Liber contra Impugnantes Dei Cultum et Religionem
An Apology for the Religious Orders
Quae sit auctoris intentio
The author's intention
Ecce inimici tui sonuerunt, et qui te oderunt, extulerunt caput. Super populum tuum malignaverunt consilium; et cogitaverunt adversus sanctos tuos. Dixerunt: venite, disperdamus eos de gente, et non memoretur nomen Israel ultra.
For lo, thy enemies made a noise; those who hate thee have raised their head. They lay malicious plans against thy people; they consult together against thy saints. They say, "come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more."
Omnipotens Deus amator hominum suo amore nobis utitur ad eius bonitatem et nostram utilitatem, ut Augustinus docet in I libro De doctrina christiana: ad suam quidem bonitatem ut homines Deo dent gloriam, Is. XLIII, 7: omnem qui invocat nomen meum, in gloriam meam creavi eum, sed ad nostram utilitatem ut ipse omnibus det salutem, I Tim. II, 4: qui vult omnes homines salvos fieri. Et hanc concordiam inter homines et Deum nascente Domino, Angelus annuntiavit, Luc. II, 14: gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Almighty God, the lover of mankind, makes use of us both for the sake of his own goodness, and for our advantage, as St. Augustine says in On Christian Doctrine I. He makes use of us for his own goodness so that man may glorify him: every one who calls upon my name, I have created him for my glory (Isa 43:3). He likewise makes use of us for our own advantage, in order that he, who desires all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), may give salvation to all. At the birth of Our Lord, an angel proclaimed this harmony between God and man, saying, glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will (Luke 2:14).
Quamvis autem ipse cum sit omnipotens per se ipsum posset gloriam suam ab hominibus et salutem hominum procurare, disposuit tamen ut ordo servaretur in rebus, ministros eligere quorum ministerio perficeretur utrumque, unde recte tales Dei adiutores dicuntur I Cor. III, 9. Sed diabolus invidus divinae gloriae et humanae salutis per ministros suos, quos ad persecutionem praedictorum ministrorum incitat, utrumque nititur impedire; unde tales, ministri diaboli in hoc et inimici Dei ostenduntur, cuius gloriam impediunt; et totius humani generis cuius saluti adversantur, et specialiter ministrorum Dei quos persequuntur: I Thess. II, 15: nos persecuti sunt et Deo non placent, et omnibus hominibus adversantur. Et propter hoc Psalmus in verbis propositis tria facit.
But, although God, who is Almighty, could, of himself alone, have caused man to glorify him and to obtain salvation, he has willed that a certain order should be preserved in this work of salvation. Consequently, he has appointed ministers, by whose labors the twofold end of man’s creation is to be accomplished. These ministers are rightly spoken of as God’s fellow workers (1 Cor 3:9). But envious Satan strives to hinder both the divine glory and the salvation of mankind, and in like manner endeavours to effect his purpose by means of his ministers, whom he incites to persecute the servants of God. The emissaries of Satan show clearly that they are the enemies both of God, whose glory they endeavour to frustrate, and of man, against whose salvation they wage war. More especially do they show themselves hostile to the ministers of God, whom they persecute: they persected us, and displease God, and oppose all men (1 Thess 2:15). On this account, the Psalmist, in the verse which we have quoted (Ps 83:2–4), enumerates three points.
Primo ostendit eorum inimicitiam ad Deum, ibi ecce inimici tui sonuerunt, idest qui prius occulte contra te loquebantur nunc in publicum loqui non formidant; ut enim dicit Glossa, novissima tempora Antichristi designat, quando haec quae modo premuntur metu in liberam vocem erumpent, quae vox quia irrationabilis, erit magis sonitus quam vox dicitur. Nec solum voce inimicitias suas exercent, sed etiam factis; unde sequitur: et qui te oderunt extulerunt caput, 'scilicet Antichristum' secundum Glossam, et membra eius quae sub illo capite sunt, ut ab uno capite gubernati efficacius sanctos Dei persequantur.
First, he mentions the hatred borne by the ministers of Satan to God: lo, thy enemies made a noise, that is, they who formerly spoke secretly against you do not fear now to oppose you publicly. The Gloss tells us that these words refer to the days of the Antichrist, when the enemies of the Lord, being no longer subdued by fear, will cry out against him aloud. And, as their clamour will be an unreasoning tumult, it is spoken of as a noise, rather than a voice. They will not, however, manifest their hatred of God by sound only, but also by deeds: those who hate thee have raised their head, namely, the antichrist, as the Gloss says, and his members, who are heads under his head; and, being governed by him as their head, are able to persecute the saints of God more efficaciously.
Secundo ostendit quomodo toti humano generi adversantur, subiungens: super populum tuum malignaverunt consilium – vel astute cogitaverunt, secundum aliam litteram –, ad eos decipiendu, secundum Glossam, secundum illud Is. III, 12: popule meus, qui beatum te dicunt ipsi te decipiunt, Glossa, blandis verbis.
Second, the Psalmist points out how the Antichrist and his ministers wage war against the whole human race. Hence he adds, they lay malicious plans against thy people, or, according to another version: they have devised crafty things, that they may deceive them. This reading agrees with the words of Isaiah 3:12, O my people, those who call you blessed, the same deceive you. They deceive, as the Gloss adds, with flattering words.
Tertio, ostendit quomodo ministros Dei persequuntur cum subdit: et cogitaverunt adversus sanctos tuos, Glossa: non solum contra mediocres, sed etiam contra caelestes viros; unde Gregorius in XIII libro Moralium exponens illud Iob XVI, II: 'aperuerunt super me ora sua, exprobrantes illos praecipue reprobi in sancta Ecclesia persequuntur quos multis conspiciunt esse profuturos'; et infra: reprobi grande se aliquid fecisse aestimant cum vitam praedicatorum necant. Duo autem contra sanctos cogitant.
Third, David shows how the ministers of Satan persecute the servants of God. For he continues: they consult together against thy saints. The Gloss says: not against men of moderate virtue, but even against heavenly men. Hence St. Gregory (Moral. XIII), expounding the words of Job 16:11: men have gaped at me with their mouth, says: the reprobate chiefly persecute those men in the Holy Church whom they judge likely to be of service to many. And further on adds, these enemies of God deem themselves to have performed a great deed if they can destroy the life of the preachers of the Gospel. Now, they nourish two designs against the saints.
Primo ut eos omnino annihilent: Esther XIII, 15: volunt nos inimici nostri perdere et hereditatem tuam delere.
First, they wish to sweep them from the face of the earth: our enemies resolve to destroy us, and extinguish your inheritance (Esth 13:15).
Secundo, ut si hoc non possint saltem eorum famam destruant apud homines, ut in eis fructificare non possint: Iac. II, 6: nonne divites per potentiam opprimunt vos? Nonne et ipsi blasphemant bonum nomen quod invocatum est super vos?
Second, the ministers of Satan desire, if they cannot succeed in slaying the preachers of the Gospel, at least to ruin their good name among men, so that their words way produce no fruit: do not the rich oppress you by might? Do they not blaspheme the good name that is invoked upon you? (Jas 2:6).
Et ideo quantum ad primum horum duorum Psalmus subiungit: dixerunt: venite, Glossa, quaerentes sibi socios, disperdamus eos de gente – vel gentibus –, Glossa: scilicet ne sint inter gentes: idest, tollamus eos de mundo: ecce persecutio Antichristi.
Now the Psalmist alludes to the first of these wicked designs in these words: they say, come (for thus, as the Gloss says, these reprobates summon their accomplices), let us wipe them out (that is, the saints), as a nation, or from the nations. These words the Gloss understands to mean, let us destroy them so that they be not among the nations: that is, let us destroy them from the world. This is the persecution of antichrist.
Quantum ad secundum subdit: et non memoretur nomen Israel ultra, ut scilicet nomen eorum in fama non habeatur, eorum scilicet qui se dicunt vere esse Israel, ut Glossa dicit.
As to the second, it says below: let the name of Israel be remembered no more, meaning by this let their name be held in no esteem by such as consider themselves the true children of Israel, as the Gloss explains.
Horum primum, scilicet sanctorum expulsionem de mundo, tyranni antiquitus per violentiam implere conati sunt; unde apostolus ad Rom. VIII, 36 suo tempore illud Psalmi compleri dicit: propter te mortificamur tota die, aestimati sumus sicut oves occisionis. Sed nunc hoc idem perversi homines astutis consiliis attentant quantum ad religiosos specialiter qui verbo et exemplo aptius fructificare possunt perfectionem profitentes, volentes quaedam astruere per quae eorum status vel totaliter destruitur vel redditur importabilis supra modum, dum eis subtrahere nituntur spiritualia solatia, corporalia onera imponentes.
In former days, tyrants sought to rid the world of the saints by violence. St. Paul writes that he saw the literal accomplishment of the verse of the Psalm, for thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered (Rom 8:36). But in our day, perverse men aim at this same thing by cunning counsels, devised especially against religious, who can bear fruit readily by word and example, professing perfection. Their persecutors refuse to furnish them with certain necessities of life. Further, they withdraw from them spiritual solace. Again, they impose on them bodily hardship, in the hope that their condition may thus be rendered burdensome and ignominious, and that they may, finally, cease to exist.
Primo enim eis pro posse studium et doctrinam auferre conantur, ut sic adversariis resistere non possint nec in Scripturis consolationem spiritus invenire. Et haec est astutia Philistinorum, I Regum XIII, 19: caverant Philistiim ne facerent Hebraei gladium aut lanceam, quod Glossa exponit de prohibitione studii litterarum; quod primitus Iulianus apostata inchoavit, ut ecclesiastica testatur historia.
First, their enemies endeavour, as far as they can, to deprive religious of the means of study and of becoming learned, in order that they may be unable either to confute the adversaries of the truth, or to draw spiritual consolation from the Scriptures. This was the cunning practiced by the Philistines: the Philistines had taken this precaution lest the Hebrews should make swords or spears (1 Sam 13:19). The Gloss interprets this passage as signifying the prohibition to study. This mode of persecution was first practiced against the Christians by Julian the Apostate, as we read in ecclesiastical history.
Secundo, a consortio studentium eos pro posse excludunt, ut per hoc sanctorum vita veniat in contemptum, Apoc. XIII, 17: ne quis possit emere aut vendere nisi qui habet characterem aut nomen bestiae, eorum scilicet malitiae consentiendo.
Second, the enemies of religious seek to prevent their consorting with learned men, that through this their life may fall into disrepute: no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast (Rev 13:17), namely, by consenting to their malice.
Tertio eorum praedicationem et confessionum audientiam quibus in populo fructificant impedire nituntur, I Thess. II, 16: prohibentes nos gentibus loqui ne salvae fiant.
Third, these same malicious men seek to hinder religious from preaching and from hearing confessions, by which means they might effect much good to souls: hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles, that they may be saved (1 Thess 2:16).
Quarto eos ad laborem manuum compellunt, ut sic gravati sui status taedium habeant et in praedictis impediantur, secundum consilium Pharaonis dicentis, Ex. I, 9-10: ecce populus filiorum Israel multus et fortior nobis est; venite, sapienter opprimamus eum; et infra: praeposuit itaque eis magistros operum, Glossa Pharao significat zabulum, qui luti et lateris imponit gravissimum iugum, servitutem scilicet terreni et lutulenti operis.
Fourth, they seek to oblige religious to labor with their hands so that they may become weary of and disgusted with their state of life, and that they may be impeded in the discharge of their spiritual functions. They were anticipated in this device by King Pharaoh, who said: behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them. And later: therefore, they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens (Exod 1:9–10). According to the Gloss, Pharaoh means the devil, who imposes a heavy yoke of mud and brick, signifying the labor of tilling and muddying the soil.
Quinto, eorum perfectionem vituperant et blasphemant, scilicet paupertatem mendicam, II Petri II, 2: multi sequuntur eorum luxurias, per quos via veritatis blasphematur, idest bona opera, secundum Glossam.
Fifth, the enemies of religious malign them, and blaspheme against their perfection, namely, the poverty of the mendicant orders. Many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled (2 Peter 2:2). By the way of truth, the Gloss understands good works.
Sexto eis eleemosynas unde vivant subtrahunt ut possunt, III can. Ioan. X: et quasi ista non ei sufficiant – Glossa, quod hospitalitatem dissuadet –, neque ipse suscipit fratres – Glossa indigentes – et eos qui suscipiunt, prohibet: Glossa ne impendant curam humanitatis.
Sixth, as far as they are able, they try to deprive religious of alms, and of all other means of subsistence: and not content with that, that is, as if it did not suffice him to dissuade others from exercising hospitality (according to the Gloss), he refuses himself to welcome the brethren, namely, the indigent, and also stops those who want to welcome them (3 John 1:10), that is, he forbids them to give assistance to those in want.
Sed famam sanctorum nituntur corrumpere praedicti ministri diaboli, ut non solum apud praesentes sanctos Dei infament verbo sed etiam litteris per universum orbem: Ier. XXIII, 15: a prophetis Ierusalem egressa est pollutio super omnem terram, glossa Hieronymi: utimur hoc testimonio adversus eos qui epistolas plenas mendacio et fraudulentia et periurio in orbem dirigunt et aures audientium polluunt; non enim sufficit eis iniquitatem propriam devorare vel proximos laedere; sed quos semel oderunt, per totum orbem conantur infamare et ubique blasphemias seminare.
Seventh, the ministers of Satan endeavour to tarnish the reputation of the Saints; and that not only by word, but by letters, sent to all parts of the world: from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone forth into all the land (Jer 23:15). Expounding this text, St. Jerome says: these words are our testimony against those who send forth into the world letters full of lies and deceit and perjury, wherewith to pollute the ears of those who hear them. For it is not enough for the servants of the devil to nourish themselves with their own malice, or to injure those at hand, but they must strive to defame their enemies, and spread their blasphemies against them over the entire globe.
Praedictorum ergo malignantium nequitiam comprimere intendentes, hoc ordine procedemus:
In our attempt to check the calumnies of these foul tongues, we shall proceed in the following order.
primo enim ostendemus, quid sit religio et in quo perfectio religionis consistat, quia eorum tota intentio contra religiosos esse videtur;
First, as their malice seems entirely directed against religious, we shall show what the religious life is, and wherein its perfection consists (ch. 1).
secundo ostendemus ea quibus religiosos opprimere nituntur frivola et nulla esse;
Second, we shall demonstrate the worthlessness and folly of the reasons which their enemies adduce against the religious (ch. 2–7).
tertio monstrabimus quod ea quae ad religiosorum infamiam proferunt, nequiter proponunt.
Third, we shall show that the accusations brought against religious are calumnious (ch. 8–28).
Quid sit religio, et in quo perfectio religionis consistat
What is meant by religion, and in what its perfection consists
Ut autem religionis naturam cognoscere valeamus, huius nominis originem inquiramus. Nomen igitur religionis, ut Augustinus in libro De vera religione innuere videtur, a religando sumptum est. Illud autem proprie ligari dicitur quod ita uni adstringitur quod ei ad alia divertendi libertas tollatur; sed religatio iteratam ligationem importans ostendit ad illud aliquem ligari cui primo coniunctus fuerat, et ab eo distare incepit. Et quia omnis creatura prius in Deo extitit quam in se ipsa et a Deo processit, quodammodo ab eo distare incipiens secundum essentiam per creationem, ideo rationalis creatura ad ipsum Deum religari debet cui primo coniuncta fuerat etiam antequam esset, ut sic ad locum unde exeunt flumina revertantur, Eccle. I, 7. Et ideo Augustinus in libro De vera religione dicit: religet nos religio uni omnipotenti Deo: et habetur in Glossa Rom. XI, 36, super illud ex ipso et per ipsum etc.
In order to understand the meaning of religion, we must know the etymology of the word. St. Augustine, in his book De vera religione, considers it to be derived from religare (to re-bind). One thing is bound to another when it is so joined to it that it cannot separate from it and unite itself to anything else. The word "re-binding," however, implies that one thing, though united to another, has begun to disconnect itself from that other in some degree. Now every creature originally existed in God rather than in itself. By creation, however, it came forth from God, and in a certain measure, it began to have an existence apart from him, in its essence. Hence every rational creature ought to be reunited to God, to whom it was united before it existed apart from him, even as to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again (Eccl 1:7). Therefore, St. Augustine says: religion reunites us to the one Almighty God (De vera religione). We find the same idea expressed in the commentary of the Gloss on Romans 11:36: from him and through him and to him are all things.
Prima autem ligatio quo homo Deo ligatur est per fidem, ut dicitur Hebr. XI, 6: accedentem ad Deum oportet credere quia est. Huius quidem fidei protestatio latria est quae cultum Deo exhibet quasi recognoscens eum esse principium; unde religio primo et principaliter latriam significat quae Deo cultum exhibet in verae fidei protestationem. Et hoc est quod Augustinus dicit X De civitate Dei quod religio non quemlibet sed Dei cultum significare videtur; et hoc modo Tullius religionem definit in veteri Rhetorica dicens: religio est quae superiori cuidam naturae quam divinam vocant curam caeremoniamque affert. Et sic primo et principaliter ad veram religionem pertinere noscuntur quaecumque ad fidem integram pertinent et ad debitam latriae servitutem; sed secundo ad religionem pertinere noscuntur omnia illa in quibus possumus Deo servitium exhibere, quia, ut Augustinus dicit in Enchiridion, Deus colitur non solum fide sed spe et caritate, ut sic omnia caritatis opera religionis esse dicantur. Unde Iac. I, 27: religio munda et immaculata apud Deum et patrem haec est: visitare pupillos et viduas in tribulatione eorum et cetera.
The first bond whereby man is united to God is that of faith. For whoever would draw near to God must believe (Heb 11:6). Latria, which is the worship of God as the beginning of all things, is the duty of man in this life. Hence "religion" primarily and chiefly signifies latria, which renders worship to God by the expression of the true faith. St. Augustine makes the same observation in The City of God 10, where he says: religion signifies not worship of any kind, but the worship of God. Cicero in his ancient Rhetoric gives almost the same definition of religion: religion is that which presents certain homage and ceremonies to a higher nature, which men call the divine nature. Hence all that belongs to the true faith and the homage of latria (which we owe to God) are the primary and chief elements of religion. But religion is affected in a secondary manner by everything through which we manifest our service to God. For, as St. Augustine says in his Enchiridion, God is worshipped not only by faith, but likewise by hope and charity. Hence all offices of charity may be called works of religion. Hence James 1:27 says: religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Ex his ergo patet quod duplex est religionis acceptio: una secundum sui nominis primam institutionem, secundum quod aliquis se Deo ligat per fidem ad debitum cultum; et sic quilibet christianae religionis fit particeps in baptismo abrenuntians Satanae et omnibus pompis eius.
Religion then bears a twofold meaning. Its first signification is that re-binding which the word implies, whereby a man unites himself to God by faith and fitting worship. Every Christian at his baptism is made partaker of the true religion when he renounces Satan and all his pomps.
Secunda prout aliquis ad aliqua opera caritatis se obligat, quibus specialiter Deo servitur vitae abrenuntians saeculari, et hoc modo religionis nomine ad praesens utimur. Caritas autem Deo debitum obsequium reddit secundum actus vitae activae et contemplativae, et in actibus vitae activae diversimode secundum diversa officia caritatis quae proximis impenduntur; et ideo sunt aliquae religiones institutae ad vacandum Deo per contemplationem, sicut religio monastica et eremitica; aliquae autem ad serviendum Deo in membris suis per actionem, sicut illorum qui ad hoc se Deo dedicant ut infirmos suscipiant, captivos redimant et alia misericordiae opera exequantur. Nec est aliquod opus misericordiae ad cuius executionem religio institui non possit, etsi non sit hactenus instituta.
The second meaning of religion is the obligation whereby a man binds himself to serve God in a peculiar manner, by specified works of charity and renunciation of the world. It is in this sense that we intend to use the word religion at present. Now, charity gives fitting homage to God by deeds of the active and contemplative life. And in the deeds of the active life, this is done in many ways according to the diverse duties of charity directed toward neighbors: and hence some religious orders, such as the monastic and hermetical, are instituted for the worship of God by contemplation, but others have been established to serve God in his members, by action. Such are the orders for assisting the sick, redeeming captives, and to similar works of mercy. There is no work of mercy for the performance of which a religious order may not be instituted, even though one be not as yet established for that specific purpose.
Sicut autem in baptismo quo homo per fidei religionem Deo ligatur peccato moritur, ita per votum religionis non solum peccato sed saeculo moritur, ut soli Deo vivat in illo opere in quo se Deo ministraturum devovit; quia sicut per peccatum vita fidei tollitur, ita per occupationes saeculi Christi ministerium impeditur, II Tim. II, 4: nemo militans Deo implicat se saecularibus negotiis. Et ideo per religionis votum illis abrenuntiatur quibus humanus animus maxime occupari consuevit et a divinis obsequiis praepediri,
As by baptism man is reunited to God by the religion of faith, and dies to sin; so, by the vows of the religious life, he dies not only to sin, but also to the world, in order to live solely for God in that work in which he has dedicated himself to the divine service. As the life of the soul is destroyed by sin, so likewise the service of Christ is hindered by worldly occupations. For as 2 Timothy 2:4 says: no soldier on service to God gets entangled in civilian pursuits. It is on this account that, by the vows of religion, sacrifice is made of all those things in which the heart of man is wont to be especially absorbed, and which are, consequently, his chief obstacles in the service of God.
quorum primum et principale est coniugium, I Cor. VII, 32-33: volo vos sine solicitudine esse. Qui sine uxore est solicitus est quae domini sunt, quomodo placeat Deo; qui autem cum uxore est solicitus est quae sunt mundi, quomodo placeat uxori, et divisus est.
That which first and chiefly engrosses man is marriage. Hence St. Paul writes: I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided (1 Cor 7:23).
Secundum est possessio terrenarum divitiarum, Matth. XIII, 22: solicitudo huius saeculi et fallacia divitiarum suffocat verbum et sine fructu efficitur; unde dicit quaedam glossa Luc. VIII, 14 super illud quod autem in spinis cecidit etc., divitiae etsi delectare videntur, tamen suis possessoribus sunt spinae, cum aculeis curarum mentes eorum confodiunt, quae avide quaeruntur et solicite servantur.
The second thing that fills man’s heart is the possession of earthly riches: the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful (Matt 13:22). Hence the Gloss, commenting on the words of Luke 8:14: as for what fell among the thorns, says, riches, although men seem to take pleasure in them, become as thorns to their possessors. They pierce the hearts of such as covetously desire and avariciously hoard them.
Tertium est propria voluntas, quia qui suae voluntatis est arbiter solicitudinem habet de suae vitae gubernatione; et ideo nobis consulitur ut nostri status dispositionem divinae providentiae committamus, I Pet. V, 7: omnem solicitudinem vestram proiicientes in eum, quoniam ipsi cura est de vobis, Prov. III, 5: habe fiduciam in Domino ex toto corde tuo et ne innitaris prudentiae tuae.
The third thing on which man is inclined to center his heart is his own will. He who is his own master has the care of directing his life. Therefore, we are counselled to commit the disposal of ourselves to divine providence, casting all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you (1 Pet 5:7). Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight (Prov. 3:5).