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LIFE OF AMILIUS OF BUREN.
NOW I must commemorate and set forth in this book the life of the beloved Amilius, a priest worthy to serve God. He succeeded Florentius, our Reverend Father, and was the second Ruler of the House, being one whom Florentius loved as a familiar friend, and a man decked with many jewels of virtue.
He sprang from a family of the Province of Gelders in the territory of the Count de Buren; and numbering amongst his forefathers men who had been Ministers of State, he was esteemed to hold like rank with them.
(2) When he came to study at Deventer, where a school for special learning was then flourishing, he showed such diligence and progress in the Scholastic arts that in a short time he took his place amongst the foremost students as one of the more learned, and by reason of the subtility of his understanding was held in more than ordinary favour by the Master of the School.
But by the gift of God it came about that a mind so great was not wasted away in a worldly life, nor sought to gain earthly honours through knowledge, but counted all such things as dross. So, being prevented by the Grace of Heaven, and inspired by the Most High, Amilius came to the House of Florentius and was drawn to him by the holiness of his discourse; he submitted himself to the counsel of the Holy Ghost speaking through the mouth of this Reverend Father, who gave him 227the monitions of that Wisdom that is unto salvation.
Amilius therefore putting aside his studies, and abandoning his carnal friends, became an humble Brother and a disciple of Christ; and by his example he was profitable to many by leading them to renounce the world and to serve Christ. He gave himself up to the fulfilment of the most humble duties; for his soul’s salvation he spared not his body, nor sought he anything for his own advantage in this present life. In the virtue of holy obedience he bore heavy labour, such as milling and brewing and other tasks entrusted to him, which he performed cheerfully and with fidelity.
(3) Many wondered that, not being large of frame, he could carry out such heavy tasks, which assuredly he had not learned during his life in the world, nor had been accustomed to aforetime; tasks, moreover, which a stronger than he would scarce have undertaken for worldly gain. But the love of Christ and the brotherly charity which availeth for all things ministered strength to his goodwill, so that his reward might be the greater in proportion as he laboured more fervently than all.
So pleasing was he to God and to the Brothers that, after Lubert and Gerard fell on sleep, he was immediately ordained to the priesthood whilst Florentius was yet alive, and when the time came that he should celebrate his first Mass, Florentius clad in his surplice, attended him until he had finished the Office to the honour of God perfectly and with devotion. He celebrated at the Altar of St. Paul in the church of which Florentius was Vicar, before High Mass and privately, so that there was not a large congregation present.228
(4) So at the time of the Plague this man, eminent for piety, truly faithful in everything that was entrusted to him, and a comfortable friend to all that were in need, took charge of the stricken, being ready in the spirit of obedience and fraternal charity either to live or die with his Brethren. For he stood fearlessly by John Ketel, the Cook of the Community, by Lubert, and many others who were seized with the like disease, ministering to them until their death; and having rendered such service ofttimes to the Brethren he himself fell sick, but amended again, for God had pity upon the Brethren to their comfort lest they should have sorrow upon sorrow.
It was from his mouth that I received many of those good things concerning the virtues of the Brothers which I have written in this book as occasion demanded, although I have not expressly named him as having told me of them.
(5) Once he came to the Brothers at Mount St. Agnes, and speaking to some who were known to him, exhorted them to abide in the holy manner of life of the Order so as to go forward in virtue. By his virtuous character and gracious words I was greatly edified, for he stood there like some gentle lamb serene of countenance and with eyes looking steadfastly before him, not regarding the faces of them that stood by. After the happy departure of Florentius, who had appointed Amilius to be his successor in the governance of the House, he fell asleep in the Lord on the Vigil of the Feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle, in the 1404th year of our Lord, having ruled the House well for four years and three months. He was buried next to Lubert in the Cemetery of St. Lebuin, on the south side of the Church not far from the Priest’s Vestry.229
(6) Amilius’s Exhortation to the keeping of Brotherly Love.
“Hitherto have we continued, my most beloved brothers, ever united and in mutual charity, but now as it seemeth I am about to depart from you. Wherefore I do heartily entreat you that as ye have been fervent hitherto to keep that unity (for which be praise and glory to Christ), so ye maintain the same with steadfastness and perseverance; that in all things ye lovingly obey him to whom is committed the care of this House, even as ye would obey Christ and as hitherto ye have obeyed me, not considering his person, but Christ in him; for this cause think not the precepts he may give you to be evil, without reason, or contrary to your well-being, since it is not he that giveth them, but the Lord through him. Obey him therefore for Christ’s sake and as if he were Christ Himself. Hasten to fulfil his precepts as though they were given from Heaven, for the Lord is not always pleased to reveal His will directly, or by miracles or by angels, but hath so ordained that we should know the same through a human deputy, whom we must obey in all his commands and precepts as we should obey the Lord Himself.
(7) “Therefore whatsoever duties or precepts of charity he layeth upon you, these fulfil with willing and cheerful minds, nor think that these things shall lack their fruit or hinder your devout exercises or your well-being; for a thousand such exercises are nothing compared to humility and the subjection that a man doth undergo willingly. So even if his commands should seem to be without reason, and like to be a great hindrance to you, both at the present and in the time to come, 230nevertheless pass no judgement thereupon, but alway continue humbly in subjection, nothing judging. And as I have often said, look to Christ, not to the man in his own person; ye are not subject to him because of his own proper qualities, but ye submit for the sake of God, for your eternal salvation and progress, and for the Kingdom of Heaven. As ye have begun so continue to the end, passing no judgement upon your Father, but reverencing him deeply, and in all things humbly and cheerfully obeying him; think not within yourselves “we are as aged, as skilled, as learned, as wise as he,” for ye are not put under him for his own sake but for Christ's, and for your own humiliation and safety, that ye may have recourse to him as to a father for protection and for counsel.
(8) “What is there between you and me, Brethren, save that ye have obeyed me for God’s sake, and what between me and Florentius (or Gerard if I had been here with him) save that I obeyed him for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. Therefore everyone should think how he can humiliate and submit himself, and study to be contented whatever office is enjoined upon him, whether it be small or whether it be great; nor should any be wise in his own conceit, but rather think that whatsoever may have been ordained for him, that is the better for him. If any would be excused from any office saying that he is willing to give way in all else, but that he ought not to be degraded to such or such an office, I had rather cast him forth from the House than give him such exemption, because at some other time when his own will desired an office other than that assigned to him, he would be rebellious in this also. But in the matter of willingness to give way, let a man 231think of naught save Christ. Brethren, let us be, as it were, members one of another and each sustain the other, which if we do not, our estate shall quickly perish. Let us strive each in turn to keep Charity and Unity, and let every one seek to be as it were trodden under the foot of another and so no adversity shall have power to hurt us.
(9) “I know of nothing else to say to you save that which the Lord said to His disciples just before His Ascension, namely, that ye love one another even as Christ loved you, and that ye pray for me; and I, if I come to the Lord, will do whatsoever I can for you. In that I have often borne myself ill and have been a scandal to you, I pray you to forgive me; likewise for my negligence and the other many vices in which I have been entangled, all of which I would readily confess before you but that I fear lest some of you should be scandalized.” So saying he put off his hood and besought pardon of the Brethren for his faults with compunction and all humility, and began to weep, seeing which the Brothers knelt and wept long and bitterly. These were the last words of Amilius which he spoke for the building up of mutual love and peace.232
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