Monday, September 01, 2008

Humbert of Romans on the Rule of St. Augustine

Some commentary by Bl. Humbert of Romans, the fifth Master of the Order of Preachers (1254-1263), on the Rule of Saint Augustine and its application to the Dominican Order.

On the apostolic life:
Saint Augustine shaped his rule on the model of the apostolic life, as is clear from what we sing and read, namely, that he began to live according to the rule laid down by the holy apostles. In one of his sermons he says: "We wish to live the apostolic life." Who doubts that the apostolic life is to be preferred to any other kind of life? With what splendor is that rule to be extolled which is modeled on such an example!
On the rule's "middle path":
Moreover, there are many rules which impose a multitude of physical observances; but the Rule of Saint Augustine is built more on spiritual deeds, such as the love of God and neighbor, the unity of hearts, the harmony of customs, and other such things. Who does not know that spiritual deeds are of more importance than physical exercises? The more a rule deals with spiritual matters rather than physical ones, the more worthy it is of greater praise. Likewise the Rule of Saint Augustine observes such moderation that it avoids the dangerous extremes of too many or too few regulations. It takes the middle path where all virtue lies.
On its suitability for preachers:
The Rule of Saint Augustine, moreover, is more suitable for preachers than for others. It is evident that preachers should be well-read. How fortunate it is that, for those who are well-read and so wish to be his eager pupils, this Rule is solicitous that no day pass without them taking out their books and pursuing those subjects which they are eager to learn or to teach. Likewise, since the Rule of Saint Augustine is derived, as it were, from the model of apostolic life, how completely should all preachers imitate it, since this rule applies more to preachers than do other rules.

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