The Rule of St. Augustine

This is specifically written for those living in 
community, however, great advice for all to follow. 

I am in a religious order as a lay Dominican. 

I do not live in community as our Priests 
and sisters do. 

As Dominicans we follow the Rule of 
St. Augustine as defined by our founder St. Dominic. 

In Jesus, Keep Walking By Faith To Live; 
and To Live, Walk By faith In Jesus!

 The Rule of St. Augustine

             This is the previously existing
             rule which Dominic chose to provide
             a spiritual "bill of rights" for
             his newly-formed community. The
             Rule and the ever-developing book
             of constitutions have together been
             the written foundation of the
             Dominican Order for 750 years.
             Augustine wrote this document to
             provide a guide for his
             congregation of priests. It is
             remarkably simple, reasonable and
             evangelical, and sets the "style"
             for Dominican community living.


				Love of God

 Before all things, most dear brothers, we must love 
God and after Him our neighbor; for these are the 
principal commands which have been given to us. The 
following things, then, we direct you, who live in the 
monastery, to observe:


 First, that you dwell together in unity in the house 
and be of one mind and one heart in God, remembering 
that this is the end for which you are collected here. 
Call not anything your own, but let all things be held 
in common among you.

 Food and clothing should be distributed to each one of 
you by your superior, not in equal measure to all, 
because all are not equally strong, but rather to each 
according to his need. For thus you read in the Acts of 
the Apostles that "all things were in common among 
them, and distribution was made to every man according 
as he had need."

				Common Property

 Those among you who in the world possessed any goods 
should be heartily willing that in the monastery they 
should become the common property of all. And those who 
before possessed nothing should not in the monastery 
seek those things which in the world they could not 
have had.

 If, however, they are in weak health, everything 
needful should be given to them, even though their 
poverty in the world was so extreme that they were 
without the mere necessities of life. Yet they must not 
make their happiness consist only in the fact of being 
supplied with food and clothing such as they could not 
provide for themselves in the world.

 Nor should they be puffed up because they are in the 
company of those to whom in the world they would not 
have ventured to approach. Let them rather lift up 
their hearts to heaven and not seek after earthly 
vanities lest it should come to pass that monasteries 
should be useful to those only who formerly were rich, 
as would be the case if the rich were to be humbled in 
them, and the poor allowed to become puffed up with 

 Again, those on the other and, who held a certain 
position in the world must beware of despising those 
among their brethren who may have come from a poor 
state to this holy brotherhood. They should endeavor to 
glory in the companionship of their poor brethren and 
not in the rank of their rich parents. Nor ought they 
vainly to exult if they have contributed anything out 
of their abundance to the support of the community, 
thus taking heed not to be more proud of their riches 
because they have been divided in the monastery than 
they were when they enjoyed them in the world. For this 
is the peculiar feature of pride, that whereas every 
other kind of wickedness is exercised in the 
accomplishment of bad deeds, pride creeps stealthily in 
and destroys even good deeds. And what does it profit a 
man to give all his goods in alms to the poor and 
become poor himself, if his wretched soul becomes more 
proud by despising riches than by possessing them? Let 
all then live together with one mind and heart, and in 
each other honor God whose temples you are.


 Be constant in prayer at the appointed hours and 
times. In the oratory let no one do anything except the 
one thing for which it is made and from which its name 
is derived so that if anyone should wish, besides the 
appointed hours, to spend any of his leisure time in 
prayer, no hindrance may arise from those who may be 
doing other things there.

 When you pray to God in psalms and hymns, entertain 
your heart with what your lips are reciting, and chant 
only those things appointed to be chanted; but what is 
not written to be sung, sing not.


 Tame your flesh with fast and abstinence from food and 
drink so far as your health will allow. But in case 
anyone is unable to fast, he must not take any food out 
of meal times unless he be sick. At table listen 
quietly and in silence to that which according to 
custom is read to you until you rise from the meal so 
that not only your bodies may be refreshed with food, 
but your minds also may be strengthened with the word 
of God. If some who are weak from former habits are 
differently treated in matters of meat and drink, this 
must not breed any feeling of discontent nor be 
considered unjust to those whom habit has made 
stronger. Nor should they consider those the more 
highly favored who take what they themselves abstain 
from; rather they should rejoice that their strength 
permits them to do what others cannot. And if certain 
articles of food, raiment, or clothing are given to 
those who have been accustomed in the world to a more 
delicate kind of life while they are not given to the 
stronger, and therefore happier, members of the 
community, those ought to recollect that, although 
their companions cannot practice the same abstinence, 
still there is a great difference between their present 
life and that which they were accustomed to lead in the 
world. Nor ought all to desire to have the particular 
things they see given to a few, not in order to do them 
honor, but out of compassion to their weakness; lest by 
an abominable perversion it should come to pass that in 
the monastery where those who once were rich learn as 
far as possible to lead a hard life, those who were 
poor should grow luxurious. Let the sick whose weak 
condition during illness obliges them to take less food 
be treated when their sickness is past in the way that 
will enable them most quickly to regain their strength 
even if they were formerly in the very lowest state of 
poverty; for then their recent illness gives them the 
same claim to lenient treatment as the habit of their 
former life gives to those who once were rich. But when 
their strength is restored let them return to that 
happier rule of abstinence which the servants of God 
ought to observe with greater strictness as their needs 
grow less; for they must not continue for mere 
gratification of the appetite what was begun for the 
requirements of health. Those who are the best able to 
abstain should be considered the most fortunate since 
it is better to need little than to have much.


 Avoid singularity in dress, and strive to please 
others by your conduct and not by your clothes. 
Whenever you go out, walk together; when you reach the 
place where you are going, remain together. Let there 
be nothing to offend the eyes of anyone, whether in 
your gait, your posture, your dress, or your movements, 
but let everything about you be in keeping with the 
holiness of your state.


 Although your eyes may perhaps fall on a woman, they 
must never be fixed on her. For in passing here and 
there, you are not forbidden to see women, but to 
desire them or wish to be desired by them is wicked. On 
either side bad passions are stirred up, and that not 
merely by touch or by thought, but by sight alone. And 
say not that your minds are pure if your eyes are not 
kept in modest restraint, for the immodest eye is the 
messenger of the impure heart. And when such hearts 
exchange thoughts by looks though without words and by 
fleshly concupiscence allure each other with evil 
desires, then chastity flies from the soul, even though 
the body is free from outward stain. And when a man 
fixes his eye on a woman, or takes pleasure in being 
locked on by her, let him not imagine that his sin will 
pass unnoticed. He will surely be seen and by those he 
thinks not of. But even if he were hidden from all 
human sight, how can he avoid that which is above, from 
which nought can be hid? Shall we imagine that God does 
not perceive because His wisdom enables Him to show 
such patience? A holy man, then must fear to displease 
Him, and so keep himself from wishing sinfully to 
please a woman. Let him remember that God sees all and 
so avoid all sights that are sinful. For in this very 
matter the fear of God is commended to us by these 
words: "He who fixes the eye is an abomination to the 
Lord." Where, therefore, you are together in church, or 
in any other place where women are, be a guard one to 
the other in the matter of chastity and in this way 
will God, who dwells among you, preserve you by means 
of one another.

				Fraternal Correction

 If you should detect this wantonness of the eye of 
which have been speaking in any member of your 
brotherhood, forthwith admonish him that the evil thus 
begun may not grow worse but may be corrected by your 
charity. But if, after this warning, the same fault is 
perceived in him on that or another day, the fact must 
be disclosed as a wound that needs cure. Beforehand, 
however, let it be brought under the notice of one 
other, or at most of a third person, in order that the 
culprit may be convicted by the mouth of two or three 
witnesses and may be corrected with due severity. Nor 
are you to consider that you are acting in an 
uncharitable manner when you thus point out your 
neighbors' faults. Or the contrary, you cannot be free 
from blame if by your silence you allow your brethren 
to perish, when by pointing out their faults you might 
have corrected them. For if your brother had some 
bodily wound which he wished to hide through fear of 
the surgeon's knife, would it not be cruel to keep 
silence and merciful to reveal the wound? How more, 
then, are we bound to reveal that which will cause a 
worse corruption in the heart! But, first of all, 
before bringing it to the notice of others who are to 
convict him on his denial, it should be put before the 
superior in case he has neglected to amend after having 
once been warned in order that if possible, his fault 
may be corrected privately and may not need to be made 
known to the rest of the community. Then, if he should 
still deny the charge he must be confronted publicly 
with the other witnesses so as to be convicted not by 
one mouth alone, but by many. And when his guilt has 
thus been proved he must submit to such punishment as 
the superior, whose office it is to inflict penalties, 
may think fit to impose. Should he refuse to perform 
his penance, and has not departed of his own accord, he 
must be cast out of your society. Nor is such treatment 
cruel, but merciful, for many must not be suffered to 
perish by the pestilent example of one. And what has 
been said here with respect to the custody of the eyes 
should also be faithfully observed in all cases where 
faults are discovered, forbidden, denounced, proved, or 
judged. Yet remember to let love of the sinner be ever 
united to hatred of his sin. But if anyone shall have 
gone so far in evil as to have secretly accepted 
letters or presents and of his own accord confess 
having done so let him in that case be forgiven and 
prayed for. If, however, the fault be discovered, and 
he be convicted, then must he be very severely punished 
at the will of the superiors.

				Clothing and Gifts

 Your garments should be kept together under the care 
of one or two, or as many as are required to see that 
they are kept free from moths so that even as we are 
fed out of one larder, we may also be clothed out of 
one wardrobe. Try not to concern yourselves about being 
provided with clothes exactly suited to the changes of 
the season, still less about whether you receive the 
same which you had before or those which another had. 
Let everyone, however, be supplied with that which is 
necessary, And if any disputes or murmurs should arise 
among you upon this matter and one should complain that 
something not so good as he had before has now been 
given him and should think himself slighted in being 
made to wear the clothes formerly worn by another 
brother, reflect that much must be wanting in that 
inner garment of sanctity which should clothe the 
heart, when you contend about the mere raiment of the 
body. If you are allowed, however, out of condescension 
to your weakness to have the clothes you wore before, 
still they must be kept in one place and under the care 
of the officials so that no one may act in a selfish 
spirit but that all things may be done with a greater 
care and more thorough cheerfulness than if each one 
were working for his own selfish interests. For when we 
find it written of charity, that she "seeks not her 
own," we should thus interpret the words, namely, that 
the common good is to be preferred to our own selfish 
interests, and not our own interests to the common 
good. Judge, therefore, your progress by this rule 
whether or not you more and more prefer the welfare of 
the community to your own private interests, so that in 
all the needs of this life which pass away that charity 
may reign which abides forever. It follows then, that 
when any secular person shall give either clothes or 
anything else considered to be necessary to a member of 
the community even though it be to his own son or to 
one to whom he feels especially bound by some other 
tie, the gift must not be secretly received, but must 
be placed in the hands of the superior so that it may 
become the property of the community and may be given 
to him who needs it. But if anyone should conceal a 
thing given to him, he must be judged guilty of theft.

				Common Supplies

 Let your clothes be washed either by yourselves or 
others according to the arrangement of the superior in 
order to prevent your souls from contracting any stain 
through excessive niceness about the cleanliness of 
your garments. The medicinal bath should by no means be 
denied when illness makes it necessary. It should be 
taken without any murmuring according to the advice of 
a doctor, so that even if it is not wanted, that may be 
done under obedience which health requires. If, 
however, it be desired at a time when it is not 
expedient, permission to use it must not be granted, 
for we are often inclined to consider those things to 
be good for us which give us pleasure while in reality 
they are not so. If a servant of God complains of some 
hidden ailment, he should be believed without doubt. 
Still, if there is any uncertainty about whether the 
particular remedy he desires is the best for him, a 
doctor must be consulted on the matter.

 Go not to the baths or any other place in less number 
than two or three together. And he who has need to go 
anywhere must go with the companion appointed by the 
superior. The care of the sick, whether those 
recovering from illness, or those suffering from any 
ailment -- even without fever -- should be committed to 
one person who should obtain from the storekeeper 
whatever he judges necessary in each case. Those who 
have charge of the storeroom, wardrobe, or books should 
willingly place themselves at the service of their 

 Books should be applied for at an appointed hour each 
day, out of which time none should obtain them. Those 
who have the care of the clothes and shoes must not 
delay to give that which is needful to those who ask.


 Have no disputes, but if any should arise, bring them 
to a speedy end, lest anger should grow into hatred, 
the mote into the beam, and should give you the soul of 
a murderer. For thus you read "He who hates his brother 
is a murderer." If anyone has injured another by 
reproachful or railing words or by false accusation, 
let him remember to apologize as quickly as possible, 
in order to heal the wound he has inflicted -- and the 
injured one must forgive without delay. And if the 
inquiry has been mutual, forgiveness must be mutual 
also and all the more on account of the many prayers 
you say, for the more frequent are your prayers, the 
more holy they ought to be. He who is more frequently 
tempted to anger, but is quick to beg pardon of him 
whom he has offended, is in a better state of soul than 
another who is slower in becoming angry, but slower 
also to beg pardon. But he who will never ask pardon, 
or at least not from his heart, has no business in a 
monastery even should he not be expelled from it. Keep 
yourselves, therefore, from harsh words. But if you 
should have uttered them, be not slow to remedy the 
injury by the same mouth that inflicted it. Superiors, 
however, are not bound to ask pardon of their subjects 
even though they may feel conscious of having used 
harsher words in correcting them than the necessities 
of discipline required, lest by an indiscreet exercise 
of humility the authority of the superior should be 
weakened. Still, he should ask pardon of the Lord of 
all who knows how tenderly you love those whom you have 
rebuked, perhaps too severely Your affection one for 
the other must not be carnal, but spiritual. Obey as a 
father your local superior and still more carefully 
your higher superior who has charge of you all.

				The Superior

 To insure the observance of all these things, and so 
that any irregularities be not negligently connived at 
but carefully corrected, it will be the special duty of 
your superior when he finds anything that exceeds the 
limits of his power or of his jurisdiction to control, 
to refer the matter to him who holds the supreme 
authority over you. Your superior should not take 
pleasure in ruling you but rather in serving you with 
all charity. While the honor you pay him exalts him in 
your eyes, let fear prostrate him at your feet before 
God. He should give an example of good works to all. 
Let him correct the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, 
comfort the sick, be patient with all. Let him observe 
the rule with cheerfulness himself and cause others to 
observe it by the reverence he inspires. And though 
both are necessary, still it should rather be his 
desire to be loved than feared by you, ever mindful of 
the account he will have to give to God of your souls. 
For this reason also you, by a thorough obedience, show 
mercy not only to yourselves, but to him who, being in 
the higher position among you, is therefore in greater 


 May the Lord grant that as lovers of the beauty of the 
spiritual life and breathing forth the sweet odor of 
Christ in the holiness of your ways you may faithfully 
observe these things, not like slaves under the law, 
but like freemen established under grace. Let this rule 
be read to you once every week so that in it you can 
see yourselves reflected as in a mirror lest anything 
be forgotten and, therefore, neglected. And when you 
find that you are doing what is here written, thank the 
Lord, the giver of all good things. But if, on the 
contrary, anyone perceives that he has fallen into 
defects, let him mourn over the past, take heed for the 
future, pray that his faults may be forgiven, and that 
he may not be led into temptation.

 The end of the Rule of St. Augustine, Bishop

(Taken from


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