The chief part of the monks' rule is mortification, since indeed they are enjoined in Scripture, Do nothing without counsel.
Ecclus. 32. 24Thus if nothing is to be done without counsel, everything must be asked for by counsel.
cf. Cassian. Conl. ii. 10Thus we are enjoined through Moses also, Ask thy father and he will show thee, thy elders and they will tell thee.
Deut. 32. 7But though this training seem hard to the hard-hearted, namely that a man should always hang upon the lips of another, yet by those who are fixed in their fear of God it will be found pleasant and safe, if it is kept wholly and not in part, since nothing is pleasanter than safety of conscience and nothing safer than exoneration of the soul, which none can provide for himself by his own efforts, since it properly belongs to the judgement of others. For what the judge's examination has already tried preserves from the fear of censure, and on him is laid the weight of another's burden, and he bears all the peril that he undertakes; for, as it is written, the peril of the judge [is greater than that] of the accused.
cf. Matt. 7.1. et seq.So anyone who has always asked, if he follows will never err, since if the other's reply has erred, there will be no error in the faith of him who believes and the toil of him who obeys, nor will they lack the reward of his asking. For if he has considered anything by himself when he ought to have asked, he is proved guilty of error in this very fact that he dared to judge when he ought to have been judged; even though it turn out right, it will be reckoned to him as wrong, since he has departed from the right course in this; for the man to whose duty it belongs only to obey presumes to judge nothing by himself.
Then, since this is so, monks must everywhere beware of a proud independence, and learn true lowliness as they obey without murmuring and hesitation, that according to the Lord's word [they may feel] the yoke [of Christ] pleasant and [His] burden light.
Matt. 11. 30Otherwise, while they are learning the lowliness of Christ, they will not feel the pleasure of His
p.141yoke and the lightness of His burden. For lowliness of heart is the repose of the soul when wearied with vices and toils, and its only refuge from so many evils, and in so far as it is wholly drawn to the meditation of this from so many errant and empty things without, so far does it enjoy repose and refreshment within, with the result that even bitter things are sweet to it, and things before considered hard and toilsome it feels to be plain and easy, and mortification also, which is unbearable to the proud and hard-hearted, becomes his comfort who takes pleasure only in what is lowly and mild. But we must know that neither this bliss of martyrdom nor any other benefit that follows can be perfectly fulfilled by any, save him who has given particular attention to this, that he be not found unready. For if, in following this pursuit, he has wished to observe or nourish any of his own desires, at once occupied and wholly confused by concern for these intrusions, he will not always be able to follow thankfully where the commandment leads, nor can the disorderly and unthankful perform as is his duty.
Thus there is a threefold scheme of mortification: not to disagree in mind, not to speak as one pleases with the tongue, not to go anywhere with complete freedom. Its part is ever to say to a senior, however adverse his instructions, Not as I will but as thou wilt,
Matt. 26. 39following the example of the Lord and Saviour, Who says, I came down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him Who sent Me, the Father.
Ioann. 6. 38