true virgin is “holy both in body and in spirit.”300 Lastly, let her glory in her own way. Let her override Paul’s opinion and live in the enjoyment of her good things. But you and I must follow better examples.

Set before you the blessed Mary, whose surpassing purity made her meet to be the mother of the Lord. When the angel Gabriel came down to her, in the form of a man, and said: “Hail, thou that art highly favored; the Lord is with thee,”301 she was terror-stricken and unable to reply, for she had never been saluted by a man before. But, on learning who he was, she spoke, and one who had been afraid of a man conversed fearlessly with an angel. Now you, too, may be the Lord’s mother. “Take thee a great roll and write in it with a man’s pen Maher-shalal-hash-baz.”302 And when you have gone to the prophetess, and have conceived in the womb, and have brought forth a son,303 say: “Lord, we have been with child by thy fear, we have been in pain, we have brought forth the spirit of thy salvation, which we have wrought upon the earth.”304 Then shall your Son reply: “Behold my mother and my brethren.”305 And He whose name you have so recently inscribed upon the table of your heart, and have written with a pen upon its renewed surface306—He, after He has recovered the spoil from the enemy, and has spoiled principalities and powers, nailing them to His cross307—having been miraculously conceived, grows up to manhood; and, as He becomes older, regards you no longer as His mother, but as His bride. To be as the martyrs, or as the apostles, or as Christ, involves a hard struggle, but brings with it a great reward.

All such efforts are only of use when they are made within the church’s pale;308 we must celebrate the passover in the one house,309 we must enter the ark with Noah,310 we must take refuge from the fall of Jericho with the justified harlot, Rahab.311 Such virgins as there are said to be among the heretics and among the followers of the infamous Manes312 must be considered, not virgins, but prostitutes. For if—as they allege—the devil is the author of the body, how can they honor that which is fashioned by their foe? No; it is because they know that the name virgin brings glory with it, that they go about as wolves in sheep’s clothing.313 As antichrist pretends to be Christ, such virgins assume an honorable name, that they may the better cloak a discreditable life. Rejoice, my sister; rejoice, my daughter; rejoice, my virgin; for you have resolved to be, in reality, that which others insincerely feign.

38. Exempla malorum. Meliorum exempla sectanda. — Nec illarum tibi exempla proponas, quae carnis curam facientes, possessionum reditus, et quotidianas domus impensas supputant. Neque enim undecim Apostoli Judae proditione sunt fracti: nec Phygelo, et Alexandro facientibus naufragium, caeteri a cursu fidei substiterunt. Nec dicas, illa et illa suis rebus fruitur; honoratur ab hominibus; fratres ad eam conveniunt et sorores. Nunquid ideo virgo esse desiit? Primo dubium est, an virgo sit talis. "Non enim quomodo videt homo, videt Deus. Homo videt in facie, Deus autem videt in corde" (1. Reg. 16). Dehinc etiam si corpore virgo est, spiritu virgo sit, nescio. Apostolus autem ita virginem definivit: Ut sit sancta corpore et spiritu (1. Cor. 7. 34). Ad extremum habeat sibi gloriam suam. Vincat Pauli sententiam, deliciis fruatur et vivat. Nos meliorum exempla sectemur. Propone tibi beatam Mariam, quae tantae exstitit puritatis, ut Mater Domini esse mereretur. Ad quam cum Angelus Gabriel in viri specie descendisset, dicens: Ave gratia plena, Dominus tecum (Luc. 1. 28), consternata et perterrita, respondere non potuit. Nunquam enim a viro fuerat salutata. Denique nuntium discit et loquitur. Et quae hominem formidabat, cum Angelo fabulatur intrepida. Potes et tu esse Mater Domini. Accipe tibi tomum magnum, novum, et scribe in eo stilo hominis: velociter spolia detrahe: et postquam accesseris ad Prophetissam, et conceperis in utero, et pepereris filium, dic. "A timore tuo, Domine, concepimus, et doluimus, et peperimus spiritum salvationis tuae, quem fecimus super terram" (Isa. 26). Tunc et filius tuus tibi respondebit, et dicet: Ecce mater mea, et fratres mei (Marc. 3. 34). Et mirum in modum ille, quem in latitudine pectoris tui paulo ante descripseras, quem in novitate cordis stilo rignaveras; postquam spolia ex hostibus receperit, postquam denudaverit principatuset potestates, et affixerit eas cruci, conceptus adolescit, et major effectus sponsam te incipit habere de matre. GRANDIS LABOR, sed grande praemium, esse quod Martyres, esse quod Apostoli, esse quod Christus est. Quae quidem universa tunc prosunt, cum in Ecclesia fiunt: cum in una domo Pascha celebramus; si Arcam ingredimur cum Noe; si pereunte Jericho, Rahab meretrix justificata nos continet. Caeterum virgines, quales apud diversas haereses, et quares apud impurissimum Manichaeum esse dicuntur, scorta sunt existimandae, non virgines. Si enim corporis earum auctor est diabolus, quomodo possunt honorare plasmationem hostis sui? Sed quia sciunt virginale vocabulum gloriosum, sub ovium pellibus lupos tegunt. Christum mentitur Antichristus; et turpitudinem vitae falso nominis honore convestiunt. Gaude soror, gaude filia, gande mi virgo: quia quod aliae simulant, tu vere esse coepisti.
39. The things that I have here set forth will seem hard to her who loves not Christ. But one who has come to regard all the splendor of the world as off-scourings, and to hold all things under the sun as vain, that he may win Christ;314 one who has died with his Lord and risen again, and has crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts;315 he will boldly cry out: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” and again: “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”316

For our salvation the Son of God is made the Son of Man.317 Nine months He awaits His birth in the womb, undergoes the most revolting conditions,318 and comes forth covered with blood, to be swathed in rags and covered with caresses. He who shuts up the world in His fist319 is contained in the narrow limits of a manger. I say nothing of the thirty years during which he lives in obscurity, satisfied with the poverty of his parents.320 When He is scourged He holds His peace; when He is crucified, He prays for His crucifiers. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”321 The only fitting return that we can make to Him is to give blood for blood; and, as we are redeemed by the blood of Christ, gladly to lay down our lives for our Redeemer. What saint has ever won his crown without first contending for it? Righteous Abel is murdered. Abraham is in danger of losing his wife. And, as I must not enlarge my book unduly, seek for yourself: you will find that all holy men have suffered adversity. Solomon alone lived in luxury and perhaps it was for this reason that he fell. For “whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”322 Which is best—for a short time to do battle, to carry stakes for the palisades, to bear arms, to faint under heavy bucklers, that ever afterwards we may rejoice as victors? or to become slaves forever, just because we cannot endure for a single hour?323

39. Haec omnia quae digessimus, dura videbuntur ei, quae non amat Christum. Qui autem omnem saeculi pompam pro purgamento habuerit; et vana duxerit universa sub sole, ut Christum lucrifaciat; qui commortuus est Domino suo, et consurrexit, et crucifixit carnem cum vitiis et concupiscentiis, libere proclamabit: "Quis nos separabit a caritate Dei [al. Christi]? an tribulatio? an angustia? an persecutio? an fames? an nuditas? an periculum? an gladius?" Et iterum: "Certus sum, quia neque mors, neque vita, neque Angelus, neque Principatus, neque Potestates, neque instantia, neque futura, neque fortitudo, neque excelsum, neque profundum, neque alia creatura poterit nos separare a caritate Dei, quae est in Christo Jesu Domino nostro" (Rom. 8. 35. et seqq.). Dei Filius pro nostra salute, hominis factus est filius. Novem mensibus in utero ut nascatur exspectat, fastidia sustinet, cruentus egreditur, pannis involvitur, blanditiis delinitur [al. deridetur]: et ille pugillo mundum includens, praesepis continetur angustiis. Taceo quod usque ad triginta annos ignobilis, parentum paupertate contentus est: verberatur, et tacet: crucifigitur, et pro crucifigentibus deprecatur. "Quid igitur retribuam Domino pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo. Pretiosa est in conspectu Domini, mors Sanctorum ejus" (Psal. 115. 4. 5. 6). Haec est sola DIGNA RETRIBUTIO, cum sanguis sanguine compensatur; et redempti cruore Christi, pro redemptore libenter occumbimus. Quis sanctorum sine certamine coronatus est? Abel justus occiditur; Abraham uxorem periclitatur amittere. Et ne in immensum volumen extendam, quaere et invenies singulos adversa perpessos. Solus in deliciis Salomon fuit, et forsitan ideo corruit. "Quem enim diligit Dominus, corripit [al. flagellat]. Castigat autem omnem filium quem recipit" (Prov. 3. 12). Nonne melius est brevi tempore dimicare, ferre vallum, arma sumere, lassescere sub lorica, et postea gaudere victorem, quam impatientia unius horae servire perpetuo?
40. Love finds nothing hard; no task is difficult to the eager. Think of all that Jacob bore for Rachel, the wife who had been promised to him. “Jacob,” the Scripture says, “served seven years for Rachel. And they seemed unto him but a few days for the love he had to her.”324 Afterwards he himself tells us what he had to undergo. “In the day the drought consumed me and the frost by night.”325 So we must love Christ and always seek His embraces. Then everything difficult will seem easy; all things long we shall account short; and smitten with His arrows,326 we shall say every moment: “Woe is me that I have prolonged my pilgrimage.”327 For “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”328 For “tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed.”329 When your lot seems hard to bear read Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians: “In labors more abundant; in stripes above measure; in prisons more frequent; in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one; thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”330 Which of us can claim the veriest fraction of the virtues here enumerated? Yet it was these which afterwards made him bold to say: “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.”331

But we, if our food is less appetizing than usual, get sullen, and fancy that we do God a favor by drinking watered wine. And if the water brought to us is a trifle too warm, we break the cup and overturn the table and scourge the servant in fault until blood comes. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.”332 Still, unless you use force you will never seize the kingdom of heaven. Unless you knock importunately you will never receive the sacramental bread.333 Is it not truly violence, think you, when the flesh desires to be as God and ascends to the place whence angels have fallen334 to judge angels?

40. Nihil amantibus DURUM EST, nullus difficilis cupienti labor est. Respice quanta Jacob pro Rachel pacta uxore sustinuit. "Et servivit, inquit Scriptura, Jacob pro Rachel annis septem. Et erant in conspectu ejus quasi dies pauci, quia amabat illam" (Genes. 29. 20). Unde et ipse postea memorat: In die urebar aestu, et gelu nocte (Gen. 31. 40). Amemus et nos Christum, ejusque semper quaeramus amplexus, et facile videbitur omne difficile; brevia putabimus universa quae longa sunt; et jaculo illius vulnerati, per horarum momenta dicemus: "Heu me, quia peregrinatio mea prolongata est a me. (Ps. 119. 2). Non sunt enim condignae passiones hujus temporis ad futuram gloriam, quae revelabitur in nobis (Rom. 8. 18). Quia tribulatio patientiam operatur, patientia autem probationem, probatio autem spem, spes autem non confundit" (Ibid. 5. 3. 4). Quando tibi grave videtur esse quod sustines, Pauli secundam Epistolam ad Corinthios lege: "In laboribus plurimum; in carceribus abundantius; in plagis supra modum; in mortibus frequenter. A Judaeis quinquies quadragenas una minus accepi: ter virgis caesus sum: semel lapidatus sum: ter naufragium feci: nocte et die in profundo maris fui. In itineribus saepius, periculis fluminum, periculis latronum, periculis ex genere, periculis ex gentibus, periculis in civitate, periculis in deserto, periculis in mari, periculis in falsis fratribus: in laboribus, in miseriis, in vigiliis multis, in fame et siti, in jejuniis plurimis, in frigore et nuditate" (2. Cor. 11). Quis nostrum saltem minimam portionem de catalogo harum sibi potest vindicare virtutum? Ob quae ille postea confidenter aiebat: "Cursum consummavi, fidem servavi. Superest mihi corona justitiae, quam retribuet mihi in illa die Dominus justus judex" (2. Tim. 4. 7. 8). Si cibus insulsior fuerit, contristamur: et putamus Deo nos aliquod praestare beneficium, cum aquatius vinum bibimus. Calix frangitur, mensa subvertitur; verbera resonant, et aqua tepidior sanguine vindicatur. "Regnum coelorum vim patitur, et violenti rapiunt illud" (Matth. 11. 12). Nisi vim feceris, coelorum regna non capies. Nisi pulsaveris importune, panem non accipies Sacramenti. AN NON TIBI VIDETUR VIOLENTIA, cum caro cupit esse quod Deus est: et illuc unde Angeli corruerunt, Angelos judicatura conscendit?
41. Emerge, I pray you, for a while from your prison-house, and paint before your eyes the reward of your present toil, a reward which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man.”335 What will be the glory of that day when Mary, the mother of the Lord, shall come to meet you, accompanied by her virgin choirs! When, the Red Sea past and Pharaoh drowned with his host, Miriam, Aaron’s sister, her timbrel in her hand, shall chant to the answering women: “Sing ye unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”336 Then shall Thecla337 fly with joy to embrace you. Then shall your Spouse himself come forward and say: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away, for lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.”338 Then shall the angels say with wonder: “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun?”339 “The daughters shall see you and bless you; yea, the queens shall proclaim and the concubines shall praise you.”340 And, after these, yet another company of chaste women will meet you. Sarah will come with the wedded; Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, with the widows. In the one band you will find your natural mother and in the other your spiritual.341 The one will rejoice in having borne, the other will exult in having taught you. Then truly will the Lord ride upon his ass,342 and thus enter the heavenly Jerusalem. Then the little ones (of whom, in Isaiah, the Saviour says: “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me”343) shall lift up palms of victory and shall sing with one voice: “Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest.”344 Then shall the “hundred and forty and four thousand” hold their harps before the throne and before the elders and shall sing the new song. And no man shall have power to learn that song save those for whom it is appointed. “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”345 As often as this life’s idle show tries to charm you; as often as you see in the world some vain pomp, transport yourself in mind to Paradise, essay to be now what you will be hereafter, and you will hear your Spouse say: “Set me as a sunshade in thine heart and as a seal upon thine arm.”346 And then, strengthened in body as well as in mind, you, too, will cry aloud and say: “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”347 41. Merces Virginum et pudicitiae. — Egredere quaeso paulisper de carcere, et praesentis laboris ante oculos tuos tibi pinge mercedem, quam nec oculus vidit, nec auris audivit, nec in cor hominis ascendit. Qualis erit illa dies, cum tibi Maria Mater Domini choris occurret comitata Virgineis? cum post Rubrum mare, submerso cum suo exercitu Pharaone, tympanum tenens Maria soror Aaron in sua manu, praecinet responsuris: "Cantemus Domino, gloriose enim honorificatus est: equum et ascensorem projecit in mare" (Exod. 15. 1). Tunc Thecla in tuos laeta volabit amplexus. Tunc et ipse sponsus occurret, et dicet: "Surge, veni proxima mea, speciosa mea, columba mea, quia ecce hyems transivit, pluvia abiit sibi" (Cant. 1. 10. 11). Tunc et Angeli mirabuntur, et dicent: "Quae est ista prospiciens [al. proficiscens] quasi diluculum, speciosa ut luna, electa ut sol" (Ibid. 6. 9)? Videbunt te filiae, et laudabunt reginae, et concubinae praedicabunt. Hinc et alius castitatis chorus occurret: Sara cum nuptis veniet: filia Phanuelis Anna cum viduis. Erunt in diversis gregibus carnis et spiritus matres tuae. Laetabitur illa, quod genuit: exultabitur ista, quod docuit. Tunc vere super asinam Dominus ascendet, et coelestem ingreditur Jerusalem. Tunc parvuli, de quibus in Isaia Salvator effatur: "Ecce ego, et pueri mei, quos mihi dedit Deus" (Isai. 8. 18), palmas victoriae sublevantes, consono ore cantabunt: "Osanna in excelsis: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, osanna in excelsis" (Joan. 12. 13). Tunc centum quadraginta quatuor millia in conspectu throni et seniorum tenebunt citharas, et cantabunt Canticum novum. Et nemo poterit dicere Canticum illud, nisi numerus definitus. "Hi sunt qui cum mulieribus se non coinquinaverunt: Virgines enim permanserunt. Hi sunt qui sequuntur agnum quocumque vadit" (Apoc. 14. 4). Quotiescumque te vana saeculi delectaverit ambitio: quoties in mundo aliquid videris gloriosum, ad paradisum mente transgredere: esse incipe quod futura es, et audies a sponso tuo: "Pone me sicut umbraculum in corde tuo; sicut signaculum in brachio tuo" (Cant. 8. 6), et corpore pariter ac mente munita clamabis, et dices: "Aquae multae non potuerunt extinguere caritatem, et flumina non operient eam" (Ibid. v. 7).
Footnotes:
1 Ps. xlv. 10, 11.
2 According to the Vulgate.
3 Gen. xi. 31; xii. 1.
4 Ps. xxvii. 13.
5 Gen. xix. 17.
6 Luke ix. 62.
7 Matt. xxiv. 17, 18.
8 Joh. viii. 44, R.V.
9 1 Joh. iii. 8.
10 Cant. i. 5.
 11 Eph. v. 31, 32.
 12 Nu. xii. 1.
 13 Cant. i. 4.
 14 Cant. viii. 5, LXX.
 15 Heb. xiii. 4.
16 Gen. xix. 26.
17 Rom. xi. 20.
18 Isa. xxxiv. 5, R.V.
19 Gen. iii. 14, 18.
20 Eph. vi. 12, R.V.
21 Joh. xiv. 30. The variant is difficult to explain and may be only a slip.
22 Ps. xci. 5–7, Vulg.
23 2 Kings vi. 16.
24 2 Kings ii. 11; vi. 17.
25 Ps. cxxiv. 7.
26 2 Cor. iv. 7.
27 Gal. v. 17.
28 1 Pet. v. 8.
29 Ps. civ. 20, 21.
30 Jer. xxix. 22.
31 An allusion to “Maher-shalal-hash-baz,” Isa. viii. 1.
32 Hab. i. 16, LXX.
33 Luke xxii. 31.
34 Matt. x. 34.
35 Isa. xiv. 12.
36 Obad. 4.
37 Isa. xiv. 13, 14.
38 Gen. xxviii. 12.
39 Ps. lxxxii. 6, 7.
40 Ps. lxxxii. 1.
41 1 Cor. iii. 3.
42 Acts ix. 15.
43 Gal. i. 15.
44 1 Cor. ix. 27.
45 Rom. vii. 23.
46 Rom. vii. 24.
47 Am. v. 2.
48 Am. viii. 13.
49 Matt. v. 28.
50 Matt. xxv. 3, 10.
51 Isa. xlvii. 1–3.
52 Cant. v. 2, LXX.
53 Ps. xlv. 10, P.B.V.
54 Jer. xiii. 26.
55 Ezek. xvi. 25.
56 Isa. i. 21.
57 Isa. xxxiv. 15; xiii. 22, R.V.
58 Psa. cxviii. 6; lvi. 4.
59 Ps. xlii. 11.
60 Ps. cxxxvii. 9.
61 1 Cor. x. 4.
62 Cant. i. 3, 4.
63 1 Tim. v. 6.
64 1 Tim. v. 23.
65 Eph. v. 18.
66 Rom. xiv. 21.
67 Gen. ix. 20, 21.
68 Ex. xxxii. 6.
69 Gen. xix. 30–38.
70 Deut. xxiii. 3: Jerome substitutes “fourteenth” for “tenth.”
71 1 Kings xix. 4–6.
72 2 Kings iv. 38–41.
73 Exod. xv. 23–25.
74 2 Kings vi. 18–23.
75 Dan. i. 8.
76 Bel. 33–39.
77 Dan. ix. 23, A.V. marg.
78 Ps. lxxxiv. 6, R.V.
79 Matt. iv. 2, 3.
80 1 Cor. vi. 13.
81 Phil. iii. 19.
82 Job ii. 3.
83 Job xl. 16, of behemoth.
84 Ps. cxxxii. 11.
85 Gen. xlvi. 26.
86 Gen. xxxii. 24, 25.
87 Exod. xii. 11.
88 Job xxxviii. 3.
89 Matt. iii. 4.
90 Luke xii. 35.
91 Ezek. xvi. 4–6.
92 2 Sam. xi.
93 Ps. li. 4.
94 Solomon was the reputed author of the Book of Wisdom.
95 1 Kings iv. 33.
96 1 Kings xi. 1–4.
97 2 Sam. xiii.
98 Isa. xiv. 13.
99 Tit. i. 15.
100 1 Tim. iv. 3.
101 The Manichæans believed evil to be inseparable from matter. Hence they inculcated a rigid asceticism.
102 Jer. iii. 3.
103 Plebeians wore a narrow stripe, patricians a broad one.
104 Beloved ones, viz., women who lived with the unmarried clergy professedly as spiritual sisters, but really (in too many cases) as mistresses. The evil custom was widely prevalent and called forth many protests. The councils of Elvira, Ancyra, and Nicæa passed canons against it.
105 Prov. vi. 27, 28.
106 Matt. xiii. 8.
107 Cena dubia. The allusion is to Terence, Phormio, 342.
108 Cant. i. 7, R.V.
109 Phil. i. 23.
110 Luke ii. 51.
111 Eph. vi. 16.
112 Hos. vii. 4, 6, R.V.
113 Luke xxiv. 32.
114 Ps. cxix. 140, P.B.V.
115 Cant. iii. 1.
116 Col. iii. 5.
117 Gal. ii. 20.
118 Ps. xxxix. 6, Vulg. That is, who knows that the world is vanity.
119 Ps. cxix. 83, Vulg.
120 Ps. cix. 24; cii. 5.
121 Ps. vi. 6, P.B.V.
122 Ps. cii. 7.
123 1 Cor. xiv. 15.
124 Ps. ciii. 2–4.
125 Ps. cii. 9.
126 2 Kings ii. 13.
127 Gen. iii. 16.
128 Gen. ii. 17.
129 Gen. i. 28.
130 Gen. iii. 18, 19.
131 See Letter XLVIII. §§ 2, 3.
132 Matt. xix. 11, 12.
133 Eccles. iii. 5.
134 Matt. iii. 9.
135 Zech. ix. 16, LXX.
136 Joh. xix. 23.
137 Ps. cxvi. 7.
138 Isa. xi. 1, LXX.
139 In the Latin there is a play on words here between virga and virgo.
140 Cant. ii. 1.
141 Dan. ii. 45.
142 Cant. ii. 6.
143 Gen. vii. 2.
144 Ex. iii. 5; Josh. v. 15.
145 Matt. x. 10. According to Letter XXIII. § 4, these typify dead works.
146 Joh. xix. 23, 24.
147 Isa. xxviii. 24.
148 1 Cor. vii. 25.
149 1 Cor. vii. 7, 8.
150 1 Cor. ix. 5.
151 Isa. xxxi. 9, LXX.
152 Isa. liv. 1, LXX. (?)
153 Ps. cxxviii. 3.
154 Ps. cv. 37.
155 Isa. lvi. 3.
156 Cf. Luke xvi. 19 sqq.
157 Gen. xxv. 1.
158 Gen. xxx. 14–16.
159 Gen. xxx. 1, 2.
160 Jer. xvi. 2.
161 Jer. i. 5.
162 1 Cor. vii. 26, R.V.
163 1 Cor. vii. 29.
164 Lam. iv. 4.
165 Isa. vii. 14.
166 Isa. ix. 6.
167 Judith xiii.
168 Esther vii. 10.
169 Mark viii. 34.
170 Matt. viii. 20–22.
171 1 Cor. vii. 32–34.
172 See the treatise “Against Helvidius,” in this volume.
173 1 Thess. v. 17.
174 1 Cor. vii. 3, R.V.
175 1 Cor. vii. 28.
176 Not extant. Jerome alludes to it again in his treatise against Jovinian.
177 See Migne’s “Patrologia,” xiii., col. 347–418.
178 Ambrose de Virg. Migne’s “Patrologia,” xvi., col. 187.
179 Matt. xxiv. 13.
180 Matt. xx. 16; xxii. 14.
181 2 Sam. vi. 6, 7.
182 2 Kings xx. 12, 13.
183 Dan. v. 1–3.
184 Ex. xxv. 11.
185 1 Kings viii. 9.
186 Ex. xxv. 22.
187 Matt. xxi. 1–3.
188 Ex. vii. 16.
189 Matt. xxi. 12, 13, R.V.
190 Matt. xxvii. 51.
191 Matt. xxiii. 38.
192 R.V. marg.
193 Luke x. 41, 42.
194 Cant. iii. 4.
195 Cant. vi. 9.
196 Gal. iv. 26.
197 Cf. Gen. xxvi. 8.
198 R.V.
199 Cant. v. 2, 4, 8.
200 Cant. iv. 12.
201 Gen. xxxiv.
202 Cant. iii. 2, 3.
203 Matt. vii. 14.
204 Cant. iii. 2; v. 6.
205 Cant. v. 7.
206 Cant. v. 2.
207 Cant. i. 13.
208 Cant. i. 7, R.V.
209 Cant. i. 8, LXX.
210 Prov. iv. 23.
211 Matt. xxv. 33.
212 Isa. xxvi. 20.
213 Matt. vi. 6.
214 Rev. iii. 20.
215 Cant. v. 2, 3.
216 Cant. v. 6.
217 Eccles. x. 4, A.V., “the spirit of the ruler.”
218 Dan. vi. 10, LXX.
219 Jer. ix. 21.
220 Joh. v. 44, R.V.
221 Jer. ix. 24.
222 1 Cor. i. 31.
223 Gal. i. 10.
224 Gal. vi. 14, R.V. marg.
225 Psa. xliv. 8; xxxiv. 2.
226 Matt. vi. 3, 16–18.
227 Ps. cxxxi. 1.
228 Matt. vi. 16.
229 Ps. liii. 5, according to the Roman Psalter.
230 Cucullis fabrefactis, ut ad infantiam redeant, imitantur noctuas et bubones.
231 1 Cor. xi. 14.
232 2 Tim. iii. 6, 7.
233 Diomede. See Lucretius, v. 31, and Virgil, A. i. 752.
234 Gen. iii. 1.
235 2 Cor. ii. 11.
236 Cur mens diversa sit. The ordinary text has “menda.”
237 1 Cor. vii. 9.
238 1 Cor. xv. 33.
239 1 Tim. v. 11, 12.
240 Persius i. 104.
241 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15.
242 Viz., the epistles of St. Paul. In like manner the Psalter was often called David.
243 1 Cor. viii. 10.
244 Tit. i. 15.
245 1 Tim. iv. 4.
246 1 Cor. x. 21.
247 Matt. vi. 21.
248 Ps. vi. 5.
249 Luke xvi. 12.
250 Prov. xiii. 8, R.V.
251 Matt. vi. 24.
252 Matt. xiii. 7, 22.
253 Matt. vi. 25.
254 Matt. vi. 32.
255 Matt. vi. 25, 26.
256 2 Cor. xii. 10, 7.
257 Ps. xcvii. 8.
258 Job i. 21.
259 1 Tim. vi. 7.
260 Matt. vi. 2.
261 Terence, Eun. 236.
262 “The eucharist was at first preceded, but at a later date was more usually followed, by the agape or love-feast. The materials of this were contributed by the members of the congregation, all of whatever station sat down to it as equals, and the meal was concluded with psalmody and prayer.” (Robertson, C. H., i. p. 235.) Scandals arose in connection with the practice, and it gradually fell into disuse, though even at a later date allusions to it are not infrequent.
263 1 Tim. vi. 10.
264 Col. iii. 5.
265 Matt. vi. 33.
266 Ps. xxxvii. 25.
267 1 Kings xvii. 4, 6.
268 1 Kings xvii. 9–16.
269 Acts iii. 6.
270 1 Tim. vi. 8.
271 Gen. xxviii. 20, 21.
272 Gen. xxxii. 5, 10.
273 Luke xii. 15.
274 Matt. xxvi. 15.
275 Acts viii. 20.
276 From κοινὸς βίος (koinos bios), a common life.
277 Apparently an Egyptian word. It does not occur elsewhere.
278 In commune viventes.
279 From ναχωρεῖν (anachorein), to withdraw.
280 These were monks who lived under no settled rule, but collected in little groups of two and three, generally in some populous place. They seem to have practised all the arts whereby a reputation for sanctity may be won, while they disparaged those who led more regular lives. Cassian (Collat. xviii. 7) draws an unfavorable picture of them. See Bingham, Antiquities, vii. ii. 4, and Dict. Xt. Ant., s.v. Sarabaitæ.
281 Pannonia, or possibly Syria.
282 I.e. three o’clock.
283 Decani, “leaders of ten.”
284 Cf. Letter LII.
285 Ps. lv. 6.
286 See Letter LXX. § 3, De Vir. Ill. xi.
287 Josephus, The Jewish War, ii. 8.
288 I.e. the hermit of that name. See his Life in vol. iii. of this series.
289 Lam. iii. 27, 28, 30, 31.
290 Lam. iii. 24
291 1 Thess. v. 17.
292 In Jerome’s time the seven canonical hours of prayer had not yet been finally fixed. He mentions, however, six which correspond to the later, Mattins, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Nocturns. Cp. Letters CVII. § 9, CVIII. § 20, and CXXX § 15.
293 Ps. l. 20.
294 Rom. xiv. 4, R.V.
295 Rom. xiv. 6, R.V.
296 Isa. lviii. 5.
297 Isaiah lviii. 3, 4, R.V. marg.
298 1 Tim. i. 19, 20; 2 Tim. i. 15.
299 1 Sam. xvi. 7.
300 1 Cor. vii. 34.
301 Luke i. 28.
302 Isa. viii. 1, i.e. “the spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth;” or, in Jerome’s rendering, “quickly carry away the spoils.”
303 Isa. viii. 3. Jerome should have substituted “prophet” for “prophetess.” As it stands the quotation is meaningless.
304 Isa. xxvi. 18, Vulg.
305 Matt. xii. 49.
306 Prov. vii. 3; Jer. xxxi. 33.
307 Col. ii. 14, 15.
308 Cp. the maxim of Cyprian: Extra ecclesiam nulla salus, “Outside the church there is no salvation.”
309 Exod. xii. 46.
310 1 Peter iii. 20, 21.
311 James ii. 25.
312 Founder of the widely prevalent sect of Manichæans, which at one time numbered Augustine among its adherents. One of its leading tenets was that matter as such was essentially evil.
313 Matt. vii. 15.
314 Phil. iii. 8.
315 Rom. vi. 4; Gal. v. 24.
316 Rom. viii. 35, 38, 39.
317 An echo of the Nicene Creed.
318 Cp. Virgil, Ecl. iv. 61.
319 Cp. Ps. xcv. 4, 5; Isa. xl. 12.
320 Luke ii. 51, 52.
321 Ps. cxvi. 12, 13, 15.
322 Heb. xii. 6.
323 Cp. Matt. xxvi. 40.
324 Gen. xxix. 20.
325 Gen. xxxi. 40.
326 Ps. xxxviii. 2.
327 Ps. cxx. 5, Vulg.
328 Rom. viii. 18.
329 Rom. v. 3–5.
330 2 Cor. xi. 23–27.
331 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
332 Matt. xi. 12.
333 Luke xi. 5–8.
334 Is. xiv. 12, 13.
335 1 Cor. ii. 9.
336 Ex. xv. 20, 21.
337 A legendary virgin of Iconium said to have been converted by Paul.
338 Cant. ii. 10, 11.
339 Cant. vi. 10.
340 Cant. vi. 9.
341 Viz. Paula, for whom see Letter CVIII., and Marcella, for whom see Letter CXXVII.
342 Matt. xxi. 1–9, literally “she-ass.”
343 Isa. viii. 18.
344 Matt. xxi. 9.
345 Rev. xiv. 1–4.
346 Cant. viii. 6; the variant is peculiar to Jerome.
347 Cant. viii. 7.
Source:
  • http://kuyper.calvin.edu/s/schaff/npnf206/htm/v.XIX.htm#v.XXII
Source:
  • Paracalypsis, Patrologiae, Hiedronimus - http://patrologia.narod.ru/patrolog/hieronym/

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