THE RULE OF THE ORDER OF ST. JOHN
This is the CONSTITUTION ORDAINED BY BROTHER RAYMOND.-
In the name of God, I Raymond Servant of Christ's poor and Warden of the Hospital of Jerusalem, with the counsel of all the Chapter, both clerical and lay brethren, have established these commandments in the House of the Hospital of Jerusalem.
- HOW THE BRETHREN SHOULD MAKE THEIR PROFESSION: Firstly, I ordain that all the brethren, engaging in the service of the poor, should keep the three thing with the aid of God which they have promised to God, that is to say, chastity and obedience, which means whatever thing is commanded them by their masters, and to live without property of their own: because God will require these three things of them at the Last Judgement.
- WHAT THE BRETHREN SHOULD CLAIM AS THEIR DUE: And let them not claim more as their due than bread and water and raiment, which things are promised to them. And their clothing should be humble, because Our Lord's poor, whose servants we confess ourselves to be, go naked. And it is a thing wrong and improper for the servant that he should be proud, and his Lord should be humble.
- CONCERNING THE CONDUCT OF THE BRETHREN AND THE SERVICE OF THE CHURCHES AND THE RECEPTION OF THE SICK: Moreover this is decreed that their conduct should be decorous in church, and that their conversation should be appropriate, that is to say, that the clerics, deacons and sub-deacons, should serve the priest at the alter in white raiment, and if the thing shall be necessary another cleric should render the service, and there should be a light every day in the church, both by day and by night, and the priest should go in white raiment to visit the sick, bearing reverently the Body of Our Lord, and the deacon and the sub-deacon, or at least an acolyte should go before, bearing a lantern with a candle burning, and the sponge with the holy water.
- HOW THE BRETHREN SHOULD GO ABROAD AND BEHAVE: Moreover, when the brethren shall go to the cities and castles, let them not go alone but two or three together, and they shall not go there with those whom they would, but with those whom their Master shall order, and when they shall become there where they would go, let them remain together as united in their conduct as in their dress. And let nothing be done in their movements which might offend the eyes of anyone, but only that which reveals their holiness. Moreover, when they shall be in a church or in a house or in any other place where there are women, let them keep guard over their modesty, and let no women wash their heads or their feet, or make their beds. May Our Lord, who dwells among his saints, keep guard over them in this matter.
- BY WHOM AND HOW ALMS SHOULD BE SOUGHT: Also let religious persons, both clerical and lay brethren, go forth to seek alms for the holy poor; also when they shall seek for a lodging (hostel), let them go to the church or to some suitable person and let them ask of him their food for charity sake, and let them buy nothing else. But if they should not find anyone who will give them the necessaries, let them buy by measure one meal only, on which they shall live.
- CONCERNING THE ALMS OBTAINED AND CONCERNING THE PRODUCE OF THE HOUSES: Also let them take neither land nor security from the alms collected, but let them deliver them up to the Master with an account in writing, and let the Master deliver them up with his own account in writing to the poor in the hospital; and let the Master receive from all the Obediences the third part of the bread and wine and of all food, and that which shall be surplus should be added to the alms, and let him hand it over in Jerusalem to the poor with his own account in writing.
- WHO AND IN WHAT MANNER THEY SHOULD GO ABROAD TO PREACH: And let not any of the brethren, of whatever Obedience they may be, go to preach or to make collections, except only those whom the Chapter and the Master of the Church shall send. And let those same brethren, who shall go to make collections, be received in whatever Obedience they shall come, and let them receive such food as the brethren have ordained among themselves, and let them demand no other thing. Also let them carry with them a light, and in whatever house they shall be lodged (herbergié), let them cause the light to burn before them.
- CONCERNING THE CLOTHING AND FOOD OF THE BRETHREN: Furthermore also we forbid the brethren to wear at any time brightly coloured cloth (dras ysambruns ne galembruns) or furs of animals (pennes sauvages) or fustian. Also let them not eat more than twice in the day, and let them eat no meat on Wednesdays or Saturdays, or from Septuagesima until Easter, except those who are sick or feeble; and let them never lie down naked, but clothed in shirts or linen or wool, or in other similar garments.
- CONCERNING BRETHREN GUILTY OF FORNICATION: But if any of the brethren, and may such a thing never happen, through sinful passion shall fall into fornication, if he shall sin in secret, let him do his penance in secret, and let him impose upon himself suitable penance; and if it shall be well known and proved absolutely for certain, then in that town in which he shall have committed the sin, on the Sunday after Mass, when the people shall have left the church, let him be severely beaten and flogged with hard rods (verges) or leather thongs (corroies) in the sight of all by his Master or by other brethren commanded by the Master, and let him be expelled out of all our company: and after wards if Our Lord shall enlighten the heart of that man, and he shall return to the House of the Poor, and shall confess himself to be guilty and a sinner and the transgressor against the law of God, and shall promise amendment, he should be received and for a whole year should be treated as a stranger, and the brethren should observe during this period of time whether he be satisfactory, and afterwards let them do as shall seem good to them.
- CONCERNING BRETHREN QUARRELLING AND STRIKING ONE ANOTHER: Also if any brother dispute with another brother, and the Procurator of the House shall have heard the complaint, the penance should be as follows: he shall fast for seven days, the Wednesday and the Friday on bread and water, and he shall eat seated on the ground without table and without napkin (toaille). And if the brother shall strike another brother he shall fast for forty days. And if he shall depart from the House, or the Master under whose authority he shall be, wilfully and without the leave of his Master, and afterwards he shall return, he shall eat for forty days seated on the ground, and shall fast on Wednesdays and Fridays on bread and water; and for as long a time as he has been absent, let him be treated as a stranger, unless by chance the time should have been so long that the Chapter should think proper to modify it.
- CONCERNING THE SILENCE OF THE BRETHREN: Also at table, as the Apostle says, let each one eat his bread in silence, and let him not drink after Compline. Also let the brethren keep silence in their beds.
- CONCERNING BRETHREN MISBEHAVING: And if any brother shall not conduct himself well, and shall be admonished and corrected by his Master or by other brethren twice or three times, and if, at the instigation of the Devil, he will not amend his ways not obey, he should be sent to us on foot with a written report of his sin; and always a small allowance (procuration) should be given to him sufficient to enable him to come to us, and we will correct him; and also no brother should strike the sergeants subject to him for any fault or sin they may commit, but let the Master of the House and the brethren exact vengeance in the presence of all; but always let the sentence (justice) of the House be maintained completely.
- CONCERNING BRETHREN FOUND WITH PRIVATE PROPERTY: And if any of the brethren have made a disposition of private property at his death, he shall have concealed it from his Master, and afterwards it shall be found upon him, let that money be tied round his neck, and let him be led naked through the Hospital of Jerusalem, or through the other houses where he dwells, and let him be beaten severely by another brother and do penance for forty days, and he shall fast on Wednesdays and Fridays on bread and water.
- WHAT OFFICE SHOULD BE CELEBRATED FOR THE DECEASED BRETHREN: Moreover we command that this statue should be made, which is most necessary for us all, and we ordain it in commanding that for all the brethren who die in your Obedience thirty Masses should be chanted for the soul of each; and at the first Mass each of the brethren, who shall be present, shall offer one candle with one Denier. Which Deniers, as many as there shall be, should be given to the poor for God's sake; and the priest who shall chant the Masses, if he be not of the House, should have provision in the Obedience on those days; and on completion of the office, the Master should render charity to the said priest, and let all the garments of the deceased brother be given to the poor; also let the brother priests, who shall sing the Masses, pray for his soul to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and let each of the clerics chant the Psalter, and each of the lay brothers 150 paternosters. And also concerning all other sins and matters and complaints let them judge and decide in Chapter with righteous judgement.
- HOW THE THINGS HERE DETAILED ARE TO BE FIRMLY MAINTAINED: All these things, just as we have detailed them above, we command and ordain in the Name of Almighty God, and of the Blessed Mary, and of the Blessed St. John, and of the poor, that these same things should be kept with the utmost strictness.
- HOW OUR LORDS THE SICK SHOULD BE RECEIVED AND SERVED: And in that Obedience in which the Master and the Chapter of the Hospital shall permit, when the sick man shall come there, let him be received thus, let him partake of the Holy Sacrament, first having confessed his sins to the priest, and afterwards let him be carried to bed, and there as if he were a Lord, each day before the brethren to eat, let him be refreshed with food charitably according to the ability of the House; also on every Sunday let the Epistle and the Gospel be chanted in that House, and let the House be sprinkled with holy water at the procession. Also if any of the brethren, who hold Obedience in different lands, coming to any secular person offering allegiance and giving him the money of the poor, in order that those persons should cause the said brethren to prevail by force against the Master, let such brethren be cast out of all the company
- IN WHAT MANNER BRETHREN MAY CORRECT BRETHREN: Also if two or more brethren shall be together, and one of them shall conduct himself outrageously be evil living, the other of the brethren should not denounce him to the people nor to the Prior, but first let him chastise him by himself, and if he would no be chastised, let him join with himself two or three brethren to chastise him. And if he should amend his ways, they should rejoice at it; but if he be not willing to amend his ways, then let him write down the guilt of the brother, and let him send it to the Master privately, and according at the Master and the Chapter shall order let it be done concerning him.
- HOW ONE BROTHER SHOULD ACCUSE ANOTHER BROTHER: Let no brother accuse another brother unless he be well able to prove it; and if he shall accuse him and be unable to prove it, he is no true brother.
- THAT THE BRETHREN BEAR ON THEIR BREASTS THE SIGN OF THE CROSS: Also let all the brethren of all the Obediences, who now and henceforward shall offer themselves to God and to the Holy Hospital of Jerusalem bear on their breasts the cross, on their cassocks (chapes) and on their mantles, to the honour of God and the Holy Cross that God by that banner (gonfanon), and through faith and works and obedience, may guard and defend us in soul and in body, with all our Christian benefactors from the power of the Devil in this world and the next. Amen.
This page is part of the publication Blessed Gérard and his "Everlasting Brotherhood": The Order of St. John
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