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less studies, I began, though late, to breathe after the commentaries on the sacred Scriptures, to which many good doctors had often endeavored to entice me. I now gave myself to the study of Gregory and of Anselm, that man of incomparable learning and most holy life, who knew me when a boy; and when he heard how my interior proceeded, used to teach me many things ; and when he came to this monastery in which I resided, he so sedulously indulged me in the benefits of his erudition, that I seemed to be the sole cause of his having come to reside with us. In process
of time, being exhorted by my abbot, I began to compose a commentary on Genesis ; which work, whether it hath done service to any other, I know not, but this is certain, that it conferred no small benefit on me, by delivering me from the idleness which ministers to sin. I have besides written many other works, which I shall not enumerate, because I intend to exercise myself, as long as I live, in such exercises."*
How many curious facts might be elicited from this affecting description, given by Guibert of his early life, which would throw light upon the intellectual history of the middle ages, and confirm many of our former statements ! but for such comments time is not allowed us.
The conversion of John Taulerus, which I shall next relate briefly, was, however, more remarkable. Born in 1294, he had embraced the Dominican order in the convent of Strasbourg, in which city and at Cologne he had preached with great fame, though being still far removed from the spirit of an interior life. His change was mysterious. He arrived at the age of fifiy in 1346, when a simple laic of devout retired life was secretly warned to go to Cologne, à distance of fifteen leagues. He obeyed, arrived, beard Taulerus preach, and the spirit of God made him feel that it was to instruct this preacher that he had been called from his solitude. Accosting him he besought him to be his confessor. Taulerus consented. After three months, the penitent requested him to make a discourse on the means of attaining to perfection. The confessor was surprised at the demand, but he complied, and nothing could be nobler than the sermon which was the l'esult. The laic at his next confession repeated it all word by word, and then asked him if he really felt that he possessed that humility, that purity of heart, and detachment from creatures; or if he, like a Pharisee, only pretended to have these graces. Tanlerus, alrealy humbled under the hand of God, opening his eyes to tbe divine light, heard bim with respect and astonishment, and then said, ' Finish what you have begun, you know me better than I know myself; behold me in your hands and under your direction ; you are my conductor and my master.” Thus did this renowned doctor become the humble disciple of a poor peasant.
The catechism or alphabet wbich he placed in his hands, to teach him the practice of whatever was most elevated in religion, has been published by Surius.t The laic, on seeing him well confirmed in his resolution, said that the will of
* De Vita Propria.
+ Hist. Vit. Sublim. ex Surio.
God (alle i bim elsewhere ; told him to refrain from preaching and from hearing confessions during two years, and to pass that time in solitude, studying the life and doctrine of Jesus Christ in his cell. “And now, my lord master,” said he, "confiding in the divine assi-tance, persevere as you have begun, and resign yourself to God in all things with profound and true humility. Trust in God and expect his grace ; and obey whatever He may prescribe, whether it be sweet or bitter. As for me, I beseech you, be not troubled that I can no longer remain with you ;” and with these words he departed to his own country. The sacrifice thus imposed was immense ; but Taulerus never hesitated to comply, giving up all the fruits of his ministry and his great reputation ; for, in fact, it soon became the general opinion, that he hai lost his senses, his best friends repeating wliat the Roman governor said to Paul, “Multæ te litteræ ad insaniam convertunt.” At length, in 1348, the term of his retreat drew near its end. The church celebrated the conversion of St. Paul. He felt an extraordinary consolation : the laic returned and told him that the time for resuming his preaching was arrived. Tamerus announced that he would preach on the third day. Immense crowds assembled. He ascended the pulpit, and found himself unable to speak: he wept, but could not articulate a word. The people withdrew, saying, “Of a truth he is mad.” The laic however returned to him, and suggested that the humiliation must have come from God. There was too much confidence in his first announcement. “Ask,” he said, “ permission after a lapse of five days, to preach in any obscure church of Cologne, or in your convent. Having obtained leave, his first sermon to the brethren filled them all with astonishment, and his second before the people, on the words, “Ecce sp
“ Ecce sponsus venit, excite obviam ei,” producel effects that would seem incredible, if they were not attested by eye-witnesses. In fine, through all the provinces of Germany, from the day of his conversion till his deathi, his preaching reaped innumerable souls, while his predictions as to the religious innovators who were to commence with Wickliffe, seem to warrant the opinion that his voice was miraculously prophetic.* When he foresaw his end to be near, he desired once more to see the mysterious laic; and ou his arrival he put into his hands the history of his own conversion. “ Do with it,” said he, “what you please, only let not my name appear in it.” “I have,” replied the laic, “five of your sermons, written out as I heard you preach themi : I can join them to these memoirs, so as to form a little book.” T:ulerus maile signs of assent, and shortly after was seized with paralysis. He expired in bis convent of Strasbourg, on the 17th of May, 1361, nine years after his happy conversion. Taulerus wrote only in German, and to Surius we owe the Latin translation of his works, which, Louis of Clois says, “alone are sufficient to refute all the heresies of these later times."'+
One more instance let us mark, and then the chapter ends.
• Taul. Serm. Dom. Pri. Quad. 148.
A wondrous conversion was that of John of Fano, provincial minister of the marshes, who, afier being the bitter enemy of the Capuchins, and, like another Saul, in bis attempts to extinguish that reform at its birth, became suddenly, in 1534, another Paul in regard to zeal and services for the same reformation. The origin of his change is thus related. Having been for some time considering the decayed state of his oriler, and the virtues ascribed to the new reformers, he called to mind the persecution he had exercised against them, and thought at times that he was called to judgment on account of it. While ruminating these things there arrived late one evening at his convent of Cingulo, over which he presided, two Capuchin friars drenched with rain, to whom the porter, with harsh words, refused a lodging. John, who was walking in the cloister next the gate, asked the porter who they were, and when he heard they were Capuchins, he ordered them to be admitted and received with kindness. So a fire being kindled, while they dried their habit, John considered within himself the rough mended stuff, recalling the ancient poverty of St. Francis, their cheerful faces, their humility, modesty, and simplicity. The sight affected him, as it did also the other brethren. After supper, whin the others had retired to their separate cells, John alone remained with them, and began to inquire of them respecting the state of their reform and their mode of life. After they had explained every thing, he rose, broke an apple which he held in his hand, into two parts, and gave it to them, saying, “Meanwhile, take this apple, brethren, graciously until you can receive myself more bappily.” In brief, the whole community resolved to migrate to the Capuchins, but each had only ventured to disclose his wish to one especial friend. John of Fano had deliberated with Eusebius of Ancona, general of the Capuchins, and each of the brethren having taken similar precautions with respect io himself, while each supposed that there was only one friend privy to his design, it so happened that all set out in one night, though at different hours, taking the road to Rome, so that there remained in the convent only one old layman and a companion. It is said that they all met together before the gate of the convent of St. Euphemia, where they were received with joy, and admitted into the order. *
But we have already overpassed our limits in remaining with the convertites. Our guide proposes to introduce us now to the community at large; as it is important that we should observe the peculiar features of the monastic character, concerning which there are at present such contradictory opinions. Modern sophists, when alluding to the religious orilers, are fond of designating them contemptuously as
a race.” Well, be it so. Let us observe then by what traits of instinct, if you will, it was principally distinguished.
* Annal. Capucinorum, 1534.
HOEVER is conversant with the different estates that spring from the
to the influence of a peculiar mould from which no disposition could very long escape ; and our object now must be to ascertain what fruits were the result,
It has been said that one should have past five years in tilling the ground to iinderstand the Georgics of Virgil, and twenty years in the management of affairs to see one's way clearly thrvugh the epi-ties of Cicero : but to comprehend and taste the monastic attribuies pouri rayed in the living book, a much shorter interval spent in intercourse with those who wore the cowl will prove sufficient ; as every one must feel assured who, like the Author of the pages, has seen monks with his own eyes, and conversed with them as familiarly as with other men.
A sweet and natural simplicity, including all that was gracions in Homeric manners, may be noted as the first effect of embracing that monastic rule which rectifies in men whatever the world made crooked and depraved. “If you wish to have rest in the order," savs Cæsar of Heisterbach, “its simplicity will suffice
“Simple is the way of the Lord,” says Fulbert of Chartres, “and he who walks with simplicity walks securely.”+ “ You will be simple,” says the monastic guides with St. Augustin, "if you do not involve yourself in the world, but extricate yourself from it. By extricating yourself from it you will be simple; by involving yourself you will be donble.” Now," says St. Gregory, truth, which is simple, does nothing by duplicity.”I Therefore Bona counte among the marks of being led by a divine and not any other spirit, “ that love of simplicity which is unknown to the lovers of the world."$ The Benedictines pray expressly for this gift in their hymn for Lands on the fifih feria : for, in allusion to the golden light of morning, the words are these
“ Hæc lux serenum conferat,
Purosque nos præstet sibi :
* Lib. vi. 1.
| Fulb. Epist. 27.
| Hom. 22.
& De Discretione Spirituum, 8.
Nihil loquamur subdolum,
The monks, in fact, brought the simplicity of truth into the paths of life, where it was found as becoming in actions as in words. Nothing required them to depart from it; for “a simple and obedient brother," says the ascetic, “ without many arguments and learned discourses, can come to the kingdom of heaven with a safe conscience, and escape the eternal torment of hell.”* Savanorola philosophizes on this theme, and distinguishes, as theologians say, for he speaks thus:
Spiritual and moral simplicity renders us most resembling God; and in proportion as we have ibis simplicity, our science, and prudence, and wisdom, are increased, as is also our similarity to God. The true Christian loves and embraces moreover exterior simplicity according to his degree, the wants of which are to be estimated according to Christian simplicity; for all the works of nature are simple and yet unequal ; and in like manner all exterior works of the Christian are simple but yet different, according as the state and condition of each requires : for man being a civil and social animal, there nuust be among such a multitude a difference of office and degree.”+ Such were the principles or the general ideas. Now let us look at the facts that were combined with them.
The character invariably ascribed to monks when not degenerate, is that attributed in the inost ancient of books to the great Oriental prince, Job,
“ Erat vir ille simplex et rectus, ac timens Deum, et recedens a malo.” Thus, “To Odo the second, abbot of Cluny, succeeded Heymandus, of happy memory, a child of innocence and blessed simplicity," says St. Odilo:f Speaking of the blessed Maiolus, the fourth abbot of that house, the same saint says, “He preferred to syllogisms and rhetoric, and all the wisdom of all the philosophers, the practice of Apostolic simplicity, saying with Paul, “Ego enim didici, in quibus sum sufficiens ; scio et humiliari, scio et abundare. Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat. As is said of Moses, he was loved by God and men, and therefore his memory is in benediction.”Ş Of St. Adalhard, abbot of Corby, Paschasius Radbert says, “There was in his breast nothing but a fountain of truth. Wondrous was his simplicity ; if you looked at him attentively, you discerned in him a mind impressed with the zeal of Christ. Therefore in no respect could he ever be corrupted."'ll The very tombs of monks attest this trait in their character. The inscription over Pierre de Saux, abbot of St. Victor at Paris, in the cloister of the abbey of Livry at Saux, who died in 1383, began with these words
“ Hic jacet in tumbâ simplex bumilisque columba.''!
To estimate this grace rightly, we should observe that it was a virtue of which
possessor was so little conscious, that he might have truly said with the
* Thom. à Kemp. Serm. i. 5.
+ De Simpliciate Vitæ Christianæ, ii. 4. iii. 5. | Bibliotheca Cluniacens. 269.
§ Ibid. | Vita 8. Adal. Mabil. Acta. S. O. Ben. iv. 1
Lebæuf, ix. 313.