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LIFE OF JOHN CACABUS
Concerning John Cacabus, called in the vulgar tongue, Ketel, an humble cook
THERE was an humble servant of Christ in the House of Florentius named John Ketel, to whom were assigned the duties of the kitchen. This man, despising all worldly things, chose the path of holy poverty on earth, that in Heaven he might have part in the eternal riches with the Saints; and for his works of mercy and charity, his reward was to enter into everlasting felicity.
Long ago he was very well known to me in the days when I resorted oft to Deventer, and he showed such humility in his manner of life, and the example which he gave, that he preached contempt of the world by his deeds more than by his words. Yet his discourse was no vain thing when he spake of God, for he persuaded his hearers that all temporal greatness is contemptible and that no labour undertaken for the love of Christ should be abhorred. But who could tell worthily the virtues of this man? and yet charity doth demand that I speak a few words that this pearl buried in the Lord’s field may not be hidden too long, but may be brought forth to the light for the edification of many.
(2) His native town was Duseborch, which lies in the Countship of Marck, not far from Wesel, and near the course of the Rhine. His mother 236Christina, following her son’s footsteps, ended her days in the House of the Sisters at Deventer. That son had been at first a trader in the regions of Flanders and Holland, but his fixed abode was at Dordrecht with the merchants that trafficked by sea. He often had the good inspiration to serve God, but knew not how to make a beginning, nor by what way to travel to the fulfilment of his desire, and when he had long continued in the successful conduct of his worldly business, at length being inspired by better counsels, he thought to put away the deceits of this world, and the heavy yoke of the service thereof, and to turn his will to fulfilling the Office of the Priesthood so as to serve God in more honourable wise in that state of life. Therefore on this account he put aside his worldly traffick, and hearing of the repute of the Devout Clerks at Deventer, he came thither to visit the School with certain other men of good purpose. He had already gained some knowledge of Latin, so as to be able to understand the Scripture, and when he saw the holy conversation of Florentius and his brothers, he was changed into another man, and together with many others was fired with a desire to renounce the world. He left following the rules of Alexander and Donatus, and entered into the School where spiritual exercises are taught, so as to learn the Will of God in the House of Florentius, where many were gathered together and served Christ, being founded in humility and made fast in holy Charity.
(3) He was instant in his request to serve the Brothers in the kitchen that so long as he lived he might, in that humble condition, offer a service pleasing to God. So after many prayers he was admitted on probation, and putting aside his 237secular garb he was clad in an old habit, and a linen apron that was suited to the defilements of cooking; but he rejoiced more to be clad in such a garment than he would had he been robed in the Priestly stole; and he became a pattern of humility and lowliness to all who were in the House, giving himself up wholly to mortification for the Love of the Crucified Lord. The fame of his good conversation went forth to the ears of men without, and many that had high place marvelled that he who had been formerly a wealthy merchant, now had become a poor cook and an humble Brother. For though he had once designed to climb by the ladder of learning to the dignity of a Priest of the Church, he did afterwards put aside all desire for the pinnacle of honour and the pride of dignity, and sought the lowest room, thus imitating Christ Who humbled Himself and taking upon Him the form of a servant, ministered to His disciples.
(4) While he had continued in the world he had prepared him certain priestly vestments adorned in costly wise, and having designs inwoven in golden thread. So gorgeous were they that the bishop of a cathedral, or a ruling abbot, might have been honoured in the wearing of them. But now being informed to his soul’s health by the Spirit of God, John put aside and rejected all of these, and selling to others his chasuble and silken cope, vested himself in vile rags, a dark tunic and a gray cloak, being purposed to serve in the kitchen. And for this he returned hearty thanks to God that He had called him to this ministry, and had not allowed him to perish with the multitude in the world, wherefore he sometimes said to the Brothers with great cheerfulness of heart, 238“Am I not become a great Priest and Prelate? for twice every day I administer communion to the Brothers”; by which parable he signified that he prepared their meal both morning and evening and so renewed Christ in the person of each one of the Brothers.
(5) He was often found praying on bended knee before the kitchen fire, and while his hands held the cooking vessels his mouth poured forth devout Psalms. He made the kitchen an house of prayer, for he knew that God is everywhere, and the material fire was to him a flame whereat to kindle the fervour of his spirit. During his labours he would murmur melodiously the hymns that he had heard sung in Church, and thus bearing God in mind, he was outwardly busied with his cooking, but inwardly at leisure to meditate of heavenly things, for he passed no time unfruitfully, nor for a moment neglected his spiritual exercises. He was diligent to prepare food for the Brothers in due time and carefully, for he was the master cook, but yet he provided nothing superfluous, and gave to others the better meats, keeping the commoner for himself.
He chose three Saints above others for his own special devotion, namely, St. Alexius, who for a long while hid himself in his father’s house in the garb of a stranger, and patiently bore much contumely from his own family; St. Francis, who loved poverty, and would have no earthly possessions in this world; and St. Elizabeth the widow, who being filled with the bowels of mercy, distributed all her goods .to the poor and despised all worldly riches and honours as dross.
(6) Once he was speaking with his companions concerning holy poverty, and so fervent 239was the sound of his words that by his bearing and the transfiguration of his countenance one would have thought that he was all on fire within.
On a holy day when certain Clerks from the School had come to see him, he began to speak good words to them, and amongst other things said, “Well do we find it written in the Gospel, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,’ but nowhere do we find it written therein, ‘Blessed are the Masters in Arts.’” And his hearers marvelling at the novelty of his words, received them with much reverence; likewise he explained his saying to them on the ground that knowledge without humility profiteth not, but, that in truth the Kingdom of God is attained by poverty of spirit, that is, by humility; for this virtue doth gain favour from God now, and Eternal Life in the time to come. He was very good and pitiful in feeding the poor, particularly such as desired to serve God; and when some said that they got but little by begging in the streets, he marvelled that many rich men were so churlish and did not give liberally to the poor although without much loss to themselves they might practise works of mercy, and receive exceeding great rewards from God.
(7) One day therefore he and another who was chosen to be his companion disguised themselves as beggars and went forth, when it was already late in the day, to beg bread, wishing to prove the truth of what these poor men had said. And John Ketel cried before the doors and said, “Give somewhat for God’s Sake to a poor stranger who would fain be in Jerusalem.” By this he meant not that Jerusalem on earth which slew Christ and the Prophets, but the Fatherland Above whose 240inhabitants are the Saints and Angels of God; for that country the poor stranger John did sigh, being for the time far off in the body from the Heavenly Jerusalem, though in his soul he drew nearer to Her every day. Now a certain Clerk who was in his house, hearing this cry, arose quickly to open the door and know who this stranger might be, and running after him he asked, saying, “Who art thou that dost make this petition"? But John held his peace for he would not be known, but afterward yielding to that other’s importunity, he said, “It is I,” and the Clerk knowing his voice answered “Art thou John Ketel? and now dost thou beg thy bread? what is the cause hereof?” John therefore said to him, “Hold thy peace and question me no further upon the matter for the cause is pious and good.” So the Clerk returned to his house and told it to them of his household, saying, “Very marvellous is the sight that I have seen. John Ketel, the cook of Florentius’ house, doth beg bread from door to door.” And his hearers marvelled, and signed themselves with the sign of the Cross, saying, “What doth that good man mean?” and thus communing with one another, they were greatly edified by the example of John and privately told this which he had done to certain others. But John returned to the house, and most joyfully carried into the kitchen the broken meats which had been given him as alms, and showed to Florentius and the Brothers the blessing he had received, namely, the holy bread which he had begged for God’s sake. And Florentius rejoiced over the devotion of his humble cook and said, “Give us a share of thine alms,” and John answered: “Gladly will I give you a part hereof to 241eat; but I would in exchange give some of our own bread to the poor, for they ought not to lose what is their own but rather to receive an increase.” Then some of the bread that was begged was put before the Brothers for their meal, and John took some whole loaves from the buttery to give to the poor for God’s sake, as was commanded him, and there was great joy in the House over this matter.
(8) One morning he went forth to a place near the Fishgate to draw water from the river, and as he was entering into a boat that belonged to one of the fishers so as to reach the clean water, the owner came up and said, “What doest thou here, get thee gone quickly from my boat.” And John bore patiently the words of him that chode him, and gave up his design to draw water lest he might offend the man. But then the fisher saw that John was an holy Brother and was about to depart without a word, so being moved with compassion he said, “Come hither to me and give me thy pitcher.” Then he drew water and gave John the pitcher again saying, “Go in peace,” and John returned thanks to his benefactor, and carried back the pitcher full of water, praying devoutly upon the way, for this was ever his custom when he went forth upon any business.
(9) Florentius knowing that John was a virtuous man and strong in spirit to bear adversity often chode him for negligence, and blamed him for matters in which he was not really blameworthy. And this Florentius did to prove his patience and to set him up as a pattern for others.
Thus when there were men knocking at the window of the kitchen, and others standing at the door John hastened to answer each one severally 242according to his proper need: and as he was running hither and thither Florentius knocked upon the table with his hand as if he had need of something; but John being fully occupied delayed a little to answer; so the good Father said with a serious air to prove him, “How long shall I sit here waiting for thee?” to which the good cook replied meekly, “My most beloved Master here am I and will bring thee what thou wilt; I pray thee pardon my tardiness.” Sometimes also Florentius said to him, “How is it that this food hath such an ill savour, knowest thou not how to cook better? Mayhap the Brothers will murmur because they must eat thine ill-dressed food.” But John listening patiently to the rebuke, and confessing himself negligent replied, “I will gladly amend myself,” and Florentius answered, “Thou dost often say so, yet thou dost make too small improvement.”
(10) At another time as Florentius was passing through the kitchen John came behind him and kneeling down took hold on the hem of his garment, asking pardon; and Florentius, looking down upon him said: “What is it now?” and John answered, “I have spilled some wine from a cask in the cellar”; then said Florentius yet more sternly, “It is thus that thou dost waste our substance, now breaking something, now spilling something else,” and straightway he turned away his face and shut the kitchen door, leaving the cook upon his knees; but John bearing all humbly arose from the ground making no complaint of this treatment as though he had suffered injury, but holding the holy Father who had chidden him for his good in the highest esteem. In these and in many other ways Florentius often proved John, 243and yet he loved him with an especial love and honoured him with all his heart for his faithfulness and love of poverty, a matter whereon the two did oft hold commune in the kitchen.
Though he had no great knowledge of letters, yet had he a good ability to understand the Scriptures, knowledge to discern prudently between vice and virtue, and to give effectual remedies to the troubled and the tempted.
(11) When he had leisure from his toil he rejoiced to read in some holy book, not so as to become more learned in the knowledge that puffeth up, but so as to return to his work more fervent in charity. He listened with diligence to the reading at table, for he gathered much from few words, and his virtue of obedience and frequent meditations upon the benefits that God had given him supplied that which the deep sayings of a discourse in Latin denied to him: wherefore he studied lovingly the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, drawing therefrom a rule for every part of his own life; and for His love he embraced the lowest calling, coarser food and poorer clothing.
Sometimes he read the book of John Climacus, “On perfect renunciation of the world and mortification of the Will,” and expounded therefrom sentiments full of spiritual truth, so that wise men marvelled that he had so good an understanding of the book.
(12) A few days before his death he was asked to say whether he knew of aught in the house that should be amended, because the Brethren would gladly amend themselves, and he made answer as a true lover of poverty, saying, “I would desire that we should amend in three things. First, that we should eat more sparingly and that 244more should be given to the poor; secondly, that our more precious ornaments should be sold and the price thereof be bestowed in like manner; -thirdly, that since we have many books some of these should be sold, and only those that are necessary retained, and that by this means the poor should be the better relieved.”
To these words Florentius, rejoicing over his devotion and his compassionate spirit, replied, “John, that which thou sayest is very good.”
While he was sick certain poor clerks came to visit him, and looking upon them with eyes full of pity, he said, “Oh! my beloved poor, henceforward I shall not be able to give you anything, but I commend you to God that He may provide for you in every good thing.” Amongst his other exercises in humility he had the following custom: on every Sabbath he would clothe him in a long linen robe or shroud to remind him of death and in this garment he would cook on that day. Moreover, he earnestly entreated that he might be buried therein after his death, and this was done, for Matthias of Mecklin who was his comrade, let wash this robe that John might be buried in it even as he had desired. So when the time drew near that this John, our cook and God’s servant, who was filled with many a fruit of virtue, should depart from this life, he fell sick just before the octave of the Feast of Pentecost, being smitten with an imposthume, and began to set himself in order for his approaching departure.
(13) But before his weakness grew upon him, he of his obedience and charity, began once more to take charge of poor clerks and the sick, being desirous to visit them and to provide carefully for their necessities, which thing did yet further increase 245his desert. But herein he was prevented by his weakness, and he was wondrously consoled by the sweetness of the Presence of Christ Who visited him. For one day Amilius, who faithfully attended him in his sickness and ministered continually to him, came very early in the morning to visit him, asking whether he wished for aught; and then John assenting thereto he went into the church to hear Mass. But when the service was ended he returned to the sick man who asked him, “Wilt thou of thy charity share with me the benefits of the Mass which thou hast heard”; and Amilius answered, “Gladly do I give and assign all to thee in charity, dear Brother,” to which John replied, “My Brother, whilst thou wert gone our Lord Jesus Christ hath deigned to visit me,” and Amilius hearing this said, “Tell me, I pray, when did He depart?” and John answered, “The moment thou didst open the door He vanished.” So Amilius rejoiced and blessed God, giving Him thanks, and afterward he told me fully all that was done.
(14) Satan also strove to deceive and affright the servant of God, saying thus to him, “Take thy purse again, foul merchant! Thinkest thou that thou canst buy the Kingdom of Heaven with thy money? “But the humble John, understanding the malice of the enemy, said secretly in his heart, “I presume not to rely upon mine own merits, but upon the mercy of God and the merits of the saints.” And so the enemy was put utterly to confusion and departed from him, and John did commit himself in faith to the Divine mercy; and being a faithful servant of Christ turned himself yet more closely to prayer, and ruminated upon these words amongst other songs of 246psalmody, “The Lord looseth them that are fettered, the Lord enlighteneth the blind.” Amilius, who sat by his pallet, bowed down his ear to hear something more from the lips of one that was in the very agony of death, that he might record the same as a good memorial of him; but he could understand nothing because of the hoarseness of the weak voice.
(15) At length after along death agony wherein he strove laboriously against the might of death, he breathed forth the breath of his life amid the devout prayers of the Brothers who had come together, and so made a blessed end of a life completed in the service of Christ. He died in the year of the Lord 1398, on the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, which day was the Feast of St. Petronilla the Virgin. His poor body was buried in the cemetery pertaining to St. Lebuin’s Church, where also divers Brethren who died after him rest in peace, to be raised again through Christ upon the Last Day, together with all the faithful. Praise and glory be to Christ for a man so devout as was this humble cook, who, after a short course of years and but little toil, had allotted to him in heaven, as we piously believe, the greatest of rewards. Concerning him the venerable Father John Huesden, Prior at Windesheim, has borne worthy testimony, saying, “Would that it might be my lot to live with such a man and to die in like state even as he died!"
Here beginneth the Book of the devout exercises of this same Brother John
(16) What can I render to Thee, God Eternal, for all the benefits that thou hast rendered unto me?247
O! my beloved John, have pity upon thyself, and with much diligence and all thy strength ponder over thy past life; think what thou wert in thy worldly days, nay, what thou art even yet and what are thy deserts. Think upon the inestimable goodness of our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ which He hath shown in fuller measure to thee than to so many; remember, therefore, that His judgement shall be more heavy upon thee than upon those others, except thou amend thyself. Stand in awe and think that though in His so great kindness He hath spared thee, yet perhaps He may not will to spare thee any longer. Keep in thine heart this thought that to-day—or at furthest to-morrow—thou must die, and then whither shalt thou go?
(17) Woe is me, oh God Eternal! whither shall I flee from the face of Thy wrath, for my sins are more in number than the sands of the sea; yet know I in very truth that nought is so displeasing to Thee as despair, and that Thou desirest not the death of a sinner but his repentance.
For this cause, say unto God with groaning of heart: “Oh! immeasurable goodness of God, look upon me a miserable sinner; oh! mercy all embracing turn Thee unto me that am a man full of iniquity. Behold! I that am desolate, come to the Almighty; wounded I haste to the Physician.
“O Thou Who hast stayed so long the sword of vengeance, continue Thine accustomed goodness, and according to the multitude of Thy mercies blot out the count of mine offences.”
There are also many other thoughts upon which thou mayest ponder concerning the mercy of God, as His mercy to David, St. Peter, St. Paul, Mary 248Magdalene, the Publicans, and many other sinners. For it is clearly manifest throughout the whole life of Christ, how pitiful He was to penitents who came to Him; and in regard to them He weighed not the multitude of their sins but the greatness of their love, (18) Wherefore, if I would reach that love, then it is above all things necessary for me to consider mine own frailty, and truly to feel that I can do no good thing of myself. Likewise I must keep the greatness of God and His faithfulness continually before mine eyes, together with mine own littleness and unfaithfulness towards Him. In this there are many things to be considered, and if I give right heed to them the consideration thereof shall lead me to make myself subject to all men, to despise myself even as also I should desire to be despised. But these exercises must be conducted truly and with careful thought, and one must constantly invoke the help of the Lord from Whom must come the power to perform such exercises.
If therefore I would reach that state of humility and that love, it is needful for me to have a daily exercise and rule to lead me to these things. And so, according as Saints have said, I must look to my past sins, keep them ever before mine eyes and make all endeavour to weigh them. To do this will keep me in subjection and humility, and I shall not think the defects of the Brothers and other men to be heavy, nor shall I judge them lightly, but have compassion upon them, and lead them to better things.
Wherefore it is expedient for me to strive to this end, and to beware of searching curiously into the deeds or words of others; to avoid detraction, and if I hear any such thing to strive to 249find excuses, putting the matter aside and casting it away.
This also will help me greatly, namely, to consider the virtues of my Brethren, of whom I believe that the greater number have never committed mortal sin, On the other hand, I must think upon the greatness of mine own sins, so shall I find that I am not worthy to live amongst the Brethren nor to serve them, and I must hold them in reverence and hope that through their good works and prayers I may reach Life Eternal.
Likewise it is needful for me to have the Presence of God before mine eyes at all times, and daily to strive inwardly to have good thoughts during my work, and in everything to imitate with a single heart that most worthy Pattern, namely, the Life of our Lord Jesus Christ, His humility, His patience, His contempt of the world and poverty, but, above all, His charity.
Also, I must strive greatly to look upon every man as the image of God and so to deal with all my work as if I were doing it unto Christ; this will greatly lighten my toil and make me benevolent to everyone.
I will strive also to recite my prayers attentively without haste, often in my work and labour to bow my knee, and pray awhile briefly but with attention.
Every morning at the third hour when thou hearest the bell, thou oughtest to rise without delay and straightway begin to meditate upon some holy subject, giving thanks for the mercy of God; remember thine own misery, and that God, the Angels, and the Saints are there with thee.
Be careful what thou readest and with whom thou dost converse.
Kneel down or sit decorously without accidie 250or leaning to one side or the other, and always bear thyself thus when thou dost pray.
When Mattins or Prime are over, read the Holy Scripture, and if thou art heavy with sleep write down something from the subject of thy study. When the fifth hour doth sound do whatsoever thou hast to do in the kitchen, and if there is nothing there, shut up the kitchen and bind some books, or if anything hath been committed to thee, do it until it is time to go into the kitchen.
When the bell doth ring for Mass, read the first part of Tierce as far as the Psalms while thou art still in the House, and continue to read the remainder on thy way as thou goest to Church. Kneel upright upon thy knees in Church in some corner during the whole of Mass; and after thy usual custom meditate upon the Life and Passion of our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ.
When Mass is done begin whilst thou art still in Church to read Sext as far as the Psalms, and read the rest upon thy homeward way. When thou hast returned to the kitchen from Church pray awhile, determine in thine heart how thou wouldest order thyself during the day, and what are the points in which thou oughtest to amend thyself; then strive steadfastly to this end, keeping before thine eyes (as was said before) that Divine Mirror of the Life and Character of our beloved Lord, and remembering that it is to Him and not to men that thou art ministering.
In the midst of thy work and labour thou oughtest to say often and attentively some brief prayer upon thy bended knees, especially at the ringing of the Bell, and when the signal soundeth in the Church to announce the Elevation of the Holy Body of our Lord Jesus Christ.251
Constantly constrain thyself in the midst of thy work to have some good thought, as, for example, the benefits of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Judgement, or Death: and when anyone doth knock at the kitchen door look to it that thou give a good answer.
If thou hast time study awhile in the book of extracts which thou hast copied.
Whomsoever of the Brothers thou seest either within or outside the House, look upon him as upon Christ, having special regard for those who have the care of the House, and if they require aught of thee do it quickly and with a cheerful countenance.
Before beginning a meal read the Benedicite, and during thy meal be instant to read or to meditate upon something that is good.
Take heed lest thou eat too hastily, or partake of delicate meats or drinks; be not longer at the table than are the Brethren, and during the meal, if any one of those who serve the table doth knock at the door, arise quickly. After the meal thou must provide for the Reader the hot victual like that which the Brothers have had. Meanwhile, read the Grace and put away the remnants of the food, and the cooking vessels each in his own place, as quickly as thou canst. When thou comest to thy cell after dinner, immediately read Nones and then do thy work and labour with the lay Brothers until the second bell for Vespers, unless thou hast some other duty in the House or abroad. After this read thy Vespers. If thou hast further time to spend meditate upon or study some holy subject until the fourth hour, and then go to the kitchen to prepare supper for the Brothers; after this meal prepare for the following 252day such food as the sick or the Brethren may require. When thy business in the kitchen is done go to thy cell and read Compline, after which thou mayest study or do any good thing until the eighth hour, at which time thou oughtest to write down thy failures and to meditate piously upon some holy matter, to say some prayer with invocation of the Saints, and having such thoughts in mind to go to bed about the ninth hour endeavouring to fall asleep while yet meditating upon holy things.
When thou dost awake let thy thoughts dwell straightway upon some holy matter, that thou mayst be able to sleep again with such things still in mind.
Before all these things I ought to prefer obedience; and it is my desire, whatsoever the rulers of the House may order (though their decision agree not with mine own ideas) to abandon mine own will without hesitation in these matters, to do at once whatsoever they desire, and not to hold to anything or to any task with inordinate affection; for if I abstain from so doing I shall the more easily abandon mine own will.
Furthermore I ought to strive to hold in reverence and honour those who are the Guardians and Procurators of the House: to take all heed not to harbour harsh thoughts and suspicions of them, to perform dutifully and without reserve all that they desire, not judging or seeking to inquire the reasons for which they order this or that; to keep mine own foolishness clearly before mine eyes, remembering that I am not wise, and to think their wisdom great.
Of a surety also I must keep before mine eyes the fact that I have resigned myself to these 253Superiors as being in the place of God, and so am not mine own, although I have bound myself to this obedience not by vow but of my own free and untrammelled will and purpose, and this have I done in the hope that it is wholesome for me so to stand rather than to act according to mine own judgement and pleasure; therefore I desire to think upon this purpose of mine, and earnestly to entreat my Superiors to keep me in subjection.
Moreover I must strive in all my works, words, and thoughts to fear God rather than man, that whatsoever I do it may be solely to the honour of God and to please Him only; in like manner whatever trespass I commit I must fear therein the offence I give to God more than that I give to men. In very truth I must keep myself from boasting, from the desire of outward show and from the love of praise from men.
(19) Also I must strive mightily to keep silence, for this shall be a notable aid to many virtues. I will strive when I speak to do so prudently; to say one “Ave Maria” in the interval before I speak, or reply; not to exaggerate: to avoid loose talk and the use of many or high-sounding words, especially in the kitchen; and to be careful to admonish others in this regard.
I must earnestly endeavour to be alone whenever I can, to put on my spiritual armour, never to be idle on any account, and to avoid speaking or listening to defamatory talk. In the office assigned to thee be diligent to preserve the outward appearance of order; be obedient in the performance of thy duties and show thyself to be kindly to every man, especially by providing food for the sick, particularly for our Father Florentius, who is almost always weak and sickly. 254I resolve to be benevolent to all strangers, receiving them as I would Christ, but not talking much with them; to look well to the care of the poor, and to do all that is entrusted to me so far as in me lies, namely, to hold them in reverence, to show them kindness, and to keep ward faithfully over the goods entrusted to me.
(20) When I go abroad on business I will strive to keep watch over mine eyes, to read some good book or to meditate while in the streets, and to return homeward as quickly as nay be. Also I will endeavour to make known my temptations; and at least once in the week to lament over my sins to some one person, to accept the remedies that he proposeth, rejecting none, and to endeavour always to admit my guilt; and if I break anything, or neglect any duty, I desire to ask pardon therefore freely.
Also I would abstain from too often tasting the food before it is sent up, save in case of need; from drinking (save at meal times) without leave from my Superiors; and from doing anything behind their backs that I would not dare to do before their faces.
I ought to strive earnestly to perform all despised and humble tasks and to relieve our Brothers Matthew and John thereof whenever I can do so, to hold them in reverence, to show myself kindly to them and prompt to aid in every humble task.
(21) I will beware that no complaint be heard from me of my clothing, my food, and the like; but I will strive rather to feel that I am unworthy of those things which I lack; it is my duty also to read diligently such books as may help me to this end, to give my whole attention to the attainment 255thereof, to strive to order myself modestly, whether I am walking, standing, sitting, or the like.
It is also profitable to me to esteem the spiritual exercises of this House more highly than those of other Houses, to have a great love for my work in the kitchen, a full resolve to die in this condition, and not to depart from it by reason of anything that may come to me save only in virtue of the rule of obedience.
In this I must have all confidence towards our most loving Lord, namely that He is ready to forgive all my sins, and to give me freely mine own proper reward for everything I do, however small it be.
And though there are many other tasks greater and holier, yet I must not leave mine own work, but remain constant thereunto, being assured that for me no task is more wholesome or more profitable than that to which the Lord hath called me.
Besides these things it is my desire to examine myself daily after the eighth hour in all matters of this kind, to ascertain that in which I have trespassed, and (as I hope), to resolve firmly to amend myself surely therein for the time to come.256
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