I. The Monastic Phenomenon

1. Outside Christianity

2. Definition and essential elements

3. Conclusion: for us as Christians

II. History and Prehistory

III. The source of Christian monasticism

1. The Old Testament

2. Jewish monks

3. The evangelical call

4. The martyrs

5. Origen


We are going to study the history of monastic spirituality. Let us consider what we mean by this.

1) Outside Christianity.

First, is monasticism a typically Christian phenomenon? To this we must reply: No.

There were monks long before Christianity. Fifteen hundred years before Jesus came, there were monks in India. Most non-Christian religions have known some form of monastic life.

The oldest monasticism, practised in Hinduism, was not unified in its expression. There were many anchorites: hermits living in the forests, ascetics wandering here and there begging their food. The former sometimes had their wives living with them in their hermitages, but they lived in chastity. The latter broke all connection with society and lived by begging. However there were some monasteries:

The monks wore a special habit, practised poverty and detachment and begged for their food. They were under the direction of a guru and made vows: not to kill any living thing, to be honest, self-disciplined and generous.

In Buddhism monasticism represented a summit. Buddhism is essentially a monastic religion which, in its highest degree, can only be practised by monks. The Buddha thought of salvation as a liberation from suffering and the passions: one has to eliminate all desire in order to be reunited with the Absolute. Only monks can do this. There are then monks who seek this Absolute through meditation, and non-monks who acquire merits by enabling the monks to live.

These monks have very varied statutes. There are no vows, and often their monasticism is temporary.

In Europe, the mediterranean religions of antiquity had virgin priestesses: the Pythia of Delphi, the Roman vestal virgins, vowed to chastity at least for a time, but this was understand in a physical rather than a moral way. Among the Greek philosophers, there were also modes of life similar to that of monks. In the first half of the sixth century BC, Pythagoras founded a sort of community which one entered through different degrees of initiation. However there was, on the whole, no practice of sexual ascesis.

Much later, after the rise of Christianity, Islam, which has never officially recognised any form of monastic life, nevertheless had from its earliest days ascetics living in solitude who practised continence in the presence of God. Fraternities sprang up subsequently for training in a method of raising the soul to God.

Even in the New World, at that time unknown in Europe, in the pre-historic religions of America, Fr Lafitau, a 17th century missionary (quoted by Dom Jean Leclerq) has shown that there were communities of consecrated virgins. The famous temples in Peru under the Inca kings had communities of vestal virgins whose rules were more severe than those of the Roman vestals. The temples in Mexico had religious of the same kind: "They ate in common and slept in large halls, rising in the night and assisting in a choir like our religious at Matins. They were responsible for sweeping the temple and for its upkeep, and practised great mortifications; they were called 'daughters of penitence'."

The Iroquois also had "vestals whom they called 'Ieouinnon' and who were professional virgins. There were also men who were virgin. It may be that in ancient times some lived in community, like the Essenians... But I think nevertheless that it is more likely that they retired into solitude, at some distance from their village, where they lived separately like hermits, having only a servant who brought them the necessities of life."

2) Definition and essential elements.

From these examples we can see that before Christian monasticism, there was in all the religions a universal phenomenon which resembled what we call monasticism. These special forms of life, not always similar, included essential elements of monastic life.

Let us try to see what are the essential elements of this kind of life which we have defined by the general term "monastic", several examples of which we have observed outside Christianity. We can infer that they will certainly occur in our Christian monastic life as well.

The first thing that stands out is that these various forms of para-Christian monastic life have a tendency to set themselves apart, to separate themselves from the world in isolation from the rest of men. This isolation often has an exterior sign, a wall, a reserved enclosure, access to certain buildings being reserved to the ascetics. Yet frequently they insist rather on the cloister of the heart.

This separation from the world is indicated by a distinctive habit and a special way of cutting the hair. It is ratified by different rites of aggregation or initiation.

We also find ascetic practices such as celibacy, at least temporarily, and poverty understood as detachment. These practices are meant to encourage interior vigilance.

They do not insist very much on obedience which is considered to be the consequence of a general openness or availability developed through meditation. On the other hand great stress is

placed on absolute docility to a spiritual master.

Finally, the third essential element: mystical aspiration that is to say a profound sense of the Absolute and a desire for communion with this absolute reality. This is perhaps the deepest foundation of the monastic life, for it is the source of a keen awareness of the radical insufficiency of this changing world. It is the driving power of the two other elements: separation from the world and ascetic practices.

We can now formulate a broad definition of monasticism: it is a manner of life having a spiritual goal which transcends the objectives of earthly life, the attainment of which is considered the one thing necessary.


3) Conclusion: for us as Christians.

All through our course in Christian monasticism we shall find these three elements which constitute monastic life, but in a totally new perspective: the call to follow Christ (the 'sequela Christi), is at the origin of Christian monastic life. In the daily living out of an unconditional response to the love of Christ, one discovers practices similar to those in other forms of monastic life; for the demands inherent in such a way of life are always the same, but the source is different, for the Christian monk and nun it lies in the Gospel imperative. For them these elements are transfigured and illuminated by the wonderful coming of a God of love to mankind in the person of Christ. Christian monks and nuns will be in love with the person of Christ.

Separation from the world will express their desire to belong to him.

Their ascesis will be a communion with his Kenosis (self-emptying) and his Passion.

Their mystical aspiration will find its full-flowering in the union with a divine-human person who will bring them into the heart of the Trinity.

Note 1, below.



We have just characterised the third element of monasticism as, in a broad sense, a 'mystical aspiration'. But this word 'mystical' is a snare, often misunderstood and used in the wrong way. What is its meaning for us as Christians?

In Christianity, it does not mean looking for extraordinary experiences. The word should be understood first in the way St Paul used it, with reference to the 'mystery of Christ', which concerns salvation - known through faith - beyond reason. In this sense, mysticism is at the foundation of Christianity; baptism introduces us into the mystery of Christ, into the mystical life. Real union with God through belonging to Christ, the God-Man, is a supernatural reality which remains mysterious and hidden. We speak of the 'mystical aspiration' to express the desire of the Christian for communion with this hidden reality.

This communion comes about in this life in faith through the sacraments and through the desire to lead a holy life, the desire to do "what is pleasing to God", (a Pauline expression which we will find again in Basil), and through the pursuit of continual prayer which, as we will see, is characteristic of these first monks.

This is the first meaning of the 'mystical life', the basic meaning: communion in the mystery of Christ and so in his Spirit who works in the soul through his gifts. The more intense this communion with Christ, the more the gifts play their part. Gregory of Nyssa will explain it by the idea of synergy.

It sometimes happens that, under the influence of the gift of wisdom, the baptised person suddenly experiences the presence of Christ in the soul, a mysterious contact, a kind of spiritual touch of divinity, without intermediary: the presence of God invades the soul. So in this text from St Basil: "If ever a kind of light falling on your heart has suddenly given you an awareness of God, flooding your soul in a way that makes you love God and despise the world and all material things, this obscure and fleeting image can help you to understand the state of the just who rejoice in God with a peaceful and unending happiness. This joy is sometimes bestowed by the Providence of God, but rarely, so that this little taste may lead you to the remembrance of the good things which you do not possess" (Homily on Psalm 32). This text emphasises the unexpectedness, the suddenness of these graces, and also their rarity. The vocabulary of spiritual authors who have experienced them gives numerous expressions to

underline these two qualifications.

There is a second meaning of the word which denotes a completely gratuitous gift of God, a grace which is not a proof of sanctity, for it is perhaps given to convert or to encourage. It is a grace which is not indispensable in order to reach great holiness, but which one can however desire as a precious help on our journey to God. St Basil also said: "Once the soul is possessed by the desire for its Creator and has experienced in its heart the joy of his beauty, it would not exchange this great joy and these delights for anything the world can offer with its great variety of fleshly passions; on the contrary, that which others find disagreable increases their joy" (Homily on Giving Thanks 2).

St Therese of the Child Jesus, who has been described as: "the greatest mystic of modern times", is a beautiful example to help us understand the two meanings of this word. She sometimes knew these 'mystical' states in the second meaning of the term; she mentions one which lasted a week, (this is not very common!). But the last years of her life were spent in the darkest night of faith, yet what a 'mystical aspiration' was hers during this time! How she longed to be united to Jesus, so much so that she desired suffering and to find her joy in it because Jesus had suffered. At the end of her life this mystical aspiration was summed up in the desire to want nothing but what Jesus wanted for her: "You fill me with joy by all that you are doing", she said.

These are the heights to which we are invited. This is authentic Christian mysticism.



History begins with written documents. Before that there is prehistory.

When did the history of monasticism begin?

The first document about Christian monks whose author we know the author is the "Life of Antony", by St Athanasius. So the history of monasticism begins with Antony (c. 250-350).

The repercussions of this first writing were enormous. But it must not be thought that the "Life of Antony" was the beginning of monastic life. This book appeared in 357. But a papyrus shows there was a large group of monks round Antony in Lower Egypt already about 305. In Upper Egypt Pachomius founded his monastery about 320 and died in 346, that is, before the publication of the 'Life of Antony', leaving about 6 or 8 thousand monks and nuns. Well before that, there were monks in Syria and even in Gaul, on an island near Lyons.

Monasticism did not begin by being passed from one to another but arose like spontaneous eruptions, or like a spring gushing forth in different places from a source underground.

This sudden emergence of monasticism in several distant geographical points: Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Gaul, suggests an underground spring, a secret preparation by the Holy Spirit. There was as it were a prehistory of monasticism: a prehistory within the hearts of men and women, a prehistory, that is, of monastic spirituality, a few features of which we shall try pointers to this preparation by the Spirit.

It seems that among the many causes which could, directly or indirectly, be at the source of the emergence of monasticism in the third century, the following can be identified in chronological order: a vague outline in the Old Testament, more defined ascetical movements among the Jews in the time of Jesus, the radical call of the gospel teaching which gave rise to consecrated virginity faily early on, then martyrdom and finally Origen.




Although Jerome spoke of "the monks of the Old Testament" (Ep. 125:7), there is no monasticism properly speaking at that time. This is no doubt because the people as a whole were considered to be consecrated. On the other hand the expectation of the Messiah called for child-bearing in the hope of bringing him into the world. This excluded consecrated virginity; we read that the daughter of Jephta "bewailed her virginity" (Jg. 11:38).

However we do find some idea, some traces of consecrated life: the levites for whom God is the only inheritance; the nazirites (a name meaning "consecrated), for life or temporarily, was sanctioned by certain restrictions. Samson was a nazirite, but his adventures with Delilah show that, unfortunately for him, marriage was not among these restrictions!

The Bible also mentions groups of ascetics round Elijah called, according to the translations: "Brother Prophets" or "Sons of the Prophets" (I Kg 20:35; 2 Kg 3f). Here too some of them were married (2 Kg 4:1).

The prophets Amos, Hosea and Jeremiah adumbrated the hermit life of monks by idealising life in the desert where God made a covenant with his people. Isaiah called on the people to: "prepare a highway in the desert for the Lord" (Is. 40:3). At the end of the Old Testament writings, one finds a hint of the fruitfulness of the barren woman and the virgin. (Ps.112).

John appeared at the threshold of the New Testament announcing Jesus, and also the advent of monks: he was not married, he lived in the desert, fasted, prayed, meditated on the Law and above all gave proof of his humility: "He must grow greater and I must grow less". Then there was Mary who wished to keep her virginity and in whom later generations have always seen the model of consecrated virgins who, humble like her, allow the Word of God to enter and bear fruit within them.

Profane history also demonstrates the existence of forms of life very close to monasticism.



At the time of Jesus, historians mention the existence of Jewish ascetics who have retired from the world.

a) The Essenes

The historian Josephus and Philo of Alexandria both mention the existence of groups of religious Jews called Essenes. This religious movement was probably fairly widespread, comprising the group at Qumran among others. Philo derived the word Essene from the Greek: hosioi = holiness, but it probably came from the Aramean hassaya = pious. It was a conservative movement which sought to separate itself from the corruption of Israel in order to seek God in holiness; their Rule said: "They separate themselves from the dwellings of wicked men to go into the desert to make straight the way of God". Here are two texts which describe them (Texts 1-2).

b) The Therapeutae

In his book "On the Contemplative Life" Philo speaks of other ascetics who lived in Egypt to the east of Alexandria near lake Mareotis by the sea. The only writer to mention them, he sometimes went there, he says to make a retreat far from the noise of the world. He called them "Therapeutae" from a Greek word which means "to serve" and "to heal" and Philo meant it in the second sense: they were those who healed (their passions) (Text 3). He wrote of them as an educated and pious rabbi, caught up in allegorical exegesis and platonic philosophy (Text 4).

These two groups led a demanding ascetic and community life. Only isolated examples of celibate religious are found.



We can be sure that the demands of the Sermon on the Mount, the example of virginity in Jesus to the Corinthians on celibacy and the great love of the Lord who died for sinners very soon gave rise to the desire among men and women to give love for love and to consecrate their lives to God in virginity.

There are hints of it everywhere. First in the Acts of the Apostles: they tell us for example of Philip's daughters who were virgins and prophetesses. Later the letter of Clement of Rome, c.90, speaks of virgins and the chaste. Hermas, in 150, mentions virgins in Rome, and Ignatius an apparently numerous group of virgins in Smyrna. Polycarp and Justin also mention them.

The word "monk" appears for the first time at the end of the second century in the apocryphal gospel of Thomas which celebrates the blessedness of the monachus.

In the same period, between 150 and 200, we know that there were people in Syria and in Corinth who led a life of poverty and asceticism, and practised chastity. Here too they were stillindividuals, probably living in the family home or in the town, and we cannot yet speak of monasticism. But very soon there appeared, mixed with this good grain the darnel of self-complacency in the form of contempt of the world. Self-control, in Greek egkrateia = abstinence, continence, became a movement: "encratism" which enforced abstinence and chastity; marriage was forbidden, the diet was fresh vegetables and wine.

In the first half of the third century we find the first example of organised monasticism: the "Sons of the Covenant" who lived in common, at the service of the Church and dedicated to worship, and leading a life of poverty. This is the first known example of cenobitism, nearly a century before the first signs of Egyptiam monasticism.

But a little later there appeared among them the "Messalian" movement, which comes from the Syrian word meaning "to pray". Those who were influenced by this spiritual movement though that no human activity should be undertaken apart from prayer. Among those who adopted this attitude, some remained within the Church, others left. In the 4th century Basil tried to lead them and the 'encratists' back to orthodoxy.

Finally, about 300, came Antony, the first monk whose story we have in writing. His vocation came through hearing the Gospel. The history of Christian monasticism properly so-called begins.



There is a third cause of the sudden rise of monasticism at the beginning of the third century: martyrdom. Very soon monasticism was seen as bound up with martyrdom, either as a preparation for it or a continuation of it.

1) It was a preparation for martyrdom for those who lived in times of persecution, like Antony. We are told that when the persecution of Diocletian broke out and Christians were taken to Alexandria, Antony left his monastery and accompanied them saying: "Let us go too, to watch those in the combat and to struggle with them if we are called to do so". We read too in the life of Pachomius: (Text 5).

2) A continuation of martyrdom: after the persecution stopped Christians were able to lead a life of consecrated celibacy openly, and a great many went to the desert to live as hermits and cenobites. They believed they were living out the same mystery as the martyrs, the total identification with Christ who died and rose again. This mystery of maryrdom, which is at the heart of the life of the Church could never disappear. It is this emphasis which is found in the Greek life of Pachomius (Text 5).

This raises a problem, for if monasticism equals martyrdom, do we, whether monks or novices, think we are martyrs?

Here are three texts which tell us what the Old Men thought. First an apophthegm (maxim or Saying) attributed to Athanasius, a contemporary of Antony who wrote his life (Text 6). Then two other texts, one about nuns and the other about monks (Texts 7-8).

We already have some explanations. To understand it more clearly, we will study a text of one of the most celebrated martyrs, Ignatius of Antioch. In his letter to the Romans he shows us what sort of a man he is and what a martyr is like. We shall find that this letter brings us to the heart of our monastic life, and in studying it we will find out whether there is anything in the Rule of St Benedict concerning the spirituality of martyrdom.

Ignatius was the bishop of Antioch in Syria. Captured during a persecution, he was taken to Rome overland and by sea, to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena during a pagan festival. On arriving in Asia Minor, he stayed for a time in two towns: Smyrna and Troas. Delegations from the neighbouring churches there came to visit him. He wrote several letters, including one to the Romans in which he told them he was coming and asked them not to rescue him from the torture. This letter was written spontaneously, and reveals the heart of a martyr; it is not a literary or conventional piece of writing. Apart from an introduction and a conclusion, there is no plan; Ignatius writes as ideas come to him, as if he was speaking.

Almost the whole of this letter is in Study Paper no.1. You can read it by asking Ignatius questions; this is the best way to read the Fathers, we speak to them like good friends.

 Who is Ignatius, what sort of person is he?

Then we ask him himself:

 How does he understand martyrdom?

 What is the death of a martyr for him?

 What sort of person is a martyr in his opinion?

 What does Jesus mean to him?

When you have done this exercise, you will find, among other things, two themes which have great importance in the future development of monastic spirituality: the theme of spiritual combat and that of the imitation of Christ which we will come across again in other texts in the literature of the martyrs. For example, here is a text which illustrates the first theme, that of spiritual combat; the martyr, like the monk later, is aware of fighting against the demon (Text 9). The other theme, that of the imitation of Christ, is found, among others, in the story of the martyrs of Lyon. (Text 10). This inward presence of Christ who suffers with and in his martyr, is found also in the famous text of the Passion of Sts Perpetua and Felicitas (Text 11). Later we will see the same idea in the life of Antony, Christ was there when Antony was struggling against the demon. It is a good thing for us to remember this in temptation: Christ is there near us, although we think we are alone, and he helps us to overcome it.



Lastly there is a man who, like Ignatius, was a great lover of Christ and like him wanted to give his life for Him. He was one of the great geniuses of Christianity, comparable to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. He wrote many books which had a great influence on monasticism in its early stages. We will not study him here; we will only describe a few points in which he influenced this movement of the spirit - and of the Spirit - which gave birth to monasticism.

There is a continuity between the spirituality of the martyr and that of Origen. His life was spent in alternating periods of persecution and calm. His father died a martyr during the persecution of Severus, and his mother had to hide his clothes so that he would not go and declare himself a Christian. He wrote an Exhortation to Martyrdom during the persecution of Maximin the Thracian and he himself was arrested and tortured during that of Decius; he died three years later as a result. It is not surprising then that we find in his writing the theme of spiritual combat.

Moreover, at the beginning of his life Origen was in charge of a school for formation in the Christian life, a sort of "School of the Faith" before its time, where the students came to be instructed by him. They lived together, ate together, prayed together. At the end of his stay of five years as a scholar, according to the custom of the time, the student made a

spontaneous discourse. We still have one made by one of his pupils, Gregory, which means "wide-awake", who later became a bishop and whose holiness was demonstrated by so many miracles that he was called the Thaumaturgus, that is the "wonder-worker". He shows in his Discourse in gratitude to Origen what Origen meant to his pupils, a remarkable teacher, a precursor of the Novice Master. We will read a short passage of this letter to see what there is in it that touches our monastic life and in what respect Origen influenced this life which was 'in the air' (Text 12).

As a teacher and candidate for martyrdom, Origen placed the spiritual combat at the centre of his asceticism and his morality, a theme which became central in nascent monasticism as well. It is a central theme because there is no Christian life without struggle, for we stand at the crossroads, as the first psalm underlines. This theme of the two ways, often referred to in what follows, presupposes a choice, often a difficult one, which implies a struggle.

There is a whole doctrine of spiritual combat in the works of Origen, and this topic is taken up by the ascetics of the East and indeed in spirituality as a whole. Here is a quick outline of the leading ideas which one can find throughout the writings of Origen on the spiritual combat:

 1. The spiritual combat is a fact: we all have to make a choice between good and evil, and this choice is not made without a struggle when our freedom is involved. The way of goodness is God's way, the way of evil is the demon's, the devil, whom Origen called by the name of those who opposed the Israelites in the Bible: Amalech or Pharao (Text 13). So there are two sorts of combatants (Text 14).

 2. The spiritual combat takes place in the heart. Later we will find all these ideas in the works of Origen taken up by the Fathers of the Desert: the struggle against evil thoughts, guarding the heart, the need for vigilance, discernment of spirits and candour towards a spiritual Father.

 3. Confiding in an elder is a powerful help for the soldier of Christ. But there are others to help us, God himself and his angels. Moreover we ourselves have weapons to defend us in the struggle: first of all, prayer: "One holy man who prays is much stronger than an army of sinners", Origen assures us; and also the virtues, above all faith and humility, Origen often quotes the words of Paul: "the shield of faith with which you can quench all the fiery darts of the evil one" (Eph. 6:16); and humility; after a fall we must get up again (Text 15).

 4. This combat is very useful: first because we are sometimes beaten and so discover our weakness, which helps us to be humble. Then it strengthens our virtue and brings a reward. Also it is useful for others, we can fight for them. Here is a remarkable text which shows what a grasp Origen had of the Mystical Body and of the hidden help we can give to others who have not had the graces we have had (Text 16).

The doctrine of Origen on virginity has also left a deep mark on primitive monasticism. Here is another schematic presentation:

 1. The model is Jesus who is Chastity as he is all the virtues. Mary is also the model. Origen is the first theologian to teach the virginity of Mary after child-bearing. Mary was the first woman to have been a virgin as Jesus was the first man.

 2. The roots of virginity are found in the nuptial union of Christ and the Church; of which Christian marriage is a symbol realised in the flesh; the union of the Word with the soul happens in a spiritual manner in the Christian who seeks God. But this union of the soul with the Word is much stronger for one who is a virgin; it is in fact superior to marriage because it not only symbolises the union of the Church with Christ, but also demonstrates it and brings it about. The virginity of the Church is realised by the complete chastity of some of her members.

 3. Virginity in its essence is an exchange of gifts between God and human beings; between God and the man or woman who is a virgin there is a shared gift:

The gift of God to men and women. It is a grace which comes from God, and God guards virginity in the soul; it must be kept safe by prayer (Text 17). It is a grace which comes from the Trinity: the Father guards it, the Son brings it about, cutting away the passions with the sword that is himself and, in so far as it is a charism, it is a sharing in the Holy Spirit.

The gift of men and women to God. It is a sacrifice offered by the soul to God in the sanctuary of the body. It is the most perfect gift after martyrdom. The source is charity. It is through love one remains a virgin, a love which puts God above all else, and wants to give love for love. In giving him our whole body, we imitate God who has given us all.

 4. Conditions: This gift is manifested by mortification, watchfulness over the body, guarding the senses. Prayer and mortification are necessary for virginity; they are the elements of sacrifice which the soul, the priest of the Holy Spirit, offers to God within the sanctuary of the body.

But .virginity is only of value when joined to the other virtues, above all faith and humility. Chastity of the body has for its goal chastity of the soul and chastity of the heart, which is even more important. One must protect one's heart from impure imaginings, for sins of thought surrender the soul to Satan, the adulterous lover. On the other hand, in the case of the violated virgin, the defilement of the body is of no account if the heart remains virgin.

 5. Effect: One original idea of Origen's is that virginity makes us like the little children to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs. It is like the virtue of spiritual childhood (Text 18). In this sense it prolongs the life in paradise where Adam and Eve, before they came together, were little children newly created by God with whom they walked and talked in the garden.

It is a prophecy of the eschatological state of the Resurrection, for it is the flesh and sin which constitute an obstacle here below to the union of the soul with the Word.

In our present state, it liberates us for the service of the Lord. Following Paul, Origen contrasts the servitude of marriage to the freedom of the virgin. If virginity is inspired by a spiritual love of God who is sought above all else, then it frees us to give ourselves completely to the service of God.

Finally virginity makes the soul fruitful; as with Mary, it brings Jesus to birth in the soul, a theme taken up by the Fathers of Cīteaux, Guerric in particular.

NOTE 1: For Christian monks and nuns the mystery of baptism is the foundation on which rest the defining elements found in every form of monasticism. Emphasising the special character of the underlying source of the Christian monastic life gives rise to a more authentic dialogue with other forms of monasticism. It enables the Christian to find in them, in all truth, the hidden presence of the Spirit of God.




Encyclopedia of the Early Church: article, Monasticism

Philo of Alexandria, TheContemplative Life: trans. David Winston. CWS

Gospel of St Matthew, ch 7: Sermon on the Mount

Paul 1 Cor. 7.

The Acts of the Martyrs, trans. Herbert Musurillo. OUP

Ignatius of Antioch: Letters to Christians. Witnesses for Christ. A.I.M.

Danielou,J. Origen: section IV. trans. Mitchell. Sheed & Ward





First do this exercise with a coloured crayon without looking at the course. Then complete it with another colour while looking at the course. In this way you can easily see how much you have remembered!


1) As monasticism is not a specifically Christian phenomenon, give a broad definition of it.

2) What are the three essential elements of all monasticism?

3) What is specific to Christian monasticism?

4) What is the difference between history and prehistory?

5) Mention two themes found in the literature of martyrdom which monasticism has developped.

6) What does Origen say about virginity in his writings?








Read this letter and try to answer these questions:

1) Who is Ignatius? What is he like?

2) How does he understand martyrdom?

3) What is the death of a martyr for him?

4) What sort of person is a martyr in his opinion

5) What does Jesus mean to him?

This is one way to do it: copy the text and underline what you find with a coloured crayon, one colour for each question.

Then, see if you can find any parallels with our monastic life, or with particular passages in the Rule of St Benedict.



1. I prayed and I have been allowed to see your holy faces. I even received from God more than I asked, It is as a prisoner of Jesus Christ that I hope to greet you, if God decides that I am worthy to go on to the end.

The beginning is easy. But shallI have the grace to arrive at my goal without anything to stop me? I am afraid of your affection which may do me harm. For you, it is easy to get what you want. But for me, it is difficult to come to God if you do not take pity on me.

2. I do not want you to try to please men. Try rather to please God; indeed you do please him. As for me, I will never again have such an opportunity of reaching God. And you, if you keep silent, have signed your name to a better deed: I shall belong to God. But if you show love for my life on earth, I shall have to begin running the race again. Grant me just one thing, let me shed my blood as a sacrifice to God while an altar is still ready. Then, united in loving chorus, you will sing in honour of the Father, in Jesus Christ, because God has been pleased to send for the bishop of Syria to cross over from the rising of the sun to its setting. It is good for me to rest from the world into God and to rise again in him.

3. You have never been grudging to anyone; you have taught others. I want you to practise what you have taught. Just ask one thing for me: inner and outer strength so that I may not only be a man of words but of will, not only be called a Christian, but really be one. In truth, if I am really a Christian, I have the right to bear the name. Then even when the world no longer sees me, I shall be called a true believer.

Nothing that is seen lasts for ever, but the things which last for ever are eternal. Now that our God, Jesus Christ, is with the Father, he makes himself seen more widely. When Christianity is attacked by the world which hates it, grand speeches are no use, but great actions are.

4. I am writing to all the Churches; I am letting everyone know how gladly I am going to die for God, as long as you do not stop me. I humbly beg you, do not show your kind feelings for me at the wrong moment. Let me become the food of the beasts. Through them I shall be able to go to God. I am to be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become a most pure bread, the bread of Christ.

Rather, you should encourage the beasts; then they will be my grave and they will leave nothing of my body. So in my last sleep I shall be a nuisance to no one. I will truly be a follower of Jesus Christ when the world no longer sees my body. Beseech Christ for me that through these instruments - the teeth of the animals - I may be a sacrifice offered to God.

I do not give you orders as did Peter and Paul. They were apostles, I am a man given over to punishment. They were free, at the moment I am a slave. But if I suffer I shall become a freedman in Jesus Christ. United with him, I shall rise from death, free! At present, in my chains, I am learning to desire nothing.

5. From Syria to Rome, I am fighting with wild animals on land and sea, by night and day, chained to ten leopards; I am speaking of the soldiers who guard me. When one does good to them, they are even more brutal. Because of their brutality, I am becoming more and more a disciple; but "this does not justify me before God, for it is the Lord who is my judge".

The wild beasts prepared for me will be my joy! I hope they will come quickly towards me. I will encourage them to devour me quickly. I could not want to happen to me what happened to some: the animals were afraid and did not touch them. If they do not do as I wish, I will force them to!

Forgive me. I know what is good for me. Now I am beginning to be a disciple. No person or thing, seen or unseen, should stop me, out of envy, from meeting Jesus Christ. Fire, crosses, herds of wild animals, whips, broken bones, limbs cut off or stretched, my whole body crushed, may the most cruel punishments of the Evil Spirit come upon me, so long as I finally meet Jesus Christ!

6. What good would they do me, the pleasures of this world and the kingdoms here below? For me, it is better to die and to be with Jesus Christ than to be the king of the whole world. He who died for us is all I want, he who rose from death for us is my whole desire. New birth is very near for me. Forgive me, my brothers and sisters. Do not stop me from achieving life. Do not wish for my death. It is to God that I want to belong; do not give me up to the world, do not attract me to earthly things. Let me see the pure light; when I reach it I shall be a man. Let me imitate the Passion of my God. He who has God within him should understand my desire and have pity on me. In fact he knows the One who lives in my heart.

7. The Prince of this world wants to take me away from God and to destroy the love I have for him. No one among you should help him; rather, take my side, which is God's side. Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips and the world in your heart. Do not grudge me my desire. And when I am with you, if I beg you to save me from death, do not listen to me. Instead, believe what I am writing to you now. I am well and truly alive as I write and I wish to die. My Love has been nailed to the cross, and I no longer burn with love for earthly things, but living water whispers within me. It says in my heart: "Come to the Father." I no longer love the food which does not last nor the pleasures of this life. It is the Bread of God that I want, the heavenly bread, the Bread of life, that is, the flesh of Jesus Christ, Son of God, who came from the seed of David. For drink, I want his Blood: it is the Love which does not die.

8. I no longer wish to live on this earth; and it will be so, if you want it to. Yes, you must want it. Then God will do what you desire. These few words tell you what my prayer is. Believe me. Jesus Christ will show you clearly that I am speaking the truth. On his lips there are no lies and by his mouth God has spoken the truth. Pray that I may be successful. It is not human feelings that have made me write this letter; what I write to you is according to the mind of God. If I am made to suffer, that will prove that you love me. If I am prevented from dying that will prove that you do not love me.

9. In your prayer, remember the Church in Syria. It is God who is shepherd in my place. Jesus Christ alone, and also your love, will be its bishop. As for me, I am ashamed to be counted among the members of this Church. In truth I am not worthy of it, I who am the least of them, born out of due time. But, through the great kindness of God, I will be able to become great, if I go to him. As I greet you, I do so with the Churches which have greeted me with love, in the name of Jesus Christ and not like a passing stranger. Indeed, even the Churches which are not on my route came to wait for me from town to town.








1. Flavius Josephus: The Jewish Wars, 11:8

These men despise riches, they share their goods in an admirable way; none can be found among them who has more than another. For it is a law among them that those who come to join them must give all their possessions for the use of the community, so that among them all there is no degrading poverty or excessive riches. The possessions of each are mingled with those of everyone else and all, like brothers, have but one property... Those who look after their property are elected and each of them is allocated his work by all the members

2. Philo - The Wise Man 83-86.

They are formed in piety, holiness, justice, domestic and civic duties, knowledge of what is good, what is bad and what indifferent, so that they may choose what is right, avoid what is not, taking for their three-fold rule the love of God, the love of virtue and the love of mankind.

They give many examples of the love of God: constant purity throughout their lives, the refusal to take oaths or to lie, the belief that the divinity is the cause of all that is good but nothing evil. Their love of virtue is shown by their contempt of riches, glory and pleasure; by self-discipline and endurance and also by frugality, simplicity, good-naturedness, modesty, respect for the law, an equable nature and all similar virtues. They show their love for mankind by their kindness, their equality among themselves and community life which is above praise, and so merits a brief mention here.

As well as living together in confraternities, their house is open to visitors from outside who follow the same ideals. There is one common purse and all expenses are met from it, they have the same clothes and the same food; in fact meals are in common. The custom of sharing the same dwelling, the same kind of life and the same food is not found anywhere else to the same extent. And this is perhaps natural: in fact, they do not keep for themselves what they receive as wages for their work. but put it into the common purse, so that anyone who needs it may use it.


3. Philo - The Contemplative Life 2.

The way of life chosen by these philosophers is evident from the name they bear: Therapeutae or Therapeutrides is an apt description, first because the art of healing which they profess is superior to that practised in our cities - in these only the body is cared for, but the Therapeutae also care for souls who have fallen prey to grievous and almost incurable diseases brought upon them by a life of pleasure and lusts, afflictions, fears, greed and folly, injustice and an endless multitude of other passions and woes. Secondly because they have been taught to lead a healthy life obeying the holy laws, and given to the worship of the Being.

4. Philo - The Contemplative Life, 11-13.

May the sect of the Therapeutae whose constant effort is to see clearly, aim at the contemplation of Being, and rise above the sun that is perceived by the senses and never abandon this rule which leads to perfect happiness. Those who adopt this therapeutic, deciding to do so not through force of habit or the advice and encouragement of others, but because they have been enraptured by divine love, and captivated by divine possession, in a state of inebriation like the Bacchae or the Corybantae, until they behold the object of their desire.

Then, as their desire for immortality and the blessed life makes them believe that their mortal life is already over, they leave their property to their sons and daughters, or their family, deliberately making them their heirs in advance; those who have no family leave everything to their companions and friends. It is right that those who have once taken hold of the treasure of spiritual vision should surrender blind treasure to those whose understanding is still blind.


5. Life of Pachomius, 1

Because they saw the struggles and the patience of the martyrs, the Elders among the Greeks became monks, that they might begin renew their lives.

6. Apophthegm attributed to Athanasius

It is often said: Where are the persecutions so that we may become martyrs? Be a martyr of conscience, die to sin, mortify your body and you will be a martyr by intention.

7. Methodius of Olympus, The Banquet 7

Do not virgins bear witness, not by undergoing bodily suffering for a short while, but by enduring all their life long, without weakening, the true combat which is the struggle for chastity?

8. Cassian, Conference 18,7

The patience and strict fidelity with which monks persevere in the profession which they have undertaken once and for all, never fulfilling their own will, make them daily crucified to the world and living martyrs.

9.The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas

The day before our combat I saw the following vision. Pomponius the deacon came to the prison gate and knocked violently. I went out and opened the gate for him. He wore a white tunic without a belt and sandals. He said to me: "Perpetua, we are waiting for you, come!". He took me by the hand and we began to walk along a rough and winding path. At last we came to the amphitheatre, quite out of breath. He led me into the centre of the arena and said to me: "Do not be afraid. I am with you and struggling with you." Then he went away.

I looked at the huge crowd who watched in astonishment. I knew that I was condemned to die by the beasts and I was surprised that none were let loose on me. Then out against me came an Egyptian of ferocious appearance to fight me, together with his henchmen. At the same time some handsome young men came to help and support me. I was stripped, and I was a man. My supporters began to rub me down with oil, as is the custom before a contest. Then I saw the Egyptian on the other side rolling in the dust.

Then a man of great height came out, so tall that he rose above the amphitheatre. He wore a flowing purple tunic with two stripes over his chest. He wore sandals of gold and silver and carried a staff like the chief gladiator and a green branch with golden apples. He called for silence and said: "If the Egyptian defeats this women, he will slay her with the sword; but if she is victorious, she will receive this branch." Then he went way.

We drew close and began to fight. The Egyptian tired to get hold of my feet; I kept striking him in the face with my heels. Suddenly I was lifted up into the air and I began hitting him without touching the ground. When the end was near, I put my hands together, linking my fingers; I seized the head of the Egyptian, who fell to the ground and I put my foot on his head. The crowd began to shout and my supporters sang psalms. I went up to the chief gladiator and took the branch. He kissed me and said to me: "Peace be with you, my daughter!" I began to walk in triumph to the Door of Life.

At this moment I awoke. I realized that it was not with wild animals that I would fight, but with the devil; but I knew that victory would be mine.

10.The Martyrs of Lyons

Blandina was hung on a post and exposed as bait for the wild animals that were let loose on her. She seemed to hang there in the form of a cross; she prayed continually in a strong voice, strengthening the brethren in their ordeal. In their torment the brethren there saw with their eyes Christ crucified for them in the person of their sister, to assure them that all who suffer for the glory of Christ will live forever in communion with the living God.

None of the animals touched Blandina, so she was taken down from the post and led back to the prison. She was kept for a new struggle. The victory won in further contests would bring final and inevitable defeat to the wicked serpent, and strengthen her brothers by her example. Tiny, weak and insignificant, she was clothed in the strength of Christ, the mighty and invincible athlete.

11.The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity

As the day of the spectacle drew near, Felicitas was distressed that her martyrdom might be postponed because of her state, for it is against the law for women with child to be executed.... Three days before the contest they all prayed together to the Lord. Immediately the birth pangs came upon her. Because she was in labour after only eight months, she suffered much and groaned. One of the gaolers said to her: "If you groan like this now, what will you do when you are thrown to the beasts? You scorned them when you refused to sacrifice." She answered: "Now it is I who suffer what I am undergoing, but then there will be another within me who will suffer for me, because it is for him that I will be suffering."



12.Gregory the Wonderworker : In Gratitude to Origen 11-15

Like a farmer, he surrounded us with great care; he was not content with what appears on the surface and can be seen by all, but he delved, testing our most intimate depths, questioning, proposing, listening to our replies. Then, when he had noticed something in us which was neither unproductive or useless, but which promised some return, he dug it up, put it back, watered it and cleared away the rubbish; he brought to the task all his skill and attention, and he tormented us. Brambles, thistles, herbs and weeds and every kind of plant that our agitated souls produced in plenty, he cut off completely by his arguments and prohibitions... When he had fully prepared us and made us worthy to receive the words of truth, then, as to a well-prepared and friable soil ready to germinate the grains sown in it, he brought his seeds in profusion...

I do not say that he was an example of a wise man, although if I did, it would be the truth; but he desired very much to be one. He did violence to himself, one might say, with all his zeal and ardour, beyond human strength.

He did his best to form us, of course, in the same way, to give us mastery and understanding, not just of the impulses of the soul as an objective science, but of the impulses themselves... He obliged us, if one can so speak, to practise justice by means of our own spiritual efforts to which he urged us to be faithful he turned us from the multiplicity of the affairs of this life and the tumult of public life, urging us to examine ourselves and be busy with our own affairs... What could be a more fitting task for the soul and worthy of it, than to be occupied with itself, not looking at things outside, nor being concerned with the affairs of others, without being involved, in a word, in the worst faults; but rather, turned towards its own interior life, to dwell within itself and practise justice?

13. Homily 19 on Numbers, 4

Amalech, the enemy of Israel, attacked and forced the people to turn aside from the true path. It was he, in fact, who first attacked the Hebrews as they left Egypt for Rephidin, when Moses said to Joshua: "Choose out some men and go out to meet Amalech tomorrow, I will stay on the top of the hill and hold the staff of God in my hand." And Joshua did as Moses had told him, and he went out against Amalech; Moses and Hur went up to the top of the hill, and this is what happened: when Moses lifted his arms, Israel had the advantage; when he lowered his arms, Amalech had the advantage.

Understand by this who Amalech is whom God "attacks with his hand hidden", that is to say, without being seen.

14. Homily 2 on Psalm 36, 2:8.

Here are two soldiers in armour; one is the soldier of God, the other the soldier of the devil. The soldier of God is protected by the 'breastplate of justice' but the soldier of the devil is protected by the breastplate of injustice. The soldier of God shines under the 'helmet of salvation', but the the sinner, the soldier of the devil, is covered with the helmet of perdition. The feet of the soldier of Christ are ready to 'run and announce the Good News', but the feet of the sinner run 'quickly to shed blood', and his shoes, that is to say the plans he is preparing, are laced together with evil. The soldier of God has the "shield of faith", the soldier of the devil the shield of unbelief.

15. Homily on Psalm 36, 4:2.

It is like a battle; when two men confront one another, it may happen that one of them falls, but then he gets up and becomes the conqueror. Into the same way in our contest which we wage against the"Prince of this world", if perchance it happens that one of us is overcome and falls into some sin, it is possible that after this sin he may repent, rise up and hold the evil he committed in horror; and then afterwards not only is he on his guard, but he makes reparation to God, "bathing his bed with tears every night", making his own the confidence of the prophet: "Does anyone fall without being helped to rise? Or does he who has fallen not get up again?" There is a man who has fallen but cannot be overcome!

16. Homily 25 on Numbers, 4.

Among the people of God there are some who are soldiers of God, as the Apostle said; they do not interfere with the affairs of the world. They "go to war", fighting against the hostile nations and "against the evil spirits", on behalf of the rest of the people of God and the weak who are hindered either by age or sex or by their own choice. They fight by their prayers, fasts, piety, gentleness and chastity. All the virtues are their weapons of war, and when they return victorious to the camp, even the non-combatants who are not called or who are not able to fight profit from their labours.


17. Commentary on Matthew 14:25.

God will give the most excellent gift which is perfect purity in celibacy and chastity, to those who ask for it in their prayers with their whole soul in persevering faith.

18. Commentary on Matthew, 13:16.

When a man mortifies his carnal desires, putting to death the works of the body through the spirit, carrying the mortification of Jesus in his body until he returns to the state of a child unaware of carnal love, then he is converted and becomes like a child. The nearer he comes to this state, the greater he is in the kingdom of heaven, superior indeed to all the ascetics who have not attained such a degree of self-restraint.

19. Commentary on Rom 4:6

If you are mortified, you can bear excellent fruit; Isaac - Joy - is the first fruit of the spirit. Your seed, that is to say your deeds, will rise up to heaven and will becomes deeds of light compared to the shining splendour of the stars. Moreover if your understanding is pure enough, your body holy and your deeds undefiled enough, you can bring forth Christ himself.









Choose what is right... refers to the discernment of spirits. There are three principles: love of God, love of virtue and love of neighbour. Love of virtue, and to some extent 'self-discipline' derive from Stoic influence.

This and the preceeding text show the importance placed by the Essenes on common ownership and manual work.

3 & 4.

These Philosophers, which means 'friends of Wisdom', seek the healing of their passions; which will allow them to 'see clearly' and to attain to the contemplation of 'Being'. What is meant here is the intelligible Being of Plato, lying beyond the senses. These are all valuable in Christian monasticism: monks, lovers of Wisdom, seek apatheia, a state where they can control their passions; this state of peace brings them to prayer and contemplation.

The Corybantes were priests of the goddess Cybele.

In these two texts the accent is placed on contemplation which Philo described in the vocabulary of the Greek mysteries (end of 1st para' text 4). A condition of this life is the abandonment of possessions.




Essenes                             Therapeutae
Aggressive nationalists     Open to outside influences
Messianism                      Not messianistic
Severe asceticism              Moderate asceticism
Strict rule                              Not so strict
Manual labour                      Little manual labour, but more offices
Community life                      Semi-community life
Rabbinic misogyny              Respect for women as equal to men.


The table above shows further differences known from other sources between the Essenes and Therapeutae. The first represent Judaism in Palestine, the second in the Diaspora.




The example of the martyrs had an influence on future monasticism.


An interesting text in several points:

a) The word 'witness, in Greek, is marturion, which gives the word 'martyr'.

b) Here is the theme of combat, which we will come across again.

c) The stake in this struggle is chastity. But chastity must be seen as a proof of love, and it is love that makes one a martyr.

d) Notice the contrast between the 'short while' of the combat of the martyr and the 'life long' of that of the virgin.


Here martyrdom consists in patience, fidelity and renunciation of self-will, themes which we will come across in our Bird's-eye-view of monastic spirituality.


The very beautiful story of the martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicity is made up of two parts. The second is the account of the martyrdom itself written by a witness, perhaps Tertullian. The first is the journal which Perpetua wrote in her prison before she was put to death. In this account, this great woman recounted several of her dreams. This text is one of them, a premonitory dream which expresses the depths of the dreamer.

A rough and winding path - cf. Mt. 7:14

"I am with you, and struggling with you'"- Behind the deacon Pomponius there is Christ who struggles with and in his martyrs.

I became a man - This refers to a well known context in the ancient world where the reunion of the sexes signifies a supernatural state of wellbeing like that of the gods.

A man of great height - In Judaeo-Christian literature God always appears as a very large man or angel.

The next words need to be deciphered: purple, symbol of royalty; gold, symbol of divinity; silver, often refers to the Word cf. Ps.12.7. ; green branch, symbol of life, bearing golden apples (divinity) symbolizing eternal life in God.

Striking with the heal - refers to Gen.3.15

Peace be with you - A Christian greeting.

I knew victory would be mine - An optimism which we will find again: the devil is not to be feared, Christ has conquered him. This theme is found in the following text.



Like a farmer - Gregory has retained the explanations of Origen who often spoke of the Father as a farmer and the field which is the soul. Basic education, for him, is the ability to be moulded: which we find in the following lines.

The example of a wise man - to become wise was the ideal of ancient man. For the Christian, the 'Wise Man' is Jesus, (cf. ICor.I,24; Col.2,3). A wise person then will be one who follows Christ, the fervent Christian or the monk.

To reach this goal, Gregory recalls two teachings of Origen: self-discipline and knowledge; not a theoretical knowledge, but a practical understanding of the impulses of the soul. Plato described these impulses as the concupiscible and the irascible, (or desire and anger). Self-knowledge leads to self-discipline; ideas which we will come across again.

Self-discipline and self-knowledge, Gregory continues, lead to justice. By justice he means one of the four great virtues of the Greeks (he mentions the others in the passage following our text). It is the virtue which gives to each his due. According to Plato, justice is present when the impulses of the soul (which Gregory has just mentioned) are governed by reason. But the teaching of Origen as related by Gregory goes further: there is justice when things are in their right order, when one respects the activity proper to the soul and gives pride of place to the interior life without dissipating one's attention outside.

We can see the influence of such texts on the beginnings of monastic life.


There are here two images of the cross, Moses with his hands held up and with the staff in his hand. Thus it is by the cross and by prayer that "God attacks with his hand hidden" the demon Amalech. Later Antony will say that the demons greatly fear the sign of the cross.


"The feet of the sinner run quickly to shed blood" - in the context of persecution.


An important text for future monasticism. In line 3 the soldier of God is seen as keeping at a distance from the world. Further on, his weapons are prayer, fasting and the virtues, which future monasticism will also develop. Finally one finds already in Origen a sense of the Mystical Body which justifies the usefulness of the monastic life; the monks fight for those who cannot.


"Isaac, Joy" - Isaac, a biblical figure of Jesus, means 'Joy' in Hebrew.




Text of STUDY PAPER No. 1

2. (end) Ignatius plays on words. He is coming from the rising sun (Antioch is in the East) to the setting sun (Rome is in the West). He goes to rest (to die) in order to rise in Christ (the rising Sun).

4. Notice the three states: slave, freedman, free.

6. Ignatius seeks Jesus in his death, because he desires Jesus risen.

7. "My human desires have been nailed to the cross" - in Greek, the word translated 'desires' is 'eros' which means 'passionate love'. Much ink has been spilt over this text as it can be translated in two ways: either, "what I love passionately in a human way, that is my passions, have all been nailed to the cross of Jesus", or "He whom I love passionately, my love (= Jesus) has been nailed to the cross".

9. What does "Jesus Christ alone will be its bishop, and also your love" mean? The word 'bishop' means: 'he who has oversight', the 'overseer' . Thus: "Jesus will watch over the Church of Syria, and so also will your love which is the Spirit of Jesus." Ignatius knows the power of prayer animated by the Spirit of love, and the meaning of the communion of saints.






 First do this exercise with a coloured crayon without looking at the course. Then complete it with another colour while looking at the course. In this way you can easily see how much you have remembered!


1) As monasticism is not a specifically Christian phenomenon, give a very broad definition of it.

A way of life with a spiritual goal which transcends the objectives of this earthly life. The attainment of this goal is considered the one thing necessary.


2) What are the three essential elements of all monasticism?

Separation from the world, ascetical practices, mystical aspiration.


3) What is specific to Christian monasticism?

It is consecrated to the person of Christ and illumined by his love.


4) What is the difference between history and prehistory?

Prehistory is before there are written records, history is after that.


5) Mention two themes found in the literature of martyrdom which monasticism has developed.

The themes of spiritual combat and the imitation of Christ.


6) What does Origen say about virginity in his writings?

Jesus and Mary are the models.

The roots of the idea are found in the union of Christ and the Church

Virginity is an exchange of gifts: of God to the human person and the person to God.

It presupposes asceticism: guarding the heart and the senses, and the pratice of the virtues, particularly faith and humility.

Its effects: it helps to develop the virtue of spiritual childhood, it is prophetic with regard to our future state, it enables usto be free to love; its fruitfulness is spiritual.






We will read the text paragraph by paragraph, marking the words which answer the questions, referring in each case to the number of the question.


a) Bound in chains for Christ Jesus - 1

Found worthy = humility - 1

b) Arrive at my goal - God - 2


Reaching God - 2

Belong to God - 2

Blood offered in sacrifice, altar, choir, sing, (liturgy) - 2

A rest - 2

Far from the world (separation) - 2

Rise in God - 2


a) To be a Christian - 4

The world no longer sees me (separation) - 2

b) Jesus Christ: radiant - 5


a) Glad I am going to die - 1

Reaching God - 2

Ground wheat, bread of Christ (liturgy) - 2

b) In my sleep - 3

The world will no longer see my body (separation) - 2

Follower of Jesus - 4

Sacrifice offered to God (liturgy) - 2

c) Freedman (before a slave, now free) 4

= Journey to freedom - 3

I am learning (= disciple) - 4


a) Fighting wild animals - 2

Disciple - 4

b) My joy, I hope - 1

The beasts - I will encourage them - 2

c) Disciple - 4

Meeting Jesus - 2 (twice)


I seek Christ Jesus (who died for us) - 1

I desire him (who rose for us) - 1

New birth - 3

Attaining to life - 4

Belonging to God - 2

Do not give me up to the world (separation) - 2

Pure light - 5

A man - 4

Imitate the Passion - 2

My God - 1


Do not have the world in your heart (separation) - 2

I wish to die - 1

Bread of God, Body of Jesus Christ

Drink - his blood (liturgy) - 2

The Love which does not die - 5


No longer wish to live on this earth, (separation) - 2

No lies on his lips - 5

Meeting God - 2


The least, born out of due time - 1

Become great - 3

Going to Jesus - 2


Try to group these notes according to the questions, and then find the passages in the Rule of St Benedict to which they refer.

The answer is given in a schematic form, see Table 12