When the children of Israel came up out of Egypt, they were straightway tempted in the desert. Egypt signifies the world or sin, and the desert the monastery ; for in respect of numbers it is deserted by the many and inhabited only by the few. Egypt is interpreted as darkness or tribulation or perplexity or persecution; and nowhere will you find greater darkness or tribulation or perplexity or persecution than in sin and in the world. The children of Israel are the elect, and as soon as they have come up out of the world by conversion, and up out of sin by contrition and confession, can scarcely avoid, especially at first, all manner of temptation in the desert, that is, the monastery. And it seems fitting that temptation should be treated in the fourth book, because four is the number of stability: for a body which is foursquare stands naturally in whatsoever direction it is turned. When the sinner has been converted to the Lord in body by forsaking the world, and in heart by contrition for his sins, and is justified and strengthened by oral confession, then he will go forward with more security to the battle of temptation, and will fight with the enemy more effectively. Wherefore it was after baptism, not before it, that the Saviour permitted Himself to be tempted by the devil. Oral confession in contrition of heart is a second baptism. Hence it is that the Apostles were exposed to persecutions after the descent of the Holy Spirit, and that is why soon after Pentecost the books of the Kings are read, which commemorate the wars of the faithful people against the heathen, that is, of the virtues against the vices.
Novice.--The order of justification seems the right one, that as confession follows contrition, so ought satisfaction to follow confession.
Monk.--You are right indeed in this, but you do not realise the full meaning of temptation. That, among the Religious and especially in the monastic Orders, temptation is penance or satisfaction for sin, I will easily show you from the words of one full of experience, I mean the holy Job (Job vii. I. R.V. margin). The life of man upon earth is both a military service and a temptation; military service by reason of its discipline, temptation by reason of its toil and peril. And note that he does not say: The life of an animal is temptation, but of a man, that is of one who lives rationally and worthily of a man, such as is the life of the religious. But the worldly and the carnal, who walk according to the flesh, are not properly said to be tempted, because, as soon as they feel the temptation, they either consent to it, or resist half-heartedly. If then the life of the religious is temptation, since they are always fighting against vices and lusts, by watching, by fasting, by prayer, by obedience in prosperity and adversity, by having no possessions in this world for the sake of Christ, needs be that you allow that this temptation itself is a satisfaction for their sins. Upon those who join our Order, even though they may have committed many and grievous sins, no other satisfaction is laid beyond keeping the Rule. This is why S. Bernard, when once he received a certain king of France into the Order, laid upon him that he should only, after making his confession, say the Lord's Prayer. And when he was troubled, thinking that he was being mocked by the saint, the blessed abbot replied: "Only do you say this Prayer and protect the Order, and I will answer or our sins in the Day of Judgment." Again when the same saint was passing by chance where a guilty man was to be hanged, and asked that he might be handed over to him, and the judge said: "Sir, the man is a thief and worthy of the gallows," the abbot answered: "Give him to me and I will hang him," speaking of the severity of the Order as a gibbet. The Apostolic See granted this privilege to the Order, that the observance of its rule should be sufficient satisfaction for any sinner.
Novice.--If our religion is satisfaction for our sins, and that satisfaction is temptation from without, will you tell me in what and by whom we are tempted?
Monk.--The ways in which we are tempted are countless, but the agents by whom we are tempted are four : God, the flesh, the world and the devil (Gen. xxii. i ; Deut. xiii. 3 ; Jam. i 13 Vulg.). The three other tempters (than God) are enemies, and as enemies are to be guarded against. By yielding to them we are confounded, by resisting them we do well, by conquering them we are crowned. How great toil there is in temptation, how great fear, how great cost, how great deserving, the following examples will declare.
There are seven principal sins, which spring from the same poisonous root, namely pride; from these seven nearly every temptation is derived. The first vice that is born from pride is vain glory , the second anger, the third envy, the fourth accidie or depression, the fifth avarice, the sixth gluttony or gormandise, the seventh luxury. Of these some are of the soul, as vainglory, anger, envy: others of the body, as gluttony and luxury ; and some belong to both, as accidie an d avarice. Accidie, so far as it consists of depression of s pirit, is of the soul, and of the body in the external torpor that it produces. These seven plagues are the seven rivers, with which is watered the land of Egypt, i.e. the darkened heart of the sinner. And as the Nile, from whose abundance the seven rivers are fed, flows forth from Paradise and is distributed through Egypt, so Lucifer was cast forth from heaven for pride and diffuses himself through man's heart darkened by mortal sin. These seven vices are typified by the seven unclean races, whom the Lord destroyed from the promised land before the face of Israel; they are also signified by the seven devils, which the Saviour cast out from the heart of Mary Magdaline. Taking four of these seven for wheels, the prophet Joel constructed a chariot for Pharaoh, saying: That which the palmerworm hath left the locust hath eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten (Joel i 4). The palmerworm the blessed Gregory interprets as lust, the locust as pride, the cankerworm as gluttony and the caterpillar as anger. Many overcome lust and are lifted up into pride; from pride they fall into gluttony; from excess of eating and drinking they are turned to wrath. Three horses draw this chariot, and they are the three remaining vices, to wit, envy, accidie and avarice. Here then are three vices in the horses and four in the wheels, and by the seven the devil is carried, according to the prophet Amos (Amos I and 2), against Damascus, against Gaza, against Tyre, against Edom, against Ammon, against Moab, and even against Israel and Judah.
Novice.-When we are tempted by the vices, is it from within or without?
Monk.-After the entrance of the virtues, the vices are no longer within us in any settled or active condition, but rather as inflammable and dangerous tinder. Just as, after the entrance of the children of Israel, those seven tribes were not altogether destroyed, but made tributary, so when the virtues enter into the land of our heart, the vices are not entirely rooted out, but are held in subjection; and as afterwards the children of Israel were often attacked by the remnants of those races, so by the tinder of the vices our virtues are often tempted and exercised.
Novice.--I beg you to explain to me the strength of these seven vices, and to give me examples of the severity with which they tempt us.
Monk.-Pride, which holds the first place among the vices, is a desire for exclusive preeminence among others. Hence comes its name of Superbia, as that which raises itself above the brim, i.e. beyond measure. Some include vain-glory in this vice, the two thus making one in the first vice of the seven. For there are two kinds of pride, one inward in the elation of the heart, and the other outward in the ostentation of action; the first properly called pride, and the other boastfulness or vainglory. The offshoots and flowers of pride are disobedience, fickleness, hypocrisy, strife, obstinancy, discord, p resumption in innovations. The following examples will show with what power, through the vice of pride, the world the flesh and the devil tempt not only those who are still in the world but even the cloistered. . . .
A demoniac was once brought by his friends to a monastery of our Order in the hope of his deliverance. The Prior came out, bringing with him a young monk of saintly reputation, whom he knew to be virgin in body, and said to the demon: "If this monk should order you to go out, how would you dare to remain?" The demon replied : "I have no fear of him, because of his pride."
Novice.--From this I clearly understand that the vice of vainglory was produced in the heart of this monk by the virtue of bodily innocence.
Mon k.--God has no pleasure in, the devil has no fear of, virginity without humility; but humility even without virginity is both pleasing to God and a terror to Satan. Here is an example.
We had once a monk named Theobald, who before his conversion had been reckless and wild, given over to wine and dice, and notorious throughout Cologne for his buffooneries; often did I myself see him walking along the streets of that city stark naked. At last he became ashamed and remorseful for his scandalous way of life, and by the intercession of the leading churchmen of Cologne he was received by Dom Gevard our abbot, and became a novice in our house. While on probation, thinking that nothing could be more acceptable to God than works of humility, he besought that he might be allowed to wash the linen of the foulest kind, and obtained his request.
Now when he had done this for several days, the tempter came to him, and piercing him with an arrow of pride, put into his heart thoughts of this kind: "Fool, what are you doing ? what business is it of yours to wash the dirty clothes of those who are probably less well born than yourself? " After harbouring such thoughts for a while, he realised that they came from the devil, who is king over all the sons of pride; so, on that day, he washed the linen with more care than usual, and, that he might the more fully discomfit the devil, and destroy the pride he had put into his heart, drank the dirty water.
Then the devil, angry to find he could not overthrow him by the spirit of pride, attacked him with terrors. (All this was told me by Dom Henry our abbot, who said that he had heard it from his own lips under the form of confession.) For from that filthy and malodorous draught, he was tormented with such violent inward pains, that it seemed to him as if his bowels were bursting. Further, that night when he retired, he saw two men hanging from a beam in the private room ; their bodies were black, their clothes torn, their faces covered, so that they appeared like criminals who had suffered on the gallows; and when the novice came upon them thus unexpectedly, he was terribly frightened, and almost driven out of his senses; he ran back to the dormitory and sat down panting by the bed of Brother Henry, who was afterwards our chief cellarer. And as this same Henry told me, he trembled so violently, his breast was shaken with such frequent sobs, that he marvelled what could be the matter with him, of what he could have seen. When he told him to go to bed, for it was a bitterly cold night and he was sitting nly in his tunic, he refused. Thereupon Henry threw over his shoulders a part of his own covering, and so left him to sit until the signal for matins.
Novice.--I marvel that a new wall so violently shaken should continue to stand.
Monk.-He did not stand for long, for, shaken by frequent batterings of temptation, he was at last deceived and cast down by an outward appearance of good. When he became a monk, he gained permission from the abbot, after much entreaty, to go to France to visit his relations, whom he had not seen for twenty years before his conversion, nor had cared to see them, and he was to stay there for a year in a certain house of our Order. He went and returned, and then deserted, and died outside the Order. A vagrant clerk, by being observed in doing them, much more ought we to guard against vainglory when we are practising duties that are both holy and honourable.
Monk.--What do you mean by "duties both holy and honourable?"
Novice.--Praying, singing, preaching and the like.
Monk.--We who are not yet holy, must, as you say, watch earnestly against vainglory, because when we pray the very grace of tears and of heart devotion frequently uplifts us even against our will ; and when we sing or chant, the sweetness or sonorousness of the voice frequently ensnares us; and in our preaching we are often tempted and inflated by the learning, eloquence or loftiness of our discourse. Others, and this can only be reckoned to stupidity, when they have no grace for prayer, or voice for song, or learning or eloquence for preaching, pride themeselves even on their monk's dress. This too is a sign of still greater madness, that some pray, sing, or preach with the simple aim of winning from these exercises human praise and temporal advantage. Of such the Saviour saith : Verily I say unto you, they have their reward, i.e. what they have sought, to wit, the p raise of men and worldly profit. In these sacred exercises there are some whom pride only besets because they have something to be proud of; others whom it distresses because they find pleasure in their good performance of them; but the great majority are hypocrites, who by their own consent and desire, are wholly conquered and strongly o p pressed by the sin of vainglory. Would you like now to hear some examples of this?
Novice.--Yes, indeed. Monk.--You have an example of vainglory in prayer in the twenty-second chapter of the second book, where the devil marked the monk's tears, when his heart was uplifted by that very grace. How much danger there is in pleasure of the voice, the following example will show you.
Once when certain clerks were singing vociferously in a church, that is, loudly and without devotion, and raising on high tumultuous voices, a certain religious, who happened to be present, saw a demon standing in a prominent place, holding a capacious sack in his left hand, and with his right hand widely extended, he caught the voices of the singers, and put them into the sack. When the office was over, and they were congratulating each other, as those who had praised God well and heartily, he, who had seen the vision, said : "You have indeed sung well, but you have sung a sack full." When they wondered, and asked him why he said this, he told them the vision. This I heard from a man of very great authority, an abbot of the Cistercian Order. These examples throw no reflection upon heartiness of devotion in praising God in psalm and hymn, but only upon vainglory. How pleasing to Him is the uplifting of the voice in devotion, you will hear plainly in the fifth chapter of the next book ; and there too you will find how greatly the demons rejoice when the voice is upraised in psalmody without humility. Hear now a very terrible instance of preaching with a view to praise and gain.
When Oliver the scholasticus of Cologne, mentioned in the second book, was preaching the cross in Bruges and Ghent, cities of Flanders, a priest named Siger, wearing a religious dress and having a cross on the breast of his cassock like a Templar, introduced himself to Brother Bernard, our fellow monk, who was then the assistant preacher and colleague of Oliver. This man was of handsome face and imposing presence, and very eloquent in his own dialect. He offered Bernard a gem of many colours and said that he had brought it from Ceuta, and that it was of such virtue as to bring success to any who wore It. But Bernard said : "Sir, I must decline your gifts, you will soon discover if I can help you with the Master in any way within reason"; for it seemed to be his desire to get authority from Oliver to preach ; and the same day permission was given him to address the people. On the following day, after Bernard, at the station next appointed, had preached a moving sermon to the crowd, as soon as the sermon was over, Siger, who was then p resent, fell headlong to the ground, with contortions of the body as of one possessed, as indeed he was. Master Oliver, coming up immediately with his clerks, made the sign of the cross over the man, and had him carried into the church and laid before the altar, where the poor wretch poured forth a stream of blasphemies and horrible words against God and against Oliver himself. Then he was fastened to a cart with straps and sent to his friends; and it is said that the devil carried him off on the fifth day in accordance with a previous threat. Now from this man's obsession and death we can see that his preaching was not for the sake of devotion, but rather of ambition. He is said also to have been an apostate, and in some way to have obtained letters from the lord pope, allow ing him to enter the province. Others said that h e had been in that excommunicated ship, which carried arms to sell to the Saracens in Ceuta.
Novice.-It astonishes me that the Lord should punish contempt so severely in this man, while there are so many priests today who handle most unworthily the sacred mysteries of Christ, and only preach Him at their convenience.
Monk.-I think he was made an example for other priests, both that they should not trouble that pure preaching of the cross, which was being done only for the honour of Christ, and also, because of the merits of Oliver. How severely at that time Christ punished deceits and insults cast upon Him in His preachers, you have an example in the seventh chapter of the second book concerning Gottschalk the usurer, who cunningly cheated the Pope's dispensator; you will also have another in the next chapter about an old, pride-ridden woman, who jeered at Master Arnold, Oliver's disciple, when he was preaching. . . .
Five years ago, at the time of those violent thunderstorms when the harvest was hindered by almost daily rains, a certain knight of our province, who lived in a township very near to us, when he saw the sky in the west growing dark with rain-clouds, said angrily : (he was always a man of rather unbridled speech) "See, here comes the devil again!" Scarcely had he uttered the words when, behold, a thunderbolt struck his little son on his nurse's lap without injuring the woman. And further for that blasphemy he was afflicted in other of his possessions, both in buildings and cattle, that he might learn for the future not to blaspheme. This happened at the same time that our farm near the town of Cassel was struck by lightning. From this it is clear how foolish it is for a mortal man, who is but dust and ashes, to stretch forth his mouth unto the heavens (Ps. lxxiii. 9). See how anger produces ill consequences, not only like this, but of countless other kinds.
Novice.-If in this life God punishes so terribly the sin of anger, surely in the life to come He will grievously afflict the slaves of this vice.
Monk.-You will learn this in the following chapter.
The bailiff of a neighbouring town called Konigswinter told me a very terrible story. Not long ago, he said, a monk, a stranger in these parts, was in our church at mass, and near him were some fashionable matrons, the wives of certain knights, whose empty chatter interfered very much with his prayers. When the mass was over he drew some of these knights aside and said to them : " Sirs, I came to this church to pray, but the devil prompted these ladies to make so much chattering and whispering round me that I could not pray at all. I should like to tell you a terrible story of what happened in my own time and in my own town. There was a certain high-born maiden, the daughter of wealthy parents, who had so violent a temper and was such a quarrelsome scold, that wherever she was, whether at home or in church, there she stirred up quarrels and revived old enmities, so that he who could escape the scourge of her tongue, thought himself a happy man.
At last she died and was buried in the parvis of the church. When we came to the church the next morning, we saw that her tomb was emitting smoke like a furnace. Terrified at this and eager to discover what it meant, we threw out the earth; and behold, the upper part of her body was consumed by fire, while the lower part from the waist downwards was seen to be untouched.
Novice.-What did this signify ?
Monk.-I agree with what was said by those who had known her life: God willed to show in her body that He was pleased with her virtue of chastity, and that He abhors her vice of ill-temper. Because she was a virgin, the lower part of her body was preserved uninjured for the sake of her chastity, but because she was so prone to anger, her heart, her liver, her tongue, her hands, and all the adjacent parts, were devoured by fire, for anger is a fire (Ecclus. viii. 4 ; Ecclus. xxviii. II, Vulg. ; James iii. 6).
Novice.-What you say so terrifies me, that I purpose never again to lose my temper with my brethren.
Monk.-Then you will be happy (James i 26; James iii. 8, 9 ; Prov. xviii. 21, Vulg.).
Novice.-By what metaphor can the tongue be said to have hands?
Monk.-Because if it be harsh, if often becomes a cause of death to body and soul, but if it be soft and gracious, it is a cause of life to both. Wherefore Solomon : A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger (Prov. xv. I). This was fulfilled in David, into whose hands Nabal, by his grievous words, put a sword for his own death, but Abigail withdrew it by her soft answer (I Sam. xxv.). Because death lies in the hands of the tongue, the wisdom of our Creator has set before it a double wall, one of bone and one of flesh, i.e. the teeth and the lips; but He made them both to open, that life might pass through ; and to speak only what is good is life-giving.
Novice.-I like what you say.
Monk.-Let this be enough about anger.
Envy follows anger, and is born of it. For envy is a chronic anger, namely, the hatred of another's happiness. Her daughters are : hatred, backbiting, detraction, delight in the adversity of a neighbour, affliction in his prosperity. It was this vice that transformed an angel into a devil , this vice that cast man out of Paradise (Wisd. ii. 24). To show how grievous and dangerous this sin is, John in his epistle closes with a brief exhortation, and says : Whoso hateth his brother is a murderer (I John iii. 15). The more this vice is con-cealed, the more dangerous it is.
Not long ago a certain monk, attacked and conquered by the pangs of envy, accused one of the younger brethren before the abbot, imputing to him very foul crimes. Now when the abbot did not believe him, he reserved his accusation for a greater punishment when the Visitor should come. What need of more ? The guile of the envious monk had so great weight with this Visitor, that in the presence of them all at Chapter, he threw in the teeth of this youth all the vices that had been reported to him, and when the young monk denied them, and called God to witness his innocence, he refused to believe him and ordered him to be thrown into prison in a scanty robe. After the departure of the Visitor, the justice of God struck down the envious accuser with a sudden sickness; and fearing death was at hand, he confessed that he had accused him falsely through envy; and when by his confessor's advice he had made this clear to the elders, the truth was immediately conveyed to the Visitor, who returned at once in consternation to the monastery, went to the prison and prostrate at the feet of the monk) begged his forgiveness, because he had sinned against him in ignorance; and afterwards brought him out with great honour, giving no heed to his modest reluctance. All this was told me by an abbot, who was present at that visitation.
Novice.-Surely that monk earned great merit under so heavy a trial ?
Monk.-That trial was to him what the furnace is to the gold, the file to the iron, the flail to the grain, the winepress to the grape; for he kept his patience in tribulation. To the envious monk, his envy was as poison to the stomach, as the moth to clothing, as blight to the flower, or as consumption to the body.
Novice.-If you know of any further examples of temptations by envy, I pray you tell me them.
Monk.-Because envy is a hidden disease, no example occurs to me at present, which is either worthy to be remembered or necessary for edification. Nevertheless I will tell you of a certain meritorious envy, which you will be pleased to hear. . . .
Accidie holds the fourth place, and is a vice very apt to tempt the Religious.
Novice.-The name of this vice has a somewhat barbarous sound ; I should like to know what accidie is, and from what its name is derived.
Monk.-Accidie is a depression born from a troubled mind ; or a sense of weariness and excessive bitterness of heart, by which spiritual happiness is cast out, and the judg-ment is overthrown by a headlong fall into despair. It is called accidie, as if it were an acid, which makes all spiritual exercises bitter and insipid to us. Seneca says of it : " Great are the losses that arise from negligence." The progeny of accidie or depression are : malice, rancour, cowardice, despair,reluctance to obey, and the straying of the thoughts into forbidden places. Accidie is a common temptation and throws many into despair.
Novice.--Please give examples of the temptations of this vice.
Monk.--Hear how dangerous it is to be attacked by accidie.
The devil had, as was shown by the event, filled a certain monk so full of accidie, that whenever the time came to get up for matins, he was immediately covered with sweat from a kind of cowardice and fear of the service. Thinking this to be caused by sickness, he lay still, drawing the clothes over him again, and as a door, according to the Proverb of Solomon turneeh upon its hinges, so did that sluggard turn upon his bed (Prov. xxvi. 14). One night when all the rest got up at the sound of the bell, and hastened to the divine office, he also tried to rise, but lay down again at the bidding of accidie ; and then he heard from under his bed an unknown voice saying to him quite clearly : "Do not get up, do not interrupt your sweating, because it is not good for you." Then for the first time he realised that he was being mocked by the devil through the vice of accidie, and shook himself free from that imaginary sweat, and never again consented readily to such slothfulness. Be sure of this, that the devil is not per mitted to tempt us either as much or as long as he would like, lest we should be deceived by him and perish. Often is he compelled by the power of God to disclose his deceit to those whom he is tempting.
Once when I was talking with a very religious lay-brother of ours of those who frequently fall asleep in our choir, he said : "Be very sure that such somnolence is of the devil ; for one day in the summer, when lauds were being sung, I saw in broad daylight a serpent creeping over the back of brother William, who often allows himself to go to sleep in his stall, and forthwith I realised that it was the devil, who was feeding upon his somnolence." He said that he had often seen a vision of this kind in connection with this same lay-brother, and brother Richard bore the same testimony. The lay-brother who saw this was named Conrad, about whom I shall tell you many more excellent thingsin the eighth book. The devil tempts and harries man through somnolence, and this in different ways.
In Hemmenrode there was a certain lay-brother, who was full of accidie in church, and almost always went to sleep. On his head another lay-brother often saw a cat sitting, and as soon as it placed its paws upon this brother's eyes, immed-iately he began to yawn. Now when he learnt this from him to whom the vision had been vouchsafed, he determined that the devil should mock him no longer, and so prepared his stall in such a way that if its occupants went to sleep, it should slip and throw him to the ground. Thus the demon of somnolence was shaken off by this device, and the lazy brother grew more fervent in the service of God. This was told me by a lay-brother of the same convent. How sorely the demons mock those who sleep in such a place, you shall learn from the following example.
Of a young recluse, who doubted the existence of God and the angels,
and was taken out of her body and in the spirit saw angels and souls,
and then returned to the body.
Last year the abbot of Brumback told our abbot about a very terrible temptation which sprang from melancholy, and this is what he said : "There was in our province a maiden of marriageable age, very beautiful, and the daughter of rich parents. These parents wished her to marry, but she refused, saying : "I will not marry anyone except my Heavenly Spouse, the Lord Jesus." At last the parents, worn out with the obstinacy of the maiden, allowed her to do as she pleased. She, giving thanks as if for victory, caused to be made for herself a cell, in which she was veiled and enclosed by the bishop, and in her solitude served Christ alone with great devotion for several days.
But the devil in hatred of so much virtue shook her with various temptations, and, inflaming the innocent heart of the virgin with the poison of melancholy, brought her in full health to sickness. Soon she began to be tossed to and fro with all kinds of thought; to waver in her faith, and to despair of being able to persevere. She was attacked also by weakness of heart, by wasting of the body, by sluggishness in prayer and by grief for her seclusion.
Now while the maiden was thus perilously wavering, the aforesaid abbot of the Cistercian Order, to whose care she had been entrusted by the bishop, came to make her a visita-tion, and asked how she was, and how she fared ; to whom she replied : "Ill am I, and ill do I fare, and I cannot under-stand why or for whom I am secluded here" ; and when the abbot said to her : "For God and the kingdom of heaven" ; she answered : "Who knows if there be a God, or any angels with Him ? or any souls, or any kingdom of heaven ? Who has ever seen such things, who has ever come back to tell us what be has seen?" When the abbot heard such words he trembled from head to foot, and turning to the virgin, said : "What is this you say, sister? make the sign of the cross over your breast. ' ' She replied : "I say what I think ; unless I can see these things, I will not believe. I beg you to let me go out of this place, because I can no longer endure this seclusion."
Then the abbot, realising that such sudden melancholy and despair could only arise from the instigation of the devil, said : "Sister, the enemy of souls is grievously tempting you, because he envies your glory, but do thou stand fast in the faith be strong and He shall comfort thine heart, and put thou thy trust in the Lord (Ps. xxvii. 16). Against the wishes of your friends and relations, you yourself chose this holy life, you yourself longed for this seclusion." And when she received with deaf ears his words of advice and exhortation, he abbot asked her to stay there for at least a week, until he could go to the monastery and return and visit her again. When with difficulty he had obtained her promise, he went to the monastery and laid before the brethren the peril of the virgin, and urged them all to pour forth to God with heartfelt devotion special prayers for her during the coming week ; and he himself besought God on her behalf with real earnestness.
When the week was over, he went back to her and said : "How fare you now, my daughter?" and she replied : Very well indeed, my Father. Never was I better. My joy and consolation during these seven days have been far greater than all my sadness and despair before your coming." And when he asked her the cause of her happiness she said : "Father, I have seen with my own eyes those whose existence doubted ; after you left me, my soul was rapt from my body, and I saw holy angels, I saw the souls of the blessed, I saw the rewards of the just. I saw also with the eyes of my soul my own body lying on the floor of my cell, as bloodless and ilid as withered herbage whose sap was all withdrawn."
When asked by the abbot of the appearance of the soul, he said that it was a spiritual substance, that its form was spherical something like the globe of the moon, and that it was full of eyes. She said further that when either an angel or a soul appeared to any one who was still in the body, the apparition always assumed a material form. But when a soul is delivered from the burden of the flesh, then it appears actually as it is to any other soul in the like condition.
Novice.-This vision agrees closely with that of the abbot of Morimond, who, when he came back from the dead, said that his soul was like glass, and had eyes on every side, as I remember you said in the thirty second chapter of the first book.
Monk.-The same recluse brought back also certain in-formation about the coming of Antichrist, which I am unwill-ing to set down here, because many have been deceived by such prophecies.
Novice.-It fills me with terror to think that the Lord allowed so holy, so pure, so virginal a soul to be harassed with these foul and awful temptations.
Monk.--Unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out, as you will hear from the temptations of another man, and whose temptation was all the more alarm-ing, as it is uncertain how it finally resulted.
A few months ago, a certain nun, a woman of advanced age and of great reputed sanctity, was so much troubled by the vice of melancholy, and so much harassed by the spirit of blasphemy, doubt and distrust, that she fell into despair. She began to disbelieve utterly all those articles of the faith which she had accepted from infanc y , and which it was her bounden duty to accept ; and she refused to take any further share in the blessed Sacrament. When the sisters, and among them her own niece, asked her why she was thus hardened, he replied . I am reprobate that is I am one of those appointed to eternal ruin." One day the prior, greatly moved, said to her : "My sister, unless you come back to our senses from this unbelief, I cannot allow you, after death, to be buried in consecrated ground." When she heard this, and made no reply, but could not forget his words.
A little after this, some of the sisters had to make a journey ; she stole out after them to the bank of the Moselle, by which the convent is situated, and as soon as the boat carrying the sisters had left the shore, she threw herself into the river. Those in the boat heard the splash, but when they looked back they thought that the object in the water was only a dog ; there was, however, in the mercy of God, a man on the bank, who ran quickly to the place to see with greater certainty, and finding that it was indeed a human body, he went into the water and drew her to the shore. By this time hers had come up, and when they saw that it was this poor nun, nearly drowned, they were filled with alarm, and did all they could to restore her.
At last they succeeded, and as soon as she had brought up the water she had swallowed, and was able to speak, they asked her : " Why, sister, did you do such a terrible thing ? " And she answered : " The prior there," pointing with her finger, "threatened that, when I died, he would have to bury me in unconsecrated ground ; and rather than be buried the open field like a beast, I thought it would be better to carried down the river." Then they took her back again the monastery, and watched over her with greater care than before.
You see what misery can be produced by melancholia ; this woman had been brought up in the convent from childhood ; she was a virgin, chaste, devout, scrupulous and punctual in her religious duties ; and I have been told by the prioress of the neighbouring convent that the girls educated by her were better disciplined and more devout than any of the others. But God is very pitiful, and makes trial His elect in many ways, and I cannot but believe, that He, who so mercifully delivered her from drowning, will have regard to her former good works, and will not suffer her to perish at the last. I could give you many recent examples of this kind of melancholia, but I fear that the hearing or reading of such things would give no help to the weak.
Novice.--You have already shown me how nothing happens without good reason, and I think that perhaps God permits such things, that no one, however far perfected, may presume upon his virtues or good works, but may refer everything to God, from whom alone are derived both the will and the power for every good work.
Monk.--What you say is true ; and that is why Lot's disobedient wife was turned into a pillar of salt, to be a warning to the wicked, and a stimulus to the well-doer.
It is scarcely three years ago since excess of melancholy brought final despair upon a certain lay-brother. In speaking or writing of these terrible tragedies, I am unwilling to men-tion the names of places or persons, or to hint at the Order involved, lest I should seem to be casting reflection upon any of my fellow Religious. This brother was well known to me ; from his youth to old age he had lived both respected and liked by all his brethren, so that none in all the Order seemed stricter than he in the observance of the Rule, or more endowed with virtues ; seldom would h e speak, an d seldom use the accustomed relaxations of the Rule. Yet by some incomprehensible judgment of God, he grew so melancholy and cast down, that he became completely obsessed with fear of his sins, and altogether despairing of eternal life. It was not that he was troubled with any lack of faith, but rather that he lost all hope of salvation ; by no authority of scrip ture could he be lifted up, by no examples be restored to the hope of pardon ; though it is believed that he had never been a great sinner. When his brethren asked him what it was that he feared, and why he despaired, he would reply : "I cannot say my prayers as I used, and so I am afraid of hell." Because he was afflicted with this vice of melancholy, accidie laid hold of him, and from the two despair was born in his heart. Placed in the infirmary, one morning, having deter-mined upon death, he went to his superior and said : "I cannot fight against God any longer. The other took little heed of his words, but he went away to the fish-pond near the monastery, threw himself in and was drowned.
A somewhat similar thing took p lace last year in a convent of nuns, though the motive was different I was told by a nun of the same Order, that one of the sisters was so driven mad by the magic arts of a miserable brother, who was clothed in the habit, but not in the spirit of a Religious, that she could not endure the temptations that he had put into her heart She would not tell her trouble to anyone, but only said : "I want to go out, I want to get away, because I am sorry that I ever came here" ; and when they would not allow her to go, her melancholy increased still more, and when once she found herself alone, she threw herself into the well and died. When they sought her everywhere and could not find her, one of the sisters remembered that she had threatened to drown herself in the well ; the well was searched and she was found there dead. It was almost at he same time, that this miserable lay-brother by similar wickedness enticed a nun from another convent and corrupted her and she, poor soul, never came back from the world.
There was a certain youth at Cologne, some time before this, who had gambled away his clothes, and was rendered so miserable by this loss, that he went up to the solar of his house and hanged himself. You see how dangerous melancholy is, when it is not in accordance with the will of God.
Novice.-What are we to think of the souls of these ?
Monk.-If the cause be only melancholy and despair, not madness or wandering of the mind, there can be little doubt that they are damned. In the case of those who are mad or weak minded, in whom the power of reason is lost, they are assuredly saved, however they die, if they were in a state of grace before the madness took them. Of the lay-brother mentioned above a wise man, who knew him well, said this in my hearing : "I do not think that he ever made an honest confession." For God, in His righteous judgment, may sometimes allow the just, who fear Him, to wander in their senses, yet He will not suffer them to end by so miserable a death. . . .
Monk.--Avarice is an insatiable and unworthy desire for glory, or for anything else in the world. Love-of-money is a name also given to this vice, but a distinction should be made between the two names, because avarice is an immoderate craving for the possession of all kinds of things, while love-of money is that which lets loose the particular appetite for amassing wealth.
Now the daughters of avarice are deceit, fraud, treachery, perjury, disquietude, violence, and the hardening of the heart against compassion. Avarice has two parts, namely, that of acquiring and that of keeping.- Of its evil influence Solomon speaks Prov. xv. 27).- The Lord, wishing to show Zechariah the origin of the greatest evils of the world, showed him an ephah (Zech. v.6, vuig.-), by whose wide mouth h e might understand cupidity.- This vice by the same prophet is called an eye over all the earth.- According to the apostle : the love of money is the root of all evil (I Tim. vi.- 10). Not only secular persons are tempted by it, but even spiritual. Laban followed after Jacob when returning to his native land, wish-ing to bring him back. When he could not persuade him, he said : Though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou longest for thy father's house, yet why hast thou stolen my gods (Gen. xxxi.. 30). Jacob, whose name when interpreted means "striver "or" supplanter," signifies a monk, who ought to be a supplanter of vices. But Laban, which means "white," signifies the world.
It often happens that a man leaves the world through con-version, yet nevertheless, though converted, does not restrain his heart from avarice. After such a man the world rightly pursues, saying : Thou hast a longing for thy father's house, that is, the heavenly country, why hast thou stolen my gods ? as if it said : why dost thou follow after avarice ? They make idols of gold and silver, which even the religious eagerly seek after. Not then without cause does the apostle speak of covetousness as idolatry (Col. iii. 5). Rachel, which being interpreted is "one who sees God," is the soul of a religious which covets the riches of this world, and hides them in the camel's furniture (Gen. xxxi. 34), as she hid the idols. For all things necessary to the body, which the rule allows to monks, as they are common things, so they may be called furniture.
Novice.-Our own order has often been condemned by the world for avarice.
Monk.-What they call avarice, we call foresight. For we are bound by the injunction of our rule to receive all guests that come to us as though they were the Saviour Himself; and if we denied them hospitality, those who now condemn the Order for avarice, then would far more severely condemn us for hardness and lack of mercy. There is scarcely any house of the Order that is not burdened with debts because of guests and the poor, and also because of those who come daily to us for conversion, and cannot be rejected without scandal. For, to excuse our stewards not for everything, but for this much, they are often compelled by this necessity, whether they will or no. With how much pain the vice of avarice is bound up both in this life and the next, and with how much glory and profit the contempt of riches is rewarded even in this present life I will show you by a few examples. Great indeed will be its glory in the life to come. . . .
Gluttony is the immoderate and enticing appetite of eating and drinking for bodily pleasure alone. Its daughters are uncleanness, scurrility, foolish jesting, excessive talking, dull-ness of intelligence. In gluttony there are five stages of sin. The first is to demand rare and delicate food ; the second to prepare food in a fanciful way ; the third to eat before the time ; the fourth to eat greedily ; and the fifth in too great quantity. The first man fell a victim to gluttony in Paradise; it was this that deprived Esau of his birthright ; gluttony incited the men of Sodom to the worst kind of sin ; it laid low the children of Israel in the desert (Ps. lxxviii. 31). The sin of Sodom was satiety and fulness of bread (Ez. xvi. 49).
Abdo, the man of God, when sent to Bethel, was slain by a lion, owing to gluttony (I Kings xiii.); the rich man, who fared sumptuously every day found burial in hell (Luke xvi. 22) Nebuzar-adan (2 Kings xxv. 8), the chief cook, that is, gluttony, destroyed Jerusalem. You see how great dangers lie in this vice. (Also, Eccles x. 16, vi. 7, Lk. xi. 34, Rom. xiii. 13). The first temptation of Christ Matt. iv.) by the devil was through gluttony ; wherefore Jerome says : "in the fight Christ first strove by fasting against gluttony, by which the first man had been conquered." How strong and impor-tunate against us this vice can be, I will explain by some recent examples ; and I will try to keep the order, as far as I can, and also the manner of these temptations of Adam, Esau and the rest, which have been enumerated above.
Luxury is the wanton and unbridled prostitution of mind and body, arising from unclean desires. Her daughters are self-love, hatred of God, love of the present world, horror or despair of the future, rashness, inconstancy, inconsiderateness, a blinded mind. The degrees of luxury are fornication, debauchery, adultery, incest, unnatural vice. Luxury, like gluttony, has wrought the greatest evils in the world; it was the chief cause of the flood; it destroyed the five cities with fire and brimstone; it imprisoned the holy Joseph; it laid low numbers of the children of Israel in the desert; this took place when they sinned with the Midianites and joined themselves to Baal-peor. It 'was luxury that bound, weakened and blinded the mighty Samson; it deprived the sons of Eli of the glory of the priesthood and of life itself. It was luxury that made an adulterer and murderer of David, the man after God's own heart. It infatuated the wise Solomon and led him into idolatry; it condemned Susanna and beheaded John the Baptist. Of luxury God speaks through Hosea (ix. 15). Joel also (i. 17, Vulg). Behemoth, according to Job, lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens (Job xl. 21), i.e. in places of luxury. When the two excuse themselves in the gospel, he, who had married a wife, answered haughtily, saying : I have married a wife, and there-/ ore I cannot come (Luke xiv. 20).
Novice.-Why does the Lord in the gospel forbid gluttony directly, and luxury under a figure (Luke xxi. 34 ; xii. 35)?
Monk.--The Creator knew that in all nature luxury arises from gluttony and is nourished by its stimulants; the kinship of the two vices is indicated by the proximity of their organs. It is as if the Lord had said : "That you may escap e luxury, indulge the appetite sparingly "; Deprive d of food and wine, luxury is starved (Ter. Eun. iv. 5, 6). There are three chief incitements to luxury : high living, costly dress, and idleness. It was of these three which the prophet declared to be the iniquity of Sodom; to wit, fulness of bread i.e. gluttony, pride of life, i.e. costly clothing, which provokes lust, and abundance of idleness in her sons and daughters (Ezek. xvi. 49). Idle-ness of itself teaches many evils, as Solomon says; it was because of idleness that David sinned with Bathsheba; where-fore a poet says : "If idleness be removed, the arts of Cu p id perish (Ov. Rem. Am. '39). Luxury is an evil beast that hates chastity, spares neither sex, and suffers scarcely any to be at peace. It awakes the sleeper, it disturbs the wakeful, now b y natural emotions, now by thoughts, and now by objects placed before his eyes. It tempts the beginner, it tempts the full-grown saint, it tempts even the perfect.
Novice.-Much have I heard of the dangers of luxury, and of the remedies against it; I pray you now to give me examples.
Monk.--I will not speak of those who have fallen by con-senting to luxury, but of those who have been tempted and shaken, and yet have been preserved by the grace of God. . . .
The abbot Herman, who was at that time prior in Hem-menrode told me of a young monk there who was grievously tempted by the lusts of the flesh. With tears he confessed how this temptation was afflicting him, and the prior consoled him, and said : "When next you are attacked with the stings of the flesh, say thus to the devil in a loud voice : 'Devil, my confessor orders thee to cease from tempting me.' " Later, when the same temptation came upon him, and he was sore beset, simply and confidently and in a loud voice, as he had been instructed, he cried out against the demon : "O devil, my confessor commands thee to cease from tempting me." Wonderful is the virtue of confession! At this word, the devil, t he spirit of fornication, fled in confusion and the temptation passed.
Novice.--How do you know that this temptation came from the devil ?
Mon k.--The apostle calls the sting of the flesh "a messenger from Satan," because it troubled and inflamed him?
Novice.--Am I right in thinking that confession is very necessary against the temptations of the flesh ?
Monk.-About this we have already spoken much in the book upon confession.- Truly in confession the fuel of sin is diminished, the temptation ceases or is restrained, grace is increased, the penitent is strengthened by counsel, the devil is confounded and weakened. At other times when this monk was harassed by the same temptation, he repeated the above words according to the advice of his priest, and added these : "Why, O devil, dost thou trouble me? Thou canst not tempt me more than is allowed by God , who is thy Lord as well as mine." And at once he felt himself helped, for that proud spirit cannot endure a saying like this which lowers his pride.-
Another monk, an older man, and more fervent in his religious life than he of whom I have just spoken, was attacked by the spirit of luxury in many ways hard to be borne.- Once when he was in the infirmary, he was standing after matins in an angle of the cloister, and using the angelic salutation in prayer, when the devil came behind him and hurled at him a flaming dart, so that the monk saw it fly past his face, saw how it glittered and how its reflection shone upon the wall.-Finding that he was not to be terrffied by this, nor driven from t h e place where he was praying, the fiend stirred up about him so great a noise, that the whole floor of the cloister where he was standing seemed to resound with the clatter of the boots of the monks running hither and thither.-
Then as be cared nothing for this phantasm, and was going away after finishing his prayer, he saw as it were a multitude of Moors pursuing him. Another time the spirit of fornication, whose breath sets coals on fire, burnt his body with an intolerable flame of lust.- Now that venerable man, thinking upon the devil's importunity broke out with a loud voice into these words : "Why dost thou thus cruelly torture me, O devil, for thou canst not accomplish against me more than God permits. He, who is my Lord, is thy Lord also." The truth thus expressed is that of the confessor of the last story. When he said this, the tempter left him in the following manner.-
Indeed, after this utterance, it seemed to him that something moving began at once grdually and painfully to creep down his shoulders his head past either ear to his neck, then and sides, and slowly descending through his thighs and legs, went out at his heels.- And as the monk himself told me, that spirit's progress was so gradual, as has been said, that it couId be felt in one place and not in another; and as soon as it passed out through his feet and fled away, the fire, which it had kindled, died down, and all temptation ceased.
Novice.-I wonder if he had offered any opportunity to the spirit of fornication, which thus terribly tormented him ?
Monk.--He told me himself that one day he, with the abbot, was visiting a certain convent of nuns, and a matron of that community, who had been well known to him before his conversion, placed her arm upon his shoulder and looked into his eyes.- No doubt he thought about this more than was fitting, though indeed at the time he felt no kind of temptation from it, but afterwards, when the devil brought back to his mind that gaze of hers, he was so tempted from that time forward for several years, that life became a weariness to him. For the greater perfection a man has reached, so much the more is he bound to keep guard over his senses, especially touch and sight; touch, because, as we read in Vitaspatrum, the body of a woman is a fire, and sight, because death enters in by the windows of the eyes.- How great merit that monk won in temptation the following story will tell you.- When the aforesaid Herman, now abbot of Marienstart, was prior in Hemmenrode, this monk was tempted one night with a temptation, not only violent but exceeding perilous; for as the prior learnt from his confession, such were the conditions of that temptation that he would have satisfied it in as brief a time as it takes to turn the hand, if the will to sin had been present. I think indeed that it was a trial of the flesh.- He was attacked strongly; he resisted manfully; he overcame gloriously.
That same week there came to the prior a certain simple-minded lay-brother from one of the granges, saying that he wished to speak with him privately.- And when the oppor-tunity was given him, he said : "My lord prior, during this past week I have had a vision in a dream ; there stood before me a mighty column, and an iron nail was driven into it, and upon that iron nail there hung a most beautiful crown, like the crown of our emperor.- And there was present there a most glorious Lord, who took the crown from the nail with both his hands, and, placing it in my hands, said thus : 'Take this crown, and carry it to the monk,' and here he mentioned him by name, 'because he has won it this night.-' " Immediately the prior, who knew of the monk's temptation, under-stood the vision, and interpreted the strong column as the monk, invincible under temptation, the nail which seemed to be of steel, as the hard temptation he had undergone and the crown as the reward of his toil (Apoc. iii.- 12). That the crown was hung upon the column, i.e. that the due reward was given to victor y , the apostle bears witness (2 Tim.- iv.- 7,8).-
Novice.--Of what fight is the apostle here speaking ?
Monk.--Of that which ever goes on against the triple foe; to wit, the flesh, the world and the devil. In times of peace it is as pleasing to God that the faithful should always be fighting with vices and evil desires to preserve his innocence, as that he should expose his body to the sword and to torture in times of persecution. Whence comes that hymn of the Church : "The confessor, who sustains such things in the fight, runs his course as well as the martyr who suffers him-self to be pierced and pours forth his blood by the sword.-"
Novice.-Still, I cannot cease from wondering that God, who is purity itself, should allow religious, holy and perfect men to be oppressed with these unclean temptations, and some-times for along time.-
Monk.-This is believed to arise according to the dispensation of Divine mercy from two causes ; to wit, for the protection of humility, and for the provision of material on which virtue may be exercised.- Who in this world has been greater than the apostle ? and yet it is he who says : Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to buffet me (2 Cor. xii. 7).- As the scripture tells us : remnants of the unclean races were left in the promised land that Israel might be proved by them (Judg. iii.- 4).- For when it so pleases God, in one hour He takes away all our temptations.
In England there was a certain spiritually-minded man who was set to preside over a convent of nuns. Now he was of tall stature, and comely to look upon, with ruddy cheeks and bright eyes, so that scarcely any, who were ignorant of his spiritual qualities, would have guessed at the depth of his religion. One of the younger nuns of that community, by often gazing upon him, began to be so tempted and so grievously troubled by the stings of the flesh, that at last she put away all modesty and opened to him her passion. The holy man, having the fear of God before his eyes, was horrified, and tried by all means in his power to divert the maiden's thoughts, saying : "You are the spouse of Christ ; if I were to corrupt the spouse of my Lord, He would not suffer impunity ; neither could such a crime long lie hidden from the eyes of men." Then she said that if he would not consent, she would die ; and he replied : "Since it cannot be otherwise, let it be as you wish. Where then shall we meet ? " She answered : " This night I will come to you wherever you may appoint" Then he said : " No, it must take place in the daylight." And he showed the maiden a shed in the orchard, solemnly charging her to come thither at a certain hour without anyone seeing or knowing. She came, and the man of God said to her : "Lady, it is right and expedient for you that you should first see this body of mine, which you so eagerly desire, and then if it still pleases you, you can satisfy yourself with it." When he had thus spoken and she remained silent, he put off his garments, took off the rough hair shirt which he wore next his person, and showed her his naked body, eaten with vermin, scarred with the hair shirt, covered with sores, and black with grime, and said : "See what it is that you love, and take your pleasure if you still desire it."
When she saw this proof of his austerity, her heart sank within her, and turning now red and now pale, she cast herself at his feet and besought pardon. Then he : "Go back secretly into your convent, and see that you do not betray my secret till after my death." From that hour the temptation, which had been aroused in the virgin by the wantonness of unbridled eyes, departed from her for ever. Let these be enough examples of the temptation of luxury.
Novice.-With what weapons should we fight against these seven vices of which you have discoursed so long ?
Monk.-With their opposite virtues.
Novice.-What are virtues, and why are they so called ?
Monk.-virtues are spiritual qualities by which we walk uprightly. They are called virtues, because they stand opposed to the vices. Humility should stand against pride, gentleness against anger, affection against envy, spiritual cheerfulness against melancholy, open-handedness against avarice, moderation ·in food and drink against gluttony, chastity against luxury. Moreover, if in the struggle against temptations the virtues conquer the vices, the victory is deserved, and eternal reward follows after the deserving. For this has been promised by our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Way, in example ; the Truth, in promise ; and the Life, in reward. To Him, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be honour and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.