En l’onur de Damnedé le Omnipotent
E de Marie sa dulce mere ensement
E de tuz seinz e seintes communement,
Dirrai vus d’un sermun ke ci trois en present.
Ço est de Vitas Patrum, come je l’entent,
Ki translaté fud pur prou de la gent
Ki par le rumance l’entendent vivement
Tuz icels ki ore entendre nel sevent altrement
La vie de seinz homes e lur contenement
Ki jadis vesquirent mult religiosement.
Ore i entendez, par mun consail, bonement,
Tuit cil qui Deu servir unt talent.
Ne quier pur dire de vus or ne argent,
Ne los ne pris de nul, ço sachiez finement,
Kar Dex me soldrat mun labur plenerement
Quant devant lui vendrai al Grant Jugement.
E vus qui l’escultez ententivement
As cors e as almes averez amendement
Si vus vus volez contenir sifaitement
Cum cist sermun vus dit e cum vus aprent.
Un prodome fud qui a religiun se prist.
Vint a DANS ANTOINE sun abbé, si l’enquist:
“Cument puis pleisir a mun Seignur Jhesu Crist?”
A çoe, li repont danz Antoine, si dist:
“Gard ben les choses que jeo te comand:
En quel lu que tu vas, gard ke aiez Deu tei devant.
En tutes choses que tu vas fesant,
Deis traire de la divine Escripture a garant.
En quel liu que tu serras primes asis,
De lever d’ilokes ne seét trop hatis —
Ceo est entendre, ke estable seiez tutdis.
Garde ces treis choses, si vendras en parais.”
Denaprés vint avant un altre moine.
“Ke frai joe?” demandat a L’ABBÉ ANTOINE.
A celui respunt, sifaitement disant:
“En tes ovres ne seiez unkes glorifiant.
De la chose trespassé ne deis repentir —
Çoe est entendre, senz nul mot de mentir,
Kar il n’est pas raisun ke nul home se repente,
Ne pur ces richeisses s’aplaigne e demente
Ke il ad lessé pur Deu e pur sun servise,
Kar il li soldrat ben al Jur de Juise.
E jo vus lo ben, solunc ma science,
En ta lange e en tun ventre: aiez abstinence.”
SEINT GREGORIE dist, qui fut apostoile de Rume:
“Treis choses demanderat Deus de chescum home
Ki cristien est e ad baptesme receu.
Se il nes ad od sei, il est enginé e deceu.
Çoe est: qu’il eit dreite fei en tote sa vie,
E qu’il guait sa lange de parler folie,
E chasteté de cors.” Çoe dist seinz Gregorie:
“Kar senz ço, ne vendrat nuls en la Deu glorie.”
JOHANS, un boens abbez, nus dist en sun latin
Ke chescun cristien deit, primes al matin,
Aurner sei dé vertuz ke Deu comande
Einz qu’il unke manje viande.
Çoe est a saver, ke il seit paisible e porte fei
A trestuz icels qui sunt de la sue lei,
E qu’il seit a ces maufetors merciable,
Envers le povre genz charitable,
E qu’il eit en Deu s’esperance
De aveir de ces pecchiez merci senz dutance,
E k’il eit verz tuz ses proceins dilectiun,
Pacience, humilité, e conpunctiun,
Chasteté de cors, e pour de Jhesu Crist.
Cestes sunt les vertuz ke le prodom nus dist,
Encore nus dit il un el: tut semble il fort,
Ke nul ne s’en curuce tut li face l’en tort,
E nul ne face mal a li ki mal li fet.
Mes, tut tens le bien encontre le mal rendre deit.
E ke l’em ne prenge garde des envius,
Ne nul ne se face de quer trop orguilus.
E ke l’en s’aturne sifaitement chescun jur
Cum s’il fust a cel jur de mort tut aseur.
THEODORUS dist, bons abbes fut jadis:
“Çoe est la ren ke sur tutes altres choses pris,
E la plus profitable chose ke sache:
Ke l’en gard de folie k’ad nun sacage,
E que ce demette de mundane possession,
E fui presse de gent e lur congregacium.”
JOSEPH LI ABBEZ jadis de Tebes fut né.
Parlat a ces moines, sis ad si sermoné:
“Treis ordres sunt, ço sachiez, ke Deus aime mult
E que honurables sunt devant sun seint Vult.
Le primer est ke, quant hom est enformeté
En sa char est mult sovernerement tempté,
E il d’itceo rend graces a sun Creatur,
E volenters le soffre tut pur Deu amur.
E li secund ordre est, sicum jo l’entent,
Quant alcun fait ces ovres si purement
Ke il nel fait pur nul pris ne pur nul guerdun
Ne pur losengerie, si pur Deu nun.
Le tiers est, çoe sachez de fi e de verité,
Quant alcuns lesse tute sa propre volenté,
Si se met pur Deu amur en religiun,
Pur estre en obedience e en subjectiun.”
Jadis demandat d’un abbé un soen frere:
“Apernez mai alcun bone chose, bel pere,
Ke jo puisse çoe de vus en fin tenir,
E par quai puisse tut le miulz a Deu pleisir.”
Dunc, respundi li abbez tut issi, si li dist:
“Li miulz ne seet nul bien fors sul Jhesu Crist.
Mes nequedent, çoe que nus di dirrai vus ja.
Uns de noz peres a un abbé demanda
Tut cel memes ke vus demandez de mei:
‘Pur la quele ovre tut le mielz a Deu pleisir fei?’
Çoe li respunt: ‘Ceo sachez, bel frere,
Les ovres ne sunt mie tutes de une maniere,
Kar l’Escripture nus ad de Abraham cunté,
Ki fud prodome e meintint hospitalité,
E Deu fud ové lui certes, pur çoe l’out cheir,
Kar il le servi bonement de cel meistier.
E Helyas, que fud seinz home e bon prophete,
Demena sa vie en grant quiete,
E Deu fist ové lui, sicum vus bien savez,
Kar enz parais fut tut vif transportez.
De David, nus mustre l’Escripture
Ke il esteit humbles e fut de grant mesure,
E Deu fud od lui, de çoe ne dotum mie.
Çoe li mustrat a sa mort e en sa vie.
Icés treis homes overerent deversement,
Deu fud od els trestut vivement.’
Pur çoe, bel frere, voil ke bien le sachez:
En quel ovre que, sulunc Deu, vus deliterez,
En icele, vus sauverez, ne dotés mie.
Mes vostre quor gardez ke ne se delite en folie.”
Treis overaignes al cors prophitables sunt,
Sicum LI ABBEZ PASTOR par lettres nus espunt:
“Qui sun quer voldrat espurger e defendre,
Ke mal penser ne delit fol n’i lest remeindre;
E recunuistre de sei veut e entendre
K’il est de pudre e revertirad en cendre;
E qu’il deit aver en sei descretiun.
Il se content cum home de religiun.”
Derechef, dist cist abbez, cil nel ceile mie:
“Treis choses covent a sotive vie:
Ke l’en aime poverté, e sun cors destreigne,
E de laborer de ces mains pas ne se feigne.
Par cestes choses purrat chacier de lui
Peresce de cors, temptatiun, e ennui.”
Encore nus demustre, par signifiance,
Treis veies qui profitables sunt, sanz dutanze,
Si les ad demustré par mult bele raisun,
E fait de treis persones tele compareisun:
“Noé se demist de mundene possessiun,
Cil signifie gent de religiun.
Kar Job demustre, çoe sachiez veirement,
Cels qui del lur labur vivent honestement.
Daniel li prophete signefie
Les descrez e qui tienent chaste vie.
Ke sulunc alcun d’icés treis ce velt cuntenir
Aprés sa mort purrat el regne Deu venir.”
Ice, redist li abbez: “Par tuit, sanz essoine,
Dous choses deit hair chascun moine.”
Lores i ad demander li començat un frere:
“Queles sunt ces dous choses? Dites nus, bel pere.”
Dunc li respundi li abbez: “Ore les vus dirrai.
Cestes deus choses bien vus aprendrai.
Çoe est veineglorie e charnel dilectiun,
Ke mut deit hair home de religiun.
De veineglorie vus dirrai un petit,
Kar cele vice deivent tuz aver en despit,
E vus si l’eiez bien en memorie
Çoe ke vus dirrai ci de veineglorie:
Memorie aiez pur cest vice eschiver,
E nient pur çoe que vus le devez de ren amer.
Veineglorie est, ço sachez seurement,
Quant alcuns fait bon ovre devant la gent,
Mes pas nel fet pur Deu ne pur seinteté.
Einz, le fet pur los e pur vanité.
De cels si dist Nostre Sire Jhesu Crist
En le evangelie que saint Matheu escrit:
‘Qui almuns funt pur los, cil sunt deceu,
Kar lur guerdun est malement purveu
Quant pur los del secle unt lur almuns fait.’
Dunkes, est çoe raisun ke çoe pur luier sait
En cest mund unt ceus lur guerdun requilli,
Kar de la joie celeste unt del tuit failli.
Pur çoe, si deit mult chascun prodome garder
Pur sun benfait los ne pris ne deit coveiter.”
LI ABBES PAMBO en sa celle malades jut
Quant il de cest secle aler s’en dut.
Dunc vint entur li mult grant compaignie
Des freres e des moines ki furent de s’abie.
Dunc dist li abbez, oiant tuz, tel sermun
Ke ben afert a home de religiun:
“Ore sachez, mi frere, tut verraiement,
Puis que comensai a meindre sutivement,
Unkes puis ne manjai de nul pain
Si jo nel gaignase de ma main,
Ne unkes paroles ne dis, çoe sachez de fi,
Dunt joe puis me repentisse puis ke vis ici.
E ore m’est avis, çoe sachez tres ben,
Cum si jo unkes pur Deu n’eusse feit ren.”
Uns seinz abbez fut jadis par nun CANANIN
Ki comandat a ses moines, quant fist sa fin:
“De habiter od les heretes gardez vus ent,
E d’empleider e de juger la povre gent,
E ne vus ne entermetez de amer aveir,
Mes tut ensemble pur amur Deu doneir.”
Uns abbez fut ancienement qui aveit nun Cassian.
Il nus dit e cunte d’un altre abbé, Johan,
Ki fist mult bel semblant quant en transe jut
E dust partir de cest siecle, sicum Deu plut.
Dunc vindrent ses moines e entur li esturent
Cum cels ke de sa mort dolenz furent,
Ke diseient: “Bel pere, vers nus entendez.
Parole nus dites dunt nus seium amendez.”
A çoe, jetat un suspir si lor ad cunté:
“Unkes rien ne fis de ma propre volenté,
Ne jo n’enseignai unques, poi ne grant,
Si jo mesmes ne l’eusse fait avant.”
Un frere, çoe dit le livre, voleit saveir
Cument entreit la pour Deu en sun queir.
Dunc respundi sun abbé si l’endoctrinat,
E treis mulz bones paroles li enseignat:
“Si vus aiez od vus parfite humilité
E la pour Deu ke maint en Trinité,
E vus vus delitez en vostre povreté,
E vus vus gardez ben de altre juger,
Issi entrat la pour Deu en vostre quer.”
Uns moines parlat, con trois, a sun frere,
Si l’endoctrinat bel en iceste manere:
“Gardez que vus aiez en vus humilité
E la pour Deu, qui maint en Trinité;
E plurez pur voz pecchiez sovernerement;
E priez a Deu pardun ententivement;
E, si aiez mesaise, sovent demande.
Çoe sunt quatre choses que l’alme demande.”
Un prodome sermunout a ses espiritels fiz,
Si lur dist cestes mesmes paroles e ces diz:
“La rien ke vus plus haiez e tenez a ennui,
Gardez vus ent nel facez a autrui;
Si vus a lui ke de vus mesdit portez ire,
Gardez dunc de mesparler e de mesdire;
E si vus haiez celui ke a tort vus chalenge,
Ne chalengez nul si de bien non, çoe vus comande.
E si nul de vus tel home hair volt
Ki, par drait u par tort, vostre chose vus tolt,
Vus vus gardez, dunc, si vus me volez creire,
Ke nul de vus ne voille itele chose faire.
Ki se voldrat contenir sicum jo ai dit
Il se purrat salveir, si cum jo quid.”
Çoe est la vie de frere e de bon moine,
Sicum un prodome dit e testimoine:
“Ke chascun endreit de sai garde obedience;
E ke nul d’els vers sun frere ne tence;
E k’il ne grundille, mes tuz tenz pense bien,
E k’il ne s’entremette de juger cristien,
Kar le saint Escripture nus comande e dit:
‘Vus que Deu amez aiez le mal en despit.’
Od home torcenus n’aiez compaignie,
E des oilz gardez qu’il ne veient folie;
E sei mesmes garde de folie en terre,
E altri fait ne s’entermette pur enquere.
Ne rien ne ceile a ces proceins,
Mes tuit done quanque li vient as mains.
Orguil nen eit en sun quer ne folie,
Ben se garde de veineglorie e d’envie.
Sun ventre ne deit trop de viand charchier,
Purquai il ne puisse al muster halt e bas chanter.
Mes tutes choses face od descretiun.
Cest est la vie de moine e de religiun.”
Uns seinz abbez parlat jadis a sun covent,
Sis endoctrinat tut issifaitement:
“Preez ententivement vostre Creatur
Ke il mette en vostre quer humilité e plur.
E quant vus verrez home mortelement pecchier,
Nel devez mie pur çoe a Deu juger,
Kar Deus est merciable e plain de pité,
Ke tut ad detté le peccheur de sun pecchié.
Les voz pecchiez aiez devant voz oilz tuz jurz,
Dunc vus gardez de juger les peccheurs.
Subjet seez en vostre charité.
Od femme n’aiez unkes amisté,
Kar par femme ad maint home esté trahi;
Pur çoe, vus gardez ke ne seiez huni.
Od enfant n’aez unkes nul acointement,
Kar suvent surt blasme a home pur nient.
Les herites fuiez, ces ke vus verrez.
E en vertu de vus ren ne vus fiez,
Kar si nus avum en nus nule bonté,
Nus l’avum de Deu, e nient de nostre herité.
E si vus volez le Deble del tut ventre,
Dunc aiez abstinence en lange e en ventre.
De vin vus estenez e si ne l’amez mie,
Kar vin atrait meint prodome a folie.
Si nuls, par aventure, hom vus dist vilainie,
Ne tenciez unkes od li pur ren k’il vus die.
E s’il ben dist, dites li que bien averat;
E si il mal dit, dites li que mal troverat.
E, dunc, si ne tenez od li pur nule ren,
Le quel qu’il die a vus, le mal u le ben.
E si vus volez tuit issi faire e dire,
Dunc avrez vostre corage en peis e sanz ire.”
Çoe dist as freres LI ABBEZ EVAGRIUS:
“Gardez, ne seiez trop cuvetus
De assembler richeises e terren aveir,
Car perilluse chose est, çoe sachiez pur veir.
Coveitise d’aver est mult male chose,
Kar ki trop est coveitus ja ne se repose,
Mes tut tenz est en tribuil, par jur e par nuit;
Tute despent sa vie senz joie e senz deduit,
Kar tutes hores est murne e de quer pensif,
Anguisuz e destreignant, dolent e chaitif.”
Abraham vint a L’ABBÉ SISOI, sun pere,
Si li dist e conseilla en iceste manere:
“Bel pere, vus estes ore de grant age;
Esloignum nus del mund si frum ke sage.”
Sysoi respundi, e dist: “Tu dis raisun.
Alums dunkes si nus femes une maisun,
Si remanum sotivement cum heremite
En icel liu u nule femme ne habite,
Kar mieuz vaut de overir sun sein encontre le serpent
Ke acuntre femme ke pur s’amur s’esprent.”
Dunc respunt Abraham, e itel demande li fet:
“U purrum trover liu ke tut sanz femme seit
Si çoe ne seit en desert, par aventure?”
“Alum dunc la,” dist Sysoi, “par grant aleure,
Si remanum iloec perdurablement,
Hors de multitudine e de presse de gent.”
LI ABBEZ PASTOR dist icele parole,
Cum cil qui apris fust en mult bon escole:
“Orguil est, pur veir, de tuz mals comencement.
Pur çoe cele vice eschiwez communement.
Kar si sai mesmes prise en sun corage,
Il fait a sa alme certes grant dammage.
E qui se humilie, cil ert enhalcez;
E ki s’eshauce, icil ert abaissiez.”
Derechef, sermonat cist mesme Pastor,
Kar vers tuz cristiens aveit verrai amur:
“Mult vus est bon, çoe sachez tuz, a fuir
Les corporeles choses ke vus puent nusir,
Kar ki sunt juste bataille corporelement
E veient folie apert e en present,
Icil sunt cum cel home, nel vus voil celer,
Ke sur un mult parfunt puis s’en vient ester
Ke sun enemi le puisse ens trebucher
Quel hore qu’il voldrat pur lui neier.
E ki loinz estet de corporele bataile,
Icil est semblance a celui, senz faille,
Ki s’en vait mult loinz del puis ester
Ki sun enemi nel puisse ens trebocher.
E se il trait vers le puiz, par aventure,
Deu li porrat aider en poi de ure.”
UNE ABBASSE MARONE dist sifaitement:
“Plusurs fuient noise e presse de gent
Si se mettent a ascient en religiun,
Mes dunc ne gardent ordre ne subjectiun,
Mes se deperdent par lur negligence,
Kar ne tenent ordre ne obedience.
E, pur çoe, vus dirrai ceo ke joe atent:
Mieuz vaut meindre od bone volenté entre gent
Que en religiun mettre sulement sun cors
E sun quer e sun corage laisser dehors.”
Un prodome nus cunte de treis bachilerz
Ki s’entramerent tant cum furent seculers.
Si firent entr’els tel covenance
Ke en religiun irreient sanz demorance.
Chascun de eus en devers liu devereit ester,
E chascun d’eus deut servir de devers mester.
Li premer choisi k’il se voleit entremettre
D’apeiser les descordanz, sicum dit la Lettre:
“Benuré seient, de Deu Omnipotent,
Ki pees aiment e pees mettent entre gent!”
Li secund deut les malades revisiter,
E li tiers voleit en sotif liu habiter.
Lores, s’en alerent en religiun ces treis
Si furent cum il l’orent purparlé enceis.
Li premers s’entremist les tensuns apaiser
E les descordans par fin amur amaiser,
E servi de cest mester dunt vus ai cunté
Desque il vit k’il ne poeit acorder a volenté.
Dunc s’ennuiat mult cil frere de sum mester
E alat a sun compaignun, si lessat tut ester,
A celui ki la malade gent dut servir,
Si li contat qu’il ne poeit suffrir.
Il li respundi, si dist, tut ascient,
Qu’il ne poeit suffrir sun mester plus lungement.
Dunc s’acompaignerent si alerent tut dreit
A lur tiers compaignun ki sutivement maneit,
Si li demanderent quei lur fut a faire,
Kar de lur mester se voleint retraire.
Il ne respundi pas, ainz se tut un petit.
Puis empli un hanap d’ewe, si lur ad dit:
“Ore esgardez en cest hanap.” E il si firent
E l’ewe ke en le hanap fut mult troblé virent.
Puis l’asist si la lessat ester un poi d’ure
Si ke l’ewe ke denz fud devint tute pure.
Dunc prist le hanap, e dist: “Or esgardez, mes freres.”
Il vindrent avant e esgarderent regeres,
Si se mirerent, tant fut ele clere,
Cum ce fut mireor u preciuse pere.
Quant si orent fait, si lur dist lur compaignun
E si lur demustrat une tele raisun:
“Si, trublé est qui meint in multitudine de gent,
K’il ne poet veer ses pecchiez clerement;
E quant il vient al la sutive vie,
Dunc veit il clerement sa folie.”
Çoe soleint il dire de cel saint abbé
Ke ARCEMIUS par nun esteit apelé
Ke, la u il seeit od ses mains ovrant,
Tuz jurz out pendu un drap en sun devant
Pur les lermes de sun vis oster e asueer,
Ki epessement li soleient des oilz degoter.
Un frere demandat ja a L’ABBÉ HAMIUN:
“Bel pere, kar me dites alcun bon sermun.”
Dunc dist li abbez: “Frere, tuit issi pensez
Cum funt les feluns ke sunt enchartrez,
Kar icels soleient a hume demander,
‘U est le jugeur, e quant deit repairer?’
En itel entente, demeinent doel e plur
Desi, que il seient venuz devant le jugeur.
Issi, deit le moine tutdis pour aver
E pur ces pecchiez assiduelement plorer.
E dire deit a sei mesmes: ‘Allas, chaitif!
Cument apparrai devant Deu a cel grant estrif
Al Jur de Juise, al pleit dolerus
U serrunt descovert les pecchiez as plusurz?
La m’estoverat de mes ovres raisun rendre;
Malement irra si ne me puisse defendre!’
E si vus volez tuz jurz si penser,
Dunc purrez, senz doute, vostre alme salver.”
Cest sermun dist EVAGRIUS, ke je devant vus nomai,
Ki mut est bon e a clerc e a lai,
Si dist a cels qu’il aveit en Deu a garder,
Kar sez subjez deit l’um tuz jurz amonester:
“Freres, quant vus en vostre celle par vus seez,
Quilliez a vus vostre sen si vus purveez.
Pensez de vostre mort! Pensez de vostre cors!
Pensez qu’il ert tere quant l’alme si va hors!
Pensez des pestilensez! Gardez a dolurs
K’aveinent en tere suvent pur les peccheurs!
Hisdur aiez dé folies e des vanitez
Ke regnent entre gent plus qui asez!
Seez vus curius de voiz mesmes e mult entemprés.
En vostre bon purpos tuz jurz vus tenez.
En memorie aiez les peines de laval,
Ke tuz jurz senz nul confort suffrerunt li mal!
Pensez que tuz icels ke en enfern sunt enclos
Meindrent en dolur senz fin e senz repos!
Or entendez le Jugement en grant pour:
Peine ount or a asez, e aprés unt majur!
E derechef, bealz freres, mult vus purpensez,
En vostre quor forment le purfichiez,
Coment Deu vendrat al Drein Jugement,
E coment lui apparont tute gent.
Pensez de la confusiun e de la hisdur
Ki soeffrent les peccheurz a icel jur,
Quant iert descoverte tute la felunie
Devant Deu e devant tute sa compaignie
Des angles, e de tuz genz communement,
E des archangles ki iloec serrunt en present.
Pensez des paines que dunc comencerunt
As chaitifs dampnez quant del Jugement irrunt:
Feu, e vermine, e anfernal tenebrur,
Crois de dens, freit, e nient suffrable pour.
Tuz icels malz aiez en memorie!
Derechef penzez de cels que sunt en glorie
Devant Deu e devant trestuz ces angles,
Devant les prophetes, devant les archangles,
E devant tute la sainte compaignie
Ke Deu servirent a gré en ceste vie —
Cels qui sunt en peines e cels ki sunt en glorie!
Pur la peine des peccheurs mult devez plorer,
E ke la ne viengez mult vus devez garder.
Pur la joie as justes devez eeslescer;
En vostre quor devez sovent Deu preer
Ki vus puissez hastiment a celz venir,
E parmaindre en le joie que ne seet finir!
Ore gardez, belz freres, si me volez crere,
Ke vos cestes choses aiez en memorie.
Ne unkes ne ubliez icest afaire,
Lequel vus seiez en la celle u en l’aire,
E si vus volez sovent de cestes choses penser,
Malveis pensers purrez par çoe eschaucier.”
Jadis esteit uns abbez par nun HELIE
Ki demenat mut religiuse vie.
Il dist: “Treis choses sunt qui jo creim tuz tens:
La premere est quant de mort me purpens;
E l’altre, quant me sevent en quele guise
Joe vendrai devant Deu al Juise;
E la tierce est quant orrai mes pecchez lire
Ke le Deable ad feit en sa chartre escrire.
Dunc sai jo ben ke n’averei talent de rire;
Ainz, averai al quor dolur e mult grant ire.”
ATHANASIE vint, cum dist l’estorie,
A L’ABBÉ PAMBO, ke mist en hermitorie,
S’il preat qu’il dust d’iloec departir
E ke en la cité d’Alisandre dust venir.
Il li granta bonement e sun consal crait;
En la veie se mist e d’ilokes se vait.
Avint qu’il trovat une femme legiere,
Ke tendrement plorat e fist laide chiere.
Si gueimentat mut k’ele ne poeit trover
Ses bacheliers k’od li volsisent pecchier.
A icel ure li abbé Pambo se purpensat.
Ne se poeit estenir mes a plurir comensçat.
Dunc dist un des freres: “Bel pere, purquei
Plorez vus si tendrement? Dites le mei?”
Il respundi: “Dous choses plurer me funt.
Joe vus voil dire queles choses se sunt:
L’une est de la femme que serra perie,
Si el ne se garde, pur la lecherie;
L’altre, pur d’içoe: ke ne puis si ben endurer
De plaisir a Deu par le men plurer
Cum ceste femme a pleiser se peine
As homes, k’od sé trait e en enfer meine.”
Icest sermun dist ja SEINTELETICE:
“Ki primes a grant paine aprist estre novice,
Kar chascun quant vient primes en religiun,
Soffre les assaus del Deble e temptatiun.
E s’il poet veintre par benfez e surmunter,
Grant joie averat, e l’ordre li ert leger.
E çoe vus demustre par tel compareisun:
Sicum il alumereint feu de turbe u de charbun
Mult se travaillent ainz kel feu seit alumé,
E lur oil lerment par amerté de la fumé,
E, quant le feu art cler si s’eschaufent dejuste,
Ne lur est avis ke le travail n’en lur coste,
Issi devum, par plur, par travail, acustumer
Ke nus puissum en nus divin fu aluminer.
Par ‘le feu devin’ devum le Saint Espirit entendre,
Del quel nus covient alumer e esprendre.”
Un prodome nus ad cunté de un home seculer
Ki volait jadis en religiun aler,
E sa mere le voleit targer e defendre
K’il ne se deust pas en religiun rendre.
Li bachiler ne se volt pas retraire.
U volsist u nun, sun purpos volt faire.
E dist a sa mere: “Jo voil m’alme salver;
Pur çoe, me covient en religiun aler.”
Quant la femme vit de sun ferm corage,
Ele le laissat aler si fist ke sage.
Lores alat e en religiun se rendi
E tut en negligence sa vie despendi.
Puis avint que la mere celui deviat
Si ala al lu que Deu li destinat.
E ne demorat aprés sa mort ke un petit,
Ke le fiz jeut anguissusement encontre lit,
Dunc li vint en cel mal tel avisiun
K’il fut a cels ki sunt jugez a dampnatiun,
E vit entre els sa mere seer, tut senz deport.
La quele s’esbai e quidout qu’il fut mort,
E qu’il od els remaindre deut en cel turment
Par la volenté de Deu e per sun jugement.
Dunc parlat sa mere sifaitement a lui:
“Es tu, fiz, venu as dampnez cum jo sui?
Ke deit çoe? Ja solies tu dire,
‘M’alme voil salver e cest mund despire.’
Mult malveisement as tu cel dit retenu
Quant ore a cest turment a nus es venu.”
Le fiz ne sout ke respundre, tant fud esbai.
Dunc a primes se tint k’il fut tut trai,
E quant il aveit veu tut en icest manere,
Par la grace de Deu vint l’espirit arere.
Derechef, quant il fud a salveté venu
E gari fud de cel mal qui l’aveit tenu,
Pensa ke de par Deu l’avint tel avisiun
K’il s’amendast e venist a salvatiun.
Dunc se repenti e prist sa penitence
De quanque il out fait par sa negligence,
E ne finat, ne nuit ne jur, de plurer
E pur ces pecchez acorragement a urer.
E doleruse vie tuz tens demenat,
E tant anguissusement sun cors penat
Ki ses compaignuns li diseient meinte feiz:
“Aiez merci de tai, si tu nus creiez;
U, si çoe num, homicide serrez de tei mesmes,
Sicum autres asez devant tei veimes.”
Il lur dit: “Jo voil mes pecchez espenir
Ke jo puise aseurement devant Deu venir,
Ke ne truisse nul devant sa clere Face
Ke de mes felenies reprover me sace,
Kar mult oi grant hunte quant ma mere me trovat
E quant ele de mes felenies me reprovat.
N’est pas marvaille si joe d’assez euisse greignur,
Si nul me reprovast devant Nostre Seignur
U serrunt ses apostres e ses archangles,
E ses evangelistes e tuz ces angles,
Prophetes, martyrs, virges, confessurs,
E tuz les dreiturers homes e tuz les pecheurs!
Quant nus estoet tuz al Jugement assembler,
U nus devum par la cruelté de Deu trembler.”
Ceste parole soleit uns abbé cunter,
E nus la devum tuz volenters esculter:
“Al Jur de Juise, quant Deu repeirerat
E tut le mund, pur veir, jugerat,
Dunc averat ilokes, certes, asez dolur,
Kar tuz les archangles tremblerunt de pour!
Dunc, se il peust estre ke alme pout murir
E fors de cors de home peust eissir,
Dunc murreit alme e tut le mund murreit
Par dreite pour ren vif ne remeindreit.
Kar a cel hure, serrat li ciels overt,
E Deu se demustrat iloec en apert
Od grant dedeignance e od grant ire.
Od tuz ses angles vendrat Nostre Sire.
N’est marvaille s’il voldreient dunc morir
Quant il le verrent si irrement venir.
Pur çoe, de ben faire nus devum pener
Tant cum nus avum en ceste secle ester,
Cum icels de ki Deus voldrat respuns demander
E de nostre overe e pus de nostre parler.”
Un frere demandat a sun abbé: “Dunt çoe vint
Ke mun quor ai si dur que Deu ne creint?”
Li abbez dist: “Chascun ke soeffre chastiement
La pour Deu entrat en lui, sicum joe l’entent.”
Le frere le demandat que chastiement seit.
Li abbez parlat, e tel respuns li ad feit:
“Chascun que ben se repent disant cest mot:
‘Ha, sevenge tei ki devant Deu venir t’estoet.’
E ceste chose deis dire tut ensement,
‘Purquai fu remis entre terrene gent?’
Chascun home qui sifaitement se content,
La pour de Deu entre en sun quor e ment.”
Uns abbez a un sun frere issi parlat
Une feiz quant le frere sermun demandat:
“Quant des Egypciens se voleit venger,
E les fiz Israel voleit deliverer,
Dunc lur donat Deus une mortele plaie,
Ki n’i out home en la tere ke ne s’esmaie,
N’en la tere n’at maisun, çoe sachez de fi,
U n’i eust enz noise u doel, u plur u cri.
Issi devum, bel frere, plurer tutdis
Ke Deu ne se venge de nus al Grant Juis,
Ainz nus asseieet a la sue destre
En cel liu ke nus clamuns parais celestre.”
Uns frere jadis issi a sun abbé parlat,
En ceste manere li areisunat:
“Joe vei de noz peres qu’il poent plurer,
E quant lermes voillent, il les pount aver.
E jo, pur nule ren, ne puis unkes plurer;
Pur çoe, sui angoissus en mun quer.”
A çoe, respunt li abbez mult sagement,
Si li dist: “Pur ceo ne vus n’esmaiez de nient,
Kar li fiz Israel en desert entrerent
E quarante anz plenerement i demorerent,
E puis en Tere de Promissiun,
Kar Deu lur out doné cele regiun.
E cest est la significatiun:
Les lermes sunt la Tere de Promissiun;
As queles lermes si vus puissez atucher,
Bataille del Deble ne vus estoet mes duter.
E si veut Deus ki li home seit curius
E d’entrer en cele tere seit anguissus.”
L’ABBEZ CASSIAN nus mustret un grant sen
Ki lui soleit dire LI ABBEZ MOYSEN:
“Bon est,” çoe dist cist Moyses, “ses pensez celer,
Mes a viuz homes les devez mustrer,
E nient sulement a ces qui par age veuz sunt,
Mes a ceus qui en sei senz e descreciun unt.
Kar plusurs gardent sulement al grant age,
E nient al sen. Si ne funt mie ke sage
Ki a ces vielz homes mustre sun penser
Ke pas ne sevent, cum mester fud, la gent consiller.
Enz, mettent les peccheurs en desperance
Pur çoe k’il n’unt en sei bone descreciun.”
Sicum fist jadis un nun descret prestre
A ki un frere dist sun purpenz e sun estre.
E fist a cel frere sa celle guerpir,
Sicum si aprés porrez oir.”
Jadis esteit un frere mult religius,
E de çoe ordre garder fud tut tens curius
Si ke li Deble li fist temptatiun
K’il eust en talent pur faire fornicatiun.
Dunc, vint a un frere k’esteit de grant tens
Si li mustrat sun afaire e sun purpens.
E cil se tint tant religius e tant digne,
Pur çoe ke unc ne fud assaez d’Esperit Maligne,
E pur çoe tint il en grant dedeignance
Ke cel frere le mustrat cele grevance.
Sil ledengout e clamout chaitif maluré
Quant il esteit en tel purpens demuré.
E dist, quant il out consentu tel delit,
Ne fud pas digne de monial abit.
Quant le frere oi çoe, si se desperout.
Sa celle guerpi e al secle repeirout.
A çoe, sicum voleit le Trestuz Pusant,
Le encontra LI ABEZ APOLLO tut en alant.
Sil vit trublé de quer, pensif e murne.
Dunc dist li abbez: “Bel fiz, vers mei te turne,
E me di purquai tu faz si trist semblant.”
E li freres ne li respundi ne tant ne quant,
Kar tant fud en sun corage de dolur lié
Qu’il out, pur poi, li parler ublié.
Nepurquant, l’engaceat li abbez tant, e enquist
Ke tut sun afaire li contat e dist.
E dist: “Par penser de luxurie tempté fui,
E sovernerement me fierent enui.
E jeol dis a un frere de nostre maisun,
Ki me dist ke jo n’averai ja de Deu pardun.
E pur ces diz sui mis en si grant despeir
Ki ma celle guerpi e al siecle repeir.”
Quant li abbez l’oit, dist cum mire fidel.
L’amonestat mult, si li dona bon consail,
E dit: “Bel frere, de çoe ne desesperez nient.
Ne t’esmervail pas si temptatiun vus vient,
Kar joe sui vieuz e moine ai esté tuz tens,
E sui sovent tempté par fol purpens.
Pur çoe gart k’en tel dechiement pas ne defaille,
Kar desuz le ciel n’est cristien qui tant vaille
Ki senz temptaciuns nul hore ne puisse vivre
Si par la merci Deu nun ke de ço le delivre.
Mes ore, bel fiz, donez mai çoe ke jo vus requer:
Va t’en ariere a ta celle sanz demorer.”
E li frere s’en alat chaut pas a sa maisun,
E li abbez Appollo le siwi a talun
Si vint dreit a la celle u cil veilard maneit
Ki aveit al frere la desesperance fait.
E estut defors e dit a Deu sa praiere,
Tut en plurant, e dist en iceste manere:
“Bel Sire Deus, cum vus estes rei de bone part,
Les temptatiuns le frere turnez al veilard
Ke il eit temptatiuns en sa veillesce
Les quels ne senti unkes puis sa joefnesce,
K’il seit, desoreenavant, vers els de suffrance
Ki de temptatiuns soffrunt la gravance.”
E cum li abbez Apollo out faite sa ureisun,
Si vint un deble ester juste sa maisun,
Li quels tendi sun arc e lance a sun dart.
E grevuse plaie donat al veilard,
E li vilein se guenchisiet de tutes parz,
Cum cil fust ivre u percé de darz.
Tant l’anguissat k’il nel pout plus suffrir.
La celle guerpat e començat a fuir,
E par cele mesmes veie voleit aler
Par unt al siecle alat li bachiler.
E li abbez Appollo sout bien cel afaire.
Alat encuntre li, si li encontrat an aire.
E il cum l’encontrat, li dist: “U iras tu?
E cest grant effrai, me di, dunt est venu?”
Dunc quidat cel veillard ke cel saint moine
Seust quei l’en caçat, si se tut pur la vergoine.
Dunc dit li abbez: “En ta celle va tuit en pais,
Si reconuis ta feblesse desoremais.
E reconuis ke Deable devant cest houre
Te ubliat e tint en despit, par aventure,
Pur çoe qu’il sout ke si es feble e si poi vauz
Ke ne deuissez de lui suffrir assauz.
Ceo mustras, bel frere, de tant
Quant un jur ne poez suffrir sun evaissement.
Cest aventure te vint pur le bachiler
Ke fud temptez de cest mesmes Adverser,
Kar, quant il vint a tei pur aveir confort,
En desperance le meis a mult grant tort.
Ne te soveint pas de cest saint comandement
Ke dist, ‘Aidez cels qui l’em maine a turment’?
E que nus ne devum entre nus despire
De rechater cels qui l’en meine oscire?
E ne te sovent que Deu mesmes ad comandé
Ke le quassé rosel ne sait depescé,
E ke nul le fumant luminon esteigne,
Mes primes le seche e puis remaigne?
Çoe nus comande, par signifiance,
Ke nul ne mette peccheur en desperance,
Kar nul cristien n’est en tere ki tant vaut
Ki se puise tenir quant Deble l’assaut,
Ne nul ne poet encontre lui remeindre,
Ne le boillant feu de sa nature estaindre,
Si Deus ne nus defent par la sue grace.
E çoe, li devum prier k’il si le face,
E qu’il ensement, par la sue dulçur,
Te voile deliverer de cest mal errur.
Kar il fait dulur quel ore que li pleist,
E regeiers la salu de lui e vient e nest.
E quant li plest, il fiert le peccheur de sa main;
Denaprés serrat de cele mesmes sain.
Il eschance la gent sis enhumilie,
E les mortifie e les vivifie,
E il fet mettre almes en enfernel peine,
E, quant li plaist, arere les meine.”
Sifaitement finat li abbez sa raisum,
E cil veillard fud delivré de temptatiun.
Lors l’amonestat li abbez qu’il deust requere
Ke Deu li donast descreciun en tere,
E k’il li deust demustrer par sun saint plaisir
Quant mester fut de parler e quant de teisir.
LI ARCEVESKE EPIPHANIE mandat par message
A L’ABBÉ HYLARIN, ke fud de grant age,
Sil preat k’entreveer deussent, s’il peussent,
Ainz ke de cest secle aler s’en deussent.
Puis avint qu’il ensemblerent en un liu
E manjerent ensemble ilokes, ço qui.
A cel manger fist un aporter devant eals
Un mes ke fud apparaillé de salvage oisals.
Lores parlat Hyllarin, e dist a li:
“Puis cel ore que cel abite reçui,
Ne manjoi de nule ren qui la mort suffrist.”
Li erseveske Epiphanie respundi, e dist:
“Ne joe, puis ke oi cest abit, ne voil suffrir
Nul des malfetors, einz k’il se dresçat, dormir;
Ne joe ne dormi si jeo eusse a nul mesfait
Devant içoe ke joe me dreschace e feisse drait.”
Dunc dist li abbez: “Bel pere, joe sai bien
Ke vostre conversatiun est greindre del mien.”
Issi voil a vus trestuz un dit cunter
Cist mesmes abbes seut a un abbé mustrer:
“Si tu voilz alcun de sun mesfait chastier,
Tei meismes deis tu garder de corocier.
Car si tu chastiez alcun pur amender,
E tu, en çoe, te comences a corocier,
Tu n’i gaignes ren en tel chastiement;
Einz, i pirez, çoe m’est avis, mult durement.
Kar en içoe qui l’altre prent amendement,
En içoe, receis tu mult emperrement.”
SAINT SINCLETICE parlat a ces sorors,
Si sermonat de chasteté e des altres murs:
“Nus qui eimes a religiun renduz
E anceles Deu eimes devenuz,
Chasteté devum garder a tut nostre poer,
Kar senz içoe ne nus purrat nul bien valer.
E neis le seculer deivent chasteté garder,
Kar ki ne l’ad pur nient se quide salver.
Mes la chastetee de plusurs ne pris joe guers,
Kar se entremettent de autres fols afairs;
E tut meinent li seculers chaste vie,
Il se entremettent de meinte autre folie,
Kar n’est pas chaste, çoe sachez de fi,
Ki ne garde ses oilz, sa buche altresi.”
Derechef, si lur aprist de malveis penser,
Coment il se duissent de lur quer oster:
“Sicum li bon mires, que seit de cel mester,
Seut le fort venim des cors as humes jeter
Par egres medicines e par fortes poisuns,
Autresi, devez vus pensers e temptatiuns,
Par bons ureisuns, par sovent juner,
Devez hors de vostre curage chascun debuter.”
Derechef, si lur dist un altre sermun
Ke mult affert a gent de religiun:
“Ne pernés pas garde des homes seculers
Ke se delitent en delicius mangers.
Unkes en vostre curage nel pensez
Qu’il seient pur lur mangers honurez,
Kar il aturnent a devers mangers devers soevres
E guers ne se painent enz bons ovres.
Mes il vendrent devant Deu al Juise,
Icés bons mangers ne lur averunt ja mester.
Mes vos, qui estes nonains, de çoe vus gardez.
Ne querez mie delices ne deintez.
Mes els od lur delices devez trespasser,
Pur sovent juner e vilement manger,
Kar nis de pain ne vus devez sauler,
Ne devez unkes de vin aveir desirer.”
LI ABBEZ IPERTIUS a ses freres espiritelz
Sermonat, si lur feseit compareisun tels:
“Sicum li cruel liuns est espuntable
As asnes sauvages qui nen strent estable,
Si sunt la gent de religiun assaié
E pur pensers de corporel delit effraié.”
Derechef, dist cist abbez que joine
Deit estre acuntre pecchié frein a moine:
E qui june despit, il est semblable
Al deffrené chuval k’estat en l’estable,
Kar quant il est defrenee, saut a la jumente
Si ne met a nul altre rente s’entente.
Derechef, dist: “Cors ki est sechi par june,
E les junes des moines e les peines
Encuntre charnel delit estupent les veines.”
Regeiers dit: “Chastes moine est en tere honurez.
De Nostre Seignur serrat el ciel coronez.
E moine qui en curuz sa lange ne tent
Ne se retendrat pas quant temptatiun li vient.”
Derechef, si lur dist e si lur amoneste:
“Gard ben ke la tue buche seit honeste,
Ke la malveise parole ne formette.
Mes garde k’il seit cum la vinie nette,
Kar bon vinie nule espine ne porte.
Fai si que male parole de te ne destorte.”
Regeiers dist ki li grundilanz serpenz jadis
Fors jetat Adam e Eve de parais:
“Icist est semblable, çoe sachiez, a lui
Ki grundeille u ki mal veut pur de l’autri,
Kar il dampne sei mesme quant il mal parolt,
E selui qui a sa parole consentir volt.”
Un altre frere, qui esteit de grant age,
Fist une feiz covenant od sun corage
Qi ne deust beivre de quarante jorz ren,
E, sicum jo quid, il tient covenant bien.
Kar en la chalur, quant le solal lusait cler,
Dunc prent il sa juste, si l’alat laver,
Si l’empli plain del euue, e puis si la pendeit
Tut drait devant cels oilz la u il seeit.
Dunc enquistrent ces freres purquai ici fist,
E il lur respundi tut issi, si lur dist:
“Quant joe devant mes oilz tut presentement vei
La chose ke joe desir e nient ne l’ai,
Tant sui plus anguissus e plus ardant.
Quant vei la chose que desir tant,
E tant cum jo la voldrai plus volenters aver,
Tant averai greinur guerdum si le lais ester.”
De cest frere, seignurs, tuz ensample pernum,
E des nient lues choses, pur Deu, nus abstenum,
Quant il, pur Deu e pur ses pecchez, laissat ester
La chose qu’il poeit senz pecché user.
Un frere alat jadis en un veage
E menat sa mere od lui ke fut de grant age.
Si vindrent a un fluvie u passer lur estut,
E la veile fu feble, ke passer ne peust.
Dunc envolupat le fiz ses meins de sun mantel,
E prist sa mere, sil portat utre cel ruisel,
Kar le fiz ne voleit en nule manere
Atucher la nue char de sa mere.
Lors dist la mere: “Bel fiz, nel me celés pas:
Purquai coveras tu desainz tes mains de tes dras?”
E li fiz dist: “Ki la femme tuche al cors neu
Est cum mettre sa main enmi l’ardant feu;
E pur tant ke t’amenai, sachiez senz dotance,
De penser de altres femmes me vint en membrance.”
Un frere cuntat d’un compainun qu’il aveit
Ke la semaine de Pasche juner voleit;
E cum il le jur de Pasche aprés la messe
Fut acumuné, si se met hors de presse
Ke ses freres nel deveraint destreindre
Ensemblement od els al manger remaindre.
Un poi de betes quites mangat od le sel,
E trestute la simeine ne mangat el.
SECUNDE LI ABBEZ dist çoe ke veis ici,
E nus nel devum mie metre en ubli:
“Plusurs sunt temptés en plusurs maneres,
E sil qui sunt el siecle e cil qui sunt freres.
Mes, numément, cels qui sunt de religiun
Sunt assaiez sovent de fornicatiun,
E mulz se gardent de corporelement peccher.
Mes, nequedent, ne gardent mie ben lur quer.
Pur le secle, le cors gardent de folie,
Mes en lur quer regne lecherie.
Mes tele chasteté de cors ne nus poet valer
Quant le quer n’est gardé de fol voleir.
Pur çoe, seignurs, sicum l’Escripture nus dit,
Sicum nus trovums eillurs en escrit,
Chascun se paine mut en tute manere
De garder sun quer de seculer afere.”
ANTONIE LI ABBEZ, qui fisike ert, mustrat
Une feiz, quant de nostre qualité parlat,
K’en chascun humein cors treis movemenz sunt
Ki encontre nostre volenté peccher nus funt:
“Li premers des movemens est natural,
Ki en nostre cors meismes nus fait mal.
Le secund vient de trop beivere vin e manger,
Itel est mal e nus fait sovent pecchier.
Pur ceo, nus començat saint Pol a emonester:
‘De trop beivre vin trestuz vus devez garder,’
Kar vin aporte luxurie en humein cors,
Mes sobreté, çoe sachiez, si la cace fors.
E Jhesu Crist nus dit: ‘Freres, vus gardez.
De manger e de beivre nient ne vus chargez,’
Kar ki se charge de manger e de beivre,
Sathanas est entur pur lui deceivre.
Çoe sachiez, que le tiers movement
Est en nus par le Deble e par sun atisement;
E si nus nus volum de trop beivre entemprer,
Nus nus purrium de melz des enginz garder.”
Çoe dist LI ABBEZ ALISANDRE DE SIRE
A celui qui l’enquist de penser de luxurie:
“Certes, si tu n’as cogitatiuns en tei,
Tu n’espires pas n’en Deu, n’en teins lai,
Kar qui n’ad pensers, il est de l’overaigne saul,
Çoe est entendre, ke desuz ciel n’est cristien nul
Ki, par pensé, ne cumbat encuntre peché sovent.
Ne nel contredit, il pecche corporelement.
Car ki pecche corporelement, çoe dit le livre,
De molestes pensers est il tut delivre.”
De une abbesse cunterent asquanz
Ke ele fud assaié de fornicatiun treis anz.
Unke ne voleit la dame Deu preier
Ke cele bataille deut de li severer,
Mes çoe orat chascun jur, e dist:
“Force donez a mai, mun Seignur Jhesu Crist,
Ke joe veintre puisse cest pervers Enemi
Ke si me assaut par nuit e par di.”
De li redistrent ke ele ert une feiz assaié
Plus qui unques mes ne fust acustumé,
Kar un deble est qui est maistre de fornicatiun
Kar unke n’amat gent de religiun.
Il la anguisseit mult par vils pensers
Kar en corage la mist vanités seculers.
Mes ele ne relachat unkes sun corage
Mes en sun bon purpens se tint e fist cum sage.
Puis une feiz sur sun lit pur urer muntat,
E le deble tut a veuue se demustrat,
Issi ke la dame devant li le vit.
E li debles cestes paroles dit:
“SARRA, per ta abstinence e par ta ureisun
As mei vencu, ki sui mestre de fornicatiun.”
Dunc dist la dame: “Joe te n’ai pas vencu,
Mes Jhesu Crist mun chier Sire t’at confundu.”
Un frere veillard ad eals si consaillé
Ke pur penser de luxurie sunt mult grevé:
“Vus qui temptez estes de fornicatiun
Tut issi le devez faire cum fait alcun
Ki passe par la rue aval u amunt
Tant qu’il vient al liu u les tavernes sunt.
Iloec purrat il les odors de la char sentir
Ke l’em fait en ses cusines partut rostir.
E ke veut dunc si entre pur manger,
E qui ne veut se purrat utre passer.
Icil qui ultre passe e nient n’i attent
Nen ad des viandes fors l’odur sulement.
Per les odors ke l’em sent issi en passant
Entendez fous pensers ki l’ome vunt siwant.
Mes vus devez loinz de vous fouz pensers jeter,
E dire devez issi, e a Deu clamer:
‘Sire le Fiz Deu, aidez mai par vostre vertu
Ke joe en ceste bataile ne seie vencu.’
Encis, encontre chascun autre fol penser
Devez tut issi Deu clamer e prier,
Kar les fous pensers ne devums unkes lasser
K’il puissent en nostre quer enraciner,
Mes combatre devum e encuntre luter.
Issi devums malveis pensers de nus chacer.”
Uns veils heremite sifaitement ad consailé
Ceus ki de penser de luxurie sunt grevé:
“Quides de la tue char tei delivrer pur dormir,
U par usdivesce, u par presce, u par gisir?
Issi ne te poez tu de çoe deliverer.
Mes garde tei tut tens, par mun los, de jurer,
E va turmenter tun cors si travaille.
E va si quer si troveras, senz faille,
En teu manere contenir t’estoverat.
E veille, e bute a l’us, e l’en te overat,
Kar plusurs prodes homes enz el sicle sunt
Ki venquent les assauz ke debles lur funt.
E pur çoe, lur done le Rei de Ciel corone
Ke plus est resplendissant ke esteile ne lune.
E sovent est un home batu de dous vassauz,
Puis resort par sa valur si se venge de eals.
Tut issi, cumquert il honur par sa prueise,
Ke, si il fust pareçus, eust hunte e mesaise.
Si deis rester e cumbastre encontre l’Adverser,
E Deu t’ert en aie de lui surmunter.”
Un autre veilard nus dist de temptatiun:
“Çoe ne nus avient si par neggligence nun,
Kar si nus volum agaiter ententivement
Ke Deus ad en nostre cors sun habitement,
Nus ne verrums pas autri homes en nostre cors
Pur dejeter Dampnedeu ki en nus meint fors.
Kar Deus maint en nus, d’içoe nus ne dutums mie,
Kar il garde nostre cors e nostre vie.
E nus kil portum en nus le devum honorer,
E sicum il est saint nus devum seintifier.
Sur la piere mult forement nus affichum,
E le Deble od ses assauz tut depeceum.
Nel dotez nient ne il pas ne vus assaudrat.
Chantez çoe qui David chantat, e il vus eiderat.
Ki s’afient en Deu e en sa garentesun
Il serrunt ausi ferm cum Mont Syon;
E celui qui en Jerusalem abitent
Ne serrat commu tant cum le secle durent.”
Un frere demandat a sun abbé tut issi
De lui ki est moine e del novel converti:
“Si li moine chet en criminal pecché,
Il est anguissus en sun quer tormenté,
Kar de mut halt est avalé e abassé,
E mult traveilerat ainz qu’il sete relevé.
Mes qui vient del secle pur sa vie amender
Il est cum cil ke comence bien a overer.”
Dunc respund li abbez, sil ad de çoe acerté,
Si dist: “Moine qui chiet en criminal pecché
Il est cum la maisun ke pas ne seet formement,
Pur çoe trebuche par aucun sufflement.
Puis celui qui vient pur relever cest maisun,
Il trove devant li merim a foisun.
Kar li fundement est prest, e pieres e mortier,
E dunc purrat la maisun plus tost reedifier.
Issi est de moine ki chiet en folur.
S’il repente e reverte a Deu sun Seignur,
Il trove devant li confort e grant aie,
Ceo est, la lei de Deu, ureisuns, e psalmodie,
E maint ovre qui li est grant avancement,
E autres bons choses ki li sunt fundement.
Mes ki novelement vient en conversiun
Il est cum cil qui vient faire novele maisun:
Il n’at prestes pieres, fundement ne mortier,
Mes trestut est a quere quanque il deit aver.
Dunc, n’iert ele mie si tost aparilé
Cum cele qui chai e puis est relevee.
Ore te di, frere, que il est tut autresi
De celui qui est novelement converti:
Tut de primes li covent aprendre e demander
K’il sache sun ordre, e puis aprés overer.”
Un autre frere de cel penser fut tempté mult
Si ke li abbes le vit e tres ben s’en aperceut,
E dit: “Vels tu ke jo deprie Deu qui meint en halt
K’il te delivre, bel fiz, de cel assaut?”
E dit: “Joe vei, bel pere, ke cest anguisse
Mut me fut prophitable si suffrir le puisse;
Mes priez Deu qu’il me doinst valur e suffrance
Ke en mun vivant le puisse soffrir senz faillance.”
Dunc respundi li abbez, e tut issi dist a lui:
“Bel fiz, ore sei ke tu es plus parfit ke joe ne sui.”
Un veilard fu, sicum li livere testimoine,
Li quel aveit un petit fiz ke fu laitant.
Si fist norir en l’abbeie cel soen enfant
Si ke cest valet crut e bachiler devint
Ke unkes ne sout ke femme fut ne li sovint.
Dunc vindrent debles une nuit a cel hore
Si li mistrent dé femmes la figure,
E il l’endemain, si tost cum le fiz s’esvailat,
A sun pere le dist, e cil s’esmerveillat.
Puis ala en Egypte fiz od sun pere,
E vit femmes si dit en ceste manere:
“Beu pere, cestes sunt ke veneient a mai
A maisun en Sciti quant joe vus recuntai.”
E le pere li dit: “Moines d’icest secles sunt,
Si usent autre abite ke les heremites ne funt.”
E le pere s’esmervailat e mult cremeit le malfé
Ki li out en Sciti ymage demustree.
E le pere se hastat en sa celle repeirer,
Kar il dotout ke sun fiz deust foler.
Un autre frere de Sciti mult fud tempté
Par un fol desir ke Diable li out el quer jeté
De une bele femme ke en Egypte fud jadis.
Un frere une feiz a un vielz moine demandat
Iceste questiun dunt il asez dotat:
“Si alcun, par aventure, chiet en pecchiez,
Ke fra l’em de cels qui en lui sunt scandalizez?”
Dunc respundi li vielz moine, si li contat
Un tel ensample de çoe k’il demandat:
“En Egypte fut un diacne en une abbeie
Ki ert de grant nun e fu de bone vie.
Puis sord, ne sai purquai, en mesme la tere,
Entre un home e un jugeor mult grant guere.
Icel home, pur la guere de lui,
Vint a l’abbeie pur aveir cestui.
A icel abbeie alat u cel diacne esteit,
E sai meines e sa femme od lui meneit.
Tant demorat en cele abbeie
Ke le Deble, ke de tuz biens ad envie,
Vint a le diacne si la començat a conseiler
Ke la femme dust requere od lui pecchier.
E le diacne fu deceu e sun consail crut.
Parlat od la femme, celui k’od li jeut;
Puis fut aperceue la sue folie
Dunc furent scandalizez cels de l’abbeie.
Quant le diacne le vit, si ot grant vergoine;
Turnat s’en d’iloec sil mustrat a un viel moine.
Icel moine une privee celle aveit.
Quant le diacne icele celle vit, si li diseit:
‘Ici, pur Deu amur, tut vif m’ensevilez!
Mes çoe vus pri ke vus a nuli nel mustrez.’
Dunc, entrat en cele celle e cele oscurté.
Fist sa penitence en mult grant lealté.
Puis aprés avint, par le pecché de la gent,
Ke l’ewe del Nil si cum ele seut ne montat nient.
E dunc lung tens nel fist, kar Deu nel voleit.
Dunc firent, pur çoe, ureisuns e junez
E vielz e jofnes, e clers e moines.
Dunc demustrat Dampnedeu, par avisiun
A un saint ki fut del religiun,
Ke le flum del Nil ne muntereit ja
S’il n’eusent le decne ki fu enclos la.
Si lur dist la celle u il fust mucié,
Si nomat le moine qui l’aveit enparcé.
Quant çoe oirent, si sunt tut esmervellé.
Alerent a la celle si l’unt desenchartré.
Dunc orat le diacne, e Deu l’at esculté;
Kar puis, muntat le Nil cum il fut acostumé.
E ki furent en lui devant scandalizez
Dunc furent pur lui joius e haitez.”
Un altre frere vint a sun abbé, si li dist:
“Ke frai jo, bel pere? Kar ord penser me oscist!”
E li abbez dit: “Si garir velz de cel vice,
Ensample purras prendre de la norice:
Kar quant ele velt severir sun enfant, si prent ele
Alcune chose si oinst sa mamele.
Dent aprés, quant l’enfant vient ke alaiter la velt
Si prent la mamele en sa buche, cum seut,
Dunc sent l’amerté, ke comence a poindre,
Dunc la femme aveit sa mamele oindre,
E si laisse le laiter si se trait arere.
Ausi, met en tun penser alcun chose amere.”
Dunc dit le frere: “Quel amer chose i metterai?”
E li abbez respunt: “Joe te dirrai.
Pensez de mort, e de torment, e de dolurs
Ke en enfern sunt apparaillé as peccheurz.”
Un vielz moine de sun ordre garder fud pensif,
E maneit es munz de Atene cum mut sutif.
E mult par ses dis e par ses fais amendez furent,
Sicum les moines distrent ke tres ben le conurent.
E cum il fut leaus, sin out le Deble envie,
Cum il ad vers tuz ki sunt de bone vie.
Si k’il li mist tel penser en corage
Ke, quanque il esteit si prodome e si sage,
Ne deust pas estre servi de ses menestrierz,
Mes tuz altres deust servir plus volenters.
E si altre servir ne volsist, sei mesme servist.
Sifaitement vint li Diable, si li dist:
“Va si vend les escheppes en la cité ke tu faiz,
Si t’achat çoe ke ert mester, si tu me creiz,
E puis repeir a tun ostel arere.
Dunc ne t’estuet grever sergant ne frere.”
Sifaitement le amonestat le Dieble,
Kar il out envie de çoe qu’il ert estable,
E k’il fut tant en pais e tant covenable,
Ke a sai fud e as altres mut prophitable.
Pur çoe, le agaitat li Adverser de tutes parz
Cum engignier le peut e percer de ces darz.
E le moine creut l’Adversere e sun consail.
Vait al marchié, e ses veisins le tindrent a merveil
K’il esteit eissi pur tel ovre de s’iglise,
Kar ne sout pas faire tel marchandise.
Mes, il esteit ben renomé e coneu
De tuz icels qui l’aveient une feie veu.
E cum il aveit erré si sovernerement
Par l’Adversere e par sun amonestement,
Si trovat une femme, par aventure,
Od laquele il pecchat mult, e fist sa nature.
Puis departi de li si ala eu desert,
E tuteveie le siwi li Mal Culvert.
A ço li avint, ke dejuste un flum chai,
Lores s’en aperceut le moine qu’il esteit trai
E ke çoe l’Adversere mut joius esteit
K’il aveit si laide fornicatiun fait,
Ke pur poi le mist en desperance.
Pur çoe k’il aveit faite tele fesance,
Dunc out offendu Jhesu Crist le Fiz Marie,
E ses seinz angles e la sainte compaignie,
E la bone gent de religiun ensement,
Dunt plusurs mainent es Scitez espessement,
Ke furent de tel valur e de tel bunté
K’il aveient entre els le Deble surmunté.
E quant il plus de nuls d’els ne se senti,
Mult anguissousement se dementi
E ne li sovint pas ki Dampnedeu esteit,
Ki merci de lur pecchiez as repentanz fait,
E ki est glorius e succurable
E vers tuz k’a lui turnent merciable.
E tant fu avoglez ke de repentance
Ne li sovint unkes ne de penitance,
Mes tut a scient le voleit el flum lancer
Pur sei meismes arerier e le Deble avancer.
Lores, si devint malade par sa grant ire,
Si merci nen eust de li Nostre Sire,
Tut eust fait al Diable joie e parfist confort,
Kar senz repentance de sun maisfait fud mort.
A la parfin, vint a sa memorie, si se purpensat,
Sicum Jhesu Crist Nostre Seignur l’asensat,
Kil servereit par greindre devociun
K’il fist ainz qu’il fist la fornicatiun,
Par veiller, par plur, par juner, par ureisun.
En tel purpenz, entrat en sa maisun
E fist estoper le hus de sa celle aneire,
Sicum l’em soleit sur un mort faire.
Issi remist iloec, si fist sa praiere
E turmentat sun cors en chascune manere —
Par junes, par veilles, par anguissus plurs —
Kar li dolent ne fu unkes cert ne ben aseur
Ke le soen cors tant turmenter peust
Cum pur sa vilainie fesance digne feust.
Lores avint ke freres a lui vindrent sovent
Par achaisun de profit e de amendement.
E buterent a sun hus par mult grant air,
E cil lur dist ke ne lur poeit pas overair,
E dist: “Joe ai vué e fait serement
Ke une penitence dei faire si priveement
Ke nul n’entrat a mai, çoe sachez pur verité.
Mes pur mei priez pur sainte charité.”
Kar il ne sout cum il se pust rescore meuz
Quant il furent en li trestuz scandalizez.
E quant les freres çoe saveient e virent,
Dolenz e murnez, de lui s’en departirent,
Kar il lur soleit sovent bons essamples doner,
E consailler les trestuz e sermuner.
E li prodom l’an enter junant remist,
E mult honestement sa penitence fist.
E la nuit de Pasche fist une lumere,
Si la mist en une novele chaudere,
Si la coveri del covercle, si laissat atant.
Puis al seir fist sa ureisun, si disant:
“Bel Sire, glorius Deus, Prince soverain,
E merciable vers tuz e de pité plain,
E ki volez salver la mescreante gent
S’il convertir volent e venir a mendement,
A vus, treschier Pere, joe, chaitif, venu i sui,
Kar vus estes as cristiens verrai refui.
Aiez merci de mai, kar corocié vus ai mult
E esleecé l’Aversaire, e fait quanque li plout,
E joe su del tut mort en sa obedience.
Mes, bel Sire, vus qui estes de pacience,
E vus avez merci de ceus ke senz merci sunt
Quant il vus requerent e preer vus funt.
E, bel Sire, vus les comandez vus mesmes,
A tuz communement ke cristiens eimes
Ke chascun deit aveir de sun prosme merci.
Pur çoe, vus requer ententivement e pri
Ke vus seez vers mai dolent merciable,
Kar ren nen est que ne seit a vus poable.
E, pur çoe, bel Sire, pernez de ma alme cure,
La quele est anentie cum pudre pur ma ordure,
E pres est d’enfer, çoe m’est avis, a l’ure.
Mes, bel Sire, merci aiez de mai ta creature,
Kar les cors ke del tut a poudre devenu sunt
Al Jur de Juise par vus resusciterunt.
Oez mai, Sire, kar mun esperit defaut,
E ma alme est maluré e mun cors ren ne valt,
Kar tut est anenti pur le ordure ke jo fis.
E ne puis des ore en avant vivre, çoe m’est vis,
Pur çoe k’en vus oi si malveise creance.
M’est avenue tute la grevance!
Mes pardonez le mai, Sire, per penitence.
Joe ai dublé le pecchié par desperance!
Pur çoe, vus di, sicum vus me veez repentant,
Ke comendez, sicum vus estes Tut Puissant,
Ke cele lumere k’el chaudrun ai mise
Seit anuit de vostre devin feu esperise,
Ke joe aie, par çoe, en vostre merci fiancé
E mustreisun de la vostre pardunance.
Kar tant cum me granterez en vie remaindre.
De garder voz comandemenz ne me verez feindre.
E de vostre pour ne parterai ja mes,
Mes mult mielz vus serverai ke jo fis ainceis.”
A ceo, s’esdresçat, tut en plurant, le frere,
Pur veer s’il trovast alumé sa lumere.
E descovre la chaudre a dreiture,
Si vit qu’ele n’ert pas esprise a cel ure.
Lores chai regiers en afflictiun,
E sifaitement disant, fist sa ureisun:
“Bel Sire, bien sai ke, par si poi d’anguisse,
Ne plaist vus que a mendement venir puisse.
Çoe est a bon dreit, kar jo fiz ke chaitifs
Quant pur charnel delit elis.
Leissai l’estatiun u vus m’aviez mis,
Pur entrer es turmenz d’enfern, dolent e mendis.
Mes ore vus pri ke vus m’esparneissiez, bel Sire,
Kar derechef vienc pur regeier e dire
A vus tute ma ordure e ma felonie
E par devant tute vostre compaignie.
E si altres par ceo eschandeliz ne fuissent,
Jo voldra ke tuz les homes del mund le seusent.
Regeiers, bel Sire Dex, jo vus requer e pri
Ke vus aiez de mai, cheitif dolent, merci;
E s’il est vostre pleisir, la vie me rendez
Ke jo, e altres par mai, seium amendez.”
Issifaitement, par tres ures orat,
Si ke Deus l’oit ben e guers ne demorat.
Lores s’esdresçat sus si trova sa lumere,
Ki e fut alumee e fud ardant e clere!
Dunc s’esleesçat le frere e vint en bon espeir
E s’i confortat de joie, çoe sachez de veir.
Si s’esmerveillat de la grace Jhesu Crist,
Ki tant apert pardun de ses pecchiez li fist
E ki fist mustreisun, par sa grant bunté,
Solunc sa requeste e sa propre volenté.
Començat un oreisun sifaitement,
E dist: “Bel Sire Deu, graces vus en rend
Ke gari me avez de l’Esperit Maligne,
Ke de vivre en cest secle ne fu pas digne.
Vus estes a tuz pecheur suffrant e benigne,
E çoe m’avez demustré par vostre signe.”
Sifaitement, sa confessiun achevat.
Lores aparut le cler jur, e cil s’en levat
E esleeçat en Nostre Seignur kil criat,
E pur joie viande corporele obliat.
E puis, en tut sun vivant, de cel feu garde prist
E de l’oile sovent en lampe mist,
Kar il ne voleit pas ke cel feu esteinsist,
Ke vint del devin esperit ki en li remist.
E puis esteit homes de grant humilité,
E fud en confessiun de grant auctorité.
E merciat Deus od mult grant joie sovent
Ki le liverat de sun pecché benignement.
E Dex le terme de sa mort le nunciat
Plusurs jurz devant içoe qu’il deviat.
Li vielz freres cunterent de un cortiler,
Ki fud bon geignur e soleit laborere,
E tuz ses laburs en almones despendi
Mes sul itant ke a sun vivre suffist.
Puis Sathanas un malveis consail li donat,
Cum il fait a chascun ki creire le voldrat.
Si li diseit trestut issi, cum en conseilland:
“Ne faites mie ben ke vus despendez tant.
Aunez alcun aveir; dunc fras ke sage.
Il t’averat mester quant serras de grant age;
E si tu devens malades u mahaignié,
Dunc t’ert bel si tu as avant rien purchacié.”
Issi le consillat Sathanas e le deceut,
E le frere, endreit de çoe, sun consail crut,
Kar puis assemblat il aver mult volenters
E empli un poçun plein de denerz.
Puis començat li frere a maladir,
E l’un pié li començat tut a purrir.
Dunc, despendi en mires tut cel aveir
K’il quili, mes ne li poeit mester aveir.
Al drein vint un mire ke fud esprové
Si dist ke li coveneit fere trencher le pié
U si çoe nun tut en veie purrirat.
E le frere dist ke dunc trencher le lerrat.
Lores assiet le jur del pé trencher
Puis vait pur ces ustils qu’il devait aver.
La nuit aprés le frere a sei repairat,
E de çoe qu’il aveit fait mult se purpensat,
E se repenti, e gemist, e forment plurat,
E envers Deu sifaitement parlat:
“Bel sire Deu, kar aiez en remembrance
Mes ovres en arere e ma fesance,
Kar joe solei as povres ministrer
De çoe ke gaignoie par mun laborer.”
E quant le frere out si parlé, si se tut.
Este vus, un angle ki delez li estut:
“U est ore devenu cel aver
Ke tu assemblas? E u est tun fol espeir?
Kar tu pensas dunc de mult grant folie
Quant tu esperais mahaing u maladie.”
Dunc entendi qu’il out mult mesoveré,
E dist: “Pardonez le mai kar mut ai pecchié,
E jo me garderei ben des ore en avant
Ke joe ren dever vus ne mesprendrai itant.”
Dunc, tuchat le angle sun pé, si li sanat,
E il alat puis. E al champ overer alat.
Puis vint le mire cum il li out encovenanté,
E aportat ses fermenz pur trencher le pié.
Dunc, dient al mire ces k’il a l’hostel trovat:
“Des her matin pur laborer es chans alat.”
E le mire de çoe mut ç’esmerveillat,
Si ala al champ la u cel frere overat
E vit coment il fui la terre del pié.
Dunc glorifiat Deu ki li out rendu sancté.
Un frere dit a un abbé: “Di mai si tu veuz
Ke pur l’enfermeté de mun cors retienge dous soz.”
E li abbez vint a lui ke les voleit retenir,
Si li dist “oil” pur sa volenté aemplir.
E le frere s’en alat a sa cella atant
Si estimat, a sa pensé issi disant:
“Quides tu que li abbez me diseit veirs u nun?”
A çoe, s’en alat arere pur saver mun;
E se rendi confés a sel abbé, si dist:
“Kar me di verité, pur amur Jhesu Crist,
Kar jo sui forment troblé de mes pensers
Tutesveies puis ke tinc les deners.”
E li abbez li respundi, sifaitement disant:
“Joe te vi de retenir l’aver aver talent;
Pur çoe, les tenir rovai a tei une pose.
Mes, certes, ben sachez, çoe n’est pas bone chose
De retenir suz sa main greignur aveir
Ke n’est mester al cors, çoe sachiez pur veir,
Kar si tu tendras dous soz en estui,
Ta esperance iert en çoe, si te frat grant enui;
E si nus gastum e metum en folie,
Le tut puissant Deu ne penserat de nus mie.
Pur ço, pensum de li si lessum noz tresorz
Ki prendrat cure des almes e dé cors.”
Seint ANTOINE LI ABBEZ quant fud en hermitorie,
Si s’ennuat sovent, si dist al Rei de Glorie:
“Bel sire, jo me voldraie salver volenters,
Mes me ne lessent pas mes malveis pensers.
Quele chose frai joe en ceste tribulatiun?
Coment pus jo venir a salvatiun?”
Lores s’en eissi fors, si s’en alat un petit avant,
E vit un home tel cum sei mesme seer urant,
Ki por ourer de sun labor s’esdresçat.
E puis s’asist e ces paumes treçat.
Derechef, aprés ceo, ne demorat;
Ç’esdresçat cum il ainz fit si urat.
Çoe fud un angle ke Deu fist devant lui venir
Ki li deust demustrer cum il se deust contenir.
Al departir, li dist li angle sifaitement:
“Antoni, fai si, e tu serras sauvé verraement.”
Quant Antoine oi çoe, sanz nule demorance
Devint joius e devers Deu out bone fiance;
Si fist sifaitement tant cum il fud vifs,
E trovat la salu ke il aveit ainz quis.
LI ABBEZ PASTUR dist: “Çoe trovum nus escrist
De L’ABBÉ JOHAN, ki del cors esteit petit:
Quant il out fait a Nostre Seignurs ses oreisuns,
Kil deliverast de corporele passiuns.
Denaprés, quant il esteit del tut asseur,
Si vint e dist a un abbé per un jor:
‘Jeo n’ai nule bataile; mes, tut tens en pes sui.’
A çoe, respundi li abbez, e dist a lui:
‘Va si pri Deu par la sue seinte grace
Ke les bateils del cors aveir te face,
Kar la batalle del cors a l’alme profite.
Si en averat el ciel suffrance e grant merite.’
E quant repairat en lui cel grant effrei,
Ne voleit mes prier ke Deus l’ostat de sei.
Mes preat Deu qu’il li deust doner suffrance
De suffrir celes batailles e cele grevance.”
MATHOIS, uns abbez, diseit: “Joe voil faire
Acune legiere uvre ke sait fait aneire.”
De L’ABBÉ MILIDIE, reconterent asquanz
Ke dous freres maneient en Perse plusurs anz.
Lors avint ki les dous fiz a l’emperur
S’en alerent en chace ensemble par un jor,
Cum il esteient acustumé meinte feiz,
E quarante quarenteines de lung mustrerent lur reis.
Si furent si cruels e de si fer ire,
E quant il troverent els, si voleint oscire.
A çoe, li abbez e ses freres, dunt jo vus diz,
Furent trové as reis as bachelers, e pris.
E quant il le troverent, si velu de peil,
Espontable de veue, si tindrent a mervail.
Denaprés, li demanderent tut issi:
“Es tu home u alcun esperit? Kar le nus di!”
E li abbez li diseit: “Un peccheur sui,
E sa pur deplurer mes pecchez eissu fui;
E le Fiz Deu mun Seignur voil aurer.”
E çoe distrent, e comencerent a jurer,
Ke altre deu ne fust fors ewe, e fu, e soleil:
“Aure les si lur sacrefie, par nostre consail!”
E li abbez respundi, e dist: “Çoe est creature.
Vus errez, si fait chascun qui les aure.
Mes jo vus pri ke vus devengez cristiens
Si reconuissez Deu qui fit tutes riens.”
Il respundirent, si li unt desur crié:
“Dis qu’il est veir Deu ke fud crucifié?”
E li abbes dist: “Celui pur verrai Deu record
Ki, pur pecchié, crucifiat e destrut mort.”
Lores pristrent l’abbé e ces dous freres ensement;
Si constrandrent pur sacriefier par turment.
Aprés les granz tormens, les freres decolerent,
E l’abbé mesme par plusurs jurz tormenterent.
Pus le firent en un liu mettre les dos vassals
E treistrent a lui cum se fust un junc entr’ealz.
L’un traist sun dart en sun piz, e l’altre en sun doz,
Si ke li abbez n’out entr’els nul repos.
Dunc dist li abbez: “Pur çoe que ensemble consentez
En sest fait, ke nient un sant sanc n’espandez,
Vostre mere demain en ceste mesmes hure
Remaindrat senz fiz — de çoe, seit ele aseure —
Kar vus vus entretuerez, verraiement,
Demein al jur de voz darz demeinement.”
E il li firent bufe de çoe sil gaberent.
Nepurquant, al demein en chace alerent,
Lores eschapat un serf des reis e s’en alat d’els.
E cil pur prendre le, munterent lur chevals.
E cum il lancerent aprés le serf de lur darz,
Si s’entreferirent enz es quors de ambedous parz.
Si murirent andous ensemble sanz respit,
Sicum Milidie li abbez lur aveit ainz dit.
Un abbez dist: “Si a l’home vienent temptaciuns,
De tutes parz li cresent tribulatiuns,
E le fait de feble corage e grundissement sovent.”
E quant cist abbé cuntet sifaitement:
“Esteit un frere en cele maisun
Desur ki vint grevuse temptatiun;
E nul nel voleit saluer kecunque le vit
Ne en lur celle receivre, tant l’erent en despit.
E s’il eust, par aventure, de pain mester,
Nul nel voleit doner ne prester;
E se venist de maisun, ne trovat nul home
Ke l’enveast al manger, cum fust a costume.
A cel tens, par grant chaut, se mut de maisun
Si ne trovat en sa celle pein ne peissun.
De tut içoe graces a Nostre Seignur rendi.
E quant Deus sa pacience vit e entendi,
Sil deliverat chaut pas de la temptatiun.
Lors vint un home botant a sa maisun,
E traist, cum plout, un chamail en sa main.
Quant le frere vit çoe, si començat a plurer,
E diseit a Nostre Seignur sanz demorer:
‘Bel Sire Dex, jo, dolent, ne su pas digne
Ke si poi sei trublé de l’Esperit Maligne.’
E quant il esteit delivré de ces mals,
Sil tindrent les freres en la cele od els,
E reposer le firent entr’els lung tens.”
Lors lur dist li abbez, cum cil ke fud de grant senz:
“Pur çoe n’eimes avancé kar mesure ne savums,
Ne nule pacience en nostre oevre nen avums.
Mes, tut senz travail, vulum aveir
Plusurs vertuz en nus, e çoe n’est pas saveir.”
Un frere demandat a sun abbé, disant:
“Ke frai jo, bel pere? Kar mun penser m’anguisse tant
Ke nule hure me laisse seer en peis.”
E li abbez li dist: “Mi belz, de çoe te teis,
Si te rapair en ta celle, par mun consail,
E de tes mains, bel fiz, forment te travail.
E depri Deu de çoe nient cessaument,
E jecte trestut tun penser en lui sulement,
E garde bien ke nuli, par traisun,
Te face trop sovent eissir de ta maisun.”
Sil mustrat ensample par un bachiler
Ki jadis en religiun voleit aler
Si quist cungié de sun pere de sai rendre.
E cil nel soefre; ainz volait defendre.
Si ke ces amis le vindrent de çoe prier,
E li perez envis le voleit otrier.
Lores alat en une maisun chaut pas,
E moine se fist faire, si reçut les dras.
E si tost cum il en religiun se tint,
Si fist parfitement quanque a sun ordre apartint.
De primes junat chascun jur volenters,
Puis començat a estenir sei dous jurz enters,
L’endemain ne mangat ke une feiz la simagne.
E quant cist abbez vit qu’il suffri si grant peine,
S’esmerveillat e Nostre Seignur benequist
De ço que sun frere cele abstine fist.
Aprés un poi de tens si vint le frere
A sun abbé, si li dist en tele manere:
“Bel pere, vus ke vus me laissez bonement
Aler eu desert pur maindre sutivement.”
Dunc dist li abbez: “Bel fiz, ne vou penser çoe pas,
Kar tel labur uncore suffrir ne purras,
Ne l’engin del Deble ne ses gaudies,
Ne ses temptatiuns ne ses paltoneries.
E si deble par temptatiuns t’agace,
Tu ne troveras ja nul ke confort te face.”
Pur ces diz ne se tainst mie le bacheler,
Ainz priat l’abbé qu’il le leissat aler.
E quant li abbez vit ben ke tenir nel pout,
Sil grantat de aler quele part qu’il vout.
Dunc dist le frere: “Dans abbez, jo vus voil prier
Ke compaignun me grantez ke me sache guier.”
E li abbez li juinst dous freres en compaignie.
Si s’en alerent e ne targerent mie,
E par le desert une jurné firent.
Mes l’autre pur le chaut defaillirent
E si las furent il k’i cochier lur esteut.
Si somiller unt, mes ne demurat mie mult,
A çoe s’en vint un egle, par aventure,
Si ses feri des eles a dreiture.
Puis descendi, en luing, a tere mut bel.
E si s’esveillerent, si virent cel oisel,
Si distrent a lui: “Veez u seet celui,
Tun angle. Dresce tei, bel frere, cil ensui.”
E le frere se dresçat, si dist: “Deus vus saut!”
Si s’en alat, siwant cel egle en cel chaut.
Si ke celui vint u cel egle estut,
Li quel se dresçat e d’iloke mut
E si s’asist de ilokes en une quarenteine.
E le frere le siwi a mut grant peine.
Derechef, volat e pres d’iloec s’asist.
E par treis hures sifaitement fist,
E puis turnat en sa destre partie
Si s’envani del frere ke plus nel vit mie.
Dunc nel sywi le frere mes, a cel aure,
Si vit treis arbres de paumes, par aventure,
E si vit une funtaine petite
E un liu covenable ke fut a heremite.
Lores si començat le frere sifaitement a dire:
“Estes vus, liu que apparaillé m’at mi Sire!”
Si remist en cele place, sicum Deu le plout,
E de un frute ke l’em apele “dace” se pout,
E de l’euue de la bele funtaine buit.
E siz anz remist ke unkes d’ileoc ne meut,
Mes demorat en cele place si sutif
Ke unkes ne vit home ke de mere fust vif.
Lores vint le Deble a lui, qui meint home ad gabé,
En semblance de une mut religiuse abé,
Ke fud hidus e mut espantisable de vut.
E quant le frere le vit, si cremout mult.
Si chai en ureisuns e puis levat sus.
Dunc dist le Deble: “Frere, derechef urum nus.”
Si s’engenillerent e firent lur ureisuns,
Le frere e l’Aversier ke tut ert plain de traisuns.
Puis dist le Diable, quant aveient uré:
“Bel frere, cumben as en cest liu demuré?”
E le frere dist: “De siz anz ai fait fin.”
E dunc dist l’Aversire: “E sui tun veisin,
E devant le quart jor d’ici unkes ne soi
Ke de tel home si pres de mei veisin oi.
E si main en une celle pres de si,
E sunt passé duze anz ke de muster ne eissi.
Mes pur çoe ke su si pres, m’en eissi hui,
Si disai a me mesmes quant joe a te persui,
‘Jo vois a cest home Deu, si parlerai a lui
De la salu de noz almes.’ E pur çoe venu sui,
Kar jo sai ben, bel frere, ke ren ne profitum
De çoe quant en noz celles si sutif abitum,
E dut mult ke nus nus decevum
Ke le cors e sanc Jhesu Crist ne recevum,
Kar nus nus de Jhesu Crist purrum esloigner
Par çoe ke sustraum nus de l’acommuner.
Mes, bel frere, de ci a treis lues habite
Un prestre en sa celle ke mut est seint hermite.
Alum chascun dimaine a cele maisun —
U par chescun autre dimaigne suvaeus nun —
Si nus feimes acommuner iloec, bel frere,
E repairum a noz celles chaut pas arere.”
Quant le frere l’oi parler sifaitement,
Si li plout aneire cel amonestement.
Lores, depart le Diable e le frere remist.
Puis le dimainge vint l’Adversere, si dist:
“Bel frere, jo sui ça venu cum jo te dis,
Veu le terme est hui ke nus avum mis.”
A çoe, s’en alerent tut dreit
A cele maisun u le prestre esteit,
E vindrent al muster si firent lur ureisuns.
Quant le frere se dresçat, ne vit pas sun cumpaignun.
Dunc dist il a ses memes: “U quidez k’il s’esloigne?
Merveille s’il alat a la commune bosoigne.”
E quant le frere aveit mult lungement suffert,
Lores eissi fors si alat quere le culvert.
Si vit ke sel malveis culvert partut.
E quant le frere aveit mult lungement quis cel Glut,
Vint as freres del liu, e dist en ceste guise:
“U est li bons vieuz abbé k’od mei vint en cest iglice?”
E les freres respundirent sifaitement:
“Nus ne veimes entrer fors tei solement.”
Dunc s’aperceut le frere premerement
Ke se fust Deble qui fist tel enchantement.
E dist as freres, cum il out raisun:
“Veez ore par quels engins e par quele traisun
Le Deble me jetat fors de ma maisun!
Mes, ben m’asta, ke jo vinc par bon ententiun,
Kar le cors e le sanc Jhesu Crist receivre voil.
Si m’en irrai a l’ostel u maindre soil.”
Si tost cum il out oi le Deu servise,
Si voleit repairer a la sue yglise.
E li abbez de cele maisun desque a lu vint
E, tut sifaitement disant, le retint:
“Devant ke aiez mangé nule part n’en irras.”
Puis, quant il out mangé, si s’en alat chaut pas.
Este vus, le Deble ke revint pur enginer
En la semblance d’un viel home seculer!
Si esgardat le frere, cum cil qui assez seet de mal,
Del suverain del chif desque as piez aval,
E dist: “Cest meimes verraiement le qui?”
Puis chaut pas redit: “Nenil, il n’est pas ici!”
E cum esgardat, sifaitement disant,
Dunc dist le frere: “Purquai me agardez tu tant?”
E li Debles li dist, ki plein est de tricherie:
“Jo qui, bel fiz, ke tu ne me conuis mie,
E coment me deuses conuistre, ke ai jo dit,
Kar tant ad tens ke nul de nus altre ne vit.
Mes ore te voil dire, bel fiz, ki jeo sui.
Joe sui veisin tun pere, fiz a celui.
Dun n’apelum sifaitement tun pere?
E dun n’aveit tel nun ta mere?
E ta suer, dun, ne seut ele aver tel nun?
E tu, si, devant k’alas en religiun?
E dun ne seut l’em si lur serjant apeler?
Mes ore est avenu, si ne te voil celer,
Ke morte fut ta mere e ta suer ensement
Passé sunt ja treis anz, el mien essient,
E tun pere fu mort ore novelement
Si te fist sun eir, disant sifaitement:
‘A ki dei jo milz lesser mun aveir,
Ki? A mun fiz, ki est seint home, a mun espeir,
Ki siwi Deu e leissa tutes rens.
A celui voil laisser tuz mes beiens.
E vus ke estes mes homes, alez le quere
En quel liu ke vus troissez en tere,
Si li dites qu’il vienge ça delivrement
A departir mun aveir a la povre gent.
Pur ma alme e pur la sue, çoe li purrez rover.’
Lores t’alerent quere si ne te pount trover.
E jo vinc par ici passent de mun afeire,
E quant jo te vi, si te cunuis aneire.
Pur çoe, t’en ven od mei tost sanz demurance,
E fai departir tut cele sustance.”
Dunc dist le frere: “Tais! Kar de çoe n’ai nul mester
De repairer al secle pur nul aver.”
Dunc li dist le Deble, k’assez seet de traisun:
“Bel frere, si tu ne velz venir a maisun,
E l’aveir perise par alcun achaisun,
Pardevant Deu de çoe te covent rendre raisun.
Purpense tei si çoe seit mal ke joe te di:
Ke vingez a maisun od mai, sicum jo te pri,
E facet departir tut cel aver as povres.
Ja jur de ta vie ne feras si bon overes!
K’il ne seit degasté de puteins e de lechurz,
E de la fole gent del secle e de tricheurs —
L’aveir ki fud a tun pere e la richeise,
K’il otriat as povre ki unt grant mesaise!
E quel travail te serrat de si poi de eire?
Puis purras en ta celle repairer aneire.”
Tant l’enchantat ke sun consail li fist creire.
Si s’en alerent al siecle grant eire
Vers la cité u sun pere fud a cel hure,
Si k’il vindrent la senz demore.
Lores s’envani li Debles de lui si lesçat,
E le frere tut sul per la vile passat.
Sicum en la maisun sun pere entrer deust,
Este vus, sun pere ke devant le us esteut!
Si vit sun fiz venir, mes nient nel coneut.
Einz dist: “Ki es tu?” E cil, pur hunte, se teust.
E li pere le redist: “Di va! Kar me di
Ke es, e dunt vens, e quei vas querant ici.”
E le fiz fud tut confundu, si dist a lui:
“Bel pere, jo sui tun fiz ke moine sui.”
Dunc respund le pere, si dist ces diz:
“Par quele achaisun es repairé, bel fiz?”
E le fiz out hunte de dire la verité,
Mes dist: “Bel pere, l’amur e la charité
Ke jo oi vers vus me fist aver si grant pité
Ke murir me estut si vus n’euse revisité.”
Si ke le fiz demorat tant ilokes a maisun
Ke aprés poi de tens chai en fornicatiun,
E debareté fut en meinte manere
Si trublat sovenierement le pere.
E le maluré unkes penitence ne prist,
Kar tuz les jurs de sa vie el sicle remist.
Pur çoe, bel frere, pur Deu gardez vus ent
Ke de voz celles ne vus eissiez trop sovent.
Dous homes une feiz par cel desert alerent.
Dunc trovent un veilz convers e issi l’areisinerent:
“Purquai maneus en cest desert si loinz de gent?
E purquai penez vus vostre cors sifaitement?”
Lores respunt le convers a ceus tut issi:
“Tut le labor del tens ke jo ai demoré ici
Ne poet pas estre acomparé covenablement
As granz peines de un jur e al grant turment
Ke sunt a l’autre secle pur peccheurs aprestez,
Enz les queles il irrunt pur lur malfet dampnez.”
Un frere parlat a ASEINE L’ABBÉ:
“Ke frai? Kar en mun corage sui mut trublé
Kar mun penser me dit, ‘Tu ne poez laborer,
Ne juner, ne les malades revisiter.’
Icestes sunt les choses, ke faire les peust,
Purquai l’um guerdun a Deu receust.”
Quant li abbez oi le frere si parler,
Ben sout ke se fust semence de Adverser.
Dunc dist: “Alez en vostre celle, si me creeiez,
Mangez, bevez, dormez, e d’iloec ne vus eissiez,
Kar ki garde sa celle sen sei en aler
Çoe poet moine en sun ordre tost remener.”
Quant le frere oi le consail de l’abbé,
Congié prent e en sa celle est repairé.
E quant il out en sa celle treis jurz demoré,
Si esteit cel frere ainceis ennuié.
Dunc trovat poi paumes e a tremper les mist.
E puis el demain de çoe une tresce fist.
E quant il aveit feim, si dist entre sai:
“Ces altres paumes devant manger trescerai.”
E cum il out içoe fait, dist: “Un poi lirrai,
E quant averai un poi leu, puis si mangerai.”
Tut issi, de poi en poi, s’amendat le frere.
E se tint en sa celle en ceste manere,
E, par la vertu de Deu, issi se contint,
K’il en sun ordre e en sa bunté revint.
E quant il receut force envers les malveis pensers,
Si les venqui bien e les charnels desirs.
Uns abbez fust araisuné en ceste guise
Des freres ki esteient de s’iglise:
“Purquei ke le frere seit en sa celle annuié?”
E il respunt si lur ad tut issi mustree:
“Pur çoe estes ennuez en vostre maisun:
Kar ne veistes uncore la resurrectiun
De tuz home ke al Drein Jur releverunt,
Ne les granz turmenz ke dunc comencerunt.
Kar, pur verité, bel frere, çoe vus di,
Si vostre celle fust plaine de verms e d’ordure
Ki vus attensist al col u a la ceinture,
Vus le suffriez volenters, çoe sachez ben,
E si vus n’ennuerait cel estre rien.”
Un veilard mist en desert de grant religiun,
Si ert l’ewe dulce multes liwes loins de sa maisun.
Puis alat une feiz la pur l’ewe aspuser,
Dunc failli en la veie si ke il ne pout aler.
Lores dist il: “Quel mester ai jo de tant travailler?
Joe m’en vendrai entur cest ewe habiter.”
Puis regardat quant il out çoe dit,
E un home siwant aprés li vit
Ke tuz ces pas numbrout cum il out alé.
E le frere l’ad tut issi areisuné:
“Ki es tu?” E cil chau pas respundi a lui:
“L’angle Deu ke sa aval enveié sui
Pur numbrer trestuz tes pas e acunter,
E pur cest labor doner a tei loer.”
Quant çoe oi le frere, si fut aviguré,
De çoe ke Dex par sun angle l’out confortee.
Puis fist sa celle plus long de l’ewe remuer,
Pur çoe k’il volt de Deu greindre guerdun aver.
Un frere demandat a un viel abbé, disant:
“Ke frai joe, pere? Kar jo nen ure tant ne quant,
Ne ren ne face ke afiert a moniage.
Mes en neggligence despent tut mun age,
Kar jo manguz e beis e puis dorm assez,
E de malveis pensers sui sovent troblez,
Kar de penser vienc, çoe sachez, en penser,
E si ne puis en mun corage pais aveir.”
Dunc li abez: “Va si seez an ta maisun,
E çoe ke tu puis fai sanz perturbatiun,
Kar ici est de un petit ke tu as fait ore ici,
Cum fut de grant, al tens Antoni,
K’il feseit quant il el desert habitout,
Quant il en plusurs laburs pur Deu se penout.
Kar jo crei en Deu, e de çoe ne dout jo nient:
Ki chascun ke en sa celle pur Deu se tient
E en sa conscience eit grace tut purement
En le liu Antonie iert cil veirement.”
Un frere chai une feiz en temptatiun,
E en sun corage out mult grant tribulatiun.
E cum cele tribulatiun si le troblat,
Sa riule moniale perdit e leissat.
Puis denaprés començat sei a purpenser
K’il voleit sa riule derechef recoverer,
Mes tribulatiun tant le desturbat
K’en sel purpos nule rien n’esplaitat.
Dunc començat a dire a sei meme le frere:
“Quant me troverai tel cum fu ça en arere?”
Dunc recreut le frere enz en sun corage.
Ne puist comencer overer de moinage.
Puis alat a un abbé si li mustrat
Coment il estut, e tot içoe ki li grevat.
Quant li abbez entent k’il fust ci turmenté,
Un itel esample li ad aneire cunté:
“Uns hom out un champ ke primes fud cotivé
Mes, par negligence, fud puis laissé.
Si, ke d’espines e de runz fu le champ plein
Pur çoe ke long tens devant ne i fut mise main.
Pus voleit celui guaigner sa culture,
Dunc apelet sun fiz si li dit a dreiture:
‘Alez, fiz, en cel cham sil nus espurgiez,
E sil nus aturnez a milz ke vus purrez.’
E cil fiz s’en alat pur le cham espurger.
E quant il vint la, si començat esgarder,
Si le vit d’espines e de cardons tut encreu
Pur çoe qu’il n’esteit grant pece devant çoe meu.
Sil comença en sun corage a recraire,
E dit: ‘Issi ad grant chose a faire!
E jo quant averai ceste merveille aracé?
E quant averai jo tut icest champ espurgé?’
E quant il out içoe dit, il lessat tut ester,
Si se chochat dormir en liu de laborer.
E par plusurs jurz le fist trestut issi:
Quant il deveit laborer, ala si s’endormi.
Puis alat sun pere veer cum il out espleité,
Si trovat k’il n’out ren overé.
Dunc dist a lui: ‘Purquei as si aoisdivé?
E purquai n’as tu cest cham esraché?’
E le bachiler respundi a sun pere tut issi:
‘Bel pere, quant joe primes vinc ici,
Si vi cestes espines e ces charduns entur,
E joe ne soue enprendre si grant labor;
Mes, joe me cuchai a tere si ai dormi assez.’
Dunc dist sun pere: ‘Bel fiz, ore m’escultez.
De la tere a la mesure de ta longur
Te comand joe, fiz, ke tu overes chascun jur,
E t’espleiterat dunc, çoe sachez de fi,
E tu ne serras mie, cum ore es, failli.’
Quant le fiz entent çoe ke sun pere dist,
Alat s’en chau pas e tut issi le fist,
E en un poi de tens neiat la culture
De runces e d’espines e de tute ordure.
E vus, frere, altresi, poi e poi overez
E vus dunc pas failli ne devendrez.
E Deu par sa grace, quant il çoe verrat,
En vostre pramerain ordre ben vus remettrat.”
Quant le frere out oi si l’abbé parler,
Alat a sa celle si començat a juner.
E fist od pacience e çoe qu’il poeit fist
Si cum cel abbé li enseignat e aprist.
E dunc trovat repos sanz pertubatiun,
Kar Deus le deliverat tost de temptatiun.
Un abbez recuntat ke neof anz tut entierz
Esteit un frere aguilluné de ses pensers
Si qu’il aveit de çoe si grant temptatiun
K’il se desperat de salvatiun.
Si dist a sei memes: “Alas, cheitif mar fui!
Mes ma celle larrai si voil al secle aler,
Kar quanque jo fas ore n’estuet mes chaler.”
A çoe, sicum il vers le secle alat,
Une suideine voiz ke del ciel avalat,
Li dist: “Bel frere, tu fas folie
Quant lessez sifaitement t’abeie,
Kar les temptatiuns ke tu soffres el desert
Te fuissent corones si tu les euses suffert.
Pur çoe repair en ta celle, par mun consail,
E jo t’alegerai trestut de cel travail.”
Pur çoe, poum saver k’il n’est mie sage
Ke se despeire de sun fol corage,
Kar Deus nus ad pramis corones de rendre/nobr>
Si nus nus poum de noz fols pensers defendre.
Çoe dist le livre qui nus traium a garant
Ke a maime de Tebes fut un abbé manant
Ki out od lui un disciple, ki mult fut prodome.
E cist memes fust de tele costome
Ke chascun jur, quant aprochat dever le seir,
Endoctrinat sun fiz de sen e de saveir.
E quant aveit parfini sun sermun,
Puis s’engenilerent e firent lur ureisun.
Lores quant il orent fait lur afaire,
Li abbez lessat le frere cocher aneire.
Si ke la fame de l’abbé ke si se contint
A uns lais frere mult religius vint,
Les peres alerent a lui communement
Pur la salu de lur almes e pur amendement.
E quant li abbez sout qu’il vindrent pur cele achaisun,
Les sermonat e puis alerent a maisun.
E li abbez al seir n’i obliat sun mester:
Enstrut sun frere sil comença amonester.
E cum il parlat, si fu de dormir grevé tant
K’il somillat iloec tut en seant.
E li disciple suffri tant k’il fut esveilé,
E feseit ses ureisuns cum il fud acostumé.
Mes il n’eveillat mie si hastivement,
E le disciple l’entendi mut lungement,
Si cum sun penser li dist qu’il deust departir,
E k’il le laissast si s’en alast dormir.
Mes quant sun corage issi l’amonestat,
Il retint sun penser e pas n’en alat.
Ainz sist tut en pais e attendi sun abbé.
Puis derechef esteit de dormir grevé.
Mes il, unkes pur çoe, ne voleit aler,
Ne sun maistre ne voleit pas esveiler,
Si ke set feiz fu sumuns pur aler dormir,
Mes il ne volt unkes a sun penser consentir.
Puis aprés minuit li abbes esveillat,
E le desciple devant lui seer trovat.
Dunc li començat li abbez a demander:
“Dun n’alastes vus uncore cocher?”
E dist: “Purquei ne me voliez esveiller?”
“Pur çoe,” dist le frere, “ke jo ne vus volei trubler.”
Dunc levent andui si vunt matins chanter.
E aprés çoe li abbez ad le disciple laissé.
Puis quant li abbez estut sul en sa maisun,
Si li fud demustré un tel avisiun:
Kar uns hom li mustrat un lu mult glorius,
E en cel lu estut un sege mut precius,
E set corones sur cel sege li ad mustré.
Dunc dist li abbez a celui qui l’ad guié:
“Ki sunt ces seges que ci estunt?”
E il li dist: “A cel vostre disciple sunt.
E cest lu e cest sege li ad Deu doné
Pur çoe qu’il ad desque ci servi a gré.
E ces set corones que vus veez ci
Ad en ceste nuit ke fu deservi.”
Quant li abbez oi ceo, si s’esmervillat.
Puis apela sun desciple si li demandat:
“Dites mai quei vus avez anuit fait de ben.”
[Il dist: “Pere, merci, car je n’ai fet rien.”]
Li abbez quidout k’il lessat, par humilité
K’il ne voleit regehir la verité,
Si dist: “Creez mei, ne vus larrai ja peis aver,
Ne ja, certes, ne vus suffrai de reposer,
Deci ke vus aiez trestut demustré
Ke vus aiez en cest nuit fait e pensé.”
Le frere ne saveit nule rien qu’il fait eust,
Ne ne trovat unkes qu’il dire peust.
Dunc dist le frere: “Dans abbez, pardonét le mai,
Jo ne fiz rens anuit mes tant cum jo vus dirrai:
Par set feiz me semunst mum penser
Ke jo alase dormir si vus lessase ester.
Mes pur çoe ke jo n’oi cungé, cum jo soil,
Pur ceo senz cungé de vus partir ne voil.”
Quant li abbez oi çoe, sil ad ben entendu
Ke tantes feiz qu’il ad sun penser vencu,
Tant feiz esteit il de Deu coruné
Pur çoe qu’il venqui sa propre volenté.
Mes il nel voleit pas al disciple mostrer
Pur çoe qu’il ne se deust de çoe glorifier.
Mes as altres espirituels peres de religiun,
Reconuit li abbé cel avisiun.
Pur çoe poums entendre e ben saver
Ke pur petit penser nus vendrat Dex coroner.
Pur çoe bien est ke l’um, ne en chune rien,
Pur amur de Deu s’esforce de faire bien,
Kar il escrit ke par force e par guere
Devum le celestien regne conquere,
E cels ke sunt encuntre les vices cruelz
Icil averunt, senz faille, le regne dé ciels.
Un viulz frere ki sutif maneit enmaladist
Si n’out unkees nul home od li qui li servit.
Mes il mesmes se dresçat, sil mangat tel ben
Cum fut en sa maisun, kar il n’out altre rien.
E cum par plusurs jurz sifaitement se contint,
Unkes nul home pur revisiter le vint.
Si ke trent jurz demenat ceste vie.
Lores l’enveiat Jhesu Christ, le Fiz Marie
Sun angle qu’il le servist en cele maladie.
E cum l’angle aveit set jurz od li remis,
Si diseient entr’els les peres del pais:
“Kar nus en alum ensemble trestuz encui
Si revisitum pur amur Deu celui,
Kar grant tens ad ke nul de nus altre ne vit.
Poet çoe estre ke en sa celle gist contre lit.”
E cum il vindrent la, si boterent a l’us,
Le angle departi de lui; ne demorat plus.
E le frere dist en criant qui dedenz fud enclos:
“Toles vus, freres, si me leissez aver repos!”
E les freres leverent l’us a dreiture
Del charnier si briserent la serrure,
Si demanderunt dunc purquei levat tel cri.
E le frere respundi, si lur dist tut issi:
“Par trente jurz en ma celle malade jui
Tut sul ke me ne revisitat nului.
Mes Deu m’enveiat sun angle la sue merci,
Ki m’at set jurz gardé mult ben si m’at servi,
E quant vus venistes butant a l’us oreeinz,
De mai s’en departi erraument de cenz.”
E quant il lur aveit sifaitement dit,
En peis jut si rendit a Deu l’esperit.
E li freres s’emerveillerent de çoe mult,
E glorifierent De ke si plout
Aider a suens, si comencent a dire:
“Les esperans en Sei ne lesse pas Nostre Sire.”
Un des peres cuntat de sei memes, disant:
“Tant cum fu jo en Oxirince manant,
Si vindrent les povres un samadi al seir
Pur herberger e pur almons aveir.
E puis la nut, quant il s’en alerent dormir,
Un de cels out une nate pur sei coverir.
La maité de la nate desus sei meteit,
E de l’autre meité cel povre covereit,
Dunc feseit grant freit en cele sesun.
Puis levai joe pur estalier en la maisun,
Si oi celui od la nate mult grundiler,
E pur le freit qu’il out començat a gueimenter.
Puis ad sei meimes sifaitment conforté:
‘Graces rend a vus, Deus, ki m’avez formé.
Mult i at de riches qui sunt enchartrez,
Ki unt les mains en fer mut fermement liez,
U lur piez sunt atachez en fust si forment
Ke neis estaler ne pount il franchement.
E joe sui, grant merci Deu mun Creatur,
Ausi franc cum nul rei u emperur.
Mes piez pus estendre e mes gambes pleer,
E la u jo voil puis joe ben aler.’
E joe m’estui en pais si l’ai trestut esculté,
Coment cel povre ad sei memes conforté.
Aprés a lunc si ai a noz freres cunté,
Cil par çoe sunt trestuz mult edifié.”
Un convers enquist de un abbé sifaitement:
“Si jo main en un liu mut sotivement
E temptatiun m’assaut, par aventure,
E jo n’ai nul pres de mei a cel hure
A ki puisse mun penser dunc regeier,
U a ki jo puisse mun quer descoverer,
Ke purrai jo faire? Pur Deu, dite le mei.”
E li abbez li dist: “Çoe ke jo pens te dirrai.
Jo crei en Deu k’il sun angle t’enverrat.
E k’il par sa grace tei revisiterat.
Cil serrat a tei confort, par verité,
Si tu requers en quer e en charité,
Kar jo oi ke avint une feiz en Sciti
Une tele chose cum tu demandes ci.
En Sciti mist un hume de religiun
Ki suffri plusurs feiz grant temptatiun,
Si n’out nul en ki il se peust fier,
Ne a ki il volsist sun corage mustrer.
Pur çoe, se prist un seir la pel de un tessun
Si out en pensé de guerpir sa maisun.
Este vus, cum il anuit aler deut,
La grace Deu ignelement li apparut
En la semblance de une virgine femme
Ke fut devant lui si clere cum gemme.
E rovat le frere, disant issi:
‘Garde ke ne meues tu pas d’ici,
Mes tut en pais, si tu me criez, ici resié,
Kar çoe ne t’est nul mal ke tu es tempté.
Mes si tu poez les temptatiuns surmunter,
Dunc avrat Deus achaisun de tei coroner.’
Quant le frere oi la meschine parler,
Ben crut sun consail si leissat sun fol aler,
E Dampnedeu ignelpas sun quer sanat.
Ausi crei joe, certes, frere, k’il le tuen frat.”
De un signe oi parler L’ABBÉ ANTOINE
Ke out fait en une veie un jofne moine,
E ben le dirrai, si ne menterai mie,
Quel signe çoe fu, ce Deu me doinst la vie.
Icest jofne moine jeut en veage.
Passerent i freres qui furent de grant age
Ki en cest eire erent mut travaillez
E pur aler erent durement alassez.
Donc out cel jofne moine des freres pité
Si ad as uns asnes salvages comandé
K’il venissent icels meismes freres porter
Desque a l’abbé Antoine, u il deurent aler.
Puis quant ces freres sunt venu a l’abbé,
Si li unt tut de cel jofne moine cunté.
Dunc respunt li abbez Antoine, e si lur dit:
“Icist moine est semblable a la nef, ço quid,
Ke, de tuz benz chargié mut forement,
De la tere ad pris sun cors encontre le vent.
Mes il est dute qu’il eit alcun desturber
Devant k’ele vinge a la tere pur ariver.”
E aprés ço un poi, privément,
Plurat li abbez Antoine mut forement,
E prent se memes par les chevols aneire.
En plurant, comencet grant doel a faire.
Quant les freres virent k’il fit tele chere,
Si li demanderent: “Purquei plurez, bel pere?”
E cil as freres tut issi respundit,
Puis li abbez a tuz ces disciples dist:
“Venez, freres, si vus alez la a lui,
Si veez ke cest jofne frere ad fait hui.”
Dunc vint la, sil troverent sur une nate seant,
E pur le peché qu’il out fait forment plurant.
Quant le moine vit les disciples a l’abbé,
Si lur ad aneire trestuz ici rové:
“Priez, frerez, vostre abbé, pur Deu amur,
Qu’il requerge ententivement Nostre Seignur
Qu’il me doinst sauvement de .x. jorz espace,
Kar dunc me quid joe amender per sa grace.”
Mes icel dedenz le quint jor deviat,
Ci alat en cel liu u Deu li destinat.
LI ABBÉ CASSIAN nus ad içoe cunté
Ke un frere vint a SERAPHIN LI ABBÉ.
Dunc l’amonestout li abbez de faire ureisun
Cum il fust costome a gent de religiun,
Mes li frere od li pas orer ne voleit
Pur ço ke pecheur esteit mult — ce li diseit —
Kar tant out pecché, ke de grant, fet il, ke de petit,
Ke pas n’ert digne de monial habit.
E meimes ces piez volait l’abbé laver,
Mes sei memes jugat mut forement, si disant:
“Pere, jo ai pecché tant e tant.”
Puis aprés, fist li abbé le frere manger
Sil començout charitablement a amonester,
Si dist: “Bel fiz, si tu voldras mut ben espleiter,
Donc lo jo ke tu voisez en ta celle seer
E ilokes remaine, si tu me voldras crere,
E si aprengez aucune overaigne a fere.
Kar ne te prophite mie tant l’aler,
Çoe deis tu, fiz, saver cum fet le seer.”
Quant le frere oi çoe, si devint mut trublé;
Si ad le semblant ignelpas changé
Si ke li abbez tres ben aparceut
Ke cel frere de coruce out changé sun vut.
Dunc ad li abbez Seraphion si parlé:
“Ja tu t’aveis, devant içoe, peccheur apelé
E tei mesmes acusoues sifeitement
Sicum tu ne fuissez digne pur estre entre gent.
E pur çoe ke joe te amonestai par charité,
Dutes tu en tun quer pur çoe estre trublé?
Mes si tu vels estre humble, si deis mult suffrir
E quanque l’um vus dit de bien deis requillir.
Si l’em te court en penitence,
Deis, pramarement, porter en pacience;
E si ne t’estout unkes pur çoe corucier
Si aucun te voldrat par ben amonester.”
Quant le frere le oi parler sifaitement,
Si suffri bonement tut sun chastiement
E fut mult grantment par sun sermun amendé.
Puis departi d’iloec mult edifié.
Un frere demandat a L’ABBÉ MATOEN,
Kar il voleit amprendre de lui acun sen:
“Pere, si joe en acun liu m’en vienge,
Coment volez vus ke joe la me contenge?”
E li abbez li respundi cum sage hume:
“Gardez ke tu n’aiez unkes en custume,
Ke tu, bel frere, te faces granment saver,
E en cel liu u tu deis habiter
Ceo ke tu ne deis pas dire a tute la gent:
‘Jo voil meindre sutivement, e nient od le covent,’
U, ‘Jo ne voil cele viande, u cele user,
Ne de çoe beivre, ne de cel ne voil guster.’
Kar vein nun iteles choses aver te frunt,
E desturbance, parfet, t’avendrunt.
Kar les homes, quant il oient de tei parler,
Ja vudrunt cure pur oir e pur veer.
Pur ço, si tu voldras en nuli pes aveir,
Tes bons ovres a la gent deis mult celer.”
LI ABBEZ YSERON par le desert passat,
E un frere a cel hure od sei menat.
Dunc virent un dragun, par aventure,
E il comencent a fuir a dreiture.
Dun demanda chau pas le frere:
“Avez vus pour del dragun, bel pere?”
“Nenil,” çoe dist. “Ne mie pur çoe ke dragun vi,
Pur çoe, bel fiz, nient pur pour ne me fui,
Mes l’espirit de veineglorie deit l’em fuir,
E la u l’em le seet d’iloec deit l’em departir.”
Un jugeur vint de la cuntré pur parler
Od L’ABBÉ PASTUR, mes il nel vout veer.
Quant le jugeor vit çoe, si s’en turnat
Si prent un fiz de sa soer, si l’amenat
E dist ke cil esteit mesfesant garsun.
Si mist cel nevou li abbé en sa prisun,
E dist: “Si li abbez vient e me voile preer
Pur le fiz sa soer, dunt li veu joe lasser.”
Quant la mere oit ke sun fiz fud enchartré,
Alat chau pas a sun frere Pastur l’abbé
E comença a l’us de sa celle a plurer,
Mes sun frere unkes respons ne li vout doner.
Puis, quant ele fud tute lasse de guaimenter,
Si comença sun frere tut issi a blasmer:
“Vus avez le quor si dur cum Adverser
Ke ne poez de nuli pité aver.
Sevau nun çoe commove a pité:
Ke nus suiuns de un sanc engendré!”
Dunc li manda li abbez ces diz:
“Dites lui, ‘Pastur ne engendra unkes fiz.’”
Atant, departi d’ilokes si s’en alat,
Kar sun frere od lui un sul mot ne parlat.
E quant le jugeur oi çoe recunter,
Ki li abbez ne volt od sa soer parler,
Ci prent le bachiler qu’il out enprisoné
Si ad chau pas a l’abbé Pastur enveié,
Si li manda k’il deusse sa cause agarder
E ki sulum la lei li devereit juger:
Si digne fust de mort, si deust murir,
E si çoe nun, fereit de li sun pleisir.
SEINTE SINCLETE ad une fie sermuné
E de vertue ke home ad en sei ad parlé:
“Sicum acun tresor, quant il est aperceu,
Tost est prisé, e porté, e mult despendu,
Ausi la vertu de aucun, quant ele est seue,
Tost est degasté e tost est confundue.
Kar sicum la cire trestute decurrat,
Pur la chalur del feu a nient devendrat,
Ausi qui se delite en losengerie:
La vertu de celui part, de çoe ne dout jo mie,
Pur çoe, ki veut en Deu au ses profiter
Ses bons ovres a la gent deit mult celer.
Kar sicum il ne avendrat unc a nul sens
Ke l’erbe semencee seit en un meme tens,
Ausi en un mesmes tens, ja ne vendrat,
Ke sil ke glorie del siecle e los amerat
Puisse rens endementers fructifier
Purtant lur delite en los seculer.”
En une celle fust un feste jadis,
E cum les freres furent al manger asis,
Si fut un frere ki privément dist
A cestui qui le manger devant els asist:
“Jo ne mangerai nule quite chose, mes sel.”
A çoe, le frere qui l’oi ne fist unkes el
Mes erraument apelat un altre frere,
Si dist, oianz tuz, en iceste manere:
“Celui de nule quite chose n’at cure.
Aport devant li del ciel a dreiture.”
A çoe, s’esdresçat uns abez, e dist a lui:
“Meuiz te fut t’aver mangé char ui
Ke devant tanz freres esté ta voiz oie,
Kar çoe semble qu’il est ypocrisie.”
Un moine fu jadis qui de viande se tint
Si ke il ne voleit manger ceo que devant lui vint.
Si qu’il vint a un abé, par aventure,
E altres freres survindrent a cel hure.
Lores les fist cel abbé un poi de pulment,
E, cum sistrent al manger communement,
Si ne voleit le frere ke abstinence fist
Manger ne receivre ke l’em devant lui mist.
E cum il levat de la table, sil prist
Li abbez de la maisun, e priveement li dist:
“Bel frere, quant en alcun liu viens, pur veire,
Ne deis pas mustrer ta abstinence aneire;
Mes si veus sifaitement abstenir,
Remain en ta celle. Si ne deis pas hors venir.”
E le frere crut sun consail bonement,
Si ne fist mes sa abstinence devant la gent,
Mes en quel liu, puis, ke il a altres freres survint,
Sulum els, en tute sa vie, se contint.
ISAAC, uns abbez ke pres de Tebes maneit,
Vint en liu u covent esteit.
Si vint uns des freres cupable, sil jugat.
E puis quant li abbez a sun ostel repeirat,
Si vint l’angle Nostre Seignur Jhesu Crist
E estud devant le us de sa celle, si li dist:
“Joe ne te larrai pas entrer en ta maisun.”
E li abbez li demandat pur quel achaisun,
E li angle li dist: “Jhesu Crist Nostre Sire
M’enveat a tei ke jo te deusse dire:
‘En quel liu comandas ke joe met cel frere
Ke tu jugas oreeinz en itele manere?’”
E li abbez chai ignelpas a ces piez,
Si dist: “Joe fis, kar le me perdonez!”
A çoe, respunt l’angle, si dist: “Dresce tei,
Kar Deus t’ad pardoné, verraiement çoe sei,
Mes des ore te gard de juger peccheur
Ainz ke Deu le juge, ki est Soverain Jugeur.”
En Sciti fud un frere culpable trové,
Si ke il fu de çoe de tuz ces freres prové.
Mes, nel jugerent pas si firent ke sages.
Ainz manderent L’ABBÉ MOYSEN par messages.
Icil ne veut venir en nule manere,
E li messages revindrent arere.
Puis li vint un message ki li, regieres
Dist: “Vien, kar vus entendent grant compaignie de freres.”
E cil se dresçat, od cele novele.
Ci fist emplir une corbaile de gravele
Si portat detreis sun dos, par mult grant ennui.
E les freres vindrent hors encontre lui
Si virent porter a sun doz la corbaille.
Lores demandent ke fut cele mervaille.
A çoe, lur dist: “Bel frere, çoe sachiez,
Si me vunt derere siwant mes pecchiez,
Si nes vois jo pas pur çoe ke devant els sui,
E joe venge ça pur juger les pecchiez atrui.”
Quant les orent, si ne distrent ren,
Mes pardonerent al frere si firent ben.
JOSEPH LI ABBEZ dist a L’ABBÉ PASTUR jadis:
“Cument serrai bon moine? Di mai tun avis.”
E li abbez Pastur dist: “Joe te dirrai mun los.
Si tu velz en l’autre secle trover repos,
En tutes tes fasances di sifaitement:
‘Quele chose sui joe?’ Si ne juge pas la gent.”
Un frere demandat cest abbé regeres:
“Est çoe bon de celer les culpes de ces freres?”
“Oil,” çoe li dist li abbez. “Celer les deis,
Kar quant nus coverum les pecchez e les mesfeiz
De nostre prosme, çoe sachiez ben verraiement,
Dunc covre Jhesu Crist nos pecchiez ensement.
E quant nus les descoverum, par aventure,
Dex descovre noz pecchiez a dreiture.”
Il avint une feiz jadis en un covent
Ke un des freres out pecché trop apertement.
E a meimes de cel liu u cel covent esteit
Un hermite par sei sutivement maneit
Ki n’out par grant tens eissi de sa maisun,
Kar tant fud cil de grant religiun.
Li abbez sun consal cruit. E, tut issi, le fist:
Le frere de lur congregatiun fors mist.
E il esteit de sun pecché mut ben repentant,
E entrat en une fosse e sist iloec plurant.
Puis avint ke uns altres freres deveint aler
A l’abbé, od ki il voleient parler,
E cum par la fosse le frere passerent,
Plurer l’oierent e mut s’esmervilerent.
E il s’en turnent chau pas, sil l’alerent veer,
Sil troverent mut dolorusement plorer.
Dunc le comencent les freres a conforter,
Si li roverent qu’il deust a cel heremite aler,
Mes le frere ne voleit pas consentir.
Einz dist: “En ceste fosse voil joe murir.”
Les freres chau pas a l’abbé alerent,
E del frere en la fosse tut li conterent.
E li abbez les empreat a repeirer,
K’il alassent a cel frere moine parler,
E diseient qu’il venist a PASTUR L’ABBÉ,
Kar çoe aveit il, a lui, par els mandé.
E les freres par lui s’en repeirerent
El mandement a l’abbé li mustrerent.
Quant cil entent ke l’abbé le mandat,
Levat de la fosse e ver lui chau pas alat.
E li abbez Pastor, quant il vit le frere,
Receut le bel, si li fist mut bele chere.
Si li començat amiablement a conforter
Sil rovat qu’il deust acune chose manger.
Puis tramist li abbes un de ces freres, disant
A cel sutif heremite, dunc jo vus di devant:
“Plusors anz, devant ke jo oi de vus parler,
Ai eu grant volenté de vus veer,
Mes pur les presces remist fut de nus, çoe quit,
Ke nul de nus en si grant tens autre ne vit.
Mes ore vus covent, de part Deu, traviler
Ke vus viengez a ma maisun od mei parler.”
E cil ne soleit unkes de sa celle eissir,
Pursout li abbez, s’il vousist venir.
Quant out oi de l’abbé cel mandement,
Si dist sei mesmes sifaitement:
“Si Dex n’eust a cel abbé de mei demustree,
Il ne me eust pas issi, par sun frere, mandé.”
Lores levat si alat a l’abbé Pastur,
Ki od joie le receut e od grant honur.
Puis sistrent e trestrent de lur salvatiun,
Cum il est custume a gent de religiun.
Dunc dist li abbez: “Ore, m’escutét un petit,
E joe vus conterai, bel frere, un tel respit:
Deus homes en un liu ensemble habiterent.
Andui orent lur mort, k’il gaiterent.
Dunc guerpi li uns sa mort e leissat aseer.”
Quant cel veillard oi l’abbé si parler,
Si se començat de ses fez a purpenser,
Si out en sun queor mut tost mult grant conpunciun.
Puis qu’il aveit de l’abbé oi sel sermun,
E dist: “Certes, Pastur est el ciel la suz,
E joe sui, verraiement, en tere sa juz.”
A l’abbé Antoine demandat un altre frere:
“Kar me dites ke purrai faire, pere,
Kar, quant joe seez, trestut desacoragié sui,
Si, sovernerement, sent joe grant ennui.”
Dunc respunt li abbez a celui, si dist:
“Gard ke tu n’ais unkes nuli en despit;
Si tu veez alcun de tes freres peccher,
Ne te deis pas entremettre de li juger;
E si alcun home reprover te face,
Ne tence od lui unkes pur rien ke dire sace.
E si tu veuz en ceste guise garder,
Dunc te vodrat Dex en tun quer repos doner,
E dunc purras seer en ta celle e en ta maisun
Senz grant ennui e senz perturbatiun.”
Un essemble fud une feiz en Sciti
De plusurs abbez e de freres ausi.
Dunc parlerent d’un ki copable ert mult,
E LI ABBEZ PRIOR si se tust.
E puis aprés, sil memes Prior s’en eissi,
Si prist un viel sac e de gravele l’empli.
E une corbaille ke trovat, autresi prist,
E en cele meme un poi de gravele mist.
Dunc prent cel ke de gravele plein esteit
E sur les espaules detreis li pendeit,
E la corbaile u n’out fors un petit,
Devant sei la portat, si ke tutesveis la vit.
Quant les peres le virent, si s’esmervilerent,
E ke çoe qu’il portat fud li demanderent.
E il la significatiun ben lur demustrat
Del sac e de la corbeille qu’il portat:
“Set sak ke de gravele mut ad en sei,
Sunt mes pecchez, ke mut sunt e regnent en mei,
Sis ai mis detreis mei, ke joe pas nes veie
E ke jo pur els plurge, ne dolent ne seie.
E ceste corbaille que me pent ci devant,
En ki n’at mes un poi si ne me greve mie tant,
Sunt les pecchez de cel frere, les quels jo vei ben.
Mes de mes pecchez demeine ne vei jo ren,
E pur çoe ke joe pas les mens ne puis veer,
Si voil hui les pecchez de mun frere juger.
Mes iço sai tres ben ke çoe ne m’at nul mester,
Kar les miens pecchez devereie devant mei porter,
E d’els devereie plus, jur e nuit, penser,
E ke Dex pardun me feist deverai prier.”
Quant les freres l’oient parler sifaitement,
Si distrent entr’els trestuz verraiement:
“Li abbez Prior ad si endreit grant raisun,
Kar ceste est la vie de salvatiun.”
Un frere maneit en un liu sutivement
Si n’out provere od lui, cum diseient la gent.
Pur çoe sout un prestre ki fud d’un iglise
Venir a lui pur dire sun servise
E pur acuminer le quant il out mester,
E puis soleit a sun hostel repairer.
Ke longement l’out servi cist prestre,
Si vint un qui aukes saveit de sun estre,
Si l’encusat mult vers le frere, disant:
“Icel prestre est lechere e nun savant.”
Puis vint le prestre a la celle le frere, alant
Pur acuminer le cum il soleit devant.
E quant le frere l’oi a sun us boter,
Pur escandle qu’il dotout, nel lessat pas entrer.
Quant le prestre çoe vit, si ala a sun ostel —
Kar quant il entrer nel lessat, ke freit el?
Puis oi le frere une voiz apertement,
Ki dist: “Homes unt pris a sai mun jugement!”
E chaut pas chai iloec cum en paumesun,
Si li fud mustré une tele avisiun:
Kar un puis veit en un liu cil maime frere
Od ewe mut bele, e dulce, e seine, e clere.
E une broke d’or sur cel puit estere veit;
La corde ert ausi d’or ke atachié esteit.
Lores vit un leprus, juste la fosse esteir,
Ke començout od cele broche ewe espuseir.
E tuteveie cum sil leprus euue pusat,
En un vessel ke esteit dejuste la versat.
Dunc volt le frere beivre, kar il out talent,
Mes pur çoe que le leprus le trast, n’en vout nient.
Derechef, oi une voiz, ke dist issi:
“Purquei ne bevez de l’ewe ke tu veez ci?
Tu ne voeuz pur celui ki l’ad pusee.
Quidez tu dunc k’ele seit pur lui empeiré?
Ja ne fait il ren for sulement puser.
Tu ne la deis pas pur le leprus deporter.”
Puis vint le frere, si se purpensat
De cel avisiun que Dex mustré li ad.
E entendi ben ke Dex li out ço mustré
Pur le provere qu’il out devant refusé.
Dunc, le mandat le frere, e il vint meintenant
Si l’acuminat cum il fist devant.
LI ABBEZ CASSIANS une feiz contout
Ke uns vielz frere en desert manout,
Le quel aveit requis Dex qu’il li deust granter
Ke, quant orreit des espiritels choses parler,
Kar il ne peust unkes endementers dormir,
Mes grace li donast de veiller e de oir,
E, quant il oreit paroles de folie
Ke turnassent a hange e envie,
Chaut pas peust dormir. Çoe aveit si a Deu prié,
Ke ses orailles n’escultassent vanité.
Kar cist frere dist qui Sathan est mut haité
Quant poet fere pecher par usdivité,
E s’il les oit parler de Deu e de savair,
Il les desturbout chau pas a sun poeir.
E ke vus ben sachez ke çoe est verité,
Par tel essample nus ad mustré:
“Une feiz,” ce dist, “a uns freres sermunai
E de lur profit de lur almes od els parlai.
Lores unt tuz si grant talent de dormir
Ke nul d’els ne poeit ses oilz overir.
E quant joe çoe vi, si lur volei mustrer
Ke çoe fud le Deble ke les voleit gabber.
Donc començat a parler de troilleries,
E de usdives paroles e de folies,
E les freres ignelpas s’esveillerent;
E trestut lur dormir, pur heit, ublierent.
E comence dunc a geindre, e puis lur ai dit:
‘Pur tant ke joe parlai de vostre profit,
Eriez tant pensant endementers
Ke tuz començastes a dormir, bels freres;
Mes si tost cum joe comensai de parler de usdivitez,
Trestuz esveilastez e fuistes haitez.
Pur çoe, bels freres, ne tenez mie a fable,
Mes ben sachiez ke se fust oevre del Deble,
Kar sifaitement vus vi oreainz dormir
Quant vus deviez miuz veiler pur oir.’
Pur çoe, bels freres, loer vus voil e consailler
Ke a quel ore vus orrez de Deu parler,
E quant vus estes entrez en vostre iglise
Pur oir e entendre al Deu servise,
Mut vus penez a cel hure pur veiller,
Kar si vus dunc dormez, çoe est par l’Adverser.”
Li disciple a L’ABBÉ LOTH une feiz enquist
E a L’ABBÉ PIERES sifaitement dist:
“Quant joe sui en ma celle tut priveement,
Dunc est m’alme en pais, çoe sachiez verraiement,
Mes quant aucun a mai, par aventure, parler vient,
Ki en contes e en paroles me detient,
E me conte les paroles de ces defors,
Dunc sui tut trublé e alme e cors.”
Dunc respund li abbez Pieres, e dist cest mot:
“Oez ceste parole ke dist li abbé Loth.
‘Ta clef,’ dist li abbez Loth, ‘mun us defermout.’”
E il enquist que cele parole signifiout.
E il dist: “Si alcun vient, e tu demandes a lui,
‘Coment est il, bel frere? Od tai e dont viens tu?
Coment les freres de cele maisun?
Voleint il receivre tei, bel frere, u nun?’
Quant tu le demandes en ceste manere,
Dunc ovres tu les us de la buche tun frere,
E dunc oz tu ke pas ne voz aver oi.”
E il respunt: “Veirement, il est tut issi,
Mes ke fra l’em dunc? Çoe voudrai saver.
Quant aucun frere vient sun veisin visiter,
Deit parler od li, u del tut leisser esteir?”
E il respundi: “De çoe vus voil ben assenser,
Quant le frere vient od l’altre parler,
Trestut lur sermun deit estre en doel e en plurer,
Kar la u n’est, bele frere, plur,
Ne purrat li home ja meis sun quor garder de folur.
Dunc, ne deit pas estre trop enquerant
Ne des affaires del secle trop demandant,
Kar çoe poet mut frere en sa celle trubler
S’il out de ces barates del secle parler.”
LI ABBEZ SILVEIN une feiz, sachez de fi,
Ert manant od sun desciple el munt Synai.
Cil desciple deust un jor aler a sun mester,
Dunc dist a sun abbé, quant il deut aler:
“Traihez de l’euue tant cum joe voiz la,
E enrosez le curtil, kar mult en vaudra.”
E li abbez pur euue traire lors eissit.
E puis, prent sa cuuele, e tut sun vis coverit,
Dunc alat par cel curtil l’ewe desparpillant.
Si n’agardat li bons home arere ne avant,
Mes a ses pez sulement alat il gardant.
A çoe vint un home vers lui, si li vit çoe fesant,
E il en pais s’estut e vit cest qu’il fist.
Denaprés vint a lui chau pas, si li dist:
“Pere, pur Deu, dites mei si nel celez pas,
Purquei covereus issi voz oilz de voz dras?”
E li abbez li mustrat dunc pur quel achaisun,
Si parlat cum home de grant religiun:
“Pur çoe coverai mun vis ke çaenz dui entrer,
Kar la beauté des arbres ne volei pas veer./nobr>
Kar, si joe la veisse, çoe poez ben saver,
Auces en la veue me purrai deliter;
E si en la veue eusse delectatiun,
Desturbé serroie en ma contemplatiun.”
Ceo cunterent asquanz d’un ancien frere,
Ke quant sun penser dist a lui en ceste manere —
“Ne pren pas confessium meshui mes demain;
Tut par tens repentiras quant vendrat demein!” —
Dunc estrivat le frere encuntre sun penser,
E dit: “Ne te crerrai, malveis paltener,
Mes hui, en cest jur, penitence frai,
E demain fra Deus sun pleiser de mai.”
Un abbez dist ke ces treis vertuz Sathané
Venent en chescun home devant chescun pecché:
La premereine de ces treis ceo est ubliance;
L’autre est negligence, çoe sachez senz dutance;
La terse est coveitise senz finement.
De tuz pecchez, sunt ces treis comencement,
Kar quant ubliance en home ad seignurie,
De li nest negligence, de çoe ne dout joe mie.
E de negligence si vient un autre mal:
Çoe est coveitisse, ki traist l’ome aval.
Mes si la pensee de l’home si sobre fut,
Ke ubliance en sei nule ne receut,
De la negligence se porreit ben garder.
Kar de çoe ne deit unkes nul de nus duter!
E si neggligence del tut veut refuser,
De nule coveitise ne li fet a duter.
E si il coveitise pas ne receverat,
Par la grace de Deu, ja n’en trebucherat.
Un vielz abbez en Sciti quant murir deut,
Si vint le covent, entur li esteut,
E comencerent a plurer plus ke ne sai dire.
E li abbé overi ces oilz si començat a rire.
E treis feiz fist issi, puis lessat ester.
Donc, comencent les freres a lui demander:
“Pere, dites le nus, purquei vus riez?
Ja plurum nus ore tuz pur çoe ke vus en alez.”
E lur dist: “Pur çoe m’en ri tut, pramerement.
E autre feiz si ris, senz mot de mentir,
Kar n’es pas apparillé cum de morir;
Pur çoe ris la terse feiz, kar ben dire l’os,
Kar jo voiz, merci Deu, de labur en repos.
E quant vus pur çoe plurez, si avez grant tort,
Kar la est la veire vie; e ci n’at rens for mort.”
Quant il aveit çoe dit, tut en peis se jeut
E clost ces oilz mult belement, cum issi fut.
Uns freres demanderent a L’ABBÉ AGATUN
Sil l’araisunerent de cele questiun:
“Queles dé vertuz a l’home ad greignur labor?
Pere, kar le nus mustrez, pur le Creatur.”
E il dist: “Nul travail est si grant, al mien escient,
Si grant cum faire ses oreisuns priveement.
Kar quant l’ome voldrat Dampnedeu urer,
Estes vus les diables qui li aseient a desturber,
Kar ben sevent ke çoe est lur confusiun
Quant home fait de quor a Deu ureisun.
Pur ceo, mes beaus freres, cum joe vus dis devant,
Nul labur cum oreisun ne tienge si grant,
Kar en tuz les autres laburs ke vus usez,
Ben vus purrez reposer quant vus vodrez;
Mes pur tant cum en oreisun vodrez demurer,
Tutvei avrez labur grant senz reposer.”
Moines vindrent une fez a L’ABBÉ LUCIEN,
Ki seinz abbez esteit e fud de grant sen.
Pus lur enquist li abbez s’il esteint seinz.
E demandat: “Quel est le labur de voz meinz?”
Il diseient: “De noz meinz ren ne laburum,
Mes, sulunc l’Apostle, senz entreleis urum.”
Dunc dist li abbé: “Manguez cum nus fesum?”
“Oil,” feseient les moines, “chescun jur mangum.”
“E ki pur vus ore,” diseit il, “endementers?”
Derechef, mandat les freres:
“Dormez vus nule fais, çoe vudrai jo saver?”
“Oil,” feseint il, “quant nus avurum mester.”
“E tant cum vus dormez, ke ure pur vus?”
Ne saveient ke respundre, tant furent huntus.
Dunc diseit il: “Freres, a mai le pardonez,
Kar vus nel faites mie si vus le deisez.
Mes ore vus mustrei ke jo si sui overant.
Senz entreleis, çoe sachiez, sui tuz jurz overant,
Kar joe face une tresce de un poi de paumes,
E tant cum joe fas çoe, chant jo mes psalmes,
E si di tant dementers al Suverain Rai:
‘Dex, par vostre grace, eiez merci de mei,
E sulunc la multitudine de vostre pieté,
Ostez de mei, bel Sire, tut ma iniquité.’”
E puis lur diseit li abbez: “Quei vus est avis?
Tenez vus pur oreisun çoe ke jo vus dis?”
“Oil,” feseint les moines, “bone est l’oreisun.”
E li abbez lur mustrat tele raisun:
“E quant joe sui orant tut utre le jur
E de quer e de buche sifaitement ur.
Dunc puis joe aveir al meins, çoe sachez volenterz,
Pur luer d’un sul jur seze deneres.
Puis met joe dous de cels a l’hus la defors,
E les autres retenge pur sustiner mun cors.
E cis ki prent ces dous deners priunt pur mei
En cel tens quant joe dorm u quant joe mangerai,
E issi, par la grace de Deu, par mei est acompliz
Cest qu’est escrit par l’Apostle: ‘Senz entreleis urez.’”
SEINT SINCLETICE, ke ert de grant seinte,
Sermonat si dist une tele science:
“Salvez voldrum estre e tuz le desirum,
Mes par noz negligences tut nus defailum.”
Denaprés dist: “Mut nus covent prendre cure
Ke nus seium sobre e de grant mesure,
Kar les larruns entrunt en nos cors
Si noz fenestres ne seient fermés defors.
E çoe vus mustre joe par tele raisun:
Si grant fumee fust defors la maisun,
E ses fenestres closes ne fuissent mie,
Dun ne serreit ele par dedenz aneircie?
E pur çoe vus kevent estre armez de totes pars
Pur defendre vus de debles e de lur darz.”
Un moine de Tebes servi de tel mester
K’il soleit a chescum ke mester out doner.
Avint, cum il enz soleit, qu’il fit departisun
Dunc vindrent tuz a lui les povres d’envirun.
Este vus une femme ke la est venue:
Kar de povre herneis ert e vilement vestue.
Quant le moine la vit, començat a penser
K’il voleit a cele plus ke a autre doner.
Dunc overai mut largement le moine sa main,
Kar il out en pens pur doner li mut pain.
Dunc mist sa main en l’aumosne que iloec esteit
E si overit ben sa main, kar il mut prendre voleit.
Mes sa main chau pas clost, ne saveit ke dut,
Ke fors un sul petit tenir ne pout.
Puis vint un autre a lui ke ben vestue esteit.
E le moine, quant ces bons dras veit,
Si comensat a dire enz en sun penser:
“Cele dame, sicum joe quid, n’at nul mester.”
Dunc clost sa main, kar un petit voleit prendre,
Mes ele se overi si ne la voleit pas estreindre,
E il mut prist, estre sun gré, e tut li donat.
E aprés as autres femmes de lui demandat,
E cels li diseient ke prodefemme out esté,
Mes k’ele chaiet esteit en mut grant poverté;
E pur ceo ke de grant lignage esteit,
Pur çoe, se vesti ele a mieuz ke le poeit.
Mes l’altre se vesti, pur almones prendre,
De veuz dras reclutez, çoe li funt entendre.
Un prestre esteit jadis, que mult prodome esteit,
E plusurs almones as bosignus feseit.
Puis vint une vedeve a lui pur demander
Un petitet de forment dunt ele out mester.
E le prestre dist a lui: “Va dunc pur un vessel.”
Ele si fist. Chau pas alat puroec a sun ostel,
Puis si vint, e portat od sei une mesure.
E le prestre esgardat cel vessel a dreiture,
Lores dist: “Verraiement, cest vessel est grant!”
E la vedve aveit hunte, quant il diseit tant.
Denaprés, quant cele femme departie esteit,
Un vilard qui iloec esteit al prestre diseit:
“As tu cel blé a cele femme vendu u prestee?”
“Nanal,” çoe dist le prestre, “mes tut l’ai doné.”
“E si tu tut li donas,” li veilard li dit,
“Purquei fus tu si eschars de cel petit?
Tu feis a la femme le vis rovent
Pur çoe ke tu deis a li sifaitement.
Don ne sez tu si alcun grant almone fait,
E puis en un sul petit trop eschars seit,
Ke çoe est par l’amonestement de l’Adverser,
E, cil de tuz ses benfaiz, perderat sun luier?”
Un frere od un veillard commune vie aveit,
E cil meime veilard de grant charité esteit.
Puis vint feim en cele tere e grant chierté,
Ke le blé failli esteit e n’out nule plenté.
Dunc vindrent plusurs bosignus ki eurent mester
A l’ostel cel veillard pur del ben aveir.
E le veillard a trestuz de sun pein donat.
E quant l’autre vit çoe, si empensat,
Pur çoe diseit idunc le frere a cel veilard:
“De ces ke tu partes done a mei ma part,
E çoe ke tu vels si fai de ta partie.”
E il li donat dunc sa part; ne li veat mie.
E le veillard donat volenters as mendis,
Sicum il devant fist, de çoe ki li ert remis.
E mut vindrent a cel veillard pur necessité
Quant oirent qu’il fist si grant charité.
E quant Deus vit k’il out si bone ententiun,
Si benesqui ses pains si lur donat fuisun.
L’altre ki aveit receue sa part devant
Gastat ses peins e ne donat a nul poi ne grant.
Puis diseit a cel veillard cel meme frere:
“Le pain ke joe ore ai ne me suffist pas, bel pere.
Pur çoe, vus pri communiun cum nus feimes devant.”
E le veillard li dist: “Si vus volez, joel grant.”
Lores comencerent il a meindre ensemblement,
E mangerent des iloec tut communement.
Puis avint par un jur ke cel frere est entré
En lur despense e vit ke lur pain est alé.
Aprés, vint povre pur almone, al demain,
E li veilard li dist: “Donez le del pain.”
E le frere respundi: “N’en avum mes, çoe sachez.”
E li veilard li dist: “Entrez si querez.”
Dunc entrat le frere e començat a esgarder
Vers le liu u il soleient lur pein estuer.
Lores vit ke cel estui ert plein de pain —
Dunc out pour le frere quant le vit si plain!
Puis prist de cel pain e al povre l’ad doné,
E pensat ke veillard ert de grant bunté,
E sout qu’il ert de vertu e de bone fei.
Dunc loat Deu ke tel miracle out fet pur sei
Johan, ki disciple esteit a POL L’ABBÉ,
Out un obedience grant, cum il unt cunté.
Uns granz fossez a meime de cel liu erent
U sist e sun frere converserent.
En ceste fosse hantout une leonesse
Ke mut par esteit cruele e felunnesse.
E li abbez Pol, une feiz cum par cel liu passat,
Fente de boef, par aventure, trovat.
Puis dist li abbez al le disciple: “Va t’en tost la.
Les fenz ke tu troveras m’aporte ça.”
E cil respundi, e dist: “Bel pere, ke frai
De cele leonesse si ele vient a mai?”
Quant il aveit çoe dit, li abbez susrist,
E puis sifaitement al disciple dist:
“Si cele leonesse vient encontre tei,
Liez la mut fermement sil aport a mai.”
Le desciple alat la en la vespré,
E la beste vint vers lui, cum forsené.
E il chaut pas curuit vers lui, si la volt tenir,
Mes la leonesse començat a fuir.
Dunc dist: “Atent! Kar mun abbé comandat
Ke joe te liasse quant ci m’enveiat!”
E la beste attendi e nient avant n’alat.
E sil la sessi, çoe sachez, si la liat.
Li abbez, qui ert a maisun, attendi longement;
E, pur çoe qu’il demorat tant, ert il mut dolent.
Puis vint le disciple, tart, portant la beste,
La quele ert lié e ne fist nule moleste.
Quant li abbez vit içoe, si se prist a esmerviler,
E, pur çoe k’il vout sun disciple humilier,
Batit le ignelpas sil ad mut ledengé,
E dit: “Purquei as tu porté cest chien aragé?”
Lores la lionesse li abbez desliat
E senz bleseure a sun aler la leissat.
Un home del secle vint a SYOSI L’ABBÉ
E quel moine il vout estre li ad mustré.
E li abbez li demandat, sifaitement disant:
“As tu nule ren al siecle: çoe me di devant?”
E il li dist: “Joe n’ai ren mes un fiz sulement.”
“Va dunc pur lui,” çoe dist li abbez hastivement,
“E si le jet en cel ewe la, senz essoigne,
E puis repeir a mei, e joe te frai moine.”
E cil va pur l’enfant, çoe sachiez finement,
Sil portat vers cel euue senz demorement.
Quant li abbez vit çoe k’il alout l’enfant neier,
Si enveat un frere aprés pur veer,
E quant il tint l’enfant, sil voleit enz jeter,
Este vus le frere ki dist, “Laissez ester!”
E cil respundi al frere trestuit issi:
“Li abbez comandat ke joe le jetasse ici.”
“Derechef te comandat,” çoe dist le frere,
“Ke tu nel jettes en nule manere.”
Dunc lessat sun fiz, quant le frere li dist,
E li abbez li fist moine cum il li pramist.
E puis esteit celui de mut grant providence,
E fust moine esprové par obedience.
Un autre fut ke esteit de seculere vie
Se fesait fere moine en un abie.
Tres fiz aveit icil les quels il mut amat,
Si les leissat en la vile quant il s’en alat.
Mes quant il out parfait treis anz enterement,
Si li vindrent ses fiz en memorie suvent.
Dunc devint il pur els murne e pensif mut.
Puis quant li abbez, le vit, çoe demandat que ço dout,
E il dist, kar devant ne li out il nient mustré:
“Joe ai tres fiz, danz, ke joe ai en la cité laissé,
E puis ke fu moine, nul d’eles ne vi.
Mes, sil vus plust, joe voldrai qu’il fuissent ci.”
E li abbez comandat k’il pur els alast
E ke od sei a l’abeie les menast.
Lores alat le moine treske en la cité
E trovat ke dous de ces fiz eurent mort esté.
Dunc prist chau pas sel sul qu’il out vif trové
E desque a l’abeie l’ad od sei mené.
Ausi tost cum il fut dedenz la porte entré,
Si demandat as freres u fust danz abé.
E li li diseient: “En cel pestrin est alé.”
Dunc alat od tut sun fiz si ad l’abé trové.
Quant li abbez le vit venir, si le saluat,
Si apelat cel anfant a sei, si le beisat,
E puis diseit a sun pere meintenant:
“Di mai, verité, eimes tu cest enfant?”
E il dist: “Oil.” E li abbez derechef demandat:
“Aimes le tu mut?” E il dist ke mut l’amat.
Quant li abbez oi ceo k’il tant amat sun fiz,
Si li dist: “Quant tu l’eimes cum tu diz,
Pren le dunc sil jet en cel furn meintenant,
Tant cum il est sifaitement ardant.”
E le pere prent le fiz e en le furn l’ad jeté,
Mes le furn, quant il fu lenz, chau pas est refreidé.
Pur cest ovre fut le moine en grant pris,
E par ceste fesance out grant nun conquis,
Kar al patriarche Abraham semblable esteit
Ki pur Deu sun fiz demeine tuer voleit.
Dous freres charnels del secle s’esloignerent,
Si vindrent a un abbeie e la demorerent.
Li un ert de religiun e de grant continence.
E l’autre fu de merveilluse obedience:
Kar si li abbez le deist, “Fai ceo,” il la grantat,
E si il li deist, “Va la,” e il chau pas alat,
E si li dist, “Mangue par matin,” e il si fist,
E, pur çoe, grant nun en cel abbeie conquist.
Quant sun frere çoe veit, qui fu continent,
Si li diseit tut issifaitement:
“Pere, çoe vus pri joe, s’il est vostre pleisir,
Sofre ke mun frere puisse od mei venir,
Kar m’estoverat totesveies la en cel liu aler.”
Tut ço fist pur çoe k’il voleit sun frere assaier.
E li abbez le leissat od li aler cum il rovat.
E il prent sun frere e ensemble od lu le menat.
Tant alerent ses freres en ces veages
K’il vindrent a un fluvie u n’ourent un passages,
Mes en cel euue out une manere de serpent
Ke “cocodrille” soleient apeler cele gent.
Lores cil continent a l’altre comandat:
“Entre ci e passe utre.” E cil chau pas i entrat.
Dunc vindrent les cocodrilles, senz mot de mentir,
E comencerent le cors celui a lechir,
Mes al frere ne firent nule blesmure.
Quant sun frere vit çoe, si dist a dreiture:
“Ven forz del ewe.” E cil vient meintenant.
Puis alerent ensemble lur chemin errant,
E cum il aveient un poi avant alé,
Si unt le cors de un mort en cele veie trové.
Lores dist cel frere qui fui continent:
“Frere, si nus eussum aucun vestement,
Si purrum sur le cors cest mort jeter.”
Dunc començat cil obedient a parler:
“Mes urum, e cil releverat, par aventure.”
Dunc se mettent en ureisuns a dreiture.
E quant il aveient ententivement uré,
E il relevat tut vif qui mort aveit esté.
Quant Deu l’out resuscité par lur preere,
Si se glorifiout le continent frere,
E dit: “Pur ma continence, sachez de fi,
Ad Dampnedeu resucité cest mort ici.”
Trestut cest afaire, par avisiun,
Demustrat Dex a l’abbé de la maisun:
Coment cil out sun frere en cel ewe tempté,
E coment cil mort esteit resucité.
Puis, quant sunt revenu arere a lur covent,
Li abbez diseit a celui ki fut continent:
“Purquai as tu fait sifaitement a tun frere?
E purquei li temptas en icele manere?
Pur la grant obedience k’il en sei ad,
De ces cocodrilles Deu le deliverat,
E, çoe sachez tu, ke par sa obedience,
Relevat cel mort, e nient par ta continence.”
LI ABBEZ ANTOINE mut duremment s’esmervillat
Une feiz quant il des jugemenz Deu pensat,
E tant fut esgaré k’il ne sout ke dire.
Dunc orat, e dist: “Jhesu Crist, bel Sire,
Ke deit çoe ki les uns sunt richez e mananz,
E li autre sunt povre e mendianz?
E li torcenus unt de tut ben grant plenté,
E li dreiturer unt mesaise e povereté?
E ke deit ke les uns morent en joefnesce,
E li autre vivent dresque a veillesce?”
Este vus une voiz ki li vint a dreiture:
“Antoine, de tei meme pren garde e cure,
Kar çoe sunt les jugemenz Deu e sé secrez,
E tu ne deis pas enquere ses privetez.”
LI ABBEZ JOHAN contat, içoe fust la verrur,
Ke LI ABBEZ ANUB e un autre, ABBÉ PASTUR,
E .v. autres freres (ke ses abbez eurent)
D’un ventre nez, en Sciti furent.
E quant cel liu de estrange genz fut destrute,
E li abbes Pastur od ses frere de ilokes mut
E mistrent en un temple, çoe sachez de fi,
Ki est en un liu k’il apelent Terebutti.
La sojornerent il, mes nient longement,
Fors tant k’il se eussent purveu autre habitement.
Puis diseit li abbez Anub a Pastur l’abbé:
“Bel frere, kar faites entre nus charité.
Si seit chascum par sei, si n’asemblum mie
Desi ke sete semaine seit finie.”
“Jol grant,” fist li abbez Pastur, “seit a vostre talent.”
Dunc mist chescun par sei sele simaine severalement.
En cele temple un ymage de pere est trové,
E li abbez Anub li jur par matin est levé
E començat cel ymage a lapider.
E al seir li priat ke çoe li dust pardoner.
Tote la simaine li abbé si le fist:
Matin la lapidat; e al seir pardon le quist.
Al samadi s’asemblerent regeirs.
Dunc dist li abbé Pastur a tuz ces freres:
“Avez garde prise cument Anub l’abbé
Cele ymage cele simaine ad lapidé
E pardun de cele meme ymage quist.
Nul cristien, çoe crei, ne fist unkes çoe qu’il fist.”
Dunc respundi l’abbé, si lur diseit:
“Iceste chose, çoe sachez, ai pur vus fait.
Quant vus me veites le ymage lapider,
Oistes vus la unkes ren acuntre parler?
Derechef, quant joe pardun li demandei,
Ert ele trublé, u dit, ‘Nient nel pardurai’?”
Dunc respundi l’abbé Pastur, e dist: “Nenal
Ne l’oimes unkes grundiller ne dire nul mal.”
“E nus,” si dist li abbez Anub, “tut autresi,
Nus eimes ore seet freres ensemble ici.
Si vus volez ke nus tuz ensemble manum,
Semblance a cest ymage ore serrum,
Ke pur nule blesceur ne set corocer,
Ne pur nule ledenge ne veut grondailler.
E ci vus nolez entre vus cest granter,
Veez, quatre eissuez troverez en cest muster:
Chescun eissie a quel d’els k’il voderat,
E puis voise a Deu quele part que li plerrat.”
Quant il oient çoe, tuz chaierent a tere jus.
Puis, diseient a l’abbé Anub, quant leverent sus:
“Pere, tut sait fet cum vus comanderez,
Kar nus obeierum a quanque vus dirrez.”
Dunc mistrent tuz les jurz de lur vie ensemblement,
E firent tuz sulunc le soen comandement.
E il establi ke un d’els lur despenser esteit,
E il mangereient quanque il devant els meteit.
E nul ne dist a celui qui ert despenser:
“Jo ne voil nient de cest viande manger;
Portez mei autre viande u cru u quite.”
Tele parole ne fu unke entr’els dite,
Mes chescun manjat ceo ke l’em devant li mist,
E, en grace de Deu, chescun çoe qu’il aveit prist.
E issi en peis e en quiete passerent
Tut le tens ke en ceste secle demorerent.
LI ABBEZ DANIEL recontat, issi disant:
“Un riche home ki ert en Babiloine manant
Aveit une file ke forsené esteit,
Kar le Deble ert en sun cors, ke mut l’anguisseit.
Sun pere out un moine acointé, ke mut amat,
E cil moine dist a lui, si li conseillat:
‘Nuls home ne garrat ta file si hastivement
Cum ces moines ke mainent la sutivement.
Mes alassiez tut la, men escient,
Il ne fereient nient pur la parole de gent.
Mes assaium çoe ke joe te voil aprendre:
Cil soleint lur evres en cel marchié vendre;
Va la u aucun de celes troveras,
E di li ke de sa ovre eschateras.
E puis chaut pas od tei a meisun le merras,
Kar ces deners a l’hostel averat (çoe dirras).
E puis, quant tu l’averas mené tresque ici,
Si prierum mult qu’il face oreisun pur li.
E joe crei en Deu ke ta fille tost garrat
Pur la pité ke celui pur li frat.’
Dunc eissi celui e alat deske al marchié,
Si ad chau pas un de ces moines iloec trové,
Ke sist la pur vendre eskeppes k’il out fait.
Cil vint a lui e dist qu’il les aschater voleit,
E le moine li dist qu’il les vendret volenters.
‘Dunc venez od mei,’ dist celui, ‘pur voz deners.’
E le moine est od li desqu’al hostel venu
Pur prendre deners de çoe k’il out vendu.
E ausi tost cum il dedenz la maisun entrat,
Si vint la meschine ke le Deble anguissat,
E a cel moine un bon boffet donat!
E il, cum Dex comandat, l’autre part li turnat.
Dunc criat le Deble — ne se pout plus tenir! —
Si dist: ‘Allas, ore m’estoverat de ci partir,
Kar cist moine m’en cace ke ci est venu
Pur çoe qu’il feseit le comandement Jhesu.’
Dunc s’en alat, kar demorer plus ne pout,
E la meschine ert garie chau pas del tot.”
LI ABBEZ MACHARIE, de sei memes, contat
Coment une mechine une feiz le gabbat.
“Quant joe ere,” çoe dit, “en Egipte surjornant,
Si veneit a mei un religius sergant;
Si vendi çoe ke joe soleie de mes mains overer,
Si me trovat quanque m’ert mester.
Avint ke une meschine de la vile conceut
D’un bachiler, ke celeement la parjeut.
E quant ert de ses parenz araisuné,
Si dist: ‘De cel hermite sui joe aseintee.’
Puis vindrent les parenz a la damaisele,
Quant il aveient oi ceste novele,
Si me pristrent, e trahistrent hors de maisun.
E me menerent vers la vile cum un larun.
Puis pristrent viuz poz, e entur mun col penderent,
E parmi la vile forment me baterent.
E cum il me menerent par la riuue avant,
Si diseient tuteveie, en haut criant:
‘Huni ad nostre file icest heremite.
Mes il n’est pas moine, mes il est fort herete.’
Quant il me ourent batu ke esteie pres mort,
Dunc survint un veilar, e dist: ‘Vus avez tort!
Purquei batez vus cel moine? Le volez vus tuer?
Ja, est il estrange. Pur Deu, leissez ester.’
Le famle qui me trovat çoe ke me fut mester
Vint aprés siwant e mut grant hunte aveit.
E a li diseient: ‘Veez le seint moine
De ki vus nus diseiez si bon testemoine.
Mes çoe sachez qu’il n’echapera de nus hui
Desi ke nus avum bon plegge de lui
K’il de sa femme prendrat cure e pestirat,
E çoe qui mester li est içoe le troverat.’
Dunc priai mun famele k’il me deut pleger,
E il si fist. Dunc me leessent aler,
E joe repairai a ma celle, e celui od mei.
Si pris les escheppes ke jo oi si lur liverai,
E lur dis: ‘Ces escheppes pur deniers vendrez,
E ma femme de ces meime deniers peterez.’
Dunc dis a mai memes: ‘Macharie, averas tu mulier.
Ore t’estuerat pur li pestre tant plus traveiller.’
Donc, laboroie joe nent par jur solement
Mes par nuit, e issi envoe mut sovent.
Denaprés, quant le tens vint k’ele deut enfanter,
Deci ke ele geist ke a tort t’at acupé.
E ja verrez les homes de la cité ici
Pur prendre penitence e crier merci.’
E quant joe oi ceo qu’il voleient a mei venir,
Chau pas m’en levai e començai a fuir,
E treske en Sciti, çoe sachez, mun chemin tinc!
Çoe est l’achaisun pur quei primes vinc.”
Cist MACHARIE uns feiz del mareis repeirat,
E paumes sur sun dos vers la celle portat.
Este vus, le Diable k’en la veie l’encontrat!
E une grant faucille en sa main portat
E de cele meme l’abbé ferir voleit,
Mes le culvert unkes atucher nel poeit.
Dunc dist le Deble: “Tu me faz grant guere
E ne pus jo unkes en tei ren conquere.
Kar, veez, quant fez tu, e joe ben feire pus.
Kar tu junes, e joe jameis manger ne ruis;
Tu veillez assez, e joe ja ne dormirai.
Meis en une soule chose passez tu mei.”
Dunc enquist l’abbé Macharie e demandat
Quele chose çoe ert. E le Deble li cuntat:
“La humilité ke tu as, çoe sachez tu ben,
Fait ke joe ne puis en tei aveir nule ren.”
Un hermite fut en cel desert manant,
Ke prodom ert e fut de religiun grant.
Puis avint k’il en sun quer pensat e diseit
Ke mutes bones vertuz en sei memes aveit.
E pur çoe qu’il se memes tant digne teneit,
Une tele oreisun a Dampnedé feseit:
“La veie de perfectiun, Sire, me mustrez,
E joe la siwerai mut ben, çoe sachez.”
Dunc, voleit ses pensers humilier,
Pur çoe dist a lui: “Va la, dunc, a cel bercher
E fai çoe qu’il comander te voldrat,
E par çoe serras salf.” Icil chau pas alat.
Mes ainz ke cel heremite a li parvenist,
Si vint une voiz a cel bachiler, si li dist:
“Icel heremite vient a tei, ça defors;
Di li qu’il voise en cel cham garder voz pors.”
Dunc vient li heremite si ad le pastur trové.
Aval i sistrent, quant il se eurent entresalué.
Puis priat l’eremite qu’il li deust enseigner
Quele chose il deut fere pur sei sauver.
“Frez vus,” dist le pastur, “çoe ke vus dirrai?”
“Oil,” feseit l’ermite, “volenters le frai.”
“Alez donc en cel champ mes pors garder.”
E l’ermite alat as pors senz demorer.
Dunc vindrent les home ki le conurent devant
E virent cel hermite ces pors gardant.
Dunc distrent: “Veez, pur seinte charité,
Coment cel heremite est afolé?
Ja quidium qu’il eust prodome esté,
Mes quant il pors garde, certes il est desvé.”
Issi le ledengerent iceus soveineirement,
E le heremite suffri tut humblement.
Quant Deus le humilité de l’heremite entendi,
E vit k’il les reproces de tuz tant suffri,
Lores comandat qu’il deut, senz demorer,
Aler a sa celle e les pors lesser.
Un frere demandat, disant a un abbé:
“Kar me mustrez, quele est l’ovre de humilité?”
E il dist: “Jo sai un frere, çoe sachez de fi,
Ke veirement est humble, cum vus orrez ci,
Kar une feiz alat a l’iglise cel frere,
Puis remist al manger, mes çoe fut senz preere.
Quant il ert al manger od les freres assis,
Si li diseint esquanz: ‘Ki t’asist ici, bels amis?
Tol tei de ci,’ firent il, ‘mut delivrement!’
E il s’en alat chau pas; n’i demora nient.
Quant les autres virent çoe, si sunt contristé,
E, dunc, vunt tost pur lui si l’unt remené.
Puis l’enquist un d’els en ceste manere:
‘Ke pensastes vus en vostre quer, bel frere,
Quant vus fustes oreeinz issi fors chacié
E puis derechef esteiez enz apelé?’
Cil dist: ‘Jo pensai en mun quer, ço sachez ben,
Ke joe mut cheitif esteie e par un chen,
Kar si l’em dist a un chien ‘va fors!’, chau pas s’en vait,
E si l’em dist ‘reven!’, e sil revendrat.’”
Les viuz peres nus diseient ancienement,
Quant alcun est tempté del Deble forement,
Dunc se deit il, en ço, mut humilier
E loer Nostre Seignur e glorifier,
Kar Deus set nostre feblesce. Il nus defenderat
E encuntre la temptatiun force nus durrat.
E si nus nus ne en humilium mie,
Nus perirum, e Deus nus sustreirat sa aie.
Kar le Diable se defigurat jadis
En la semblance de un angle de paraïs,
Si vint a un frere, e sifaitement li dist:
“Frere, joe sui l’angle Jhesu Crist,
Si m’at Dampnedeu de la sus a tei tramis,
Kar, ben servi l’as, e tu es mut sis amis.”
Dunc respundi le frere, si dist a lui:
“Garde ke tu ne seiez enveié a autri?
Kar jo ne su pas si digne, tres ben le sai,
Ke angle Deu seit tramis a mai.”
Lores departit le Deble, e nient plus li enginat,
Kar par humilité de lui l’encaçat.
D’icest frere poum trestuz ensample prendre,
E par diz des autres seinz homes entendre,
Ke dient ke nus ne deum pas aneire,
Si angle nus apert, de tut en tut creire,
Mes humilier sei meimes, sifaitement disant:
“Ne su pas digne de veer angle, en pecché vivant.”
Un frere ce coruciout une fei jadis
Od un autre frere ki aveit vers lui mespris.
Cum le frere le sout, e l’oit dire
Ke l’autre convers portat vers li ire,
Si s’en alat a celui qui corucié esteit
Pur adrescer vers li çoe k’il aveit mesfait.
E cum il fut la venu pur cele achaisun,
Le corucé frere, qui fut en la maisun,
Ne li voleit pur nule ren overer l’us.
E quant n’i purrat entrer, n’i demora plus
Ainz vint a un autre frere senz demorance
Si li cuntat trestute cele fesance.
E le frere li respundi sifaitement,
E dist: “Bel frere, gard ben, çoe te defent.
Ke ne acomtes pas sur tei tut le dreit
E sur l’autre frere le cupe del mesfait,
K’einceis purras tun frere blamer e reprendre
E tei meimes alegier de tort e defendre.
E si tu l’as fait en ceste manere,
Pur çoe, n’atucherat pas Dex le quor tun frere,
K’il te overit sun hus e s’acordast a tei.
Mes ore fai, bel frere, cum joe te dirrai:
Si le frere ert ren vers tei mespris,
Juge te memes a culpable, bels amis,
E li a dreturel, si tu me veuz craire.
Lores attucherat Dex sun quor aneire
K’il s’ameiserat a tei, çoe sachez de fi.”
Si li mustrat bel essample, cum vus orrez ci:
“Deus freres, ke mult religius se tindrent,
Ensemble parlerent e moines devindrent.
Cum il aveient receu monial habit,
Garde pristrent de çoe ke l’evangelie dit,
Ke tuz icels homes bonurez serrunt
Ki pur le regne del ciel espaier se funt,
E, pur çoe, s’espaierent ces dous dunt joe vus dis.
Si ne firent pas ke sage, çoe m’est avis,
Kar Deus nel dist pas en tel sen, ne quidez mie,
Ke l’em se face demembrer en ceste vie,
Mes il comande ke trestuz uniement
Se contengent en ceste vie chastement
E s’efforcent de lecherie a retraire
E les escoilles ke pas nel pount faire.
Mes ces dous frerez en tel sen nel pristrent pas.
Enz s’espaierent, si firent mut ke las,
Kar l’ercevesque ke del pais esteit
Les escomenge andous pur cel mesfait.
E les freres quiderent k’il eusent fet ben,
Sil tindrent del dedeing, e ne lur fut a ren.
Ainz, grundillerent, e distrent entre els memes:
‘Pur le regne del ciel espaier nus feimes,
E cil qui nus escomengat il ad mut mesfait.
Ore alum a Jerusalem a grant esplait
Si encusum l’ercevesque, si Deu nus la enveit.’
Ke vus dirrai joe? E la s’en alerent tut dreit
Si demustrerent al patriarche trestut,
Cum l’erceveske les escomigout de but.
E si respondi sifaitement as freres,
Si lur dist: ‘E joe vus escomenge regeres.’
Lores s’en alerent a Antioche la cité,
Si distrent a l’ercevesque la verité
Pur quel achaisun il muerent de lur pais,
Si li demanderent de çoe quei lu fust avis.
E si lur respundi, si dist sifaitement:
‘E vus escomeng, çoe sachez veirement.’
Lores diseient: ‘Ore alum a Rume,
A l’Apostoille, ke mut est dreiturel home,
E cil nus frat de cels ercevesques raisun,
Kar a tort nus unt contredit e senz descreciun.’
Dunc s’en turnerent, ne demorat mie mut,
A l’Apostoille de Rume, ki asoudre les dut.
Si li cunterent coment il aveient penez
E cum les evesques les aveient demenez.
A çoe, diseit l’Apostoile: ‘Dun n’est çoe dreit?
E joe meme vus escomeng oreendreit.’
Dunc diseint: ‘Iceste gent nus faillunt del tut,
E ensemble se tenent tut de but!
Pur çoe, nus estoverat, ainz ke issi remainge,
A l’ercevesque de Cypre aler, DANZ EPIPHAINE.
Il est prophete e tut sulunc Deu se content;
Il nus fra dreiture, de çoe ne dotum nient,
Kar il est seinz hom d’itele custume
K’il ne garde pas a la persone de home;
Einz, est feel vers chascun e mut dreiturel,
Si ne menterat ja pur home mortel.’
Puis quant ces freres vindrent pres de la cité
U danz Epiphaine l’evesque out sa digneté,
Si nunciat li Rais qui meint en Trinité
A l’evesque de ces freres la verité.
E si tost ke l’evesque de part Deu l’entendi,
Encontre els enveiat e la vile lur defendi.
Dunc penserent e distrent entre els meimes:
‘Pur verité, chatif e copables eimes,
E pur çoe ke tenimes nus a dreiturels,
Si quidames ki les evesques furent tels
K’il nus escomengassent nent dreturelement.
E dun nus frat cest prophete tut ensement,
Kar Deus le demustre de nus veirement.’
Lores repristrent els meimes anguissusement
E se repentirent de çoe qu’il eurent fait.
Lores vit Dex, ke les quors de tuz conuist e veit,
K’il se repentirent de la fesance,
Si mustrat a l’evesque lur repentance.
E l’evesque enveiat pur els hastivement,
Si fist mener devant lui tut en present,
Si confortat mult dulcement ambodous.
E puis furent il par lui de lur pecchié assous.
Si tramist a l’evesque de Alexandre arere
Par ses lettres, disant en tele manere:
‘Recevez voz fiz en vostre obedience,
Kar, en verité, il unt faite lur penitence.’”
Dunc li dist le frere ke cest ensample ad cunté:
“Çoe est la santé de chescun quant il ad pecché,
E çoe est la chose ke Deu veut ke nus fesum:
Ke nostre cope devant lui conuissum.”
L’autre frere entendi ben quanque cil dist,
E sulum çoe qu’il li consilat aprés çoe fist.
Kar puis alat al frere ke corocié fut,
E il overit sun hus si tost cum il le parceut
Si le lessat entrer a lui senz demorement.
E merci li criat tut pramerment,
E l’autre pardun requist de lui tut ensement.
Issi pardona l’un a l’autre sum maltalent,
Si s’entrebaiserent e furent bons amis.
Mult vaut humilité ki ad ci conquis.
Laruns vindrent a la celle de un viel frere,
Si diseient a lui en ceste manere:
“N’eimes venuz ça pur vostre ostel rober
E pur prendre quanque caenz nus purrum trover.”
E le frere lur dist: “Ben purrez tut prendre,
Kar n’i troverez nul qu’il voille defendre.”
Lores cerchierent sa celle ses larunceus
E quanque il troverent fors porterent od eus.
Mes, par aventure, un viel sac unt ublié
K’en l’angle de la celle esteit mucié.
Mes ausi tost cum le frere out le sac trové,
Chau pas curut aprés ceus sis ad repelé,
E dist: “Pernez cest sac — kar vus le ubliastes
Ore quant vus de la celle turnastes!”
E les laruns od tut le herneis returnerent,
E d’estrange manere s’esmervillerent
E de la grant pacience cel vil frere
Si li porterent trestut a sa celle arere.
E de cel mesfait lur penitence pristrent.
E, mut sovernerement, entr’els distrent:
“Le home Deu, verraiement, est cist
Quant il si grant surfait en pacience prist.”
Un heremite mist en liu, ki ert prodome,
Si out un veisin ke ert de male custume,
Kar cil en la celle a l’heremite sovent entrat
E emblat e prist quanque il en la celle trovat.
E l’ermite çoe vit e le saveit tres ben,
Mes unc pur çoe ne l’entreprist de rien.
Einz se penat, sachiez, e le plus laborat,
E dist: “Joe quid ke cel frere grant mester ad.”
E sun vivre destreint, pur cele achaisun,
Ke nis pain n’eusat il si par mesure nun.
Puis, quant avint ke cest heremite deut murir
E de cest secle, cum Deu plout, deut departir,
Si vindrent les freres e esturent devant sun lit.
Dunc, vint celui qui sout embler, e il li dit:
“Ven ça, bel frere, kar joe voil a tei parler.”
Dunc sesi ces mains e començat les a baisier,
E dit: “Graces rend joe a ces dous mains e merci,
Kar par eus m’en voiz al ciel, sachiez de fi.”
Quant le frere vit çoe, si out grant repentance
E de çoe qu’il out fait prent sa penitence.
Si devint puis bon moine e esprové,
Kar par l’essample de l’heremite ert mut amendé.
Un frere jadis a un viel heremite servi.
Avint puis ke cel heremite enmaladi
De une plaie k’en sun cors grevuse aveit
De la quele eissi purreture, e mut pueit.
Dunc dist a cel frere serjant le suen penser:
“Fui tai d’ici si lais cest veillard ester,
Kar tu ne poez pas suffrir ceste ordure
Ke ist de cest plaie, ne la purecture.”
Quant sun penser le començat amonester,
Prent un vessel, kar sei meimes veut chastier.
E lavat la plaie, e l’ewe en le vessel receut,
E quant il out sei, de cel ewe beut.
Derechef, sun penser forement l’anguissat
E qu’il s’en deust aler forment l’amonestat,
E dist: “Si tu ne veus fuir cum joe te comant,
Suveaus nun ne beif mes de cest ordure grant.”
Mes le frere suffri tut, si fit ke sage,
Si ne voleit unkes creire sun corage.
E tutesveies beveit cele laveure,
Quant il out sei, cum ewe pure.
Quant le frere l’out servi si ben longement,
Si vit Dex qu’il suffri tut amiablement,
La laveure de la plaie chau pas turnat
En euue clere, e l’heremite del tut saneit.
Un frere mist en cel desert sutivement
A ki debles aparurent mut sovent.
Cil quidout ke ceo fuissent angles finement,
Kar plusurs anz le deceurent sifaitement.
Sun pere, ke dunc vesqui, sout la repairer
E a la fez as pur sun fiz revisiter.
Puis avint, cum qu’il a custume soleit faire,
E portat une coigné od lui en cel eire,
Kar il aveit en pensé de verges trencher
E d’icele meime coigné a seur repairer.
Lores vint le deble e diseit a cel frere:
“Veez la le Deble en semblance de tun pere,
Ke vent od une coigné si te veut occire,
E joe su venu pur tei garnir e dire.
Mes va tost delivrement encontre l’Adverser,
E pren la coigné de liu dunt il te veut tuer,
E si tu le poez dreit en la teste asener.
Ainz ki rien li diez, dun li sun luer.”
Puis vint sun pere a lui, cum il soleit devant,
E sun fiz vint vers lui, si ne dist tant ne quant,
Mes sesi la coigné e de meime li feri,
E, cum le deble l’aprist, mort l’a bati.
Puis, quant il out oscis sun pere cum vus ai dit,
Chaut pas vint si l’estranglat sil mal espirit.
Pur çoe devez estre, cum Dex nus aprent,
Simple cum le colum e cruel cum serpent,
Kar quintise nus covent aver ver le Adverser,
Kar decevre veut celui ki ne se veut gaitier.
Ore se gaite chescun en tote manere
K’il nel deceive cum il feseit cel pere.
Un des peres contat sifaitement, disant:
“Un sutif heremite qui ert el desert manant
E aveit pur lui servir un frere seculer,
Mes religius esteit e fidel menestrer.
E en la cité dejuste un mut riche home esteit
Ke felun esteit e a sun voil unkes ben ne feit.
Puis avint ke cel memes riche home deviat,
E trestute la cité al muster le conveat
Od grant cirges e od autre grant apparillement,
E nis l’evesque ert od els en conveniement.
A çoe, vint le sergant al heremite passant
E vit celu mener od processiun grant.
Puis revint a l’heremite cel meme sergant,
Si portat dous pains cum il soleit devant,
Mes pas nel trovat cum aveit laissé,
Kar, quant il vint, bestes l’aveient pres demangé.
Dunc s’esmerveillat, e chai a tere jus
E dist: ‘Sire Dex, ne leverai jamais sus
Deci ke demustreisun ai de vus euue
De ceste marvaille ke joe ai ui veue.
Ke le riche home qui tant esteit felun
Ert mené oreainz od si grant processiun,
E cil qui servi vus ad tant longement
Est devoré d’icés bestes si vilement.’
Estes vus, avint un angle, senz demorer,
Ki dist a lui: ‘Tu ne deis pas esmerveiller,
Kar cel riche home qui tant felun esteit
Pur tant cum il fut el siecle aucun ben out fait,
E il receut sun guerdun plenerement
K’il eit eillurs ses peines senz amendement.
E requilli sun luer de çoe qu’il out fait
K’en l’autre secle nul repos n’en ait.
Mes cist heremite ki est mort sifatement
Prodome fust e de mut seint conversement,
E nequedent, cum home, en sei aucum mal aveit,
E, pur çoe, ça aval sete peine aveit.
Ici resust il la paine en ceste manere
Ke aillors repos eit e joie plenere.’
Quant çoe oit celui, si fut mut confortee
E mut loat Dampnedeu ke çoe li out mustree.
E soveinerement disait il a sai:
‘Verreiez sunt voz jugemenz, Dex, tres ben je sai.’”
Ici conté urent, de L’ABBÉ MACHARIE LE GREIGNUR,
K’il alat el desert une feiz par un jur
E trovat le chef d’un mort sur la tere gisant
Le quel aveit esté mort ben long devant.
Dunc prist il la verge qu’il en sa main portat
E de memes la verge cel chef atuchat.
Lores, parlat le chef cum cil fust tut vifs.
E li abbez li dist: “Qui es tu, bels amis?”
E le chef respundi, disant tut issi:
“Prestre sui as paenz ki mistrent jadis ici,
E tu es Macharie li abbez, tres ben le sai.
E tu as le seint esperitement de Deu en tei,
Kar quant ures pur cels qui en turment sunt,
Aukes de confort par tes oreisuns unt.”
E dunc demandat li abbez: “E quel confort ad la?”
E le chef respundi: “Çoe vus dirrai joe ja.
Ore esgardez cum loinz le ciel de la tere seit,
Esgardez cumben de la tere desque al ciel aiet.
Tant ad fru sur noz testes, e plus assez,
Autretant, çoe sachez, ad desuz noz piez.
E enmi cel fu sumes par nuit e par jur,
E nul ne veit autre, pur la grant tenebrur.”
Dunc plurat li abbez e dist sifaitement:
“Allas, mut ad illoec dolerus confortement!
Mar furent icil nez, ki en ces turmenz irunt;
Miuz lur fut ke unkes ne fuissent en cest mund.”
E li abbez enquist, e demandat derechef:
“Ad il nul peurs tormenz que cels?” “Oil,” dist le chef,
“Greindres tormenz ad desuz nus, bien le sachiez.”
“E queles sunt?” dist il, “kar le me enseignez.”
Dunc dist le chief: “Ben les vus ensegnerai.
Nus qui paens sumes e n’eumes unkes fai,
Ne Deu ne conumes ne cristiene lei,
Aukes avum de merci, kar esprové l’ai.
Mes les faus cristiens ke Deu reconurent
E baptesme e cristienté receurent,
E puis renerent Deu e deguerpirent
E de la sue volenté ren ne firent,
Icels sunt par desuz nus, çoe sachez de fi.
Si nus avum aucum, il n’unt point de merci.”
E puis, quant le chef aveit issi parlé,
Cist abbes le levat si l’at enterré.
Cist memes ABBEZ MACHARIE cuntat e dist
Kil en un heremitorie sutivement mist,
E un autre hermitorie pres de li esteit
U mut grant covent de freres esteit.
Un seir, cum li abbez esgardat par la veie avant,
Vit un deble en semblance de home venant.
Li quel de une cote longe vestu esteit
E vint vers l’abbé Macharie a grant espleit.
En meme la cote plusurs pertuz aveit,
E en chescun pertuz un ampoile pendeit.
E quant cel deble vint par dela li passant,
Li abbez li dist: “Quei vas tu querant?”
E cil li respundi, e dist senz demorer:
“Joe vois laval ces freres revisiter.”
E li abbez autre fee demandat e enquist:
“Purquei portes tantes ampoiles?” E il dist:
“Ceo sunt leteuuaries ke joe es ampoiles ai;
E joe vois laval e entre les freres le porterai.
E por çoe porte joe tantes ampoiles, sachez,
Ke cil que ne veut del unz ait del autre assez.
Kar çoe n’en avendrat ja en nule manere
Ke aucun de ces ne pleise u a moine u a frere.”
E quant il aveit çoe dit, chau pas s’en turnat
E vers cele abbeie a grant espleit alat.
E li abbez attendi iloec sun repeirer,
Kar s’il eust rens espleité voleit saver.
Puis a chef de pose le deble repairat,
E li abbez Macharie chau pas demandat:
“Coment funt les freres? E coment lur estat?”
E cil respundi, e dist: “Mut malement va,
Kar ne me volent de ren ore esculter,
Ne de mes letueries ne vout nul guster.”
“E dun n’i as tu ren conquis?”
“Un i ad,” dist il, “ki est mis amis,
Kar cil consent a mai quant joe venir i soil.
Icil est turné ça e la, sicum joe voil.”
E li abbez le nun de celui chau pas enquist.
“Theocistes out nun cil frere,” çoe li dist.
Quant le debles out le nun de celui mustré,
L’abbé chau pas a cel hermitorie est alé.
Quant les freres, de loins, venir le virent,
Encontre li des celles tuz eissirent.
Chescun s’esperout a sa celle mener,
E, pur çoe, feseit chascun sa celle aturner,
Kar les freres ne mistrent pas ensemblement,
Ainz mist chescun en sa celle severaument.
Dunc dist li abbez: “Od Theociste voil parler,
E en la celle Theociste voil herberger.”
E frere Theociste mult haité fut;
Od mult grant joie l’abbé receut.
E puis, quant il furent en la celle par sei,
Si dist li abbez: “Coment est il od tei?”
E cil respunt: “Par tes oreisuns, ben me estat.”
E li abbez Macharie autre feiz demandat:
“Dun n’es tu de pensers nule feiz assailli?”
E il dist: “A la fee. Ben m’esta, Deu merci.”
Kar ne poeit, pur hunte, geir la verité.
Dunc parlat l’abbé si l’ad si conforté:
“Joe ai plusurs anz, bel frere, en hermitorie esté,
E sui vieuz e dechaét. Nepurquant, sui tempté
E de muz e de fous pensers sui tant grevé
Ke guerpir mun liu oi sovent enpensé.”
Dunc dist Theociste: “Ben poet estre, bel pere.”
Derechef dist li abbes a meme le frere:
“De tel pensé su grevé sovent.”
E trestut içoe dist purpenseement.
Tant feinst li abbes de sei, e tant dist
Ke Theocistes la verité geist.
Quant li abbez entent tote sa temptatiun
Sicum il li aveit dit sa confessiun,
Dunc demandat: “Cument junez tu?” E cil respunt:
“Tresque a nune, sicum les autres funt.”
“Ore june, bel fiz,” fait il, “treque al seir,
E, par çoe, en caceras les temptatiuns, espeir.
E garde ke tu ne seez oisdif nul hore,
Mes tut dis estudie en aucun Escripture,
Kar odifté nuit mut a religiun.
Kar de çoe vient sovent annui e temptatiun.
Pur çoe, bel frere, cum joe te empreng e ensein,
Tute jurz aiez acun Escriture en main,
E quant aucun penser t’essaut, par aventure,
Ne gard pas aval mes amunt a dreiture,
E le aide de Deu continuement requer.
E il te aiderat, bel fiz, si tu requers de quor.”
Quant l’out charitablement enseigné,
A sun heremitorie chau pas est repairé.
Aprés, gardat li abbez cum il einz feseit,
E vit le deble venir od grant espleit.
Lores demandat li abbez: “U veuz tu ore aler?”
E il dist: “Joe vois ces freres amonester.”
Denaprés, quant le diable vint regiers,
Si demandat li abbez: “Coment funt ces freres?”
“Malement,” dist, “a mun oéz n’i oi nul espleit,
Kar trestuz sunt salvez ore, ne sai ke deit!
E çoe ke plus me greve e dunt me semble pis
Cil sul qui fut mun obeisant e mis amis
Tut est tresturné e en un autre sen est mis,
K’il est pire ke nul altre, çoe m’est vis.
Pur çoe, fis grant serement e a mei meimes dis
Ke long tens ne vendrai, quant ore ren n’i pris.”
Dunc alat li adversere e nent plus i remist,
E li abbez ignelpas en oreisuns se mist.
De une prode mechine uns abbez recontat
Ke en la pour de Deu tute sa jur usat.
Puis li demandat li abbez pur quel achaisun
Ele estet venue en cel religiun,
Lores començat a suspirer, e dire:
“Pur tant cum ere petite, bel sire,
Si oi un pere, ke prodome e paisable esteit,
E maladie en sun cors sovent aveit.
Li quel se tint si senz commune de gent
Ke guers nel vit nul de ses veisins sovent.
Sa terre gaignat, kar autre mester ne fist,
E tute sa entente en la geignure mist.
Encontre lit e en langor par mut tens jeut.
Sa vie usat tute senz terriene dedut.
Quant il acune feiz ert sein, par aventure,
Dunc portat a maisun le gain de sa cuture.
Tant ert il teisant ke cil ke nel coneut
Pur veir quidereit ke mot parler ne peut,
Kar issifaitement se contint mun pere.
Ore oiez quele vie menat ma mere:
Ele ert la plus laide de tut ceste tere,
E la plus curiuse que unke estut quere.
Tant aveit paroles ke l’em porreit quider
Ke tut sun cors fut lenge ke la orreit parler.
Od veisins tensat sovent e od veisins,
E sovent soleit beivre od lechurs as vins,
Kar tant luxuriose fu, sachez de fi,
Ke avisunkes se poeit nul garder de li.
Tut despendi e gastat, quant ele aveit eise,
Çoe k’en nostre maisun fut — tant par fut malveise!
Kar ele aveit la cure de nostre maisun,
Pur çoe mut grant chose ne nus aveit foisun,
Issi, gastat sun tens trestut en folie,
Kar unkes ne senti ne dolur ne maladie,
Mes, del pramer jur de sa nativité
Desque vint sun drein jur, vesquist en santé.
En ces afaires k’ele se contint issi,
Si murut mum pere, ke mut aveit langui.
Lores quant fut devié, çoe sachez pur veir,
Plut a veirs, e tunat, e fit grant escleir.
E durat cel tens voissum u nun,
Ke treis jurz estoveit sun cors giser en sa maisun.
Kar nel peumes enterrer pur la grant orage,
Kar il tuneit nuit e jur e ploveit a rage.
Tuz noz veisins s’esmervilerent durement,
E murent lur testes, e diseient sovent:
‘Nus quidium ke cist eust mut prodome esté.
Mut nus ad il tuz jurz ses fausetez celé,
Mes mut l’ad Dex enhai, çoe pert ore a l’hure
Quant la tere ne receit la sue sepulture.’
Puis, quant treis jurz aveit jeu sifaitement
E nus tenir nel peumes nient plus lungement,
Avisunkes l’enterrames pur le malhoré;
Mes nequedent, entre orages esteit enterré!
Quant çoe fut fait, ma mere ne lessat mie
Mes sulunc sa custume feseit sa folie,
Kar dunc out leisir de faire ses volentez,
E, pur çoe, se contint folement assez.
Nostre ostel esteit puis a tuz les lechurz,
Kar par ces folies ja trahist plusurs.
Issi gastat ele sun tens en folie e en delice.
Unkes ren ne li pleut fors çoe ke fut nice.
E tut gastat noz bens. Si ke joe mes nen poi,
Kar ere petite e guers de ben ne soi.
Quant ele aveit tant vescue ke murrir le estut,
Si murut, cum tuz frum, quant plus vivre ne pout.
Kar, ne dure geres joie mundaine.
Ne fait mie ke sage ke trop i met sa paine.
Icil est del tut deceu, çoe m’est avis,
Ke pur delit de sun cors pert parais.
Al jur quant cele murut, çoe vus di pur verur,
Feseit il bel tens e tant esteit cler le jur
Ke la gent quiderent, e diseient sovent,
K’il feseit si bel tens pur li soulement.
Aprés la mort ma mere, quant joe de age esteie,
Si me purpensai le quel joe siwereie:
U mum pere, ke tuz jurz vesqui sobrement,
U ma mere, ke se contint si folement.
Dunc penseie de mum pere, coment il esteut,
Ki pur tant cum fust en vie, unke ben n’eust,
Mes malades e enferm tutes veies fut;
Avisunces a sa mort la tere le reçut.
E si sele vie plust a Nostre Sire Jhesu Crist,
Purquei suffri, dunkes, si grant mal cum il fist?
‘Ma mere voil siwre,’ çoe dist mum penser,
‘E mun cors a delices voil abanduner,
Kar ele vesqui seinement tute sa vie,
E, ren ne lessat, ke turnast a folie,
E joie aveit e delit e prospreté.
Ma mere voil joe siwre, çoe est la verité,
Kar mieuz dei joe creire la chose ke joe veie
Ke joe faire ne dei içoe ke nient ne sei.’
Quant me plout sifaitement la vie ma mere,
E joe, chaitive, en mut grant purpens ere,
Si vint la nuit, si aliums tuz cuchier.
E joe comence chau pas a sumuller.
Lores vint un hume, e estut iloec devant,
E espontable out la gardure, e le cors grant,
Si me regardat mult coreseusement.
Puis parlat a mai, e dist mult asprement:
‘Ke est ço ke tu vas pensant, di senz demorer!’
Tant ert cil hidus ke n’osoue esgarder.
Dunc parlat plus asprement, e comandat a mei
Ke joe li deisse tut içoe ke joe pensai,
E joe fui pur le pour trubliee
Si dis ke joe n’aveie ren pensé.
E il me dist: ‘Si feis! Tu pensas tut issi.’
Si me cuntat tuz mes pensers, çoe sachiez de fi.
Dunc, li mustrai la verité e pardun li quis,
E la cause de mun penser tote li diz.
E il dist: ‘Ore vien od mei. Si verras tun pere,
E puis te mustrei l’estre de ta mere.
E quant l’estre de els veu averas,
Dunc purras siwre le quel ke tu vodras.’
Lores sasi ma main si me menat avant
Desque venimes en un champ bel e grant
El quel aveit arbres de deverses colurs
E mut fut bon l’odur que eissi des flurs.
Tant vis grant belté en cel champ aparer,
Ke nul vus porreit tut plenerement cunter.
Sicum des beltez de cel champ m’esmervelai,
Este vus mun pere, que vint encontre mei,
Si me saisi al col e chau pas me baisat,
E mut amiablement ‘file’ m’apelat.
E joe l’enbracei ausi e mut heité fui!
Si preai mut ke remeindre puse od lui,
E il me diseit çoe ne poet estre uncore pas,
‘Mes si tu siwes mes traces, tost i vendras.’
E cum joe voleie plus requere e prier
Ke joe puisse ensemblement od lui demorer,
Si me sakat par la main cil ke me guiat,
E dit: ‘Ven veer ta mere coment li estat.’
D’iloec, me menat en un oscure maisun
Ke plaine ert de croiz e de perturbatiun,
Si me mustrat une ardante furneise.
Ceus qui lens boillerent ne furent pas a eise,
Kar la peiz i fut boillant e nus debles esturent
Sur la furnaise, ke lais e hidus furent!
E joe esgardei dunc en cel obscurté
E vi la ma mere, desqu’al col plungé;
E fist od sé dens grant cruis cum ele arst en la peiz,
E si grant puur de cele forneise eissi
Ke joe esmervullai coment ele suffri.
Quant ele me vit, si criat dolerusement,
E ‘file’ m’apelat, disant faitement:
‘Allas, bele file, teles dolurs e peines
Soffre jo ore pur mes ovres demeines!
Kar joe tinc el secle trestut a folie
Quant partint a chasteté e sobre vie,
E pas ne quidoue ke par fornicatiun
Ne pur avulterie entrat nul en dampnatiun.
Pur iveresce ne pur luxurie, al mien jugement,
Ne devreit nul entrer ja en turment.
Mes ore le sai mut ben, kar esprove l’ai assez,
Ke tormens sunt encuntre tels apparaillez,
Ke pur petit delit, veez si grant dolurs
Teles ne me faillent ne de nuiz ne de jurz.
Pur les comandemenz Deu ke joe ne voleie tenir,
Ai ci receue, file, dolerus luir.
Ore sui en peinez! Tart ert le repentir!
Allas, chaitive, purquai ne puis joe murir?
Hai, bele file, cum est gref le suffrir!
Si joe vus unkes ben feiz, ore vus deit sovenir —
Ore vus susvenge cum joe vus nuri!
Aidez vostre mere! Si aiez merci de li!
Kar me tendez vostre main! Si me trahez de ci!
Aiez merci de mei, file, joe vus pri!’
E joe n’osoue pas çoe faire, çoe sachez finement,
Pur les debles qui esturent iloec en present.
Lores plurat e criat a voiz doleruse,
E diseit: ‘Mal m’estat kar mut sui anguissuse!
File, aidez mei! Ne me despicez!
Veez ma dolur e mun tristur! Kar me sucurez!
Remembre vus de la peine ke joe suffri
E del doel ke joe oi le jur ke primes vus vi!
Ne despicez pas le deplorement ta mere,
Kar tormenté sui de si male manere!’
Dunc oi joe grant pité, quant si la vi plorer.
E pur doel ke joe avei de li, si comensai a crier,
E cels de l’ostel m’oirent icel cri faire.
Pur çoe, levent, e alument le feu aneire,
E vienent chau pas, si me demandent purquei
Joe feisse si grant doel e purquei joe plurai.
Dunc fui joe tut esbai en cel effrai;
Nepurquant, tut içoe ke joe avei veu lur cuntai.
E puis de meimes l’avisiun pensai,
E dis: ‘La vie mun pere, pur veirs, siwerai,
Kar ore sui tute aseure e ben le sai,
Si joe fas ben u mal, tut le troverai.
E ben sai ke peines e tormens e dolurs
Sunt aturné, senz dotance, as pecheurs,
E grant joies e delices, senz nule faillance,
Attendent les justes trestut, senz dotance.’
Quant la seinte meschine out veue l’avisiun
Par Dampnedeu ke de çoe li fist mustreisun,
Si la cuntat a plusurs par tel ententiun
K’il se gardassent d’enfernel dampnatiun.
Ben lur dist e mustrat certeinement
K’el altre secle ad joie e turment:
La joie averunt icés ke la voilent deservir,
E cil averunt turment ki morent senz repentir.
Ore lerrum de parler d’icest chapitre atant,
Kar ben vus ei, çoe m’est vis, tenu covenant.
Mes de primes voil a tut dire e consailler
Ke cil ki esteit se gaite mut de tresbucher,
E cil ke chai e gist se paine de lever.
Deus nus doinst a lui venir sanz demurer.”
Un frere vint a L’ABBÉ PUCTIUN
Si li dist qu’il soffri grant temptatiun.
E li abbez li comandat qu’il se deut esloigner
De sun liu cum en treis jurz porreit aler,
E un an iloec enterement demorast,
Chescun jur desque la nuit si seul junast.
Lores li respundi cel frere, e diseit:
“E quei si joe ainz moer qui l’an passé seit?
Ke serreit de mei e de ma penitence?”
E li abbé li respundi senz demorance:
“Si tu partes de mei par tel ententiun
Ke tu parfaces ceste confessiun,
E tu morgez chau pas quant serras departi,
Ma creance est que Dex averat de tei merci
E ta penitence receverat erraument
Si tu morges en cel bon purpensement.
E que cert seiez de çoe ke joe te di,
O dunc l’essample ke joe te dirrai ici:
En Egypte fut un frere en liu manant,
Ke mut ert prodome e de religiun grant,
E cil frere en la cité une sorur aveit
Ke a tuz icels ke voleient commune esteit.
E mainte alme alat par li en dampnatiun,
Kar unke ne s’entremist si de folie nun.
Les freres qui ensemblement od cel frere mistrent
Sovente feiz l’amonesterent, e li distrent
K’il alast a sa soer, pur li amonester
K’ele guerpesist sun pecché e si le leissat ester.
Tant l’amonesterent ke avisunkes i alat.
E quant il aprochat le liu u ele surjurnat,
Aucun des veisins, ke le frere conuisseit,
Alat avant a la suer si li diseit:
‘La vi, dame, tun frere, ki de sa fors vient.’
E quant ele oi çoe, si ne se targat nient,
Mes, pur joie de sun frere, chaut pas eissi,
E sez amis qu’ele servi en la meisun guerpi.
Encontre corut, tote desguinplee —
Kar le guinple ne li sovint tant par ert liee!
E quant ele vint a lui, sil vout enbracer
Dunc començat le frere tuit issi a parler:
‘Bele soer, aiez de tei meimes pité,
Kar meint alme ad Dex perdu pur ta belté.
Coment purras tu suffrir les granz tormenz
Ke sunt apresté al Deble e a sez genz
Ki funt ces ovres tuz jurz e le soen pleisir?
Hai, bele soer, tant i at dolerus suffrir!
Kar feu e freid en enfern ja ne faudirunt,
Ne autres paines assez ke ja ne finerunt.
E trestuz cels qui servunt de tun mester
E les autres ki le Deble purrat purchacer —
Trestuz irrunt en ces tormenz dont joe t’ai dit.
Mar furent ceus qui la irrunt par corperel delit.’
Dunc, out ele hisdur des peines, e puis li enquist:
‘Purrai joe aver merci?’ E sun frere dist:
‘Joe sai tres ben ke tu purras aveir pardun,
Kar Dex velt ke tu vinges a salvatiun.’
Dunc chiet ele as piez sun frere a terre,
Sil començat mut a prier e a requere
Ki l’amenast al desert od lui arere.
‘Va dunc coverir ta teste,’ diseit sun frere,
‘E quant revendras, si irrum avant.’
Mes ele respundi, e dist: ‘Mes alum meintenant,
Kar mut me vient miuz ore aler od nu chef
K’entrer el bordel en mun pecché derechef.’
Dunc, s’en alerent ambedui ensemblement,
E il l’amonestat par veie amiablement.
Puis vindrent homes contr’els a grant alure,
E le frere dist a sa soer a dreiture:
‘Turnez tai, soer, del chemin pur ces trespassanz,
Kar pas ne sevent tuz ke nus sumes partenanz.’
E ele turnat del chemin cum il rovat.
E quant il furent passé, sun frere l’apelat,
Mes ele ne respundi pas, e il s’esmerveillat.
Lores alat si la quist e morte la trovat.
E les traces de ces piez la u ele fut alee,
Pleines furent de sanc, kar ele fut tut deschaucé.
Dunc la mist sun frere en tere, e puis s’en alat,
E tut çoe ke fait fu as freres contat.
E il parlerent entr’els de sa remissiun —
Pur saver si Dex avereit de li merci u nun.
Dunc mustrat Dex de li par avisiun
A un des viuz freres de la maisun:
Pur çoe k’ele meme sifaitement despit,
E od sun frere en la veie chau pas se mist,
E cure n’out de corporel susteinement,
Mes trestut laissat, e guerpist erraument,
E out chaut pas conpunctiun e repentance,
Pur çoe, ad Deu receu sa penitance.”
Un seculer vint od un fiz a L’ABBÉ SYSOI,
Ki ert manant el munt od L’ABBÉ ANTONI.
Cum il vint a la maisun a l’abbé aprosmant,
Si murut cum il vint a la veie li enfant.
Cil nen fut nient pur la mort sun fiz trublé,
Mes out bone creance le portat a l’abbé.
Chai, od sun fiz, devant ces piez tut dreiz,
Cum pur prendre penitence de ces mesfaiz
E pur aver del seint abbé beneisun.
Puis levat, e lessa sun fiz en la maisun,
E defors la porte de la celle est alé,
E sun fiz jeut mort devant les pez l’abbé.
L’abbez quidout qu’il just iloec pur penitence.
Dunc diseit li abbez a lui sant demorance:
“Dresce tei e va t’en fors. Quei atens tu ci?”
Ne sout pas qu’il fut morz, e pur çoe dist il issi.
E cil levat ignelpas si s’en alat!
Puis quant sun pere le vit, si s’esmervillat.
Lores reentrat a l’abbé si li cuntat
Coment sun fiz esteit mort quant il le portat.
Li abbez fut mut dolent quant il çoe li diseit,
Kar il ne voleit pas ke çoe eust esté par lui fait.
Dunc comandat chau pas qu’il nel contast mie
Deci qu’il fut trespascé de ceste mortele vie.
Ici vus remembre LI ABBEZ VINDEMIUS
Ceo qui contat une feez LI ABBEZ MACHARIUS:
“Jadis, quant joe en la tere de Sit demorai,
Si vindrent dous bachilers estranges a mai.
A l’un de cels poi de barbe, e a l’autre ne mie.
Dunc distrent: ‘U est la celle a l’abbé Macharie?’
E joe demandai quei il voleient de li fere.
‘Nus le vuldrum veer,’ diseient cels anere.
E joe dis: ‘Çoe sui joe. Dites quei vus plaist.’
‘Nus meindrum,’ çoe distrent, ‘ci, si ben vus est.’
Mes il semblerent suef nurriz, pur çoe lur diz:
‘Ne poez pas ici remeindre, belz amiz.’
Dunc respundi li einznez, e diseit tut issi:
‘Nus irrum aillurs si nus ne poum estre issi.’
Dunc di joe en mun corage e començai a penser:
‘Purquai les encacerei joe s’il veilent ici demorer?
Les granz laburs de cest liu les encaceront,
E quant il ne purrunt avant, si s’en irrunt.’
Dunc lur dis joe: ‘Si vus volez demorer,
Si vus covent a voz oéz celles appariler.’
E il distrent: ‘Mustrez nus le liu sulement
E nus memes frum la celle mut habitablement.’
Lures lur mustrai une mut dure quarere,
Si lur dis: ‘Ci devez prendre pere,
E, la, trencherez merun si enporterez.
E quant la celle ert parfaite, si habiterez.’
Puis lur liverai une coigné e del cel
E plaine escheppes de peins, kar joe n’oi el.
E quidoue, pur veir, k’il deussent le liu guerpir,
E qu’il ne peusent unkes le labur suffrir.
Puis demanderent: ‘Quai devum ci laborer?’
E joe lur dis: ‘Voz devez les paumes trescer.’
E si lur dis ke eskeppes deusent apariller
E as gardeinz de l’iglise pur dous painz doner.
Aprés çoe, m’en departi senz demorance,
E il firent quanque joe lur dis en pacience.
Les treis anz aprés, ne vindrent pas a mei,
Pur çoe dis a mun penser si m’esmervilai:
‘Ke poet çoe estre que cels a mai venu ne sunt?
Volenters vodrai saver cument il le funt,
Kar icels qui sunt de loing venent sovent,
E ceus ne vunt mes a l’iglise sulement.’
Dunc junai un semaine e començai a prier
Ke Dex lur contenement me dust demustrer.
Aprés icele simaine si me levai
E pur veer lur estre a lur celle alai.
Quant joe botai a l’us, entrer me lesserent.
E quant il me virent, si me saluerent.
Joe sis aval puis ke joe avei fet uresun,
Cum il est custume a gent de religiun.
Puis mustrat le greindre al meindre qu’il eissit;
E il meme ne parlat mot, mes une tresce fist.
Puis quant ert avenu ke nune esteit pres,
Si començat il a ferir sur un eez.
[E li menur revint, que un poi de pulment fist.]
E puis aprés ce, une petite table mist,
E treis petiz panez sur la table posat,
E dist, ‘Mangum.’ E nus chau pas lavames.
E seimes aval, e beumes e mangames.
Al seir demanderent si joe vousise departir,
E joe dis: ‘Nanal, mes anuit voil joe ci demorir.’
Puis mistrent une nate, a mun oéz, severalement,
E, a lur oéz, mistrent de l’altre part ensement.
E lur cines aporterent e lur drapes,
E chocherent dormir devant mei amdous.
E quant il cocherent, si començai a prier
Ke Dex lur overaignes me deust demustrer.
Attant, overi le cumble e une clarté i entrat,
E la celle cum çoe fust jur elluminat.
Mes il ne virent pas la clarté, çoe sachez de fi.
Puis, quant il quidoent que joe fuisse endormi,
Si tuchat le einznez le menor tut belement,
E cil leverent andui mut belement,
E esturent od silence, e tindrent lur mains amunt.
Cil me ne veient nient, mé joe vei qu’il funt.
Dunc vindrent deables, cum musches espescement,
E environerent le puisné, sachez finement.
E les uns li voleient sur la buche seer,
E les autres voleient sur les oilz avaler.
Lores vi ilec un angle ke en aie li vint,
E une espeie tut flambante en sa main tint.
E començat les debles des freres encacier,
Mes al greignur ne purrunt unkes aprochier,
Issi esturent od silence, cum joe vus ai dit.
A meimes del jur cocherent sur lur lit.
E joe fiz semblant cum joe fuisse esveillé;
Cil firent ensement. Puis diseit le eisné:
‘Nus volum chanter duze psalmes sulement.’
Lores chantat e li menur ensement,
E par chescun vers qui li menur chantat,
Une lampe de feu de sa buche eissi, e al cel muntat.
Ensement, quant le greignur sa buche uveri,
Fumé Deu muntat el ciel, ke de sa buche eissi.
E joe dis, ausi cum il, un poi de mun mester.
Puis departi, e priai qu’il duissent pur mei prier.
Il m’enclinent e ne dient grant ne petit.
Dunc, soi joe ben ke le greignur esteit parfit,
Mes le menur, sicum joe crei e ben entendi,
Qu’il esteit uncore de l’Adversere assailli.
Puis, aprés un poi de tens, murut le greignur;
E le tiers jur aprés, deviat le menur.”
Puis aprés çoe, quant aucun des peres venit,
Li abbes Macharie sifaitement lur dist:
“Venez veer le martir de ces dous freres.”
E puis amenat a lur celle ces peres.
Un frere demandat a un vil abbé, si diseit:
“Si aucun de bone fame e de grant renomé seit,
Purrat le, senz ovre, salver sulement?”
E li abbé lui respundi, e dist: “Ne purrat nient,
Kar si aucun est senz deserte loé de la gent,
Çoe ne li est nul ben, einz li est empeirement.
E çoe mustrai par essample espressement.”
Lores si començat a cunter sifaitement:
“En un liu mist jadis un sutif heremite,
Ki prodome esteit e de grant merite.
Li quel començat aucune feiz a urer,
E priat ke Dampnedeu li dust demustrer
Coment l’alme del juste e l’alme del peccheur
Est traist del cors e s’il sent dunc dolur.
Deus ne veut pas contrister le frere,
Pur çoe lui grantat la sue praiere.
Kar, puis entrat un leu cum il en sa celle sist,
E les dras al frere en sa buche prist
Sil traist fors de sa celle, issi, par les dras,
E le frere siwi le lu ignelpas.
Lores l’amenat le leu desque a une cité,
Puis departi, si ad le frere iloec laissé.
Defors icele cité un muster aveit
El quel mist un reclus que de grant nun esteit.
Cil memes reclus mut malade jeut,
Si n’atendi mes l’oure que morir deut.
Dunc vist le frere ke li leu out amené
Ke cil del muster e cil de la cité
Firent pur cel reclus grant apparaillement,
E de lampes e de cirges ensement.
E tuz firent grant pleintes, e diseient sovent:
‘Si cist moret, si murrum tuz ensement.’
Kar si seint home e si digne esteit il tenuz
De tuz cels de la cité. Mes il furent deceuz
Cum si Dex, par la sue bunté sulement,
Salvast tuz de la cité, e nient autrement,
E sicum Dex, sulement par sa merite,
Ewe e pain lur donat. Mes il fut ypocrite.
Puis quant l’oure vint ke cist reclus dust murir,
Si vit le frere un deble desur li venir
Ki aveit une mut grante furche ardante.
Lores oit une voiz espressement criante,
Si dist: ‘Cum cest alme sovent me travilat,
E une sule ure reposer ne me lessat,
Ausi tu n’ais nule merci de li:
Mes esrachiez la hors del cors tut senz merci!’
Lores prist cel deble la furche, si l’afichat
El quer al reclus, e mut le tormentat.
E quant il l’out si tormenté lungement,
Si li sachat l’alme del cors, dolerusement.
Denaprés, s’en alat en la cité cel frere —
Quant li reclus fut mort en ceste manere —
E trovat un pelerin, par aventure,
Ke jeut en la riuue, e nul ne prist de li cure.
Mes tut jut sul e malades fut forment,
E le frere remist od lui un jur enterement.
Puis, quant vint l’ore que li pelerin devier deveit,
Suunt venu Michael e Gabriel, cum Deu le voleit.
Li un a sa destre, e li autre a sa senestre s’asist.
E roverent a l’alme mut bel qu’ele issit,
Mes ele ne voleit, pur els, eissir
Pur çoe qu’ele hai mut del cors partir.
Dunc dist Gabriel: ‘Pernét, Michel, si alum.’
Michel respundi, e dist: ‘Nus ne poum,
Kar Dex nus la comandat senz dolur traire,
Pur çoe ne li poum nule force faire.’
Adunc criat Michel a Deu en haute voiz, e dist:
‘Ke frum de cest alme que pur rien ist?’
Dunc oierunt une voz, senz demorement
Ke diseit a Seint Michel sifaitement:
‘Joe enverrai David od sa harpe uncore ui,
E tuz les chantanz de Jerusalem, od li.
E quant ele orrat le suen de la harpe e le chant,
Si isterat, pur la melodie, meintenant.’
Puis vint David, e les autres ensement,
E chanterent entur l’alme mut dulcement.
Dunc a primes eissi entre les meins Michael.
E il la pristrent sil porterent od joie el ciel.
Nus freres qui sumes de religiun
Grant essample poum prendre de cest sermun,
Kar cist pelerun dunt vus ai cunté ci
Murut senz confort de parent e d’ami,
E Dex li enveiat ses angles, sacchez de fi,
Ke li conforterent cum vus avez oi.”
The Lives of the Fathers
In honor of Lord God the Almighty
And also Mary his sweet mother
And all the male and female saints together,
I’ll speak from a treatise found here at hand.
It’s called Lives of the Fathers, as I understand,
Which was translated for the people’s profit
So as to give lively instruction in French
To those otherwise incapable of learning about
The lives and conduct of holy men
Who lived reverently in former times.
Now listen here well, by my counsel,
All who intend to serve God.
In speaking, I don’t seek gold or silver from you,
Nor anyone’s praise or esteem, know this indeed,
For God shall reward me fully for my labor
When I come before him at the Last Judgment.
And you who listen to it attentively
Will be improved in body and soul
If you’re willing to conduct yourself precisely
As this sermon expounds and teaches you.
There was a worthy man who’d entered religion.
He came to MASTER ANTHONY his abbot, asking him:
“How may I please my Lord Jesus Christ?”
To this, Master Anthony responded, saying:
“Observe well the things I command you:
Wherever you go, keep God before you.
Whatever you’re engaged in doing,
Draw on the authority of sacred Scripture.
Wherever you’re first positioned,
Be not impatient to advance from there —
That’s to say, always stay constant.
Abide by these three things, and you’ll come to paradise.”
Afterwards another monk came forward.
“How should I act?” he asked ABBOT ANTHONY.
He answered him, saying this:
“Never be boastful about your works.
You mustn’t regret the things you’ve given up —
That’s to be understood, without any lying,
For it’s not right for anyone to regret,
Nor to grieve or lament over the riches
He’s given up for God’s sake and his service,
For he’ll reward him well on the Day of Doom.
And I advise you well, by my understanding,
As to your tongue and belly: practice abstinence.”
SAINT GREGORY, Pope of Rome, said:
“Three things will God require of each one
Who is Christian and has received baptism.
If he doesn’t have these, he’s tricked and deceived.
These are: that he hold true faith throughout his life,
That he guard his tongue from speaking foolishly,
And bodily chastity.” Thus said Saint Gregory:
“For without these, no one will come to God’s glory.”
JOHN, a good abbot, told us in Latin
That every Christian must, first thing each morning,
Gird himself with the virtues God commands
Before eating any food.
That’s to say, he must be peaceful and trust
All those of his faith,
And be merciful to evildoers,
Charitable toward the poor,
And set his hope in God
Having mercy for his sins without fail,
And he must bear love for his neighbors,
Patience, humility, and contrition,
Bodily chastity, and fear of Jesus Christ.
The good man explains these virtues to us,
And he tells us something else: however difficult it seems,
One shouldn’t grow angry over an offense,
And shouldn’t offend another who offends him;
Instead, he must always return good for evil.
One should beware of envious people,
And not become too proud in his heart.
And one should prepare himself every day
As though he were absolutely certain to die that day.
THEODORE, a good abbot of former times, said:
“This is what I value above all other things,
And the most profitable thing I know:
That a man avoid the folly called socage,
Divest himself of worldly property,
And flee the crush of people and their assembly.”
In former times ABBOT JOSEPH was born in Thebes.
He spoke to his monks, exhorting them in this way:
“God dearly loves, know this, three actions
That are honorable before his Holy Face.
The first is that, when a man is enclosed
And his flesh tempted to the highest degree,
He offers thanks to his Creator for this,
And willingly suffers all for the love of God.
And the second action is, as I understand it,
When someone performs his deeds so purely
That he does it not for any fame or reward
Or flattery, but only for God.
The third is, know certainly and truly,
When someone fully relinquishes his own will,
Placing himself in religion for God’s love,
To live in obedience and submissiveness.”
A brother once asked his abbot:
“Teach me something good, dear father,
Which I may retain for all time,
And by which I may best please God.”
Thereupon, the abbot answered him, saying:
“It’s best to know no good other than Jesus Christ.
However, I’ll now tell you what’s been told us.
One of our fathers asked an abbot
The very same thing that you ask me:
‘By what work is God most pleased?’
He answered him thus: ‘Know, dear brother,
Works aren’t all just of one kind,
For Scripture has told us about Abraham,
A worthy man and dispenser of hospitality,
And God was truly with him, and held him dear,
For he served him well in this position.
And Elijah, a holy man and good prophet,
Lived his life in great tranquility,
And God acted with him, as you well know,
For he was transported while alive to paradise.
Of David, Scripture shows us
He was humble and lived temperately,
And God was with him, we don’t doubt this at all.
He showed this upon his death and in his life.
These three men worked in different ways,
And God was certainly with them all.’
Therefore, dear brother, I want you to know well:
In whatever work delights you, as God wills,
By this, you’ll save yourself, have no doubt.
But watch that your heart never delight in folly.”
Three works are profitable to the body,
As ABBOT PASTOR explained to us in writing:
“Willingness to cleanse and protect one’s heart,
Letting no evil thought or foolish desire stay there;
Desire to recognize and know of oneself
That he’s made of dust and shall return to ashes;
And knowledge that one must possess discernment.
This one behaves like a monk.”
Moreover, this abbot said, concealing nothing at all:
“Three things are needful to the solitary life:
That a man love poverty, mortify his body,
And not be lazy about working with his hands.
By means of these things he’ll be able to expel
Bodily sloth, temptation, and weariness.”
He also shows us, through signifying models,
Three paths that are profitable, without doubt,
And he’s shown them by very good reasoning,
Drawing the following comparison to three persons:
“Noah divested himself of worldly possessions,
And he signifies monks.
Job represents, know this truly,
Those who live honestly by their labor.
The prophet Daniel signifies
The wise and those who hold to a chaste life.
He who seeks to imitate any of these three
Is able to enter God’s kingdom after death.”
In addition, the abbot said this: “Above all, indeed,
Each monk must hate two things.”
Then a brother began to question him:
“What are these two things? Tell us, dear father.”
Then the abbot answered him: “Now I’ll tell you.
I’ll gladly teach you these two things.
They’re vainglory and carnal delight,
Which a monk must entirely despise.
I’ll tell you a bit about vainglory,
For everyone ought to despise this vice,
And you must therefore remember well
What I tell you here about vainglory:
Remember to stay away from this vice,
For you mustn’t love it at all in any way.
Vainglory is, know this certainly,
When someone does good deeds in others’ sight,
Doing them neither for God nor for holiness.
Instead, he does them for praise and for vanity.
Of such people Our Lord Jesus Christ said this
In the gospel that Saint Matthew wrote:
‘Those who perform charity for praise, they’re ensnared,
For their reward’s a harsh judgment
When they’ve done their charity for worldly praise.’
It’s proper, therefore, that it be by payment
In this world that they collect their reward,
For they’ve utterly lost heavenly joy.
Therefore, every worthy man should take care
Not to covet praise or renown for his good deeds.”
ABBOT PAMBO lay ill in his cell
When he was about to depart from this world.
Around him then gathered a large company
Of brothers and monks from his abbey.
Then said the abbot, in everyone’s hearing, this speech
Well befitting a man of religion:
“Now know, my brothers, in all truth,
Ever since I began to live in seclusion,
I’ve not eaten any bread
That wasn’t cultivated by my hand,
Nor have I spoken any words, know certainly,
For which I must repent since I’ve lived here.
And now it seems to me, know this well,
As if I’ve never done anything for God.”
There was once a holy abbot by the name of CHAME
Who ordered his monks, as he prepared his end:
“Guard yourselves from living with heretics,
And from prosecuting and judging the poor,
And don’t apply yourselves to loving wealth,
But only to donating all goods for love of God.”
There was in ancient times an abbot named Cassian.
He speaks and tells us of another abbot, John,
Who displayed a lovely appearance as he lay in a trance
And was about to leave this world, as pleased God.
Then his monks came and stood around him
As men saddened by his death,
And they said: “Dear father, attend to us.
Speak words to us by which we may improve.”
At that, he let forth a sigh and told them:
“Never did I do anything of my own will,
Nor did I ever teach anything, small or great,
If I myself hadn’t previously done it.”
A brother, the book says, wanted to know
How the fear of God might come into his heart.
Thereupon his abbot responded and instructed him,
And he taught him three excellent sayings:
“If you have in yourself perfect humility
And the fear of God living in the Trinity,
And you take pleasure in your poverty,
And you take good care not to judge others,
Then the fear of God will enter your heart.”
A monk spoke, as I find, to his brother,
And instructed him well in this manner:
“Take care that you have within you humility
And the fear of God living in the Trinity;
And weep for your sins to the highest degree;
And pray to God diligently for pardon;
And, if you’re troubled, ask often.
These are the four things that the soul requires.”
A worthy man preached to his spiritual sons,
And he told them these very words and sayings:
“The thing that you hate and find most annoying,
Take heed that you don’t do it to others;
If you bear anger toward one who slanders you,
Then avoid speaking ill and slandering;
And if you hate one who accuses you wrongly,
Accuse no one of anything other than good, this I advise you.
And if any of you wants to hate someone
Who, rightly or wrongly, takes something from you,
Then, if you’ll believe me, make sure
That none of you wants to do such a thing.
He who’s willing to behave as I’ve said
Is able to be saved, by my thinking.”
This is the life of a brother and a good monk,
As a worthy man says and testifies:
“Let each one practice obedience with regard to himself;
And let no one quarrel with his brother;
And let him not grumble, but always think well;
And let him not concern himself with judging a Christian,
For Holy Scripture commands and tells us:
‘You who love God should hold evil in contempt.’
Do not hold company with a wicked man,
And take care that your eyes not see foolishness;
And one should refrain from foolishness on earth,
And not concern himself with the deeds of others.
He should hide nothing from those close to him,
But give away all of whatever comes in his hands.
He should have in his heart neither pride nor foolishness,
Guard himself well against vainglory and envy.
He shouldn’t want to overfill his belly with meat,
Lest he be unable to sing high and low in the monastery.
Instead he should do everything with discretion.
This is the life of a monk and of religion.”
A holy abbot spoke one day to his community,
Instructing all of them as follows:
“Pray earnestly to your Creator
That he place humility and tears in your heart.
And when you see someone sin mortally,
You shouldn’t judge him for it in the manner of God,
For God is merciful and full of compassion,
And has entirely redeemed the sinner from his sin.
Always keep your sins before your eyes,
So that you may refrain from judging sinners.
Be submissive in your charity.
Never hold friendship with a woman,
For by women have many men been betrayed;
Therefore, take heed that you’re not defiled.
Never have any closeness with a child,
For men are often blamed without cause.
Flee any heretics that you see.
And don’t trust at all in your own strength,
For should we have any goodness in us,
We have it from God, not at all from our birthright.
And if you want to vanquish the Devil entirely,
Then abstain in tongue and in belly.
Abstain from wine and don’t desire it,
For wine draws many a worthy man to folly.
If, by chance, anyone should speak foully to you,
Never quarrel with him over anything that he says.
If he speaks well, tell him that he’ll have comfort;
If he speaks ill, tell him that he’ll find pain.
And, therefore, don’t quarrel with him for any reason,
Whatever he says to you, evil or good.
And if you’re willing to act and speak in this manner,
Then you’ll keep your heart in peace and without anger.”
ABBOT EVAGRIUS said this to his brothers:
“Take care, don’t be too covetous
To gather riches and worldly goods,
For it’s a dangerous thing, know this truly.
Coveting wealth is a very wicked thing,
For he who’s too covetous never rests,
But is always in tribulation, night and day;
He spends his life entirely without joy or delight,
For he’s always sad and downcast of heart,
Anguished and anxious, sorrowful and wretched.”
Abraham came to ABBOT SISOIS, his father,
And he said to him and counseled him in this way:
“Dear father, you’re now of great age;
Let’s act wisely by removing ourselves from the world.”
Sisois replied, saying: “You speak sensibly.
Let’s go then and make ourselves a house,
And remain in seclusion as hermits
In a place where no woman lives,
For it’s better to expose one’s breast to a serpent
Than to a woman who’s inflamed by love.”
Then Abraham responded, putting this question to him:
“Where can we find a place entirely without women
Unless it be, by chance, in the desert?”
“Let’s go there then,” said Sisois, “with haste,
And remain there in perpetuity,
Away from the multitude and the crush of people.”
ABBOT PASTOR spoke this saying,
Like one who’d been educated at a very good school:
“Pride is, in truth, the root of all evil.
Therefore you ought to shun this vice altogether.
For if one prizes himself in his heart,
He certainly does great harm to his soul.
And he who humbles himself, he’ll be raised up;
And he who lifts himself, he’ll be lowered.”
In addition, this same Pastor preached,
Because he had true love toward all Christians:
“It’s very good for you, as you all know, to flee
The bodily things that can harm you,
For those who are physically close to battle
And see folly clearly and at hand,
They’re like the one, I’ll not hide it from you,
Who comes to stand beside a very deep well
Into which his enemy might throw him
Whenever he would want to drown him.
And he who stands far from the physical battle,
That one is, without doubt, similar to the one
Who goes away to stand far from the well
So that his enemy can’t throw him in.
And if, by chance, he draws near the well,
God will quickly be able to help him.”
ABBESS MARONE spoke in this way:
“Many flee the noise and press of people
And place themselves deliberately in religion,
But then they keep neither rule nor obedience,
But ruin themselves through their negligence,
For they maintain neither rule nor obedience.
And, therefore, I’ll tell you what I understand:
It’s better to live with good will among people
Than to place in religion just one’s body
And leave one’s heart and thought outside.”
A worthy man tells us of three young men
Who dearly loved each other when they were secular.
And they made among themselves a pact
That they’d go into religion without delay.
Each of them would live in a different place,
And each would attend to a different office.
The first decided to concern himself
With reconciling the discordant, as the Letter says:
“Blessed are they, by Almighty God,
Who love peace and bring peace among people!”
The second chose to comfort the sick,
And the third wished to dwell in a secluded place.
Consequently, the three went into religion
And did as they’d previously agreed.
The first undertook to resolve disputes
And bring the discordant to accord through pure love,
And he served in this office of which I’ve told you
Until he saw that he couldn’t reconcile people as he wished.
Then this brother grew weary of his office
And, leaving everything aside, went to his companion,
The one who was supposed to serve sick people,
And told him that he couldn’t carry on.
He answered him, saying, most certainly,
That he too couldn’t endure his office any more.
Then they joined together and went directly
To their third companion who lived in seclusion,
And they asked him what they ought to do,
For they wished to withdraw from their offices.
He didn’t answer, but was silent a little while.
Then he filled a goblet with water, saying to them:
“Now look in this goblet.” And they did so
And saw that the water in the goblet was quite cloudy.
Then he set it down and let it sit for awhile
Until the water inside became entirely clear.
Then he took the goblet, saying: “Now look, my brothers.”
They came forward and looked again,
And they saw themselves reflected in it, so clear was it,
As if it were a mirror or precious stone.
When they’d done this, their companion spoke to them
And lay before them the following thought:
“Likewise, clouded is he who dwells among the multitude,
For he can’t see his sins clearly;
And when he comes to the solitary life,
Then does he see his folly clearly.”
This was commonly said of the holy abbot
Called by the name ARSENIUS
That, wherever he sat working with his hands,
There always hung a piece of cloth in his lap
To remove and wipe away the tears from his face,
Which were wont to fall thickly from his eyes.
A brother once asked ABBOT AMMON:
“Dear father, tell me some good speech.”
Then said the abbot: “Brother, think just like
Felons who are imprisoned,
For they’re accustomed to ask a man,
‘Where’s the judge, and when’s he likely to return?’
In that frame of mind, they exhibit grief and sorrow
Until they’ve come before the judge.
In like manner, the monk should always be afraid
And weep diligently for his sins.
He ought to say to himself: ‘Alas, wretch!
How will I appear before God at that great debate
On the Day of Doom, at the woeful trial
Where sins will be revealed to many?
There it’ll be needful for me to account for my actions;
It’ll go badly if I can’t defend myself!’
If you’re always willing to think this way,
Then you’ll be able, without doubt, to save your soul.”
EVAGRIUS, whom I mentioned to you earlier, gave this sermon,
Which is very good for both clerk and layperson,
And he said it to those he guided in God’s name,
For a man should always exhort his subjects:
“Brothers, when you’re sitting by yourself in your cell,
Gather your thoughts and ready yourselves.
Think about your death! Think about your body!
Think that it’ll become earth when the soul exits it!
Think about the plagues! Take heed of the pains
That often occur on earth because of sinners!
Maintain horror of the foolishness and vanities
That reign abundantly among people!
May you be watchful of yourselves and very moderate.
Always hold firm in your good intention.
Hold in memory the pains of down below,
Which the wicked shall suffer forever without relief!
Think how all those confined in hell
Dwell in sorrow without end and without rest!
Now consider the Judgment in great fear:
They have enough pain now, shall have more afterwards!
And again, dear brothers, reflect very hard,
Establish it firmly in your heart,
How God will come at the Last Judgment,
And how everyone shall come before him.
Think of the tribulation and the horror
That sinners will suffer on that day,
When all evil deeds will be revealed
Before God and before all his company
Of angels, and all the people together,
And the archangels who will be present there.
Think of the pains that will then begin
For the wretched damned when they leave Judgment:
Fire, vermin, and infernal darkness,
Gnashing of teeth, cold, and intolerable fear.
Hold all these evils in mind!
Think as well of those who are in glory
Before God and before all his angels,
Before the prophets, before the archangels,
And before all the holy company
Who willingly served God in this life —
Those who are in pain and those who are in glory!
You should weep sorely for the suffering of sinners,
And take great care that you don’t come there.
You should rejoice in the joy of the righteous;
In your heart you ought to pray to God often
That you may come quickly to them,
And dwell in the joy that knows no end!
Now take care, dear brothers, if you believe me,
That you remember these things.
Never forget this state of affairs,
Whether you’re in cell or in yard,
And if you think of these things often,
You’ll thereby be able to drive evil thoughts away.”
Once there was an abbot by the name of ELIAS
Who led a very spiritual life.
He said: “There are three things that I constantly fear:
The first is when I reflect on death;
And the second, when I remember the manner in which
I’ll come before God on Doomsday;
And the third is when I’ll hear read aloud my sins
That the Devil’s had written into his account.
I know well that I’ll have no desire to laugh then;
Instead, I’ll have sorrow and deep anguish of heart.”
ATHANASIUS, as the story relates, came
To ABBOT PAMBO, who lived in a hermitage,
And he begged that he might leave there
And come to the city of Alexandria.
He granted it gladly and commended his plan;
He set out on his way and went from there.
It happened that he came upon a wanton woman,
Who wept anxiously and looked unhappy.
She lamented sorrowfully that she couldn’t find
Young men who wished to sin with her.
Upon this point Abbot Pambo took time to reflect.
He couldn’t restrain himself but began to weep.
Then one of the brothers said: “Dear father, why
Do you weep so tenderly? Tell me.”
He answered: “Two things make me weep.
I wish to tell you what these things are:
One is for the woman who’ll be lost,
If she doesn’t take care, due to lechery;
The other, for this: because I can’t continue
To please God through my weeping
As much as this woman strives to please
Men, whom she draws with her and leads to hell.”
SYNCLETICA once presented this sermon:
“At first with great effort does one learn to be a novice,
For when each person first comes to religion,
He endures the Devil’s assaults and temptations.
If he can defeat and overcome him through good deeds,
He’ll have great joy, and the rule will be easy for him.
And I’ll demonstrate this for you by a comparison:
Just as those who’d light a fire of peat or coal
Work very hard before the fire is lit,
And their eyes weep from the acrid smoke,
And, when the fire is bright and they warm themselves at it,
It seems to them the work was not troublesome,
So too should we, with weeping, with work, habituate ourselves
So that we may light divine fire inside ourselves.
By ‘divine fire’ we should understand the Holy Spirit,
From which it’s proper that we catch fire and burn.”
A worthy man told us of a secular man
Who once wished to enter religion,
But his mother wanted to stop him and hold him back
So that he not give himself to religion.
The young man didn’t want to back out.
Regardless of her wishes, he held to his purpose.
He said to his mother: “I want to save my soul;
For this reason, it’s right for me to enter religion.”
When the woman saw his steadfast desire,
She acted wisely and let him go.
Then he went and gave himself to religion
And consumed his entire life in sloth.
Eventually it happened that his mother died
And went to the place God had ordained for her.
And just a little while after her death,
As her son lay in anguish before her bed,
There came to him in his suffering a vision
In which he was among those judged to damnation,
And he saw his mother seated among them, joyless.
He was frightened and supposed he was dead,
And that he was to stay with them in this torment
By God’s will and judgment.
Then his mother spoke to him thus:
“Have you, son, come to the damned as I have?
What does this mean? You once used to say,
‘I wish to save my soul and despise the world.’
You’ve upheld this purpose very poorly
If you’ve now come to us in this torment.”
The son was so terrified he couldn’t respond.
At first he thought he was utterly lost,
But after he’d seen everything from this perspective,
By the grace of God his spirit returned.
Subsequently, when he’d come to safety
And was cured of this illness seizing him,
He thought that the vision had come to him from God
So that he could amend and come to salvation.
Then he repented and undertook his penance
For all that he’d done in his period of negligence,
And, night and day, he didn’t cease weeping
And praying in his heart on account of his sins.
He maintained a sorrowful life,
And tormented his body so grievously
That his companions often said to him:
“Listen to us, and be merciful to yourself;
If not, you’ll kill yourself,
Just as we’ve seen many others do before you.”
He said to them: “I want to expiate my sins
So that I may safely come before God,
And before his bright Face he won’t find anyone
Who might reproach me for my sins,
For I was deeply ashamed when my mother found me
And reproached me for my sins.
It’s no wonder I must endure extreme chastisement,
Lest anyone else reproach me before Our Lord
In the place where his apostles and archangels will be,
And his evangelists and all his angels,
Prophets, martyrs, virgins, confessors,
And all the righteous men and all the sinners!
When we’re all assembled at the Judgment,
Then must we tremble before the cruelty of God.”
An abbot was accustomed to speak these words,
And we should all listen to them gladly:
“On the Day of Doom, when God will return
And will judge, truly, the whole world.
Then much sorrow, certainly, will be felt there,
For all the archangels will tremble with fear!
Then, were it possible for the soul to die
And issue from one’s body,
Then the soul will die, and the whole world will die
Rightfully because nothing alive can remain.
For at that hour, the sky will be open,
And God will clearly show himself there
With great wrath and great anger.
Our Lord will come with all his angels.
It’s no wonder that they’d wish then to die
When they see him arrive so angrily.
For this, we ought to strive to do well
As long as we exist in this world,
As befits those whom God will require to answer
For our works and then for our words.”
A brother asked his abbot: “How is it
That I have a heart so hard it doesn’t fear God?”
The abbot said: “Into all who submit to chastisement
Enters the fear of God, as I understand it.”
The brother asked him what chastisement is.
The abbot spoke, giving him this answer:
“All who repent properly should say these words:
‘Ah, remember that you must come before God.’
And this thing you should likewise say,
‘Why was I placed among earthly people?’
Into each one who conducts himself this way,
The fear of God enters and dwells in his heart.”
An abbot spoke to his brother in this manner
When one day the brother asked for advice:
“When God wanted to wreak vengeance on the Egyptians,
And wanted to free the sons of Israel,
Then he gave them a mortal wound,
So that no man on earth wasn’t dismayed,
Nor was there a house on earth, know this for certain,
Where there wasn’t turmoil or grief, weeping or crying.
Consequently, dear brother, we ought to weep always
So God won’t wreak vengeance on us at Doomsday,
But instead seats us at his right hand
In that place we call heavenly paradise.”
A brother once spoke to his abbot in this way,
Addressing him in this manner:
“I see that our fathers are able to weep,
And when they want tears, they’re able to have them.
And I, no matter what, am always unable to weep;
For this, I’m troubled in my heart.”
To this, the abbot answered very wisely,
Saying to him: “Don’t be dismayed at all by this,
For the sons of Israel went into the desert
And dwelt there for forty whole years,
And then in the Promised Land,
For God had given them that land.
And this is the meaning:
The tears are the Promised Land;
If you can attain such tears,
You needn’t fear the Devil’s assault anymore.
And so God wills that one be diligent
And exert himself painfully to enter that land.”
ABBOT CASSIAN showed us a great wisdom
That ABBOT MOSES used to tell him:
“It’s good,” Moses said, “to conceal one’s thoughts,
But you ought to reveal them to old men,
And not just those old in years,
But those who have sense and discernment.
For many pay attention just to great age,
And not to wisdom. And they’re not wise at all
Who reveal their thoughts to those old men
Who don’t know how to counsel people, as is their duty.
Instead, they put sinners in despair
Because they themselves lack good discernment.
Once there behaved in this way a foolish priest
To whom a brother had told his will and condition.
He caused this brother to abandon his cell,
As you’ll now hear.”
At one time there was a deeply pious brother,
And he was always so diligent to observe his rule
That the Devil tempted him
To have a desire to commit fornication.
At this, he went to a very aged brother
And revealed to him his situation and purpose.
And that one held himself to be very devout and worthy,
Because he’d never been tested by the Evil Spirit,
And therefore he was very disdainful
When this brother revealed his burden to him.
He reproached him and called him a wicked wretch
Because he persisted in such a purpose.
And he said that, because he’d harbored such desire,
He was unworthy of the monastic habit.
When the brother heard this, he despaired.
He abandoned his cell and returned to the world.
At this, as was the will of the Almighty,
He came upon ABBOT APOLLO in his path.
He saw him troubled of heart, downcast and sad.
Then the abbot said: “Dear son, turn toward me,
And tell me why you have such a sad face.”
And the brother didn’t answer him at all,
For so much sorrow was bound up in his heart
That he’d almost forgotten how to speak.
Nonetheless, the abbot persisted, inquiring so much
That he spoke and related to him his entire situation.
He said: “I was tempted by lustful thoughts,
And they frequently caused me vexation.
And I told this to a brother in our house,
Who said I’d never receive pardon from God.
And I fell into such deep despair at his words
That I abandoned my cell and am returning to the world.”
When the abbot heard him, he spoke like a true healer.
He exhorted him strongly and gave him good counsel,
Saying: “Dear brother, don’t despair at all over this.
It’s no wonder that temptation comes to you,
For I’m old and I’ve always been a monk,
And I’m often tempted by wanton thoughts.
Take care not to falter before such weakness,
For there’s no Christian so worthy under heaven
That he’s ever able to live without temptations
Unless he’s freed from them by God's mercy.
But now, dear son, grant me what I ask:
Return to your cell without delay.”
And the brother immediately went to his house,
And Abbot Apollo followed on his heels
And went straight to the cell of the old man
Who’d caused the brother to despair.
He stood outside and said his prayer to God,
Weeping all the while, and spoke in this manner:
“Dear Lord God, as you’re a just king,
Turn the brother’s temptations on the old man
So that he may have temptations in old age
That he’s never felt since his youth,
So that, from now on, he’ll be patient toward those
Who suffer the burden of temptations.”
And as Abbot Apollo finished his prayer,
A devil arrived to stand near the house,
Holding his bow and lance and spear.
He gave the old man a grievous wound,
And the wretch spun in all directions,
As if he were drunk or pierced with spears.
It hurt him so much he could no longer endure it./nobr>
He abandoned his cell and began to flee,
And he sought to go by the same road
That the young bachelor had taken into the world.
Abbot Apollo knew well what was happening.
He went to meet him, and met him in a clearing.
And when he’d met him, he said: “Where are you going?
And this great fright, tell me, where does it come from?”
Then this old man supposed that this holy monk
Knew what drove him away, and he kept quiet for shame.
Then the abbot said: “Go back to your cell in peace,
And from now on understand your weakness.
And understand that until this hour the Devil
Forgot you and held you in contempt, perhaps,
Because he knew that you’re so weak and worthless
That you wouldn’t be able to endure his assaults.
You showed this, dear brother, all the more
When you couldn’t endure his testing even one day.
This misfortune came to you because of the young man
Who was tempted by this same Adversary,
For, when he came to you seeking comfort,
You quite wrongfully placed him in despair.
Don’t you remember the holy commandment
That says, ‘Help those who are led into torment’?
And that among ourselves we shouldn’t neglect
To redeem those drawn toward death?
And don’t you remember that God himself commanded
That the broken reed shouldn’t be smashed to pieces,
And that none should extinguish the smoking wick,
But first should dry it and then leave it in place?
He instructs us, by this figure,
That no one should place a sinner in despair,
For there’s no Christian on earth who’s so worthy
That he can hold out when the Devil assails him,
Nor is there anyone who can stand against him,
Or extinguish the blazing fire of his nature,
Unless God by his grace defends us.
Therefore, let us pray him that he do so,
And also that, by his sweet goodness,
He may seek to free you from this wicked error.
For he brings pain whenever he wishes,
And healing also comes and derives from him.
When it pleases him, he strikes the sinner with his hand;
Afterwards this same hand will heal him.
He exalts people and humbles them,
And he mortifies them and revives them,
And he puts souls in infernal torment,
And, when it pleases him, he brings them back.”
Thus the abbot concluded his good speech,
And the old man was freed from temptation.
Then the abbot advised him to pray
That God grant him discernment on earth,
And that he show him by his holy pleasure
When it was right to speak and when to be silent.
ARCHBISHOP EPIPHANIUS sent a message to
ABBOT HILARION, who was very old,
And asked that they might see one another, if possible,
Before they must pass from this world.
Then it happened that they met in a room
And ate there together, as I believe.
At this meal there was brought before them
A dish prepared with wild birds.
Then Hilarion spoke, saying to him:
“In the time since I first received this habit,
I’ve not eaten anything that suffered death.”
Archbishop Epiphanius answered, saying:
“Nor have I, since I’ve had this habit, allowed
Any wrongdoer to sleep before he made amends;
Nor have I slept if I’ve wronged anyone
Before I’ve made amends and done what was right.”
Then the abbot said to him: “Dear father, I know well
That your way of life is better than mine.”
Now I wish to tell you all a tale
That this same abbot used to tell an abbot:
“If you want to chastise someone for his sin,
You ought to keep yourself from getting angry.
For if you chastise someone in order to reform him,
And, by this, you begin to get angry,
You gain nothing from such a chastisement;
Rather, you become much worse, it seems to me.
For as the other begins to reform,
You receive, by this, serious harm.”
SAINT SYNCLETICA spoke to her sisters,
And preached about chastity and other virtues:
“We who are dedicated to the religious life
And have become God’s handmaidens,
We ought to preserve chastity with all our power,
For without that no good will avail us.
And even laypeople ought to preserve chastity,
For one without it seeks salvation in vain.
But I don’t highly esteem the chastity of many,
For they involve themselves in other foolishness;
And even when laypeople do lead a chaste life,
They involve themselves in many other follies,
For that person isn’t chaste, know this for sure,
Who doesn’t close his eyes, and his mouth too.”
In the same way, she warned them about wicked thoughts,
How they ought to remove them from their hearts:
“Just as the good doctor, who knows that craft,
Knows how to drive strong poison from men’s bodies
By means of bitter medicines and strong potions,
Likewise, thoughts and temptations,
By good prayers, by frequent fasting,
Should each of you drive from your heart.”
In the same way, she told them another sermon
That pertains particularly to people of religion:
“Don’t pay heed to worldly men
Who delight in delicious foods.
Never think in your heart
That they must be respected for their food,
For they prepare different flavors for different foods
And yet hardly exert themselves in good works.
But they’ll come before God on Doomsday,
And these good foods will not avail them.
But you, nuns, guard yourselves from this.
Don’t seek delicacies or dainty morsels.
But rather bypass those with their delicacies,
In favor of frequent fasting and coarse foods,
For you mustn’t sate yourself even with bread,
And you mustn’t ever wish for wine.”
To his spiritual brothers ABBOT HYPERECHIUS
Preached, drawing the following analogy for them:
“Just as the cruel lion is terrifying
To wild donkeys the stable never enclosed,
So too are monks tested
And frightened by thoughts of carnal pleasure.”
In the same way, this abbot said that fasting
Should be as a bridle for monks against sin:
One who scorns fasting is like
The unbridled horse standing in the stable,
For when he’s unbridled, he mounts the mare
And doesn’t concern himself with any other duty.
In the same way, he said: “A body dries up from fasting,
And the fasting and pains of monks
Plug up the veins against carnal desire.”
He also said: “The chaste monk is honored on earth.
He’ll be crowned by Our Lord in heaven.
But the monk who can’t hold his tongue when angry
Won’t refrain when temptation comes to him.”
In the same way, he told them and also exhorted them:
“See to it that your mouth be virtuous,
That it not fashion sinful speech.
But take care that it be like the innocent vine,
For the good vine doesn’t bear any thorns.
Act so that no foul word comes out of you.”
He also said that the grumbling serpent once
Threw Adam and Eve out of paradise:
“Know this: that he resembles that one
Who grumbles or wishes others ill,
For whenever he speaks ill, he condemns both himself
And anyone else who agrees with what he says.”
Another brother, who was very old,
One day made a vow within his heart
That he wouldn’t drink anything for forty days,
And, as I understand, he upheld his vow well.
For in the heat, when the sun shone brightly,
He took his jug, went to wash it,
Filled it full of water, and then hung it
Directly before his eyes where he sat.
Then his brothers asked him why he’d done this,
And he answered them in this manner, telling them:
“When I see presented directly before my eyes
The thing I crave and cannot possess,
I’m all the more anguished and inflamed.
When I see the thing that I earnestly crave,
The more determinedly do I want to have it,
So I’ll have that much greater a reward if I leave it alone.”
Lords, may we all take this brother as a model,
And, for God’s sake, abstain from forbidden things,
Since he, for God’s sake and for his own sins, gave up
A thing that he could use without sin.
A brother once traveled on a journey
And took with him his elderly mother.
They came to a river where they had to cross,
And because the old woman was weak, she couldn’t cross.
Then the son wrapped his hands in his cloak,
Took his mother, and carried her across the stream,
For the son didn’t want in any way at all
To touch the naked flesh of his mother.
Then the mother said: “Dear son, don’t hide it from me:
Why did you cover your hands with your clothes earlier?”
The son answered: “He who touches a woman on her naked body
Is like one who’s put his hand in a burning fire;
And because I carried you, know without doubt,
The thought of other women entered my mind.”
A brother spoke of a companion of his
Who wanted to fast for Easter week;
And when on Easter Day after Mass he
Received communion, he retreated from the crowd
So that his brothers wouldn’t be able to force him
To stay together with them for dinner.
He ate a few cooked beets with salt,
And ate nothing else all week.
ABBOT SECUNDE said what you see here,
And we must never forget it:
“Many are tempted in numerous ways,
Both those in the world and those who are monks.
But, in particular, those in religious orders
Are frequently tempted by fornication,
And they strenuously guard themselves from bodily sin.
They don’t, however, shield their hearts adequately.
Because of the world, they shield the body from folly,
Yet lust reigns in their hearts.
But such bodily chastity can’t serve us well
If the heart isn’t protected from wicked desire.
Therefore, lords, as Scripture tells us,
As we find elsewhere in writing,
Everyone should strive in every way
To shield his heart from worldly doings.”
ABBOT ANTHONY, a physician, showed
One day, when he spoke of our nature,
That in every human body there are three tendencies
That cause us to sin against our will:
“The first of the tendencies is our nature,
Which hurts us in our very bodies.
Second, drinking too much wine and overeating,
These are evil and often cause us to sin.
For this, Saint Paul undertook to admonish us:
‘You should all take care not to drink too much wine,’
For wine brings lust into the human body,
But sobriety, know this, drives it out.
And Jesus Christ told us: ‘Brothers, take heed.
Don’t burden yourselves with eating and drinking,’
For he who burdens himself with eating and drinking,
Satan is at hand to deceive him.
Know this, that the third tendency
Is in us through the Devil and his enticements;
And if we’re careful to refrain from drinking too much,
We’ll be better able to protect ourselves from his tricks.”
ABBOT CYRUS OF ALEXANDER said this
To someone who asked him about lustful thoughts:
“Certainly, if you don’t possess such thoughts,
You’ve no hope of God, nor do you hold to his law,
For anyone without such thoughts is sated by the deed.
That’s to say, there’s no Christian under heaven
Who, because of thoughts, doesn’t fight sin often.
If he doesn’t oppose it, he sins in the flesh.
For he who sins in the flesh, the book says,
Is completely free of troubling thoughts.”
They sometimes speak of an abbess
Who was tempted by fornication for three years.
The lady never wished to pray to God
That he remove this struggle from her,
But she prayed every day, saying this:
“Give me strength, my Lord Jesus Christ,
That I may defeat this wicked Enemy
Who so assails me by night and day.”
They also said that she was once tested
More than she’d ever been used to,
For there’s a devil-master of fornication
Who’s never loved those in religion.
He tormented her with lewd thoughts
As he set worldly vanities in her mind.
She never weakened in her intent,
But held to her good purpose and acted wisely.
Then one time she climbed onto her bed to pray,
And the devil showed himself visibly
So that that the lady saw him before her.
And the devil said these words:
“SARAH, by your abstinence and your prayer
You’ve defeated me, the master of fornication.”
Then the lady said: “I’ve not defeated you at all,
But Jesus Christ my dear Lord has confounded you.”
Thus did an elderly brother advise those
Sorely afflicted by lustful thoughts:
“You who’re tempted by fornication
Ought to act like someone
Who wanders along the street
Till he comes to the tavern district.
There he can smell the odors of meat
That people everywhere roast in their kitchens.
And whoever wants to can enter to eat,
And whoever doesn’t can pass by.
He who passes by and doesn’t linger there
Will have only the odor of the meat.
The odors one smells in passing by them
Signify the evil thoughts that pursue men.
But you ought to throw evil thoughts far away,
And you ought to say this, calling out to God:
‘Lord Son of God, by your strength help me
So that I not be defeated in this struggle.’
So, too, against every other evil thought
You must cry out to God and pray in this way,
For we mustn’t ever permit evil thoughts
To take root in our hearts,
But we must attack and fight against them.
Thus may we drive evil thoughts from ourselves.”
An old hermit counseled in this way
Those aggrieved by lustful thoughts:
“Do you think you may escape your flesh by sleeping,
By idleness, by sloth, or by lying down?
You can’t ever escape it in these ways.
But take care, by my advice, never to swear.
Go torture and mortify your body.
Go search and you’ll find, without fail,
That it’s necessary for you to act thus.
Keep watch, knock at the door, and it’ll open for you,
For there are many worthy men in the world
Who overcome the assaults devils give them.
For this, the King of Heaven gives them a crown
More resplendent than star or moon.
It often happens that a man’s beaten by two men,
Then bravely rebounds and avenges himself on them.
In just this way, he gains honor through bravery,
Whereas, were he slothful, he’d have shame and suffering.
So must you resist and fight the Adversary,
And God will help you overcome him.”
Another old man spoke to us of temptation:
“It comes to us only through negligence,
For if we’re willing to keep diligent watch
So that God dwells in our bodies,
We won’t see in our bodies other creatures
Seeking to displace Almighty God who dwells in us.
For God dwells in us, we must never doubt it,
And he protects our bodies and our lives.
We who carry him in ourselves must honor him,
And just as he’s holy we must make ourselves holy.
Let’s affix ourselves firmly to the rock,
And let’s shatter to pieces the Devil with his attacks.
Don’t fear him at all and he won’t attack you.
Sing what David sang, and he’ll help you.
Those who trust in God and his protection
Will be as solid as Mount Sion;
And he who dwells in Jerusalem
Won’t be shaken as long as the world lasts.”
A brother questioned his abbot in this way
About a monk and a novitiate:
“If the monk falls into mortal sin,
He’s anguished in his troubled heart,
For he’s fallen from great height and debased,
And he’ll be sorely hurt before rising back up.
But one coming from the world to reform his life
Is like one who begins to work from scratch.”
Then the abbot answered, confirming him in this,
Saying: “A monk who falls into mortal sin
Is like a house that isn’t set securely,
So that it falls down at the slightest breeze.
When someone comes to rebuild this house,
He finds before him plenty of timber,
The foundation prepared, both stones and mortar.
He thus can rebuild the house more quickly.
It’s similar for the monk who falls into wickedness:
If he repents and returns to his Lord God,
He finds before him comfort and great help,
That is, the law of God, prayers, and psalms,
And many a work that advances him greatly,
And other good things forming a foundation for him.
But one who’s newly entered into religion
Is like one who comes to build a new house:
He has no stones ready, no foundation or mortar,
But has to search for everything he needs.
Therefore, it won’t be constructed so quickly
As the one that fell and then was raised up again.
Now I tell you, brother, that it’s exactly the same
For one who’s newly entered into religion:
First he has to learn and ask questions
So that he may know his rule, then afterwards work.”
Another brother was so severely tempted by his thoughts
That the abbot saw him and perceived it well,
And he said: “Should I beseech God dwelling on high
That he deliver you, dear son, from this attack?”
And he said: “I understand, dear father, that this anguish
May be beneficial for me if I can endure it;
But pray to God that he grant me courage and patience
So I’m able to endure it without fail as long as I live.”
Then the abbot answered, speaking to him thus:
“Dear son, now I know you’re more perfect than I am.”
There was once an old man, as the book testifies,
Who had a grandson who was still nursing.
He had this child nurtured in the abbey
So that the boy grew and became a young man
Who never knew or remembered what a woman was.
Then one night at a certain hour devils came
And showed him the features of women,
And on the morrow, as soon as the boy woke up,
He described this to his father, and he was amazed.
Then the boy went to Egypt with his father,
And he saw women and spoke as follows:
“Dear father, these are what came to me
At home in Scete when I told you [of my vision].”
The father said to him: “They’re monks of this secular world,
And they wear garments different from those of hermits.”
And the father marveled and much feared the demon
Who’d shown his son the image in Scete.
And the father hurried to return to his cell,
For he was afraid that his son might be led astray.
Another brother of Scete was much tempted
By a mad desire cast in his heart by the Devil
For a beautiful woman who once lived in Egypt.
One day a brother asked an old monk
This question that puzzled him:
“If, by chance, someone falls into sin,
What will happen to those scandalized by him?”
Then the old monk answered, telling him
An exemplum pertaining to what he asked:
“In an Egyptian abbey there lived a deacon
Of high reputation and righteousness.
Then there arose in the same land, I don’t know why,
A great conflict between a man and a judge.
This man, on account of the conflict,
Came to the abbey for safety.
He went to the abbey where this deacon dwelt,
And he brought his household and wife with him.
He remained in this abbey for so long
That the Devil, envious of all good things,
Came to the deacon and began to advise him
To seek out the woman to sin with him.
The deacon was deceived and trusted his advice.
Having played with the woman, that one spoke to her;
Then his wantonness was perceived
In such a way that the abbey residents were scandalized.
When the deacon realized this, he was ashamed;
He left that place and revealed [his sin] to an old monk.
This monk had a secret cell.
When the deacon saw this cell, he said to him:
‘Here, for the love of God, bury me alive!
But I pray you not to tell anyone.’
Thereupon, he entered this cell and obscurity.
He performed his penance faithfully.
Then later it happened that, because of people’s sin,
The waters of the Nile ceased rising normally.
They ceased for a long time, for God opposed it.
Then were performed, for this, prayers and fasts
By old and young, by clerks and monks.
Then Almighty God demonstrated, through a vision
Given to a holy man in religion,
That the river Nile would never again rise
Until they restored the deacon enclosed there.
He told them the cell where he was hidden,
And he named the monk who’d enclosed him.
When they heard this, they were incredulous.
They hurried to the cell and released him.
Then the deacon prayed, and God listened to him;
Consequently, the Nile rose as it normally did.
And those who’d been previously scandalized by him
Were then joyful and happy on his account.”
Another brother came to his abbot, saying:
“What should I do, dear father? Filthy thoughts are killing me!”
And the abbot said: “If you want to be healed of this vice,
You may take an example from the wet-nurse:
When she wishes to wean her child, she takes
Something and rubs her nipple.
Thereafter, when the child comes wanting to suck on it
And takes the nipple in his mouth, as he’s accustomed,
Then he tastes the bitterness, which begins to sting,
With which the woman has rubbed her nipple,
And he gives up nursing and turns away.
Likewise, put something bitter in your thoughts.”
Then the brother said: “What bitter thing may I put there?”
And the abbot answered: “I’ll tell you.
Think of death, torment, and the pain
That is prepared in hell for sinners.”
An old monk was mindful of keeping his rule,
And he dwelt as a solitary in the hills of Antinoë.
Many were improved by his words and works,
As remarked the monks who knew him well.
Because he was faithful, the Devil envied him,
As he does all who are righteous.
So he put a thought into his mind
That, despite his being a worthy and wise man,
He oughtn’t be served by his attendants,
But he ought to serve all others more gladly,
And if he didn’t want to serve others, he should serve himself.
And so the Devil came, saying to him:
“Go and sell the baskets you make in the city,
And buy what you need, believe me,
And then return to your lodging.
Then you needn’t burden servant or brother.”
Thus did the Devil prompt him,
For he was envious that he was steadfast,
And so much at peace and so competent,
And so very profitable to himself and others.
For this, the Adversary awaited him on all sides
So that he might ensnare and pierce him with his darts.
And the monk believed the Adversary and his advice.
He went to the market, and his neighbors were amazed
That he’d left his church on such business,
For he didn’t know how to buy and sell.
Moreover, he was quite celebrated and well known
Among all those who’d ever met him.
And after he’d so thoroughly gone astray
Through the Adversary and his prompting,
Then he found, by chance, a woman
With whom he often sinned, following his nature.
Then he left her and headed into the desert,
And always the Evil Scoundrel followed him.
So it happened that, finding himself alongside a river,
The monk realized how he’d been deceived
And how the Devil was overjoyed
That he’d committed such vile fornication,
Leading him nearly to despair.
Because he’d performed such a deed,
He’d offended Jesus Christ Son of Mary,
His holy angels and holy company,
And also the good people in religion,
Many of whom dwelt densely in Scete,
Who were of such devout virtue and goodness
That together they’d conquered the Devil.
And when he felt himself no longer like them,
He lamented grievously
And forgot about the essence of Almighty God,
Who pardons the sins of those who repent,
And is glorious and helpful
And merciful toward all who turn to him.
He was so blinded regarding repentance
That he remembered nothing at all about penance,
But wished wholeheartedly to throw himself in the river
In order to ruin himself and advance the Devil.
Thereupon, he became so ill in self-contempt that,
Had Our Lord not shown him mercy,
He’d have given the Devil all joy and satisfaction,
For he’d have died without repentance for his sins.
At the last moment, recovering his senses, he resolved,
As Jesus Christ Our Lord instructed him,
To serve with greater devotion
Than he’d done before he’d committed fornication,
By vigils, by tears, by fasting, by prayer.
Pursuing this intent, he entered his house
And immediately blocked the door of his cell,
As was the custom for a dead person.
Thus did he stay there, saying his prayers
And tormenting his body in every way —
By fasts, by vigils, by tears of anguish —
For the wretch never felt certain or wholly assured
That he could mortify his body as much
As was fitting for his wickedness.
It happened then that monks often came to him
In order to gain benefit and improvement.
They knocked on his door very loudly,
But he told them that he couldn’t open to them,
Saying: “I’ve vowed and made an oath
That I must do penance so privately
That no one may come in, know this in truth.
But pray for me in holy charity.”
He didn’t know how he might best restore himself
When they’d been so utterly scandalized by him.
When the brothers understood and saw this,
Sorrowful and dejected, they departed from him,
For he’d often been wont to dispense good teachings,
And to advise them all and preach.
The worthy man continued fasting the whole year,
Doing his penance very honestly.
And on Easter evening he made a lamp,
Put it into a new cooking pot,
Covered it with the lid, and then left it.
Then in the evening he prayed, saying as follows:
“Dear Lord, glorious God, sovereign Prince,
Both merciful and full of compassion to all,
Who wishes to save the unbelieving people
If they want to transform and come to amendment,
To you, very dear Father, I, a wretch, have come here,
For you’re a true refuge for Christians.
Have mercy on me, for I’ve deeply offended you
And gladdened the Adversary, done whatever pleased him,
And in obedience to him I died in every way.
But, dear Lord, you who are patient,
You have mercy for those who are hopeless
When they entreat you and pray to you.
And, dear Lord, you yourself command
To everyone alike who’s Christian,
That each must have mercy for his neighbor.
Therefore, I entreat and beseech you diligently
That you be merciful to me who am grieving,
For there’s nothing impossible for you.
And, therefore, dear Lord, take care of my soul,
Wasted away like dust on account of my filth,
And in this hour, so it seems to me, near to hell.
Henceforth, dear Lord, have mercy on me your creature,
For the bodies turned wholly to dust
Shall be revived by you on Doomsday.
Hear me, Lord, for my spirit falls short,
My soul’s wretched and my body’s worthless,
For all’s laid waste for the filth I did.
And henceforth I may not live, it seems to me,
Because I had such feeble belief in you.
Every affliction has befallen me!
Yet pardon me, Lord, on account of my penance.
I’ve doubled my sin through despair!
Therefore, I say to you, as you see me repentant,
May you command, as you are Omnipotent,
That this lamp I placed in the cauldron
Be lit tonight by your divine fire,
That, by this, I may gain trust in your mercy
And a visible sign of your forgiveness.
For as long as you grant me to remain in life,
You’ll not see me falter in keeping your commands.
And from your power I’ll never depart,
But I’ll serve you much better than I did before.”
With this, the brother rose up, weeping,
To see if he might find his lamp lit.
He uncovered the cooking pot straightaway,
And saw that it wasn’t lit at that time.
Then he fell back again into torment,
And speaking thus, he said his prayer:
“Dear Lord, I know well that, after so little anguish,
It doesn’t please you that I be forgiven.
This is appropriate, for I acted wretchedly
When I chose pure carnal delight.
I abandoned the station in which you’d put me,
To enter hell’s torments, sorrowful and needy.
But now I pray that you spare me, dear Lord,
For once again I come to confess and tell
You all my filth and my wickedness
Carried out before all your company.
Were it not that others would be scandalized by this,
I’d want all the world’s people to know about it.
Again, dear Lord God, I implore and pray you
To have mercy on me, sorrowful wretch;
And if it’s your pleasure, return me to life
So that I, and others through me, may be improved.”
In this manner, he prayed three times,
So that God heard him well and delayed not at all.
Then he raised himself up and found his lamp,
Which was both lit and burning bright!
Then the brother rejoiced and recovered good hope
And found joyful solace there, know this indeed.
And he marveled at the grace of Jesus Christ,
Who’d offered such a clear pardon for his sins
And, by his great bounty, had given a sign
In accord with his petition and his own will.
He began a prayer in this manner,
Saying: “Dear Lord God, thanks be to you
Who’ve cured me of the Evil spirit,
I who was unworthy to live in this world.
You’re patient and kind to every sinner,
And you’ve shown me this by your sign.”
In this manner, he finished his confession.
Then daylight appeared, and he rose up
And rejoiced in Our Lord whom he praised,
And in his joy he forgot bodily sustenance.
And then, throughout his life, he tended this fire
And frequently placed oil in the lamp,
For he didn’t want this fire extinguished,
Which came from the divine spirit dwelling in him.
Then he became a man of great humility,
And held great authority in modes of confession.
And with great joy he often thanked God
Who’d graciously delivered him from his sin.
And God disclosed to him the time of his death
Several days before he departed.
The elderly brothers told of a gardener,
A good laborer accustomed to work,
Who’d distributed all his crops in alms
Except only what he needed to live.
Then Satan gave him wicked advice,]
As he does to all whom he tries to convince.
He said the following to him, as if in counsel:
“You don’t act at all well by donating so much.
Gather up some wealth; then you’ll act wisely.
You’ll need it when you’re very old;
And should you become sick or injured,
It’ll be good you’ve provided for yourself in advance.”
Thus did Satan advise and deceive him,
And, in this, the brother believed his advice,
For he then amassed wealth with pleasure
And filled a large pot with coins.
Then the brother began to fall ill,
And one of his feet started to putrefy.
Thereupon, he gave doctors all the wealth
He’d collected, but that didn’t help.
At last an experienced doctor arrived
And said his foot had to be amputated
Or else it would wholly rot away.
So the brother said he’d let him amputate it.
Then [the doctor] scheduled the foot amputation
And departed to get the instruments he needed.
The next night the brother retreated into himself,
Reflecting deeply on what he’d done,
And he repented, groaned, and wept sorely,
Speaking to God in this manner:
“Dear Lord God, please remember
My former works and deeds,
For I used to minister to the poor
With what I earned by my labor.”
After saying this, the brother fell silent.
Behold, an angel stood beside him:
“What’s now become of the wealth
You gathered? Where’s your foolish hope?
For you once quite foolishly planned ahead
When you prepared for injury or illness.”
Then he understood how he’d acted sinfully,
And said: “Pardon me for I’ve sinned greatly,
And I’ll be careful from now on
Not to sin so greatly against you in any way.”
Thereupon, the angel touched his foot, healed him,
And then departed. And he went to work in the field.
The doctor then arrived as he’d promised,
Bringing his surgical tools to amputate his foot.
Thereupon, those at home explained to the doctor:
“Since yesterday morning he’s gone to work the fields.”
The doctor was astonished by this news.
He went to the field where the brother worked
And saw how he dug up the ground with his foot.
Then he glorified God who’d restored his health.
A brother said to an abbot: “Tell me whether you think
I ought to save two pennies in the event of bodily disease.”
The abbot came to the one desiring to save pennies,
And he said “yes” in order to satisfy his wishes.
Thereupon, the brother went to his cell
And reflected, saying to himself:
“Do you think the abbot told me the truth or not?”
With this, he returned so he might know for sure;
He made his confession to the abbot, saying:
“Please tell me the truth, for Jesus Christ’s love,
For I’m much disturbed in my thoughts
Ever since I kept hold of the coins.”
And the abbot answered him, speaking as follows:
“I saw that you wished to keep the money;
Therefore, I bade you to hold onto it awhile.
But, indeed, know well, it’s not a good thing
To keep within reach more money
Than’s necessary for the body, know this truly,
For should you store away two pennies,
Your hope will be in that, and it’ll cause you pain;
And should we be ruined and brought to folly,
Almighty God won’t think of us at all.
Therefore, let’s abandon our wealth and think on him
Who’ll take care of our souls and our bodies.”
When holy ABBOT ANTHONY dwelled in a hermitage,
He was often troubled, saying to the King of Glory:
“Dear Lord, I’d like to save myself by my own will,
But my evil thoughts won’t leave me alone.
What should I do in this tribulation?
How may I come to salvation?”
Then he ventured outside, going a little bit forward,
And saw a man like himself sitting at prayer,
Who in order to pray rose up from his work.
Then he sat down and wove his palm leaves.
After that, once again, he didn’t stay seated;
He rose up as before and prayed.
This was an angel whom God had set before him
To show him how he ought to act.
Upon departing, the angel said this to him:
“Anthony, do this, and you’ll truly be saved.”
When Anthony heard this, he immediately
Felt joy and believed deeply in God;
And he acted this way for as long he lived,
Finding the salvation he’d earlier sought.
ABBOT PASTOR said: “We find this written
About ABBOT JOHN, small of body:
Whenever he’d said his prayers to Our Lord,
He was freed from bodily passions.
Thereafter, when he felt completely assured,
He came and said one day to an abbot:
‘I have no conflict; rather, I’m always at peace.’
To this, the abbot answered, saying to him:
‘Go and pray to God that by his holy grace
He cause you to have conflicts in your body,
For bodily conflict benefits the soul.
And you’ll thereby gain favor and heavenly reward.’
And when great disturbance returned to him,
He chose not to pray for God to remove any of it.
He prayed instead that God grant him patience
To endure these conflicts and this trouble.”
MATHOES, an abbot, said: “I want to do
No light work that’s finished quickly.”
Some recounted, concerning ABBOT MILESIUS,
That [he] lived many years in Persia [with] two brothers.
Then it happened that the emperor’s two sons
Went out one day to hunt together,
As they routinely did,
Laying laid out their forty-furlong nets.
Being very cruel and of angry temperament,
Whenever they found [game], they wished to kill it.
Thus, the abbot and his brothers, whom I mentioned,
Were discovered in the young men’s nets, captured.
And when they found [the abbot], bristling with hair,
Terrifying to see, they were amazed.
Thereupon, they questioned him in this way:
“Are you a man or some spirit? Tell us!”
The abbot said to them: “I’m a sinner,
And I came out here to weep for my sins;
And I wish to worship the Son of God my Lord.”
They said, beginning to swear,
That no god existed beyond water, fire, and sun:
“Worship and sacrifice to them, by our command!”
The abbot answered, saying: “These are creations.
You err, and so does everyone who worships them.
But I beg you that you become Christians
And recognize God who made all things.”
They answered, shouting at him:
“Do you say that the true God is he who was crucified?”
And the abbot said: “I record as the true God
He who, for sin, [was] crucified and destroyed death.”
Then they took the abbot and his two brothers as well,
And bound them to be sacrificed through torture.
After these torments, they beheaded the brothers,
And they tortured the abbot himself for many days.
Then the two men ordered him to be set in a place
And threw at him as if he were a reed between them.
One threw his lance at his chest, the other at his back,
So that between them the abbot found no relief.
Then the abbot said: “Since you both agree
In this deed, deliberately shedding holy blood,
Tomorrow at this same hour your mother
Shall be left with no sons — of this, she may be sure —
For, truly, you’ll kill each other
Tomorrow with your own lances.”
They struck him for this and mocked him.
Nonetheless, they went hunting on the morrow,
Whereupon a stag escaped from their nets and ran away.
In order to catch it, they mounted their horses,
And as they hurled their lances at the stag,
From both sides they struck each other in the heart.
And together they died instantly,
Just as Abbot Milesius had earlier told them.
An abbot said: “When temptations come to a man,
Tribulations increase for him on all sides,
Often making him weak of spirit and grumbling.”
And then this abbot spoke as follows:
“There was a brother in this house
Upon whom befell painful temptation;
And no one who saw him wished to greet him
Or receive him in their cells, for they disdained him.
If, by chance, he was in need of bread,
No one wanted to give or offer it to him;
If he went from his house, he found no one
Who invited him to eat, as was customary.
At that time, because of the heat, he left his house
And found in his cell neither bread nor fish.
He gave thanks to Our Lord for all this.
And when God saw and understood his patience,
He delivered him at once from temptation.
Then a man came knocking at his house,
And he led, as suited him, a camel in his hand.
When the brother saw this, he began to weep,
Saying to Our Lord without hesitation:
‘Dear Lord God, I, a sad one, am unworthy
To be so little disturbed by the Evil Spirit.’
And when he’d been delivered from these evils,
The brothers took him into the cell with them,
And they made him rest among them for a long time.”
The abbot, like one with good sense, said then to them:
“We’ve failed to progress because we lack measure,
Nor do we have any patience in our work.
Instead, entirely without effort, we wish to have
Plenty of virtues within ourselves, and this is not wise.”
A brother questioned his abbot, saying:
“What should I do, dear father? My mind so torments me
That it never allows me to dwell in peace.”
The abbot said: “My dear, be quiet about this,
And return to your cell, as I advise,
And with your hands, dear son, work very hard.
Pray to God about this unstintingly,
And fix all your thoughts on him alone,
And take care that no one, by deception,
Makes you leave your house too often.”
He revealed to him an exemplum of a young man
Who once wished to enter religion
And asked his father’s permission to offer himself.
But he didn’t allow it; he instead wished to forbid it.
So his friends came to plead with him about it,
And the father granted it reluctantly.
Then he went at once to a monastery,
Became a monk, and received the habit.
And as soon as he’d entered religion,
He did exactly whatever pertained to his order.
At first he eagerly fasted every day,
Then he began to abstain two entire days,
And eventually he ate only once a week.
When the abbot saw how he endured such pain,
He marveled and blessed Our Lord
That his brother had attained this level of abstinence.
After a while the brother came
To his abbot, speaking to him in this way:
“Dear father, I pray that you kindly allow me
To go to the desert to live in seclusion.”
Then the abbot said: “Dear son, forget it,
For you can’t yet endure such labor,
Nor the cunning and tricks of the Devil,
Nor his temptations and evil ways.
And, should the Devil press you with temptation,
You’ll find nothing that can comfort you.”
The young man barely flinched at these words,
But instead begged the abbot to let him go.
When the abbot realized he couldn’t restrain him,
He gave him permission to go where he wanted.
Then the brother said: “Master Abbot, I pray
That you grant me a companion able to guide me.”
The abbot engaged two brothers to accompany him.
Then they left and didn’t hesitate at all,
And they journeyed through the desert for a day.
But the others grew weak from heat
And so weary they needed to lie down.
So they slept, but that didn’t last long,
For it happened, by chance, that an eagle came
And straightaway struck them with its wings.
Then, far away, it descended gently to the ground.
Then they woke up, saw the bird,
And said to him: “Look where that one rests,
Your angel. Get up, dear brother, and follow it.”
The brother stood up, saying: “God save you!”
And he left, following the eagle in the heat.
When he came to where the eagle had landed,
It raised itself up and flew from there
And then settled a furlong away.
The brother followed it with great difficulty.
Once again, it flew off and landed nearby.
It acted this way for three hours,
And then it turned toward the right
And flew from the brother till he no longer saw it.
Then, at that time, the brother ceased following it,
And, by chance, he saw three palm trees,
And he saw a little spring
And a spot suitable for a hermit.
At once the brother began to say thus:
“Behold, the spot that my Lord’s prepared for me!”
And he stayed in this spot, as it pleased God,
And ate a fruit that they call “date,”
And drank water from the lovely spring.
For six years he stayed and never moved,
But dwelt in this place so very isolated
That he never saw anyone born of mother.
Then there came to him the Devil, deceiver of many,
In the likeness of a very pious abbot,
Whose appearance was hideous and horrible.
When the brother saw him, he was terrified.
He fell down in prayer and then rose up.
The Devil said: “Brother, let’s pray a second time.”
Then they knelt down and said their prayers,
The brother and the Adversary all full of treachery.
Then, when they’d prayed, the Devil said:
“Dear brother, how long have you dwelt in this place?”
The brother said: “I’ve completed six years here.”
Then the Adversary said: “I’m your neighbor,
And until four days ago I never knew
That I had such a man near me as neighbor.
I live in a cell near here,
And for twelve years I haven’t left the minster.
I went out today, and because I’m so close,
I noticed you and said to myself,
‘I see this man of God, and I’ll speak to him
Regarding our souls’ salvation.’ And therefore I’ve come,
For I know well, dear brother, that we don’t profit at all
When we live so isolated in our cells,
And I very much fear that we deceive ourselves
When we don’t receive Jesus Christ’s body and blood,
For we may distance ourselves from Jesus Christ
When we abstain from receiving communion.
But, dear brother, three leagues from here lives
A priest in his cell who’s a very holy hermit.
Let’s go every Sunday to the house —
Or at least every other Sunday —
And we can take communion there, dear brother,
And return to our cells immediately afterwards.”
When the brother heard him speak in this way,
This counsel immediately pleased him.
Thereupon, the Devil left and the brother remained.
Then on Sunday the Adversary came, saying:
“Dear brother, I’ve come here as I told you,
Seeing that the time we set is today.”
With this, they went right away
To the house where the priest lived,
And they came to the minster and said their prayers.
When the brother stood up, he didn’t see his companion.
Then he said to himself: “Where could he have gone?
It’d be strange if he went to relieve himself.”
When the brother had waited a long time,
He took off and went to look for the scoundrel.
He searched everywhere for the wicked scoundrel.
After having looked a long time for the Evildoer,
The brother came to the resident brothers, saying this:
“Where’s the good elderly abbot who came with me to this church?”
And the brothers answered in this way:
“We saw no one enter besides yourself.”
Then the brother immediately understood
How it was the Devil who’d caused this enchantment.
And he said to the brothers, as was right:
“See now by what cunning and what treachery
The Devil drove me from my house!
But, fortunately for me, I came with good intent,
For I wish to receive Jesus Christ’s body and blood.
Then I’ll return to the dwelling I’m used to.”
As soon as he heard God's service,
He wished to return to his church.
But the abbot of this house came up to him
And, saying this, held him back:
“You shouldn’t go before you’ve eaten something.”
Then, when he’d eaten, he left immediately.
Behold, how the Devil returned to trick him
In the guise of an old man of the world!
Like one knowing evil, he surveyed the brother
From the top of his head down to his feet,
Saying: “Is this truly the same man?”
He added at once: “No, he’s not here!”
And as he stared, speaking this way,
The brother said: “Why do you stare at me so intently?”
And the Devil, full of deceit, said to him:
“I think, dear son, that you don’t recognize me,
And how could you recognize me, I said to myself,
It’s been so long since either of us saw the other.
But now I want to tell you, dear son, who I am.
I’m your father’s neighbor’s son.
Isn’t your father called this?
And didn’t your mother have this name?
And your sister, too, didn’t she usually have this name?
And you, too, before you entered the religious life?
And isn’t their servant usually called this?
But now it’s happened, I won’t hide it from you,
That both your mother and your sister died
Already three years ago, to my knowledge,
And your father died recently
And made you his heir, saying this:
‘To whom should I best leave my property,
To whom? To my son, a holy man, in my opinion,
Who followed God and abandoned all things.
I want to leave all my possessions to him.
And you who’re my servants, go find him
In whatever place on earth you may discover,
And tell him he must come here quickly
To disperse my property among the poor.
For my soul and yours, you must ask this of him.’
Then they went looking and couldn’t find you.
And I came passing by here on business,
And when I saw you, I recognized you at once.
Therefore, come with me quickly without delay,
And have all this wealth dispersed.”
Then the brother said: “Be still! I’ve no need
To return to the world for the sake of property.”
Then the Devil, knowing treachery well, said to him:
“Dear brother, if you prefer not to come home,
And the property perishes for any reason,
You’ll have to answer for this before God.
Consider whether what I say to you is bad:
You should come home with me, I beg you,
To have all this property dispersed among the poor.
No other day of your life will you do so much good!
Let it not be wasted on whores and on lechers,
On cheats and on worldly profligates —
The property and wealth of your father,
Which he granted to the poor who suffer such hardship!
And how much trouble is such a short journey for you?
You’ll be able to return to your cell directly afterwards.”
He bewitched him so much that he believed his plan.
And they went quickly into the world
To the city where his father lived at that time,
So that they arrived there without delay.
Then the Devil disappeared and left him,
And the brother passed through the town all alone.
When he was about to enter his father’s house,
Behold, there was his father standing before the door!
He saw his son coming but didn’t recognize him.
Instead he said: “Who are you?” Ashamed, he kept quiet.
And the father repeated: “Speak now! Tell me
Who you are, where you’re from, and what you seek here.”
And the son, totally confused, said to him:
“Dear father, I’m your son who’s a monk.”
Then the father answered, saying these words:
“Why have you returned, dear son?”
The son was ashamed to tell the truth,
But said: “Dear father, the love and charity
I feel for you caused me to have so much longing
That I would’ve died if I hadn’t visited you.”
Then the son stayed so long there at home
That after a short time he fell into fornication,
And he was destroyed in many ways
And frequently distressed his father.
And the wretch never took penance,
For he remained in the world the rest of his life.
Therefore, dear brothers, in God’s name take care
That you don’t ever leave your cells too often.
Two men once traveled through the desert.
They found an old penitent and questioned him thus:
“Why do you live in this desert so far away from people?
And why do you torment your body in this way?”
Then the penitent answered them as follows:
“All the suffering in the time since I’ve lived here
Cannot properly be compared
To one day’s pains and torment
As are prepared for sinners in the other world,
To which they’ll go damned for their misdeeds.”
A brother spoke to ABBOT ARSENIUS:
“What should I do? My spirit’s very troubled
Because my mind tells me, ‘You can’t work,
Or fast, or visit the sick.’
These are the things for which, when performed,
One receives reward from God.”
When the abbot heard the brother talk this way,
He knew well this was the Adversary’s sowing.
Then he said: “Go to your cell, as you trust me,
And eat, drink, sleep, and don’t go from there,
For keeping to his cell without going out
Can quickly return a monk to his rule.”
When the brother heard the abbot’s advice,
He took leave and returned to his cell.
And when he’d stayed in his cell three days,
The brother became quite bored.
He found a few palm branches and set them to soak.
Then the following day he made a tress from these.
And when he was hungry, he said to himself:
“I’ll plait these other palms before eating.”
And when he’d done this, he said: “I’ll read a little,
And when I’ve read a little, then I’ll eat.”
In this way, little by little, the brother improved.
And he remained in his cell in this manner,
And, by God’s power, he behaved in this way,
So that he returned to his order and his goodness.
And when he’d received strength against evil thoughts,
He fully conquered them along with carnal desires.
An abbot was addressed in this manner
By the brothers of his church:
“Why is it that brothers are bored in their cells?”
And he answered and explained this to all:
“This is why you’re bored in your rooms:
Because you haven’t yet seen the resurrection
Of all men who’ll arise on the Last Day,
Nor have you seen the torments that’ll start then.
For, in truth, dear brothers, I say this to you,
If you had seen and heard these things,
Then even if your cell were full of maggots and filth
That reached up to your neck or waist,
You’d suffer it willingly, know this indeed,
And then this existence wouldn’t bore you at all.”
An old man of great faith lived in the desert,
And fresh water was many leagues from his house.
When he went there one day to draw water,
He grew so weary along the way that he couldn’t go on.
Then he said: “Why do I need to travel so far?
I’ll come live near this water.”
Then he looked about himself after saying this,
And saw following behind him a man
Who counted out all his steps as he went.
The brother addressed him in just this way:
“Who are you?” And that one readily answered him:
“I’m the angel of God who’s been sent down here
To count out and enumerate all your steps,
And give you a reward for this effort.”
When the brother heard this, he was invigorated,
Because God encouraged him through his angel.
Then he moved his cell further away from the water,
Because he wished to have greater reward from God.
A brother asked an old abbot, saying:
“What should I do, father? I don’t pray at all,
And I do nothing that pertains to monastic life.
Instead I spend all my time in sloth,
For I eat and drink and then sleep a lot,
And I’m often troubled by wicked thoughts,
For I go from thought to thought, know this,
And thus I can’t find peace of mind.”
Then the abbot: “Go and sit in your room,
And do what you can without disturbance,
For it’s a small thing you’ve done here now,
As it was a large thing, in Anthony’s day,
That he did when he dwelt in the desert,
When he exerted himself for God by many deeds.
As I believe in God, I doubt none of this:
That everyone who holds to his cell for God
And receives grace purely in his conscience
Will truly be in Anthony’s place.”
A brother fell into temptation one time,
And he had great tribulation in his spirit.
Because this tribulation troubled him so,
He lost and abandoned his monastic rule.
Then afterwards he started to think
That he wanted to return to his rule again,
But tribulation disturbed him so much
That he achieved nothing toward this end.
Then the brother began to say to himself:
“When will I ever be as I was before?”
Then the brother grew weary in his spirit.
He couldn’t start to work at monastic life.
Then he went to an abbot and disclosed to him
How he stood, and all that afflicted him.
When the abbot heard how sorely he was tormented,
He immediately told him this exemplum:
“A man had a field that once was cultivated
But then, through negligence, had been abandoned.
Consequently, the field filled with thorns and brambles
Because no one had worked it for a long time.
Then this man wanted to cultivate his field,
So he called his son and said directly to him:
‘Go, son, to that field and clean it up for us,
And then make it ready as best you can.’
And his son went to clean up the field.
When he got there, he began to look around,
Seeing it all overgrown with thorns and thistles
Because it hadn’t been turned for a long time.
Then he began to grow weary in spirit,
And he said: ‘There’s so much to do here!
When will I have rooted up this monstrosity?
When will I have cleaned up this entire field?’
When he’d said this, he put it all aside,
And lay down to sleep instead of working.
For several days he behaved just like this:
When he ought to work, he went off and fell asleep.
Then his father went to see how he’d progressed,
And found that he’d done nothing.
Then he said to him: ‘Why have you been so lazy?
And why haven’t you rooted up this field?’
And the young man answered his father thus:
‘Dear father, when I first came here,
I saw these thorns and thistles everywhere,
And I didn’t know how to undertake so big a job;
Instead, I lay down on the ground and slept for awhile.’
Then his father said: ‘Dear son, now listen to me.
A plot of earth the same measure as your height
I order you, son, to work every day,
And thus you’ll advance the job, know this for certain,
And you won’t be all worn out, as you are now.’
When the son heard what his father said,
He went quickly and did it just that way,
And in a brief time he’d cleared the field
Of brambles and thorns and all its filth.
And you, brother, in the same way, shall work little by little,
And thus you won’t become worn out.
And God by his grace, when he sees this,
Will place you again in your former monastic order.”
When the brother heard the abbot speak in this way,
He went to his cell and started to fast.
He behaved patiently and did whatever he could
According to how this abbot taught and instructed him.
And so he found repose without disturbance,
For God quickly delivered him from temptation.
An abbot recounted how for nine whole years
A brother was so goaded by his thoughts
And felt so much temptation
That he despaired of salvation.
And he said to himself: “Alas, wretch that I am!
I’ll leave my cell and go into the world,
For it no longer matters what I do now.”
At this moment, as he headed toward the world,
A voice suddenly descended from the sky,
Saying to him: “Dear brother, you act foolishly
In leaving your abbey this way,
For the temptations you suffer in the desert
Will be your crowns should you bear them.
Therefore return to your cell, as I advise,
And I’ll lighten all this hardship.”
From this, we can deduce that it’s hardly wise
To despair in one’s foolish heart,
For God has promised to give us crowns
If we can guard ourselves from our wicked thoughts.
The book we cite as authority says
That there was an abbot living near Thebes
Who had with him a disciple, a very worthy man.
And this same person had a practice
That each day, as evening approached,
He instructed his son with learning and wisdom.
And when he’d finished his lesson,
Then they knelt down and said their prayers.
When they’d finished their duty,
The abbot immediately let the brother lie down.
When report of the abbot acting this way
Reached some very pious lay brothers,
The fathers went to him as a group
For their souls’ salvation and for correction.
And when the abbot understood why they’d come,
He exhorted them and then they went home.
And that evening the abbot didn’t forget his task:
He taught his brother and then began to exhort him.
And as he spoke, he became so drowsy
That he fell asleep there while still sitting.
And the disciple waited for him to wake up,
And said his prayers as he was accustomed.
But he didn’t wake up very quickly,
And the disciple waited for him a long time,
Even though his mind told him he ought to depart,
And that he ought to leave him and go away to sleep.
But when his spirit urged him in this way,
He held to his thought and didn’t leave.
Instead he sat quietly and waited for his abbot.
Then he was similarly burdened with sleepiness.
But, for all that, he never wished to go,
Nor did he wish to wake his teacher,
Such that seven times he was urged to fall asleep,
But he never wished to give in to his thought.
Then after midnight the abbot awoke,
And found the disciple seated before him.
Then the abbot began to ask him:
“Why haven’t you gone to bed yet?”
And he said: “Why didn’t you wake me?”
“Because,” said the brother, “I didn’t want to disturb you.”
Then they both rose up and went to sing matins.
And after this the abbot left the disciple.
Then when the abbot was alone in his room,
This vision was revealed to him:
A man showed him a most glorious place,
And in this place stood a most precious throne,
And he showed him seven crowns on this throne.
Then the abbot said to the one who’d guided him:
“What is this throne that stands here?”
And he said to him: “It’s your disciple’s.
God gave him both this place and this throne
Because thus far he has served willingly.
And these seven crowns that you see here
He has earned tonight.”
When the abbot heard this, he was amazed.
Then he called his disciple and asked him:
“Tell me what good deed you performed tonight.”
[He said: “Father, mercy, for I didn’t do anything.”]
The abbot supposed that he demurred out of humility
Because he didn’t want to confess the truth,
And he said: “Believe me, I’ll never let you have peace,
Nor, certainly, will I ever allow you to rest,
Until you’ve revealed everything
You’ve done and thought this night.”
The brother didn’t know anything he’d done,
Nor could he find anything he could say.
Then the brother said: “Master Abbot, pardon me,
I didn’t do anything tonight beyond what I’ll tell you:
My thought urged me seven times
To go to sleep and leave you alone.
But because I didn’t have permission, as I usually do,
I therefore didn’t want to leave you without permission.”
When the abbot heard this, then he well understood
That as many times as he’d conquered his thought,
So many times had he been crowned by God
Because he’d conquered his own will.
But he didn’t want to reveal this to his disciple
Lest he should glory in this.
But to the other spiritual fathers in the order,
The abbot made this vision known.
We may thereby understand and know well
That for a small thought God will come to crown us.
It’s therefore good that, in each thing, one
Strive to do well for the love of God,
For it’s written that by force and by struggle
We may attain the celestial kingdom,
And those opposed to wicked vices
Will possess, without fail, the kingdom of heaven.
An old brother who lived alone fell ill
And had no one with him who cared for him.
But he got himself up, and he ate such food
As was in his house, for he had nothing else.
And as he carried on this way for many days,
No one ever came to visit him.
So he led this life for thirty days.
Then Jesus Christ Son of Mary sent him
His angel to care for him during this illness.
When the angel had stayed with him seven days,
Then the fathers of the region said among themselves:
“Now we should all go together today
And visit this one for the love of God,
For it’s been awhile since any of us saw him.
Maybe he lies in bed in his cell.”
And when they came there and knocked at the door,
The angel left him; he remained no longer.
And the brother shut inside cried out:
“Go away, brothers, and let me have rest!”
And the brothers at once lifted the door
Off its hinge and broke the lock,
And they asked then why he’d raised such a cry.
The brother answered, saying this to them:
“For thirty days I lay ill in my cell
All alone because no one visited me.
But God in his mercy sent me his angel,
Who for seven days looked after and cared for me,
And when you came knocking at the door just now,
He suddenly went away from me here.”
And when he’d said this to them,
He lay down in peace and surrendered his soul to God.
The brothers were astonished by this,
And glorified God who took pleasure
In helping his own, and they began to say:
“Our Lord doesn’t forsake those who trust in him.”
One of the fathers spoke of himself, saying:
“While I was living in Oxyrhynchus,
The poor came one Saturday evening
To receive lodging and alms.
And then that night, when they went to sleep,
One of them had a mat to cover himself.
He put half the mat underneath himself,
And with the other half the poor man covered up,
For it was very cold in that season.
Then I got up in the room to relieve myself,
And I heard the one with the mat groan loudly,
And because of the cold he began to moan.
Then he comforted himself in this manner:
‘I give thanks to you, God, who formed me.
Many rich people are imprisoned,
With their hands firmly bound in iron,
Or their feet so strongly fastened to wood
That they can’t even relieve themselves freely.
And I am, by God my Creator’s great mercy,
As free as any king or emperor.
I can stretch out my feet and bend my legs,
And I can easily go wherever I want.’
And I stood silently and listened to it all,
How this poor man comforted himself.
Later I recounted it at length to our brothers,
And they were all greatly edified by it.”
A lay brother inquired of an abbot as follows:
“If I live in a very isolated place
And, by chance, temptation assaults me,
And I don’t have anyone near me at that time
To whom I can then confess my thoughts,
Or to whom I might disclose my feelings,
What should I do? In God's name, tell me.”
And the abbot said to him: “I’ll tell you what I think.
I believe that God will send you his angel.
And that by his grace he’ll visit you.
In truth, he’ll be a comfort to you
If you ask in faith and in charity,
For I heard that there happened once in Scete
Such a thing as you now ask.
In Scete there lived a monk
Who endured great temptation many times,
And he had no one in whom he could trust,
Nor to whom he wished to reveal his feelings.
Therefore, one evening he took a beaver coat,
And had it in mind to abandon his house.
Behold, when he was about to go out,
God’s grace urgently appeared to him
In the form of a virgin woman
Who was as bright as a gem before him.
And she counseled the brother, saying this:
‘Take care that you don’t move from here,
But remain wholly at peace, if you trust me,
For it’s not bad for you that you’re tempted.
But if you can overcome the temptations,
Then God will have reason to crown you.’
When the brother heard the girl speak,
He trusted her advice and gave up his foolish plan,
And Almighty God cured his heart at once.
Surely, I also believe, brother, that he’ll cure yours.”
ABBOT ANTHONY heard about a sign
Produced by a young monk on a journey,
And I’ll say truly, and won’t lie at all,
What sign it was, may God give me life.
This young monk was lying beside a road.
There passed by some aged brothers
Who’d toiled hard on this journey
And were very weary from the travel.
Then this young monk felt sorry for them
And ordered some wild donkeys
To come carry these same brothers
To Abbot Anthony, to whom they were headed.
Then when these brothers came to the abbot,
They told him all about this young monk.
Abbot Anthony responded, saying to them:
“This monk, I think, is like a ship,
Which, heavily loaded with all kinds of goods,
Sails away from the land against the wind.
But I fear that it may encounter some obstacle
Before it comes to land.”
And a little after this, in private,
Abbot Anthony wept sorely
And abruptly pulled at his hair.
Crying, he began to grieve loudly.
When the brothers saw him do this,
They asked him: “Why do you weep, dear father?”
And the abbot answered the brothers thus,
Saying to all his disciples:
“Come, brothers, and go to him in that place,
And see what this young brother did today.”
So they went there and found him sitting on a mat,
Weeping grievously for the sins he’d committed.
When the monk saw the abbot’s disciples,
He immediately addressed them all:
“Brothers, ask your abbot, for God’s love,
That he earnestly beseech Our Lord
To give me protection for ten days,
For I feel I can correct myself by then by his grace.”
But he passed away before the fifth day,
And he went to that place where God destined him.
ABBOT CASSIAN recounted to us
That a brother had come to ABBOT SERAPION.
The abbot instructed him to say a prayer
As was customary for monks,
But the brother didn’t wish to pray with him
Because he was a great sinner — he said this to him —
For he’d sinned so much, he said, both great and small,
That he wasn’t worthy of the monastic habit.
The abbot desired to wash his feet,
But he condemned himself fiercely, saying:
“Father, I’ve sinned in this and in that.”
After that, the abbot made the brother eat
And began to correct him charitably,
Saying: “Dear son, if you’d like to acquit yourself,
Then I advise you to go sit in your cell
And remain there, if you’ll trust me,
And learn to do some task.
For to roam about doesn’t profit you nearly so much,
Son, you must know this, as does sitting.”
When the brother heard this, he became upset;
His countenance immediately changed
In such a way that the abbot saw
The brother’s face transfixed with anger.
Then Abbot Serapion spoke to him as follows:
“Before this, you’d already named yourself a sinner
And denounced yourself
As unworthy to be among people.
And because I charitably corrected you,
Are you now afraid of being troubled in spirit?
If you wish to be humble, however, you must bear much
And accept what you’re told for the sake of virtue.
If someone turns you toward penance,
You must, first of all, bear it patiently;
It’s unnecessary to grow angry about
Someone correcting you for the sake of virtue.”
When the brother heard him speak in this way,
He gladly endured all his chastisement
And was greatly improved by his sermon.
Then he left there highly edified.
A brother sought ABBOT MATOES,
For he wanted to learn wisdom from him:
“Father, if I go away somewhere,
How do you wish me to comport myself there?”
And the abbot responded as a wise man would:
“Take care that you don’t adopt the habit,
Dear brother, of making yourself conspicuous,
And in that place where you live
You mustn’t tell all the people this:
‘I wish to live in seclusion, not with the community,’
Or, ‘I don’t want this meal, nor to make use of that,
Nor to drink this, nor do I wish to taste that.’
For such things will cause you to be thought vain,
And, from that, disturbance will come to you.
For men, whenever they hear you mentioned,
Will surely want to flock to hear and see you.
Therefore, if you desire to maintain any peace at all,
You must entirely conceal your good works from people.”
ABBOT ISCHYRION was passing through the desert,
And he brought a brother with him at that time.
Then, by chance, they saw a dragon
And immediately began to run away.
Whereupon, the brother suddenly asked:
“Are you afraid of the dragon, dear father?”
“Not at all,” he said. “Upon seeing a dragon,
Dear son, it’s not for fear that I run away,
But one must run away from the spirit of vainglory,
And one should flee from it anywhere he sees it.”
A judge came in from the countryside to speak
With ABBOT PASTOR, but he didn’t wish to see him.
When the judge saw this, he turned back
And seized a son of the abbot’s sister, leading him away
And saying he was a wicked boy.
He then put the abbot’s nephew in his prison,
Saying: “Should the abbot come and wish to ask me
For his sister’s son, then I’m willing to let him go.”
When the mother heard that her son was imprisoned,
She immediately went to her brother Pastor the abbot
And started to weep at the door of his cell,
But her brother chose not to give her any response.
Then, when she was all worn out from lamenting,
She began to reproach her brother as follows:
“You have a heart as hard as the Adversary
Since you won’t have pity on anyone.
This at least should arouse you to pity:
That we’re born of one blood!”
Then the abbot sent these words to her:
“Say to her, ‘Pastor never begot a son.’”
With that, she departed from there and left,
For her brother wouldn’t speak a single word to her.
And when the judge heard this recounted,
How the abbot wouldn’t speak with his sister,
He took the young man whom he’d imprisoned
And sent him at once to Abbot Pastor,
And granted that he should examine his case
And should judge him according to the law:
If he deserved death, then he should die,
And if not, he might do with him as he wished.
SAINT SYNCLETICA once preached
And spoke of the virtue that man holds in himself:
“Just as any treasure, when it’s discovered,
Is soon assessed, carried away, and fully spent,
So too is one’s virtue, when it’s known,
Soon laid waste and soon consumed.
For just as wax will utterly melt,
Reduced to nothing by the heat of a flame,
So too for him who delights in flattery:
His virtue departs, I don’t doubt this at all.
Therefore, anyone wanting to have his profit from God
Ought to conceal his good works from people.
For just as it can never happen
That grass be simultaneously a seed,
So too will it never happen, at the same time,
That one who loves worldly glory and praise
Is able to simultaneously bring forth fruit
While delighting in worldly praise.”
There was once a feast held in a cell,
And when the brothers were seated at the meal,
There was a brother who said privately
To the one who’d set the meal before them:
“I will eat nothing that’s cooked, only salt.”
At this, the brother hearing him did nothing except
Call at once to another brother,
And, in the hearing of all, spoke as follows:
“This one doesn’t care for anything cooked.
Bring salt to him immediately.”
At this, an abbot stood up and said to him:
“It would’ve been better for you to eat meat today
Than to have your voice heard before so many brothers,
For this has the appearance of hypocrisy.”
There was once a monk who abstained from food
Such that he wouldn’t eat what came before him.
It happened, by chance, that he came to an abbey,
And other brothers arrived at the same time.
Then the abbot made them a bit of porridge,
And, when they sat together at the meal,
The brother practicing abstinence didn’t want
To eat or accept what was placed before him.
When he arose from the table,
The house abbot took him aside, speaking privately:
“Dear brother, truly, when you arrive somewhere,
You mustn’t immediately display your abstinence;
If you wish to abstain in this way,
Stay in your cell. You mustn’t come out.”
And the brother readily took his advice,
And he never again practiced abstinence in front of people,
But afterwards, wherever he came among other brothers,
He behaved similarly to them, throughout his life.
ISAAC, an abbot who lived near Thebes,
Came to a place where there was a religious community.
And one of the brothers acted culpably, and he condemned him.
And then when the abbot returned to his lodging,
The angel of Our Lord Jesus Christ came
And stood before the door of his cell, saying to him:
“I won’t let you enter your room.”
And the abbot asked him why,
And the angel said: “Jesus Christ Our Lord
Sent me to you to say this:
‘Where did you order me to put this brother
Whom you judged just now in such a manner?’”
And the abbot immediately fell down at his feet,
Saying: “I did so, pray pardon me for it!”
At this, the angel answered, saying: “Stand up,
For God has pardoned you, I know this truly,
But from now on refrain from judging a sinner
Before God the Supreme Judge judges him.”
In Scete a brother was found culpable,
And he was convicted by all his brothers.
But they didn’t condemn him and thus acted wisely.
Instead, they sent for ABBOT MOSES through messengers.
He very much did not want to go,
So the messengers came back.
Then a messenger returned to him, again
Saying: “Come, for a host of brothers awaits you.”
And so, at this news, he stood up.
He had a basket filled with gravel
And, with much difficulty, carried it behind his back.
The brothers came outside toward him
And saw him carrying the basket on his back.
Then they asked what this extraordinary thing was.
Thereupon, he said: “Dear brothers, know this,
Here my sins come following behind me,
And I don’t see them for I’m in front of them,
And I come here to judge the sins of another.”
When they heard this, they said nothing,
But they pardoned the brother and acted well.
ABBOT JOSEPH once said to ABBOT PASTOR:
“How may I be a good monk? Counsel me.”
And Abbot Pastor said to him: “I’ll tell you my advice.
If you wish to find repose in the other world,
In all your doings repeat this:
‘What thing am I?’ And don’t judge people.”
A brother also asked this abbot:
“Is it right to conceal one’s brothers’ sins?”
“Yes,” the abbot said. “You should conceal them,
For when we hide the sins and misdeeds
Of our neighbors, know this truly,
Then Jesus Christ likewise hides our sins.
And when, by chance, we reveal them,
God at once reveals our sins.”
In former times it happened in a religious community
That one of the brothers had sinned quite openly.
And near the location of this community
A hermit lived by himself in seclusion
And hadn’t left his room for a long time,
For he was extremely devout.
The abbot trusted his advice. In this, he acted as follows:
He expelled the brother from their congregation.
Extremely repentant for his sin,
He went to a ditch and sat there weeping.
Then it happened that some other brothers had to go
To the abbot, to whom they wanted to speak,
And as the brothers passed by the ditch,
They heard him weep and were greatly curious.
They quickly turned around, went to see,
And found him weeping sorrowfully.
Then the brothers started to comfort him,
Advising him to go to the hermit,
But the brother wouldn’t consent.
Instead he said: “I wish to die in this ditch.”
The brothers went at once to the abbot,
Telling him all about the brother in the ditch.
The abbot implored them to return,
To go and speak to this fellow monk,
Advising him that he should go to ABBOT PASTOR,
For, through them, he commanded this of him.
So the brothers returned on his behalf
And revealed to him the abbot’s command.
When he heard what the abbot ordered him to do,
He rose from the ditch and went quickly to him.
And Abbot Pastor, when he saw the brother,
Received him well and welcomed him.
Then he began to comfort him gently
And urged him to eat something.
Then the abbot sent one of the brothers, saying
To this solitary hermit, whom I mentioned earlier:
“For several years, ever since I last spoke to you,
I’ve yearned to see you,
But we’ve neglectfully delayed, I feel,
Such that we’ve not seen each other for a long time.
But now, in God’s name, it’s right that you trouble yourself
And come to my house to speak with me.”
And he wouldn’t ever leave his cell,
The abbot continued, unless he were willing to come.
Once he’d heard this message from the abbot,
[The hermit] said this to himself:
“If God hadn’t revealed me to this abbot,
He wouldn’t have sent for in this way, through his brother.”
So he rose up and went to Abbot Pastor,
Who received him with joy and great honor.
Then they sat down and discussed their salvation,
As is usual among monks.
Then the abbot said: “Now, listen to me awhile,
And I’ll relate to you, dear brother, an exemplum:
Two men lived together in one place.
They both prayed for their dead, over whom they watched.
Then one left his dead man and went away to sit.”
When this old man had heard the abbot speak in this way,
He began to reflect upon his deeds,
And he soon felt deep contrition in his heart.
After he’d heard this discourse from the abbot,
He said: “Surely Pastor is there in heaven up above,
And, indeed, I’m here on earth down below.”
Another brother asked ABBOT ANTHONY:
“Pray tell me what I should do, father,
For, whenever I sit, I’m all discouraged,
And, most of all, I feel great disquiet.”
Then the abbot answered him, saying:
“Take care not to bear contempt for anyone;
If you see any of your brothers sin,
Don’t take it upon yourself to judge him;
And should anyone reproach you,
Don’t ever quarrel with him over what he says.
And if you’re willing to govern yourself in this way,
Then God’s willing to grant you peace in your heart,
And you’ll be able to sit in your cell and house
Without great disquiet and disturbance.”
In Scete there was once a meeting
Of several abbots and also brothers.
They spoke then of one who was deeply sinful,
And ABBOT PRIOR kept quiet.
Afterwards, this same Prior went out,
And he took an old sack and filled it with gravel.
In like manner, he took a basket that he found,
And in it he put a little bit of gravel.
Then he took the one full of gravel
And hung it behind him on his shoulders,
And the basket holding only a little,
He carried in front of him, where he always saw it.
When the fathers beheld him, they were amazed,
And they asked him what it was he carried.
And he revealed to them the meaning
Of the sack and basket he carried:
“This sack with a lot of gravel in it,
These are my many sins, which rule over me,
So I put them behind me, so I don’t see them
Or weep for them, nor am I sorrowful.
And this basket hanging in front of me,
Holding only a little so as not to burden me greatly,
They’re the sins of this brother, which I see well.
But I see nothing of my own sins,
And because I can’t see mine,
I’m now willing to judge the sins of my brother.
But I know very well that this serves no purpose for me,
For I ought to carry my sins in front of me,
And I should think of them more, day and night,
And pray that God grant me pardon.”
When the brothers heard him speak in this way,
Truly they all said among themselves:
“Abbot Prior has extremely good sense,
For this is the road to salvation.”
A brother lived in a place in isolation
And didn’t have a priest with him, reportedly.
Therefore a priest from a church would
Come to him to perform his service
And give him communion when he needed it,
And then he’d return to his lodging.
When this priest had long served him,
There came someone who knew his manner of living,
And denounced him strongly to the brother, saying:
“This priest is lecherous and ignorant.”
Then the priest came to the brother’s cell, intending
To give him communion as he normally did.
But when the brother heard him knock at his door,
Because his fear of scandal, he didn’t let him in.
Seeing this, the priest returned to his lodging —
If he didn’t let him in, what could he do?
Then the brother heard a voice clearly,
Saying: “Men have taken my judgment upon themselves!”
He instantly fell down there as if in a swoon,
And the following vision was revealed to him:
This same brother saw a place with a well
Of very lovely, sweet, wholesome, clear water.
And he saw a golden jug resting upon this well;
The rope by which it was attached was also of gold.
Then he saw, standing near the hole, a leper
Who began to draw water with the jug.
And each time this leper drew water,
He poured it into a nearby vessel.
Then the brother wanted to drink, feeling need,
But because the leper drew it, he didn’t want any.
Once again, he heard a voice, which said this:
“Why don’t you drink the water you see here?
You don’t want it because of the one who drew it.
Do you think that it’s worse because of him?
He didn’t do anything to it just now except draw it.
You shouldn’t go without it because of the leper.”
Then the brother woke up, and he reflected
Upon this vision that God had revealed to him.
He understood that God had revealed this to him
Because of the priest whom he’d refused earlier.
Thereupon, the brother sent for him, and he came at once
And gave him communion as he’d done before.
ABBOT CASSIAN once told about
An old brother who lived in the desert,
Who’d entreated God to grant him
That, whenever he heard talk of spiritual things,
He’d always be unable to sleep during this talk,
But would receive the grace to stay awake and listen,
And that, whenever he heard foolish words
That might turn toward hatred and envy,
He’d quickly fall asleep. Thus did he pray to God,
So that his ears might hear no vanity.
For this brother said that Satan is happiest
Whenever he can cause sin through idleness,
And if he were to hear them speak of God and wisdom,
He immediately interfered with them by his power.
So that you may comprehend how this is true,
He expounded to us this exemplum:
“Once,” he said, “I preached to some brothers
And spoke to them for their souls’ benefit.
Then they all had such a deep urge to sleep
That none of them might keep his eyes open.
And when I saw this, I wanted to show them
That it was the Devil who sought to mock them.
So I began to speak of humorous tricks,
Of idle words and foolish things,
And the brothers woke up instantly;
For delight, they forgot all about sleeping.
And then I began to groan, saying to them:
‘As long as I spoke for your benefit,
You were so sluggish in thought
That you all fell asleep, dear brothers;
But as soon as I began to talk of idle things,
You all woke up and were happy.
Therefore, dear brothers, don’t be at all amazed,
But know that this was indeed the Devil’s work,
For just now I saw you sleep in this manner
When you would’ve done better being awake to listen.’
Therefore, dear brothers, I’d like to urge and counsel you
That whenever you hear talk of God,
And whenever you’ve entered your church
To hear and attend to God’s service,
Strive hard to stay awake at that time,
For if you sleep, it’s because of the Adversary.”
ABBOT LOT’s disciple once asked questions
And spoke to ABBOT PETER in this way:
“When I’m in solitude in my cell,
Then my soul’s at peace, know this truly,
But when, by chance, someone comes to chat,
Detaining me with stories and sayings,
And recounting the words of those outside,
Then I grow quite troubled in both soul and body.”
Abbot Peter answered, saying these words:
“Hear this sentence that Abbot Lot spoke.
‘Your key,’ said Abbot Lot, ‘unlocked my door.’”
And he asked what this sentence meant.
And he said: “If someone comes, and you ask him,
‘How are you, dear brother? Where do you come from?
How are the brothers of that house doing?
Did they gladly receive you, dear brother, or not?’
When you question him in this manner,
Then you open the doors of your brother’s mouth,
And you hear what you’d rather not have heard.”
And he answered: “Truly, it’s always like that,
But what should a man do then? I’d like to know.
When a brother comes to visit his neighbor,
Should he speak with him, or leave it alone?”
And he answered: “I’m glad to instruct you on this.
When one brother comes to speak with another,
All their talk should occur with sorrow and weeping,
For wherever tears are lacking, dear brother,
One can’t ever guard his heart from folly.
Therefore, he mustn’t be too inquisitive
Or too curious about worldly affairs,
For a brother can be much perturbed in his cell
When he hears worldly matters spoken of.”
ABBOT SILVANUS at one time, know truly,
Was living with his disciple at Mount Sinai.
One day this disciple had to depart on some business,
So, when he was about to go, he said to his abbot:
“Draw some water while I’m gone,
And water the garden, for that will be very helpful.”
The abbot then went out to draw water.
In doing so, he took his cowl, covered his whole face,
And walked through the garden sprinkling water.
The good man gazed neither behind nor ahead,
But walked about staring only at his feet.
Then a man came toward him, noticed this behavior,
And stood still to watch what he was doing.
Afterwards he quickly approached him, saying:
“Father, in God’s name, tell me and don’t hide it,
Why do you cover your eyes with your clothes?”
Then the abbot explained the reason to him,
Speaking as a profoundly devout man:
“I cover my face because I had to enter here,
But I don’t wish to see the beauty of the trees.
For, should I see it, you may be certain,
Something in the act of seeing might delight me;
And should I feel enjoyment in the sight,
I’d be disturbed in my contemplation.”
Some related this account about an old brother,
That when his thoughts spoke to him in this way —
“Don’t take confession today but tomorrow;
You’ll repent soon enough when tomorrow comes!” —
Then the brother struggled against his thoughts,
Saying: “I won’t believe you, evil scoundrel,
But today, on this day, I’ll do penance,
And tomorrow God will do as he pleases with me.”
An abbot said that three powers of Satan
Enter every man before every sin:
The first of the three is forgetfulness;
The second is sloth, you may know for sure;
The third is boundless covetousness.
Of all sins, these three are the origin,
For when forgetfulness has lordship over someone,
Sloth is born from it, I’ve no doubt at all.
And from sloth there comes another evil:
Covetousness, which pulls one down.
But if one’s thoughts remain sober,
Not allowing forgetfulness in,
He’ll be able to protect himself from sloth.
May none of us ever doubt this!
And if he’s willing to reject sloth wholly,
He needn’t fear covetousness.
And if he won’t let covetousness in,
By God’s grace, he’ll never be brought down.
When an old abbot in Scete was about to die,
The community came, stood around him,
And began to weep more than I can say.
The abbot opened his eyes and started to laugh.
And he did his three times, then ceased.
Thereupon, the brothers started to question him:
“Tell us, Father, why do you laugh?
All of us now weep because you’re departing.”
He said to them: “First, I’m laughing at that:
And then I laughed a second time, truly,
Because you’re not prepared for death;
I laughed the third time, I venture to say,
Because I’m going, by God’s mercy, from labor to rest.
When you weep for this, you’re quite wrong,
For true life exists there; here there’s only death.”
When he’d said this, he lay in peace
And closed his eyes very gently, as it was so.
Some brothers called upon ABBOT AGATHO
And posed this question to him:
“Which virtue demands one’s greatest effort?
Father, pray tell us, in the Creator’s name.”
And he said: “No labor’s so hard, to my thinking,
As performing one’s prayers in private.
For when a man wishes to pray to Almighty God,
Behold the devils who set out to harass him,
For they know well that it’s their undoing
When a man prays to God from the heart.
Therefore, my dear brother, as I just told you,
I don’t consider any task as difficult as prayer,
For in all the other tasks you might perform,
You can easily rest whenever you like;
But for as long as you hope to remain in prayer,
You’ll always exert great effort without relief.”
Monks came at one time to ABBOT LUCIUS,
Who was a holy abbot and very wise.
Then the abbot asked them whether they were holy.
He asked: “What work do you do with your hands?”
They said: “We don’t work at all with our hands,
But, following the Apostle, we pray without a break.”
Then he said: “Do you eat as we do?”
“Yes,” said the monks, “we eat every day.”
“And who prays for you,” he said, “at that time?”
Thereupon, he asked the brothers:
“Do you ever sleep, may I know?”
“Yes,” they said, “when we need to.”
“And while you sleep, who prays for you?”
Not knowing how to answer, they were ashamed.
Then he said: “Brothers, pardon me,
But you don’t act at all as you say.
Now I’ll show you how I work.
I’m always working, know this, without a break,
For I make a plait of a few palm leaves,
And while I do this, I sing my psalms,
And also during this time I say to the Sovereign King:
‘God, by your grace, have mercy on me,
And in accord with the abundance of your mercy,
Take away from me, dear Lord, all my iniquity.’”
And then the abbot said to them: “What do you think?
Do you consider what I said to you to be prayer?”
“Yes,” said the monks, “the prayer is good.”
And the abbot showed them this rationale:
“When I’m praying right through the day
I pray in this way with both heart and mouth.
Then, know this for sure, I can have at least
Sixteen coins as payment for a single day.
Then I place two of these outside the door,
And the others I keep in order to maintain my body.
And those taking the two coins pray for me
During the time when I sleep or eat,
And thus, by God’s grace, I accomplish
What is written by the Apostle: ‘Pray without a break.’”
SAINT SYNCLETICA, who was very holy,
Preached and explained this wise lesson:
“We want to be saved and we all desire it,
But we all fail because of our sloth.”
Then she said: “It’s necessary for us to take care
That we be sober and of great moderation,
For thieves will enter into our bodies
If our windows aren’t closed against the outside.
I’ll illustrate this for you by this rationale:
If there were lots of smoke outside a house,
And its windows weren’t closed,
Then wouldn’t it be darkened inside?
And therefore it’s necessary for you to be armed on all sides
To defend yourself from devils and their darts.”
A monk from Thebes performed such service
That he habitually gave to anyone in need.
As was his custom, he prepared an almsgiving
So that all the poor in the area came to him.
Behold a woman who came there:
She had meager belongings and was humbly dressed.
When the monk saw her, he started to think
That he wanted to give more to her than to the others.
Then the monk opened his hand very widely,
For he intended to give her a good quantity of bread.
Then he put his hand in the alms there
And opened his hand wide, for he wished to take a lot.
But his hand rapidly closed, he knew not why,
So that he could hold only a small amount.
Then there came to him another who was well dressed.
When the monk saw her fine clothes,
He began then to say to himself:
“This lady, I think, is not in any need.”
Then he closed his hand, for he wished to take a little,
But it opened itself and didn’t want to be clenched,
And, against his will, he took a lot and gave it all to her.
And afterwards he asked other women about her,
And they told him that she’d been a noblewoman,
But that she’d fallen into great poverty;
And because she was of high lineage,
For this, she dressed as best she could.
But the other one, in order to receive alms, dressed herself
In old patched garments, as they had him understand
There was once a priest, a worthy man,
Who gave many alms to the needy.
Then a widow came to him to ask for
A little wheat that she needed.
And the priest said to her: “Bring then a vessel.”
This she did. She went quickly to her lodging,
And then she returned, carrying a measure with her.
And the priest looked directly at this vessel,
Saying: “Truly, this is a large vessel!”
When he said this, the widow felt ashamed.
Afterwards, when this woman had left,
An old man there said to the priest:
“Did you sell or lend the grain to that woman?”
“No,” the priest said, “all of it I gave to her.”
“If you gave all of it to her,” the old man said,
“Why were you so stingy about so small an amount?
You made the woman’s face turn red
Because you spoke to her in that way.
Don’t you know that if someone gives many alms,
And then becomes stingy about a small amount,
This happens because of the Adversary’s influence,
And, despite all his good deeds, he’ll lose his reward?”
A brother lived a shared life with an old man,
And this same old man was quite charitable.
Then hunger and great scarcity came into the land,
Such that grain was scant and abundance vanished.
Then many indigent people came in need
To the old man’s lodging to find some relief.
And the old man gave of his bread to everyone.
When the other one saw this, he thought about it,
And the brother said to the old man:
“Give me my share of what you distribute,
And then do what you wish with your own share.”
He gave him his share; he didn’t refuse him at all.
And the old man gladly gave to the needy,
As he had done before, from what remained to him.
And many came to this old man out of need
When they heard how charitable he was.
When God saw that he had such virtuous intentions,
He blessed his breads and granted them abundance.
The other one who’d previously received his share
Wasted his own bread and gave nothing at all to anyone.
Then this same brother said to the old man:
“Now my own bread isn’t enough for me, dear father.
For that reason, I ask that we live together as before.”
And the old man told him: “As you wish, I consent.”
Then they began to live together,
And from then on they ate together.
It happened one day that this brother went
Into the storehouse and found that their bread was gone.
Afterwards, on the morrow, the poor came for alms,
And the old man told him: “Give them some bread.”
The brother answered: “We don’t have any more, know this.”
And the old man said to him: “Go inside and seek.”
Then the brother went inside and began to look
In the place where they normally stored their bread.
He then saw that the storehouse was filled with bread —
It was so full it frightened the brother!
Then he took some of this bread and gave it to the poor,
And he knew that the old man possessed great goodness,
And he understood he was virtuous and of good faith.
Then he praised God for showing such a miracle to him.
John, a disciple of ABBOT PAUL,
Was very obedient, as it’s recounted.
There were some large caves near the place
Where he and his brother lived.
There dwelt in one cave a lioness
Dangerously cruel and wicked.
Abbot Paul, as he passed by this spot one day,
Found, by chance, some ox dung.
Then the abbot said to his disciple: “Go there quickly.
Bring here to me the dung you find.”
Then he answered, saying: “Dear father, what’ll I do
About the lioness if she comes after me?”
As he said this, the abbot smiled,
And then spoke this to his disciple:
“If the lioness comes after you,
Tie her up firmly and bring her to me.”
The disciple went there in the evening,
And the beast approached him, acting fiercely.
So he quickly ran toward her, trying to catch her,
But the lioness started to run away.
Then he said: “Wait! My abbot commanded
When he sent me here that I tie you up!”
And the animal paused and proceeded no further.
He seized her, know this, and tied her up.
Back at home, the abbot waited a long time;
Because he’d been absent so long, he was concerned.
Then the disciple came in, late, bringing the beast,
Which was tied up and had done no harm.
When the abbot saw this, he began to marvel,
Yet, because he wanted to humble his disciple,
He beat him at once and rebuked him greatly,
Saying: “Why have you brought this mad dog?”
Then the abbot untied the lioness
And let her go without any harm.
A man came from the world to ABBOT SISOIS
And described the sort of monk he hoped to be.
And the abbot asked him, saying thus:
“Tell me this first: do you possess any worldly thing?”
And he said to him: “I’ve nothing except for a son.”
“Go for him then,” the abbot said at once,
“And throw him in that river, without any excuse,
And then return to me, and I’ll make you a monk.”
And he went for the child, know this indeed,
And carried him toward the water hastily.
When the abbot saw that he aimed to drown the child,
He sent a brother after him to watch,
And as he held the child, preparing to throw him in,
Behold how the brother said, “Stop!”
Then he explained himself to the brother:
“The abbot ordered me to throw him in here.”
“Likewise does he order you,” the brother said,
“Not to throw him in any way.”
When the brother had said this, he released his son,
And the abbot made him a monk as he’d promised him.
And then he was of outstanding prudence,
And was a monk proven through obedience.
Another one who was of the secular life
Had himself made a monk in an abbey.
He had three sons whom he loved dearly,
And he left them in town when he went away.
But when he’d completed three full years,
His sons came often to him in memory.
Thinking of them, he became sad and occupied.
Noting this, the abbot asked what troubled him,
And, because he hadn’t revealed anything earlier, he said:
“I have three sons, Master, whom I left in the city,
And since I’ve been a monk, I’ve not seen any of them.
But, if you please, I’d like them to be here.”
And the abbot ordered him to go for them
And bring them with him to the abbey.
Then the monk went into the city
And found out that two of his sons had died.
Then he quickly took the only one still alive
And brought him with him to the abbey.
As soon as he passed through the door,
He asked the brothers where the master abbot was.
They said to him: “He’s gone to the bakehouse.”
He went together with his son and found the abbot.
When the abbot saw him coming, he greeted him,
Called this child to him, and kissed him,
And then said at once to his father:
“Tell me, in truth, do you love this child?”
He said: “Yes.” And the abbot asked a second time:
“Do you love him dearly?” He said he loved him dearly.
When the abbot heard that he loved his son so much,
He said to him: “Since you love him as you say,
Take him and throw him immediately into this oven,
While it’s burning ferociously.”
The father took his son and threw him into the oven,
But the oven, once he was inside, grew instantly cold.
The monk was highly prized for this deed,
And by this action he gained high repute,
For he resembled the patriarch Abraham
Who was willing to kill his own son for God.
Two brothers by birth withdrew from the world,
And they came to an abbey and stayed there.
One was devout and had a continent nature.
The other possessed wondrous obedience:
If the abbot said to him, “Do this,” he consented,
And if he said to him, “Go there,” he went quickly,
And if he said to him, “Eat in the morning,” he did so,
And, from this, he gained a high repute in the abbey.
When his continent brother saw this,
He said to [the abbot] the following:
“Father, I pray, if it’s your pleasure,
Permit my brother to accompany me,
For it’s absolutely necessary that I go somewhere.”
He did all this because he wished to test his brother.
The abbot permitted him go with him as he asked.
He took his brother and led him off with him.
The brothers journeyed a very long way
Till they came to a river without a ford,
And in the water there was a sort of snake
That people there commonly called a “crocodile.”
Then the continent one ordered the other one:
“Go in here and cross.” And he quickly stepped in.
Then the crocodiles approached, without any lie,
And started to lick his body,
But without doing the brother any harm.
When his brother saw this, he quickly said:
“Come out of the water.” And he came at once.
Then they went on their way together,
And when they’d gone ahead a little ways,
They found a dead man’s body in the path.
Then the continent brother said:
“Brother, if we had some clothing,
We could throw it over this dead man’s body.”
Then the obedient one began to speak:
“Let’s pray instead, and, perhaps, he’ll rise from the dead.”
Then they set themselves at once to pray.
And when they’d prayed diligently,
The man who’d been dead rose up fully alive.
When God had revived him to life by their prayer,
The continent brother gloried in himself,
Saying: “On account of my continence, know for sure,
Almighty God revived here this dead man.”
By means of a vision, all these events
Were revealed to the house abbot by God:
How he’d tested his brother in the water,
And how the dead man had been revived.
Then, when they’d returned home to their monastery,
The abbot said to the continent one:
“Why did you do this to your brother?
Why did you test him in this manner?
Because of his extraordinary obedience,
God delivered him from the crocodiles,
And, you must know, it was due to his obedience,
That the dead man arose, and not at all to your continence.”
ABBOT ANTHONY marveled greatly
One day as he pondered God’s judgments,
And he was so confounded he knew not what to say.
Then he prayed, saying: “Jesus Christ, dear Lord,
Why should it be that some are rich and prosperous,
While others are poor and needy?
That the wicked have an abundance of good things,
While the righteous have hardship and poverty?
And why should it be that some die in youth,
While others live right up to old age?”
Behold a voice that came to him straightaway:
“Anthony, take care of and attend to yourself,
For these are God’s judgments and his secrets,
And you oughtn’t inquire into his private matters.”
ABBOT JOHN recounted, as is true,
How ABBOT ANOUB and another, ABBOT PASTOR,
And five other brothers (whom they ruled)
Born of one womb, were in Scete.
And when this place was destroyed by foreigners,
Abbot Pastor traveled from there with his brothers
And came near a temple, know this for sure,
In a place they call Terenuthis.
They rested there, but not for long,
Only until they’d prepared another dwelling place.
Then Abbot Anoub said to Abbot Pastor:
“Dear brother, let’s establish charity among ourselves.
Let each be by himself, and let’s not assemble at all
Until this week has come to a close.”
“I agree,” said Abbot Pastor, “let it be as you wish.”
Then each settled separately by himself that week.
A stone image was found in the temple,
And Abbot Anoub rose early each morning
And began to throw stones at this image.
And each evening he prayed that it might forgive him.
For the whole week the abbot did this:
Mornings he stoned it; evenings he sought its pardon.
On Saturday they assembled together.
Then Abbot Pastor said to all his brothers:
“You’ve seen how Abbot Anoub
Has thrown stones at this image all week long
And sought pardon from this same image.
No Christian, indeed, has ever done what he did.”
Then the abbot answered, saying to them:
“Know that I did this thing for you.
When you saw me throw stones at the image,
Did you ever hear it speak against it?
Again, when I asked for its pardon,
Was it disturbed, or did it ever say, ‘I’ll not pardon him’?”
Then Abbot Pastor answered, saying: “Never at all
Did we hear it complain or speak any evil.”
“And we,” said Abbot Anoub, “similarly,
Are now seven brothers together here.
If you want us all to live together,
Let’s now be like this image,
Which doesn’t ever grow angry over any harm,
Nor ever wishes to complain of any insult.
And if you don’t all wish to grant this,
Look, you’ll find four exits in this minster:
Each man may exit by whichever one he wishes,
And then go toward God however it pleases him.”
When they heard this, they all fell to the ground.
Then, as they rose up, they said to Abbot Anoub:
“Father, let all be done as you command,
For we’ll obey whatever you say.”
Then they lived together all the days of their lives,
And they all behaved according to his commands.
He appointed one of them as their dispenser,
And they’d eat whatever he placed before them.
No one ever said to the dispenser:
“I don’t want to eat any of this food;
Bring me some other raw or cooked food.”
Such speech was never uttered among them,
But each ate what was placed before him,
And, by God’s grace, each ate what he’d taken.
And thus they dwelt in peace and tranquility
All the time they remained in this world.
ABBOT DANIEL spoke, saying the following:
“A rich man living in Babylon
Had a daughter who’d gone mad,
For in her body was the Devil, who tormented her.
Loving her dearly, her father grew acquainted with a monk,
And this monk said to him, counseling him:
‘No man will cure your daughter as quickly
As those monks who live over there in seclusion.
But were you to go there, in my opinion,
They wouldn’t do anything for fear of gossip.
But let’s try what I’ll teach you:
It’s their custom to sell their products at market;
Go where you’ll find one of them,
And say that you’ll buy some of his goods.
And then you’ll quickly bring him to your house,
For he’ll be paid at your lodging (you’ll say this).
Then, when you’ve brought him here,
We’ll ask him earnestly to say a prayer for her.
I have faith in God your daughter will soon be cured
Because of the mercy he’ll solicit on her behalf.’
Then he left and went to the market,
And he readily found there one of these monks,
Who sat there selling baskets he’d made.
He came up to him and said he’d like to buy them,
And the monk said he’d gladly sell them.
‘Then come with me,’ he said, ‘for your money.’
And the monk came with him to the lodging
In order to get paid the money for what he sold.
And as soon as he came into the house,
The girl tormented by the Devil entered,
And she gave this monk a good punch!
He, as God commands, turned the other cheek to her.
Then the Devil exclaimed — he couldn’t hold back! —
Saying: ‘Alas, now I’m obliged to leave here,
For this monk who’s come here forces me out
Because he followed the command of Jesus.’
Then he went away, for he couldn’t stay any longer,
And at once the girl was fully cured.”
ABBOT MACARIUS recounted, regarding himself,
How a girl once made a fool of him.
“When I was,” he said, “sojourning in Egypt,
A devout servant came to me;
He sold whatever I used to make by hand,
And he found for me whatever I needed.
It happened that a girl from the town became pregnant
By a young man, who lay with her in secret.
When she was questioned by her parents,
She said: ‘I’m pregnant by this hermit.’
Then the girl’s parents came forward,
When they’d heard this news,
And seized me, drawing me out of the house.
They led me through the town like a thief.
Then they took old pots, hung them round my neck,
And vilely beat me throughout the town.
As they led me forward along the road,
They announced all the while, crying out loudly:
‘This hermit has shamed our daughter.
He’s not a monk but a total heretic.’
When they’d beaten me till I was nearly dead,
An old man intervened, saying: ‘You’re wrong!
Why are you beating this monk? Do you want to kill him?
Surely, he’s just a stranger. In God’s name, leave him alone.’
The servant who’d found me what I needed
Came following after and was deeply ashamed.
They said to him: ‘Look at the holy monk
About whom you gave such good testimony.
But know that he won’t escape from us today
Until we have from him a solid pledge
That he’ll care for and feed his wife,
And provide for her everything she needs.’
Then I asked my servant that he vouch for me,
And he did so. Then they let me go,
And I returned to my cell, and he with me.
I took the baskets I had and handed them over,
Saying to them: ‘Sell these baskets for money,
And feed my wife with this money.’
Then I said to myself: ‘Macarius, you’ll have a wife.
Now you’ll have to work that much more to feed her.’
Therefore, I worked not just by day
But also by night, and thus sent [baskets] very often.
Afterwards, when the time came for her to give birth,
Until she confessed how she’d accused you falsely.
You’ll soon see here men from the town
Coming to receive penance and plead for mercy.’
And when I heard that they wished to come to me,
I rose up immediately and began to run away,
And, believe me, I sped on my way as far as Scete!
That’s the reason I first came here.”
This MACARIUS returned one day from the marsh,
And on his back carried palm leaves to his cell.
Behold, the Devil who met him on the way!
He carried in his hand a large scythe
With which he hoped to strike the abbot,
But the scoundrel was never able to touch him.
Then the Devil said: “You’re so opposed to me
That I can’t ever conquer anything in you.
Now, look, whatever you do, I can do too.
You fast, and I never want to eat;
You keep a long vigil, and I never sleep at all.
But in one thing alone you utterly surpass me.”
Then Abbot Macarius inquired and asked
What this thing was. And the Devil told him:
“Your humility, know this well,
Means that I have no power over you.”
A hermit was living in the desert,
A worthy and very devout man.
Then it happened that he believed and felt in his heart
That he possessed in himself excellent virtues.
And because he held himself to be so very worthy,
He made this prayer to Almighty God:
“Show me, Lord, the way to perfection,
And I’ll follow it extremely well, believe this.”
Thereupon, [God] wanted to humble his attitude,
So he said to him: “Go there, thus, to that shepherd
And do what he commands you,
And by this you’ll be saved.” He went at once.
But before the hermit had visited him,
A voice came to the young man, saying to him:
“That hermit is coming to you, here outside;
Tell him to go to the field to watch over your pigs.”
Then the hermit came and found the shepherd.
When they’d greeted each other, they sat down there.
Then the hermit asked him to teach him
What he had to do to save himself.
“Will you do,” the shepherd said, “whatever I say?”
“Yes,” said the hermit, “I’ll do it gladly.”
“Then go into that field to watch over my pigs.”
And the hermit went to the pigs right away.
Then men who’d known him before came
And saw the hermit watching over the pigs.
They said: “For holy charity’s sake, do you see
How this hermit’s gone mad?
We used to think he was a worthy man,
But if he’s watching over pigs, he’s certainly gone mad.”
They insulted him repeatedly in this fashion,
And the hermit humbly endured it all.
When God perceived the hermit’s humility,
And saw how well he endured insults from all,
He ordered that, without delay,
He leave the pigs and go to his cell.
A brother requested, saying to an abbot:
“Pray teach me, what is the act of humility?”
And he said: “I know a brother, you may be sure,
Who’s truly humble, as you’ll now hear,
For it happened that this brother went to church,
Then remained for the meal, but without being invited.
When he was seated with the brothers at the meal,
Some said to him: ‘Who seated you here, dear friend?
Get out of here,’ they said, ‘right away!’
And he went away at once; he didn’t remain there at all.
When the others saw this, they were chastened,
And, therefore, they soon sought him and brought him back.
Then one of them questioned him in this manner:
‘What did you think in your heart, dear brother,
When you were just now driven out
And afterwards summoned in again?’
He said: ‘I thought in my heart, know well,
That I was quite wretched and similar to a dog,
For if one says ‘get out!’ to a dog, he leaves at once,
And if one says ‘come back!’, then he’ll return.’”
In ancient times the old fathers said to us that,
When a person is vigorously tempted by the Devil,
He should, for this, utterly humble himself
And praise and glorify Our Lord,
For God knows our weakness. He’ll defend us
And give us strength against temptation.
And if we don’t ever humble ourselves in this way,
We’ll perish, and God will withhold help from us.
For one time the Devil disguised himself
In the form of an angel from paradise,
And he came to a brother, saying this to him:
“Brother, I’m the angel of Jesus Christ,
And Almighty God has sent me from on high,
For, having served him well, you’re very much his friend.”
Then the brother answered, saying to him:
“Could it be that you were sent to someone else?
For I’m not so worthy, I know very well,
That God’s angel should be sent to me.”
Then the Devil departed, deceiving him no further,
For by his humility he’d driven him away.
May we all take an example from this brother,
And know from the sayings of other holy men,
Who counsel that we must not instantly,
Should an angel appear to us, believe wholly in it,
But instead must bear ourselves humbly, saying thus:
“Living in sin, I’m unworthy of seeing an angel.”
In former times a brother once grew angry
With another brother who’d wronged him.
When the brother was told of it, hearing it said
That the other lay brother bore anger toward him,
He went to the one who was angry
To make amends for what he’d done wrong.
And when he’d come there for this purpose,
The angry brother, who was in the house,
Was wholly unwilling to open the door to him.
When he couldn’t go in, he didn’t hesitate
But went without delay to another brother
And related the whole circumstance to him.
And the brother answered him as follows,
Saying: “Dear brother, take care, I forbid you this.
Don’t attribute all righteousness to yourself
And all fault for the misdeed to the other brother,
Because you’d like to accuse and convict your brother
And defend and unburden yourself of wrongdoing.
If you’ve acted in this manner,
For this reason, God won’t touch your brother’s heart,
Causing him to open his door and reconcile with you.
Now, dear brother, act instead as I teach you:
If the brother wronged you in any way,
Deem yourself guilty, dear friend,
And deem him in the right, believe me.
Then God will touch his heart at once
So that he’ll make peace with you, assuredly.”
Then he showed a good exemplum, as you’ll now hear:
“Two brothers, who considered themselves very devout,
Spoke together and became monks.
After they’d received the monastic habit,
They took heed of what the gospel says,
That all those men shall be blessed
Who have themselves castrated for the kingdom of heaven,
And, therefore, these same two castrated themselves.
And they acted unwisely, in my opinion,
For God didn’t pronounce this in that sense, don’t believe it,
That a man should dismember himself in this life,
But he orders everyone equally
To behave chastely in this life
And strive to restrain lust
So that the testicles can’t perform.
But these two brothers didn’t grasp this meaning.
Instead they castrated themselves, becoming worse than miserable,
For the archbishop from the area
Excommunicated them both for this misdeed.
The brothers still believed they’d done well,
And they held him in disdain, taking no notice.
Instead, they complained, saying between themselves:
‘We castrated ourselves for the kingdom of heaven,
And he who excommunicated us acted quite wrongly.
Let’s now go quickly to Jerusalem
And denounce the archbishop, as God sends us there.’
What can I say? They went there straightaway
And related everything to the patriarch,
How the archbishop had excommunicated them outright.
Then he answered the brothers in this way,
Saying to them: ‘I excommunicate you as well.’
Then they went to the city of Antioch,
And they told the archbishop the truth
About why they’d traveled from their country,
And asked him what his opinion was.
Then he answered them, saying this:
‘I excommunicate you, know this truly.’
Then they said: ‘Let’s go now to Rome,
To the Pope, a most just man,
And he’ll do right by us regarding these archbishops,
For they opposed us wrongly and without discernment.’
Then they went, without a pause,
To the Pope of Rome, who was supposed to absolve them.
They related to him how they’d suffered
And how the bishops had treated them.
At this, the Pope said: ‘What’s not right about this?
And now I myself excommunicate you.’
Then they said: ‘These people fail us completely,
And they all stick together just like that!
It’s necessary, therefore, rather than staying here, that we
Go to the archbishop of Cyprus, MASTER EPIPHANIUS.
He’s a prophet and behaves wholly in accord with God;
He’ll do right by us, we don’t doubt it at all,
For he’s a holy man of such custom
That he doesn’t take a man’s status into account;
Instead, he’s loyal and most just to everyone,
And he’ll never lie for the sake of a mortal man.’
When these brothers came near the city
Where Master Epiphanius the bishop held his high office,
The King who dwells in Trinity made known
To the bishop the truth about these brothers.
As soon as the bishop understood it to be from God,
He sent them a message and forbade them the city.
Then they reflected and said to one another:
‘In truth, we’re wretched and guilty,
And because we held ourselves to be right,
We believed that the bishops were such
That they excommunicated us unjustly.
This prophet will therefore act in exactly the same way,
For God revealed us truly to him.’
Then they reproached themselves in anguish
And repented for what they’d done.
When God, who knows and sees all hearts, saw
That they’d repented of their behavior,
He revealed their repentance to the bishop.
And the bishop quickly sent for them,
And had them brought before him at once,
And very gently comforted them both.
Then they were absolved by him of their sin.
So he reported back to the bishop of Alexandria
With these words, saying in this manner:
‘Receive your sons into your authority,
For, in truth, they’ve performed their penance.’”
Then the brother relating this exemplum told him:
“This is the cure for anyone when he’s sinned,
“This is the cure for anyone when he’s sinned,
That we confess our guilt before him.”
The other brother understood well what he said,
And afterwards he acted in accord with his advice.
For then he went to the brother who was angry,
And he opened his door as soon as he was aware of him
And let him come in to him right away.
And forthwith he begged him for mercy,
And the other asked pardon from him in the very same way.
Thus did each pardon the other for his anger,
And they kissed one another and were good friends.
The humility that triumphed here is of high value.
Thieves came to the cell of an aged brother,
And they spoke to him in this manner:
“We’ve come here to plunder your lodgings
And take whatever we can find here.”
The brother said to them: “You can take everything,
For you won’t find anything here worth defending.”
Then these thieves searched his cell
And carried out everything they found.
But, by chance, they forgot an old sack
Hidden away in a corner of the cell.
As soon as the brother found the sack,
He quickly ran after them to call them back,
Saying: “Take this sack — you forgot it
Just now when you left the cell!”
The thieves returned with all the property,
Marveling at the strange manner
And great patience of this old brother.
They carried everything back to his cell
And did penance for their misdeed.
And, above all, they said among themselves:
“This is, truly, a man of God
Since he bore so much harm in patience.”
A hermit, a worthy man, lived in a room
And had a neighbor with bad habits,
For he often came into the hermit’s cell
And stole and took whatever he found in the cell.
The hermit saw this and was well aware of it,
But never attacked him in any way for this.
Instead, know that he exerted himself and worked harder,
Saying: “I believe this brother is greatly in need.”
And, for this reason, he cut back on his food
So that he didn’t even have bread except in moderation.
Then, when it happened that this hermit was about to die
And leave this world, as pleased God,
The brothers came and stood before his bed.
Thereupon, the one who used to steal came, and [the hermit] said to him:
“Come here, dear brother, for I wish to speak to you.”
Then he seized his hands and started to kiss them,
Saying: “I offer gratitude and thanks to these two hands,
For because of them I’m going to heaven, you may be sure.”
When the brother saw this, he was highly repentant
And undertook penance for what he’d done.
He then became a good and proven monk,
For he was much improved by the hermit’s example.
In former times a brother once served an old hermit.
It happened that this hermit fell ill
From a grievous wound he had in his body
From which issued pus, and it stunk badly.
Then his own thoughts said to the servant brother:
“Flee from here and let this old man be,
For you can’t endure this filth
Issuing from the wound, nor the pus.”
When his thoughts began to exhort him,
He took a basin, for he wished to discipline himself.
He washed the wound, caught the water in the basin,
And when he was thirsty, he drank this water.
Again, his thoughts distressed him greatly
And strongly exhorted him to go away,
Saying: “If you’re not willing to flee as I order you,
At least don’t drink any more of this great filth.”
But the brother endured it all, and did what was wise,
And was never willing to believe his mind.
And he still drank this waste water,
When he was thirsty, as if it were pure water.
When the brother had served him well a long time,
And God saw that he endured everything cheerfully,
He quickly changed the waste water from the wound
To pure water, and healed the hermit completely.
There lived in seclusion in the desert a brother
To whom devils appeared very often.
He steadfastly believed they were angels,
For they deceived him this way for several years.
His father, alive at that time, habitually went there
And at the same time visited his son.
Then it happened that, as was often his habit,
He carried along an ax on this journey,
For he had in mind to cut down some branches
And return in the evening with this ax.
Then the devil came and said to this brother:
“See there the Devil in the likeness of your father,
Who comes with an ax wanting to kill you,
And I’ve come to warn and tell you.
But go at once directly to the Adversary,
Take from him the ax with which he plans to kill you,
And then you can hit him right on the head.
Before saying anything to him, give him his due.”
Then his father came to him, as he’d always done,
And his son came toward him, didn’t say anything,
But seized the ax and struck him with it,
And, as the devil instructed him, struck him dead.
Then, when he’d killed his father as I’ve told you,
The evil spirit immediately came and strangled him.
You must therefore be, as God teaches us,
As innocent as the dove and as cruel as the serpent,
For we need to be cunning as regards the Adversary,
For he wants to deceive whoever’s not watching out.
Now let each one be alert in every way
So that he not deceive him as he did this father.
One of the fathers recounted this, saying:
“A solitary hermit living in the desert
Had in his service a lay brother,
A devout and faithful attendant.
And in a nearby city lived a very wealthy man
Who was wicked and never willingly did a good deed.
Then it happened that this wealthy man passed away,
And all the city accompanied him to the church
With tall candles and other fine ornaments,
And even the bishop was with them in the cortege.
Thereupon, the hermit’s servant came passing by
And saw him being led in great procession.
Then this same servant returned to the hermit,
Bringing two loaves of bread as he normally did,
But he didn’t find him as he’d left him,
For, when he arrived, beasts had nearly eaten him.
Then he marveled, falling down to the ground
And saying: ‘Lord God, I’ll never get up
Until I’ve had a sign from you
About this wonder I’ve seen today.
For the wealthy man who was so evil
Was led just now in such a great procession,
And he who served you for so long
Was devoured so shamefully by these beasts.’
Behold, without delay, there came an angel
Who said to him: ‘You shouldn’t marvel,
For this wealthy man who was so evil
Did some good while he was in the world,
And he received his reward fully
So that elsewhere he’d have suffering without relief.
And he received his reward for what he’d done
Since in the other world he’d have no repose.
But this hermit who died in this manner
Was a worthy man of very holy dealings,
But nevertheless, as a man, he had some evil in him,
And, for that, he had this suffering down here.
He received suffering in this manner here
So that he’d have repose and complete joy elsewhere.’
When he’d heard him, he was deeply comforted
And praised Almighty God who’d shown this to him.
And he frequently said to himself:
‘I know very well, God, your judgments are true.’”
They related here, regarding ABBOT MACARIUS THE ELDER,
That he went through the desert one time during the day
And found lying on the ground the head of a dead man
Who’d died a long time earlier.
Then he took the staff he carried in his hand
And touched this head with the staff.
Thereupon, the head spoke as if it were fully alive.
The abbot said to it: “Who are you, dear friend?”
And the head answered, saying as follows:
“I’m a priest of the pagans who formerly lived here,
And you’re Abbot Macarius, I’m well aware of it.
And you have God’s Holy Spirit in you,
For when you pray for those in torment,
They have some comfort through your prayers.”
Then the abbot asked: “What comfort’s found there?”
And the head answered: “This I’ll tell you now.
Observe now how far away the sky is from the earth,
Consider how far it is from the earth up to the sky.
There’s so much fire over our heads, and beyond that,
There’s as much, believe me, beneath our feet.
Night and day we’re in the midst of this fire,
And because of the great darkness, no one sees anyone else.”
Then the abbot wept and spoke in this way:
“Alas, there’s very painful comfort there!
Woe that they were born, who’ll go to these torments;
It’d have been better had they never been in this world.”
And the abbot inquired, asking again:
“Are there any worse torments than these?” “Yes,” said the head,
“There are greater pains below us, be sure of it.”
“And what are they?” he said, “pray teach me.”
Then the head said: “I’ll teach them to you well.
We who’re pagans and never had faith,
And knew neither God nor Christian law,
Receive a little mercy, for I’ve experienced it.
But the false Christians who recognized God
And received baptism and Christianity,
And then denied and forsook God
And never did anything according to his will,
They’re below us, you can be quite sure.
If we receive a little, they receive no mercy at all.”
And then, when the head had spoken in this manner,
This abbot picked it up and buried it.
This same ABBOT MACARIUS recounted and told
How he lived in seclusion in a hermitage,
And near him was another hermitage
Where dwelt a large community of brothers.
One evening, as the abbot looked toward the road,
He saw a devil coming in the form of a man.
He was dressed in a long tunic
And swiftly approached Abbot Macarius.
The tunic had many holes in it,
And from each hole there hung a flask.
When this devil came passing by him,
The abbot said to him: “What do you seek?”
And he answered him, saying at once:
“I’m going to visit the brothers down there.”
And the abbot asked and inquired further:
“Why do you carry so many flasks?” And he said:
“I have sweet medicines in the flasks;
I’m headed down there to take them to the brothers.
I carry so many flasks, know this,
That whoever doesn’t want one has plenty of others.
For it’ll never happen
That a monk or a brother’s not pleased by one.”
After he said this, he turned swiftly from him
And went quickly toward the abbey.
The abbot waited for his return there,
For he wished to know if he’d achieved anything.
Then after awhile the devil returned,
And Abbot Macarius immediately asked him:
“How are the brothers? How’s it going with them?”
And he answered, saying: “It’s going very badly,
For just now they wanted to hear nothing from me,
And they wouldn’t taste any of my medicines.”
“And so you didn’t achieve anything there?”
“There’s one,” he said, “who’s my friend,
For he gives in to me whenever I come there.
He’s turned this way and that, just as I want.”
And the abbot immediately asked for his name.
“The brother’s name is Theocistus,” he said.
After the devil had revealed his name,
The abbot went at once to the hermitage.
When, from afar, the brothers saw him coming,
They all issued from the cells to greet him.
Each one hoped to lead him to his cell,
And, therefore, each made his cell ready,
For the brothers didn’t live together,
But each lived separately in his own cell.
Then the abbot said: “I’d like to speak with Theocistus,
And I wish to lodge in Theocistus’s cell.”
And brother Theocistus was very glad;
He received the abbot with great joy.
And then, when they were in the cell by themselves,
The abbot said: “How are you doing?”
And he answered: “Thanks to your prayers, I’m doing well.”
And Abbot Macarius asked further:
“Aren’t you ever attacked by thoughts?”
And he said: “Occasionally. I’m doing well, thank God.”
For he couldn’t, for shame, confess the truth.
Then the abbot spoke and comforted him thus:
“For many years, dear brother, I’ve lived in a hermitage,
And I’m old and decrepit. Nonetheless, I’m tempted
And troubled so much by disturbances and crazy thoughts
That I’ve often considered abandoning my place.”
Then Theocistus said: “That may well be, dear father.”
Once again the abbot said to the brother:
“I’m often troubled by such thoughts.”
And he said all this deliberately.
The abbot made up things about himself, saying so much
That Theocistus confessed the truth.
When the abbot heard about all his temptations
According to what he confessed to him,
He then asked: “How do you fast?” And he replied:
“Until midday, as do the others.”
“Now, dear son,” he said, “fast until evening,
And, by this, we may hope, you’ll drive out temptations.
And take care you’re never idle,
But continually study some Scripture,
For idleness is most harmful to religion.
Disquiet and temptation often come from it.
Therefore, dear brother, as I teach and instruct you,
Always have some Scripture in hand,
And when, by chance, some thought assails you,
Don’t look down but look directly up,
And continuously seek out God’s help.
He’ll help you, dear son, if you ask from the heart.”
When he’d charitably instructed him,
He immediately returned to his hermitage.
Afterwards, the abbot kept watch just as he had before,
And saw the devil come in great haste.
The abbot asked him: “Where do you plan to go now?”
And he said: “I’m going to advise those brothers.”
Afterwards, when the devil came back,
The abbot asked: “How are the brothers doing?”
“Badly,” he said, “I didn’t accomplish anything there,
For now they’re all saved, I don’t understand it!
And what weighs most and seems worst to me
Is that he who alone was my friend and follower
Is now wholly transformed and in another state of mind,
For he’s worse than any other, in my opinion.
Therefore, I swore a great oath and told myself
That I won’t return soon, for now I’ve gained nothing.”
Then the adversary went away and came back no more,
And the abbot immediately busied himself in prayer.
An abbot told of a noble girl
Who spent every day in fear of God.
When the abbot asked her why
She’d entered the religious life,
She then began to sigh, saying:
“When I was small, dear father,
I had a father, a worthy, peaceful man,
And his body was often diseased.
He held apart from ordinary people
And rarely saw any of his neighbors.
He cultivated his land, for he practiced no other trade,
Putting all his attention into husbandry.
He lay ill in bed for much of the time.
His life went on without any worldly pleasure.
When, by chance, he was occasionally healthy,
He brought home the profit of his husbandry.
He was so quiet that anyone not knowing him
Would’ve imagined he couldn’t speak a word,
For my father behaved in just this manner.
Now hear what kind of life my mother led:
She was the most wicked woman in the whole land,
And the most idle ever to be found.
She said so many words that anyone who heard her
Would’ve thought her whole body was a tongue.
She often quarreled with neighbors,
And by habit she often drank wine with lechers,
For she was so lustful, believe me,
That she could hardly keep herself from it.
At her leisure, she spent and wasted everything
In our house — so evil was she!
Because she had charge of our house,
We didn’t have much of anything in abundance.
In this way, she wasted all her time in wantonness,
For she never felt any pain or sickness,
But instead, from the day of her birth
Till her last day, she lived in health.
While she behaved in this manner,
My father, who’d been very ill, died.
At the moment he departed, know this is true,
It poured, thundered, and made terrific lightning.
This weather lasted whether we liked it or not,
So his body had to lie in the house for three days.
We couldn’t bury it on account of the tempest,
For it thundered night and day and rained in torrents.
All our neighbors marveled greatly,
Shook their heads, and said repeatedly:
‘We thought he was a very worthy man.
He thoroughly concealed his falseness from us,
But God hated him a lot, as is now apparent
Because the earth won’t receive his tomb.’
Then, when he’d lain this way for three days
And we couldn’t hold off any longer,
We buried him quickly despite the terrible weather;
Even so, he was buried between storms!
When this had been done, my mother never let up
And behaved just as wantonly as always,
For then she had the freedom to act as she pleased,
And, consequently, she carried on very lustfully.
Our house was then a place for every lecher,
For she drew in many by her wantonness.
Thus did she waste time in lust and pleasure.
Nothing other than foolishness ever pleased her,
And she utterly wasted our goods. I could do nothing,
For I was young and hardly knew about goodness.
When she’d lived so long that it was her time to die,
Then she died, as we all do, for she mightn’t live longer.
Indeed, worldly joy never lasts.
He who puts his effort there behaves unwisely.
He’s utterly deceived, so it seems to me,
Who loses paradise for the sake of bodily pleasure.
On the day she died, I tell you truly,
The weather was so beautiful and the day so clear
That people thought, and often commented,
That the weather was lovely for her alone.
After my mother’s death, when I came of age,
I thought about which one I’d follow:
My father, who’d always lived in moderation,
Or my mother, who’d behaved so shamelessly.
Then I reflected upon how my father, when he lived,
So long as he was alive, was never well,
But always ill and infirm;
The earth barely even received him at his death.
And if this life pleased Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Why, then, did he suffer as much discomfort as he did?
‘I intend to follow my mother,’ so my mind said,
‘And I want to dedicate my body to pleasure,
For she lived in health all her life,
And, refraining from nothing, was led by desire,
And had joy and pleasure and prosperity.
I want to follow my mother, this is the truth,
For it’s better to believe the thing I see
Than to do that thing I don’t know.’
While my mother’s life attracted me in this way,
And I, a wretch, was filled with firm purpose,
Then night came, and we all went to bed.
I immediately began to sleep.
Then a man came, standing there before me,
And his gaze was terrifying, his body large,
And he looked at me quite angrily.
Then he spoke to me, saying very sternly:
‘Say what you’re thinking, right away!’
He was so dreadful that I dared not look at him.
Then he spoke more sternly, ordering me
To tell him everything I was thinking,
And I was confounded with fear
And said I hadn’t thought anything.
He said to me: ‘Indeed you did! You thought all this.’
And he told me all my thoughts, believe this.
Thereupon, I confessed the truth and asked his pardon,
And told him all the reasons for my thought.
He said: ‘Now come with me. You’ll see your father,
And then I’ll show you your mother’s condition.
When you’ve seen their conditions,
You’ll be able to follow the one you wish.’
Then he grasped my hand and led me forward
Till we came to a large and beautiful field
Filled with trees of various colors
And flowers emitting sweet fragrances.
I saw such loveliness abound in this field,
That no one might describe it fully.
As I marveled at the beauties of this field,
Behold my father, who came toward me,
Clasped my neck and briefly kissed me,
And called me ‘daughter’ very lovingly.
I embraced him too and was very happy!
Then I begged that I might stay with him,
And he told me this couldn’t happen yet,
‘But if you follow my example, you’ll soon come here.’
And when I continued to ask and beg
That I might remain together with him,
The one guiding me drew me by the hand,
Saying: ‘Come see how it is with your mother.’
From there, he led me into a dark house
Full of noise and turmoil,
And he showed me a blazing furnace.
Those boiling in it were very discomfited,
For pitch boiled there as naked devils stood
Upon the furnace, ugly and dreadful!
And I peered then into this darkness
And saw there my mother, immersed to the neck;
She gnashed her teeth loudly as she burned in pitch,
And so overwhelming a stench issued from this furnace
That I marveled how she ever endured.
When she saw me, she cried out grievously
And called me ‘daughter,’ saying this:
‘Alas, dear daughter, such sorrows and pains
I suffer now for my own deeds!
For in the world I held as folly everything
Pertaining to chastity and moderation,
And didn’t believe that through fornication
Or adultery anyone would enter damnation.
Nor that through drinking or lust, by my judgment,
Anyone would ever enter torment.
But now I know well, for I’ve thoroughly felt it,
That torments are prepared for such behavior,
That for small pleasure, you see great pains
As never cease for me day or night.
Because I chose not to obey God’s commands,
I receive here, daughter, painful reward.
Now I’m in pain! It’s too late to repent!
Alas, wretched, why can’t I die?
Ah, dear daughter, how hard it is to bear!
If I was ever good to you, now might you recall it —
Recall how I nourished you!
Help your mother! Have mercy on her!
Pray give me your hand! Pull me from here!
Have mercy on me, daughter, I beg you!’
And I didn’t dare do this, know for sure,
Because of the devils present there.
Then she wept and cried out in a mournful voice,
Saying: ‘It’s bad for me that I’m so tormented!
Daughter, help me! Don’t turn away from me!
See my pain and sadness! Help me!
Remember the pain I suffered
And the sorrow I felt on the day I first saw you!
Don’t turn from your mother’s weeping,
For I’m tormented so terribly!’
When I saw her weep, I felt great pity.
Grieving for her, I began to cry out,
And those in the dwelling heard my cries.
At that, they got up, quickly lit the fire,
And came at once, asking me why
I grieved so loudly and why I wept.
Then I was entirely shaken with fright;
Nonetheless, I told them about all I’d seen.
And then I thought about the vision,
Saying: ‘I’ll follow, truly, my father’s life,
For now I’m totally certain and know well,
Whether I do good or evil, I’ll find the same.
I know well that pain and torment and suffering
Are prepared, without doubt, for sinners,
And great joy and pleasures, without fail,
Await all the righteous, without doubt.’
When the holy girl had seen the vision
By Almighty God revealing this to her,
Then she told it to many in hope that
They might save themselves from hellish damnation.
She said it clearly and showed them certainly
That there’s joy and torment in the other world:
They’ll have joy who wish to earn it,
And they’ll have torment who die unrepentant.
Now let’s stop talking about this so much,
For I’ve kept my agreement with you, as it seems to me.
But first I’d like to tell and advise all
That one who stands must guard himself from stumbling,
And one who falls and lies on ground has difficulty rising.
May God grant that we come to him without delay.”
A brother came to ABBOT PIMENIUS
And told him he suffered great temptation.
The abbot ordered him to distance himself
As far from this place as he could in three days,
Stay there an entire year,
And fast alone every day until nightfall.
Then this brother answered him, saying:
“And what if I die before the year has passed?
What will become of me and my penance?”
The abbot answered him without hesitation:
“If you leave with the intention
Of carrying out this absolution,
And die immediately after you’ve left,
My belief is that God will have mercy on you
And receive at once your penance
Should you die with this good purpose.
And so that you can trust what I’ve said,
Hear now the exemplum I’ll tell you here:
Somewhere in Egypt there lived a brother,
A worthy and most devout man,
And this brother had a sister in the city
Who was available to all who wanted her.
Many a soul was damned in account of her,
For she concerned herself entirely with lechery.
The brothers who lived with this brother
Often admonished him, saying
That he ought to go to his sister, urging her
To abandon her sin and give it up.
They admonished him so much that he went there.
As he approached the place where she lived,
One of the neighbors, recognizing the brother,
Went ahead to the sister and said to her:
‘I saw, lady, your brother, approaching outside.’
When she heard this, she didn’t hesitate at all,
But, for joy at seeing her brother, she came at once,
Leaving in the house the lovers she served.
Entirely bare-headed, she ran to meet him —
She was so happy she forgot her headdress!
Coming to him, she was just about to hug him
When her brother started to speak thus:
‘Dear sister, be sorry for yourself,
For God’s lost many a soul by your beauty.
How can you endure the great torments
Prepared by the Devil and his servants
Always doing his works and his pleasure?
Ah, dear sister, there’s so much pain to endure!
For fire and cold are never absent in hell,
Nor are many other endless pains.
All those who serve in your trade,
And others the Devil can win —
All will go to the torments I’ve told you about.
Woe to those headed there for carnal lust.’
Then, terrified of these pains, she asked:
‘May I find mercy?’ And her brother said:
‘I know very well that you can be pardoned,
For God desires you to come to salvation.’
Then she fell on the ground at her brother’s feet,
And she began to ask and beg
That he take her back to the desert with him.
‘Go cover your head,’ said her brother,
‘And when you return, then we’ll go forth.’
But she answered, saying: ‘Let’s go at once instead,
For it’s much better for me to go bare-headed now
Than to reenter the brothel in my sin.’
Thereupon, they both departed together,
And he amiably counseled her along the way.
Then men came toward them in great haste,
And the brother said directly to his sister:
‘Leave the path, sister, to avoid these sinners,
For they don’t know that we’re kinsmen.’
And she turned from the path as he asked.
And when they’d passed, her brother called her,
But she didn’t answer, and he was puzzled.
Then he went searching and discovered her dead.
And the footprints where she’d gone
Were full of blood, for she’d been barefoot.
Then her brother buried her in the ground, departed,
And related to the brothers everything that had happened.
They talked among themselves of her remission —
Whether or not God would have had mercy on her.
Then God revealed her fate through a vision
Given to one of the house’s aged brothers:
Because she’d repudiated herself in this way,
Departing at once with her brother,
And having no concern for bodily sustenance,
But instead leaving suddenly, forsaking everything,
And [because] she was at once contrite and repentant,
For this, God had accepted her penance.”
A secular man came with his son to ABBOT SISOIS,
Who was living on a mountain with ABBOT ANTHONY.
As he neared the abbot’s house,
The child died as he went on his journey.
He wasn’t disturbed at all by his son’s death,
But carried him to the abbot with good faith.
Straightaway, he fell down at his feet, with his son,
As if to do penance for his misdeeds
And receive benediction from the holy abbot.
Then he rose up, leaving his son in the house
And went outside the door of his cell,
As his son lay dead before the abbot’s feet.
The abbot thought that he lay there out of penance.
So the abbot said to him hastily:
“Stand up and go outside. What’re you waiting here for?”
Not knowing he was dead, he therefore spoke this way.
And the boy promptly got up and walked away!
When his father saw him, he was astonished.
He went back inside to the abbot and told him
How his son had been dead when he’d brought him.
The abbot was very sorry when he told him this,
For it wasn’t his intention to have done this.
Then he immediately ordered him not to talk about it
Until he [the abbot] had left this mortal life.
Now recall ABBOT VINDEMIUS
Who once related this story from ABBOT MACARIUS:
“Formerly, when I lived in the land of Scete,
Two foreign young men came to me,
One having a bit of a beard, the other none at all.
Then they said: ‘Where is Abbot Macarius’s cell?’
And I asked what they wanted with him.
‘We’d like to see him,’ they said at once.
And I said: ‘I am he. Say what you’d like.’
‘We’ll live here,’ they said, ‘if it’s all right with you.’
But they seemed elegantly bred, so I said to them:
‘You can’t live here, dear friends.’
Then the elder answered, saying thus:
‘We’ll go elsewhere if we can’t live here.’
Then I spoke in my mind and began to think:
‘Why push them away if they want to live here?
The heavy demands of this place will push them,
And when they can no longer stand it, they’ll go away.’
Then I said to them: ‘If you wish to stay,
You’ll need to have cells prepared for you.’
And they said: ‘Just show us the place,
And we’ll make the cells fit for habitation ourselves.’
Then I showed them a quarry of very hard stone,
Saying to them: ‘Take some stone here,
And, over there, cut down and carry off timber.
When the cell’s finished, you’ll live there.’
Then I provided them with an ax and a pail
And baskets filled with bread, for I had nothing else.
I believed, truly, that they’d abandon the place,
And that they could never endure the work.
Then they asked: ‘What sort of work should we do here?’
And I said to them: ‘You should weave palm leaves.’
And then I said they should make baskets
And give them to the church wardens for two loaves of bread.
After this, I went away immediately,
And they patiently did everything I’d told them.
During the next three years, they didn’t come to me,
Causing me to ask myself and wonder:
‘Why haven’t they come to me?
I’m eager to know how they’re doing,
For others who live far away visit frequently,
But they come only to church.’
Then I fasted for a week and started praying
That God might show me their way of life.
After that week I rose up
And went to their cell to observe their condition.
When I knocked at the door, they let me in.
Upon seeing me, they greeted me.
I sat down after I’d said a prayer,
As is customary for monks.
Then the elder signaled for the younger to leave;
He himself spoke not a word, but made a plait.
Then, as it neared nones,
He began to strike on a board.
[The younger returned and made a bit of stew.]
And then he moved a small table,
And placed three small loaves on the table,
And said, ‘Let us eat.’ We quickly washed,
Sat down, and ate and drank.
In the evening they asked me whether I wished to leave,
And I said: ‘No, I’d rather stay here tonight.’
Thereupon, for my use, they set down a mat apart from theirs,
And, for their use, they placed one on the other side as well.
They brought their bed coverings and bedclothes,
And they both lay down to sleep before me.
When they’d lain down, I started to pray
That God reveal their works to me.
Thereupon, the roof opened and a brightness entered,
Lighting up the cell as if it were daylight.
But, know for sure, they didn’t see the light.
Then, when they believed I was asleep,
The elder touched the younger one gently,
And they both got up very quietly,
Stood in silence, and held their hands upwards.
They didn’t see me at all, but I could see what they did.
Then devils came in, thick as flies,
Encircling the younger one, know this truly.
Some flew at him to sit at his mouth,
And others flew to descend on his eyes.
Then I saw there an angel that came to help him,
Holding in his hand a sword all ablaze.
He began to chase the devils away from the brothers,
Though they were unable to come near the elder.
Thus did they stand in silence, as I’ve described.
Toward daybreak they lay down on their bed.
I pretended I’d been awakened;
They did likewise. Then the elder said:
‘We’d just like to sing twelve psalms.’
Then he sang and the younger did also,
And with each verse sung by the younger,
A flame of fire issued from his mouth, rising to the sky.
Similarly, when the elder opened his mouth,
God’s smoke issued from his mouth, rising to the sky.
And, like them, I said a bit of my office.
Then I left, asking them to pray for me.
They bowed to me and said nothing.
Thereupon, I knew well that the elder was perfect,
While the younger, as I sensed and understood well,
Was still assailed by the Adversary.
Then, after a short while, the elder one died;
Three days later, the younger one passed away.”
Afterwards, when some of the fathers came to him,
Abbot Macarius addressed them as follows:
“Come see the martyrdom of these two brothers.”
And then he led these fathers to their cell.
A brother questioned an old abbot, asking:
“If someone has a good reputation and renown,
Will it alone save him, without works?”
And the abbot answered him, saying: “No, it won’t,
For if people praise someone undeservedly,
It does him no good, but rather harms him.
I’ll show this clearly by means of an exemplum.”
Then he began to speak as follows:
“Once there lived a solitary hermit,
A worthy man of great merit.
As he began to pray one time,
He asked Almighty God to show him
How a righteous soul and a sinning soul
Are drawn from bodies and whether they then feel pain.
God didn’t wish to disappoint the brother,
So he granted him his prayer.
Thereupon, a wolf came in while he sat in his cell,
Took the brother’s clothes in its mouth
And, in this way, pulled him out of his cell by his clothes,
And the brother readily followed the wolf.
The wolf then led the brother to a city,
Departed, and left him there.
Outside this city was a monastery
In which lived a well-known hermit.
This same recluse lay very ill,
And waited only for the hour of his death.
Then the brother led by the wolf saw
That those from the monastery and city
Made great arrangements for the hermit,
Both with lamps and also candles.
They all made great lamentation, saying often:
‘If he dies, we might as well die too.’
For he was held to be such a holy, worthy man
By all from of the city. But they were deceived
[In acting] as if God, for his goodness alone,
Had saved the entire city, and for no other reason,
And as if God, for his merit alone,
Gave them water and bread. But he was a hypocrite.
When the hour arrived for this recluse to die,
The brother saw come toward him a devil
Holding an enormous, blazing pitchfork.
Then he heard a voice cry out clearly,
Saying: ‘Whereas this soul often goaded me,
Not letting me rest a single hour,
So may you have no mercy on him:
Tear it out of his body with no pity!’
Then this devil took his fork, thrust it
Into the hermit’s heart, and tormented him greatly.
When he’d tormented him for a long time,
Then, painfully, he pulled the soul from his body.
Afterwards, this brother went into the city —
After the recluse had died in this way —
And he found, by chance, a pilgrim
Lying in the street with no one paying attention to him.
He lay all alone and was extremely ill,
And the brother stayed with him an entire day.
Then, when the hour came for the pilgrim to pass away,
Michael and Gabriel arrived, as God willed it.
One sat to his right, the other to his left,
And they very gently bade the soul to leave,
But, for them, it didn’t want to leave
Because it deeply hated quitting the body.
Then Gabriel said: ‘Take hold, Michael, and let’s go.’
Michael answered, saying: ‘We can’t,
For God has ordered us to draw it out painlessly,
So we can’t use any force on it.’
Then Michael called out loudly to God, saying:
‘What should we do with this soul that won’t come out?’
Then, instantly, they heard a voice
Speaking to Saint Michael as follows:
‘I’ll send David with his harp later on today,
And, along with him, all the singers of Jerusalem.
When it hears the harp’s song and the singing,
Along the melody, it’ll come out right away.’
Then David came, and the others as well,
And they sang very sweetly around the soul.
Then it soon issued out into Michael’s hands.
They took it and carried it to heaven with joy.
We brothers who are in religious orders
Can receive a strong lesson from this treatise,
For this pilgrim whom I’ve described here
Died without the comfort of relative or friend,
Yet God sent him his angels, you may truly know,
Who comforted him just as you’ve heard.”
[quire 1]; (t-note)
[5.1.1]; (see note)
[5.1.2]; (see note)
[5.1.3]; (see note); (see note)
[5.1.8]; (see note); (see note); (t-note)
[5.1.7]; (see note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
[5.1.9]; (see note); (see note)
[5.1.11]; (see note)
[5.1.14]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.1.15]; (see note)
[5.1.16]; (see note); (see note)
[5.1.18]; (see note); (see note)
[5.1.10]; (see note); (see note)
[5.1.19; 7.21.2]; (see note)
[5.1.20; 7.21.3]; (see note)
[5.2.8]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.2.13]; (see note); (see note)
[5.2.14]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.2.16]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.3.1]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.3.2]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.3.3]; (see note)
[5.3.4]; (see note)
[5.3.14]; (see note); (see note); (t-note)
[5.3.16]; (see note); (see note); (t-note)
[5.3.20]; (t-note); (t-note)
[5.5.3]; (t-note); (t-note)
[5.4.15]; (see note); (see note)
[5.4.41]; (see note)
[5.4.42]; (see note)
[5.4.43]; (see note); (see note)
[5.4.68]; (see note)
[5.5.2]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.5.1]; (see note); (t-note)
[Luke 21:34]; (t-note)
[5.5.5]; (see note)
[5.5.10]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.5.21]; (see note); (t-note); (t-note)
[5.5.26; 3.11]; (see note)
[5.6.21]; (t-note); (t-note)
[5.6.22; 3.69]; (see note)
[1 Peter 5:7]
[5.7.8]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.7.11]; (see note); (see note)
[5.7.12]; <a href="#1481–1530>(see note); (see note)
[5.7.25]; (t-note); (t-note)
[5.7.27]; (see note)
[5.7.28; 3.107]; (see note)
[5.7.34; 3.106]; (see note)
[5.7.42; 3.104]; (see note); (t-note)
[5.7.44]; (t-note); (t-note)
[5.8.1]; (see note)
[5.8.11]; (t-note); (t-note)
[5.8.12]; (see note); (see note)
[5.8.13; 3.20]; (see note)
[5.8.19–20]; (see note)
[5.8.21; 3.54]; (t-note); (see note)
[5.9.3]; (see note); (see note)
[5.9.4]; (t-note); (see note)
[5.9.5]; (see note)
[5.9.7]; (see note)
[5.9.9]; (t-note); (see note)
[5.11.18]; (t-note); (see note)
[5.11.26]; (see note); (see note)
[5.11.28]; (t-note); (see note); (see note)
[5.11.46]; (t-note); (t-note)
[5.12.2]; (t-note); (see note); (see note)
[5.12.9]; (t-note); (see note); (see note)
[1 Thessalonians 5:17]
[5.12.32]; (see note)
[5.13.15]; (t-note); (see note)
[5.14.4; 3.27]; (t-note); (see note); (see note)
[5.14.8]; (t-note); (t-note)
[5.15.1]; (see note)
[5.15.11]; (see note)
(see note); (t-note)
[5.15.14]; (t-note); (see note); (see note)
[5.15.25; 3.99]; (t-note); (see note); (see note)
[5.15.26]; (see note)
[5.15.64]; (see note)
[5.15.67]; (t-note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
[5.17.25]; (t-note); (t-note); (see note)
[5.16.19; 3.74; 7.3.2]; (t-note); (see note)
[6.1.13]; (t-note); (t-note)
[6.3.16]; (see note); (t-note); (t-note)
[5.18.9]; (t-note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
[7.24.1–2; 3.217]; (see note); (see note); (t-note)
[6.2.13]; (t-note); (see note)
[6.3.2]; (see note); (see note); (t-note)