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Life of Our Most Holy Father St. Benedict
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CHAPTER LXV.

Of the Provost of the Monastery.

It often happens that by the appointment of a Provost202202This corresponds to our Prior. St. Benedict uses Preaepositus and Prior synonymously.. great scandals arise in Monasteries; because some, so appointed, being puffed up with the malignant spirit of pride, and esteeming themselves to be second Abbots, take upon themselves to tyrannise over others, to foster scandals, and to promote dissensions in the Community; and especially in those places where the Provost is instituted by the same Bishops of Abbots as the Abbot himself. How foolish this custom is, may easily be perceived; for a handle for pride is given to the Provost from the very beginning of his appointment, because his thoughts suggest to him that he is now released from the power of his Abbot, since he is instituted by the very persons by whom the Abbot himself is instituted. Hence arise envy, quarrels, detractions, rivalries, dissensions, and disorders; and while the Abbot and Provost are at variance with each other, it must of necessity follow, that their souls are imperilled during this dissension; those also who are under their charge run to destruction by adhering, some to one side, and some to the other. The sin of this danger lieth principally upon those who were the authors of such an appointment.

Therefore, we foresee that it is expedient for the preservation of peace and charity, that the entire government of the Monastery depend upon the will of the Abbot. As we have before arranged, let all the business of the Monastery be transacted, if possible, by the Deans, according as the Abbot shall have determined, in order that, many being sharers in the same office, no one may become proud.

But if either the circumstances of the place require a Provost, or the Community with reason and humility ask for one, and the Abbot think it expedient, he shall with the advice of such of the Brethren as have the fear of God before them, nominate and appoint one himself. Let the Provost do with reverence what shall be enjoined him by the Abbot, in no way going against his will or ordinance; because the higher he is advanced above the rest, the more carefully ought he to observe all the precepts of the Rule. If the Provost be found viciously inclined, or deceived by the haughtiness of pride, or a contemner of the Holy Rule, let him be warned by word of mouth four times; if he do not amend, let the correction of regular discipline be applied to him. If with this he do not grow better, he shall be deposed from the dignity of the Provostship, and a worthier man put in his place. If after this he be not quiet and obedient in the Community, let him be expelled from the Monastery. The Abbot shall nevertheless bear in mind, that for all his judgments he shall have to give an account to God, lest perchance his soul burn with the flame of envy and jealousy.


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