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THE DIARY OF BROTHER BARTHOLOMEW :
A MONK OF THE ABBEY OF MARIENTHAL, IN TIIE ODENWALD, IN THE TWELFTH
BY THE AUTHOR OF “TALES AND SKETCHES OF CHRISTIAN LIFE.'
[Note. The supposed date of this Diary must account for its quaintness. The truths stated in it are, the Editor believes, not more evangelical than are to be met with in the letters of Bernard of Clairvaus; and these truths, and the errors which grow up beside them, not more inconsistent with each other than many of the beliefs which, in those confused times, contrived to find an honest livelihood in the same mind. The mixture of shrewdness and childishness in the good monk would be the natural consequence of an experience so limited as his, and of the union of the intelligence of manhood with that habitual relinquishment of all manly freedom of thought and action which his rule required.
The earnestness of his religion may serve to show the strength of that principle of life which survived the malaria of the monastic system ; whilst its deformed and stunted growth, in contrast with the quiet and steady progress of his friend, may illustrate the poisonous nature of the system which could paralyse and distort a life so real and so Divine.
It is happy to think, that, amongst the millions who adhered to the ecclesiastical system of the Middle Ages, there were many who lived so near their Saviour, as to receive from His hands the antidote to all its poisons; but it is far happier to know, that there were thousands who lived so close to Him as to rise above its errors altogether, and to be content for His sake to be rejected of their generation.] April 9.-S. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop and In order to accomplish this design, parchDoctor,
ment being somewhat costly, I have procured JN the name of our Lord Christ, and from the Prior the copy of an old manuscript, all His saints, and especially of our
which none of us can read- not even our Lady His Mother, patroness of this learned brother Lupacius, who has studied at
our Abbey of Marienthal, I, Bartholo. Paris. The labour of effacing the former mew, a poor brother in the same venerable characters was great, they being carefully and Abbey, governed according to the genuine and thickly written; but I was cbeered in my toil original rule of the holy Benedict, have under-by the thought that I was destroying some of taken to write a history from day to day of the
the works of the Evil One, the letters being of things which mine eyes shall see and inine ears a very hideous and diabolical form, square and hear.
three.cornered, and very black, speckled more. The thought of this chronicle has visited me over with a countless multitude of dots which frequently of late, often intruding on my skipped around them like wicked imps, making hours of holy meditation: for which reason I so ugly a confusion as no Christian could endeavoured to scare it away as a presumptuous look at long without danger of distraction, suggestion from the Enemy; but seeing that,
much less have made. In every page, therefore, in spite of all my conjurations and crossings however I may fill it, it is a marvellous consolaand repetitions of the Pater Noster and the tion to me to reflect that I am tilling so much Sacred Hours, it hath continued to force itself ground reclaimed from the infidel. upon me (being even spoken to me in visions I have lived all my life within the walls of by the holy Benediet himself), I have concluded the Abbey, and of the world beyond I know it to be a good thought, well-pleasing to the even as little as the Israelites did of the saints; and have therefore resolved on executing Promised Land when they believed the spies. it, and leaving these my humble memorials Of my father and mother I know nothing, nor as a legacy to the Abbey, knowing that the do any of the brethren. I was found one common incidents of to-day are often as a winter morning, a helpless infant, lying on the strange and pleasant tale to those that come
threshold of the convent, wrapped in a few after : since which determination, my medita- rags, with a label importing that my mother tions have been no more disturbed a further and father were dead, and entreating the proof that the project is not from below. holy brethren, for the love of God, to bring up
"Tales and Sketches of Christian Life" (London : J. Nisbet and Co.). A volume published anonymously nearly tutenty years ago. Its suitability for these times will be evident to the readers of this " Diary.'”
the orphan, and teach him to offer masses for one must agree there are not many like her. the souls of his parents.
It was not because of her large violet-blae At first, I have heard, the monks were eyes, and her fresh colour, like a rose-jf a sorely puzzled how to handle or what to do rose could change hue as she does (of such with me.
An especial convocation was con. things I am no judge)---she was a strong and vened, in which it was determined to feed and healthy maiden, and that is enough--but for cherish me as they would any other
and truth and goodness, and singleness of heart, I tender thing; and, after being baptized, I was never saw any like her. She was like a manu. assigned to the guardians of the hospital, with script of a Psalm of thanksgiving, illuminated a room for my special use. But, one after all round with holy images in fair colours, 80 another, the patience of the holy men was joyous and in harmony. I often thought, when wearied out with my ceaseless cries and com- I looked at her, of the blessed words, " If thine plainings, until it was resolved to commit me eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of to the keeping of a respectable peasant woman light”-50 full of light, pleasant, cheering, in our village, called Magdalis Schröder. fireside light was she within and without I With her I grew to a healthy and merry boy, never passed her mother's cottage any morn. but the good monks always insist that the ing, how early soever and I passed it oftensuavity of my temper at present is nothing but she was up before me, getting her brother's less than a miracle, considering that so un- breakfast, or doing her mother's work, with manageable and ill-natured a babe was never her bright morning face, and her pleasant
words. In my youth I had occasionally strong Now it came to pass, when I went one evedesires to see something of the world beyond ing to the cottage with a basket of broken our valley, that before my profession I might meat from the Abbey, I thought they all know what I was renouncing; but the brother. seemed happier than usual; Nannerl's face hood always with held me, saying that such a was brighter than ever, but it seemed to be wish was like Eve's desire to be made wise by shining with some hidden joy. At length, eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good when she left the room to put aside the conand Evil-that in the world nothing was to be tents of the basket, Mother Magdalis told me learnt but evil, and in the convent the know. there was to be a wedding in the familyledge of good. Their will was everything to young Hans Reichardt, the Abbey carpenter, me, and I unresistingly acquiesced; but I have had asked Nannerl's hand. They had, she often since thought that the evil lies nearer said, liked one another long; and before many home, and that if I had to choose, I would not weeks they would probably be coming to the fly for refuge to a monastery. But what am I Abbey church together. saying? The holy Benedict pardon me! All I conld not exactly comprehend why Mag I mean is, that if, as they say, the earth is the dalis should make such a festival of this; I same everywhere, as the heart certainly is, could not tell why, but I had never much adperhaps the Heavens are also the same, and as mired young Reichardt, yet I congratulated
I say this to Mother Magdalis some. them all as honestly as I could. times, when she groans under her burdens and "It is a good providence," said my foster cares; yet, for myself, I have no wish to change. mother. "I'am old, and the children have no Here I have lived, and here, if the Lord and father, and it is a blessed thing for them to the Abbot will it so, will I die.
have a home." Nevertheless, I was not always so content. Nannerl's face glowed with quiet pleasure
At one time, when I was young, my heart when I wished her joy of her new prospects felt strong, and fluttered for freedom, as the I did feel glad at their joy, but somehow I was Prior's birds flutter in the spring, or as the less at home there that evening than I had young buds throw off their casings in the ever been before-I felt left out of the circle. forest on an April morning, and tremble and Hans Reichardt came to see his bride, and I open in the sun and the warm winds.
took my departure early. Mother Magdalis's I used to go often and visit my foster-mother. words rang in my ears, “It is a blessed thing She is a widow, but she has two children-the to have a home." Home the word came to best, she says, a poor widow ever had. It is my heart with a new meaning that evening. true, Karl is a little wrong-headed and fiery It means very much; and for the first time I now and then, but Nannerl, certainly every felt this the convent could never be; a sbelter
from wind and rain it might be-a refuge for my life, for others. I arose from that evening the weary-a refectory for the hungry-a reading strengthened and refreshed, for I had place to eat and sleep and live in-but home a purpose--and life is never quite barren to us meant something more.
if we have one living purpose to sow in it, to Who had shut me out from this? Who had grow and to bring forth fruit. a right to say that this world, this holy thing, The thought of His life took possession of might never be mine?
me. I longed, I prayed, I strove to be made For many days these things rankled in my like Him--the holy Child Jesus---like Him who heart; and sad havoc they made there. Till went about doing good. then, I had not a want beyond the convent I made a collection in the convent, to furnish walls and the society of the brethren : now, Nannerl's house--I laboured in the convent my heart had looked beyond the old walls, garden to rear vegetables for the sick —I and they girded me in like a prison. I was travelled leagues through the pine forests, in not then bound by any vows, and it was the frost and snow, to visit them; but the well.
more I read of the life of Jesus, the more un. I did not venture to tell any of the brethren attainable the perfect Model seemed. Are not what I felt; I did not believe it to be sin, but the stars as far from the mountains as from I knew they would all misunderstand me. the valleys? The more I heard of the law of
This lasted until one of our evening Scripture God, the more I saw how far it carried its readings; for in our convent we still adhere to claims upon the heart; and the heart was prethe rule of reading through a portion of the cisely the thing which all my efforts could not Scriptures in the winter evenings. I seated reach. myself among the rest, prepared to be once I could labour for the sick, I could toil and more a weary listener to the oft-told tale. plead for Nannerl and her husband, but I could (Alas! how little I knew of its blessed mean- not expel the repining thought from my heart ing! The reader stood at his desk, intoning when I came baok from her bright fireside to the words in his lulling sing-song; the ap- these dull, cold, convent walls. pointed monk went his rounds with the lan. But yet again God came to me and comtern, to see that none of us fell asleep. The pleted the work He had begun. The second monotonous voice of the reader-the uniform
text healed the wound the first had tread of the lantern-bearer--the monotonous made. How strange it was that I did not see recurrence of convent duties--all grated like it all at once 80 many instruments of torture on my im- “The Son of Man came not to be ministered patient heart. In health, we do not notice unto, but to minister, and to give His life a habitual sights and sounds; but in a fever, ranson for many." the slow dropping of water from the eaves The ransom is needed-for whom? Surely, seems at each fall to eat into the brain. And for the sentenced criminal--for those who, not this, I thought, is to be for life! My heart being able to fulfil the perfect law, can read in sickened and sank under the intolerable burden it nothing but their condemnation-that is, for of countless to-morrows, all like to-day. And The ransom is paid-for whom? Surely beside this weary circle of fruitless toil arose for those who need it. The ransom is paid; the haunting thought of home-fresh springs then the prisoner is free. I am free!
“ There of love, ever fresh--life, growing, widening, is now no condemnation to those who are in deepening, day by day, around us, and all Christ Jesus.” It is faith in this which gives centring in that inner sanctuary of love, the strength to walk, not in the flesh, but in the home.
Spirit. I was aroused from my dreams and murmurs From that time my whole life has been by some words from the Gospel, which fell on changed. Jesus, the Son of God, the Lamb of my ear suddenly, as if I heard them for the God, our Ransom, our Pattern, our Friend, He first time:
has redeemed me- -I am His, and His cause is "For even the Son of Man came not to be mine. The self-denial, which had been im. ministered untó, but to minister, and to give His possible as a sacrifice of expiation, became the life a ransom for many."
joy of my life as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. For the first time, the idea of self-sacrifice With the eye of Him who died for us—and, came to me with all the exalted joy the thought | dying, saved us—watching our lives, what is can bring—the thought of laying down myself, not possible! I learned that, before we can be
servants of God, we must be made children of power over us, and that none but those whose God.
hearts are turned to God, through hearty reSince then, I have lost those restless yearn. pentance and true faith, are safe anywhere. ings for an earthly home. I have a home in I mourn much that these things are not oftener Heaven, and my Father has sent me bither, proclaimed by onr brethren; also, that they for a little while, to call more of His children have given the peasants images of saints in. to Him, and to minister to all who need: thus stead of their old gods—which they often journeying, and singing as I go, I am hasten- confound, in their blindness, in a very profane ing homeward. I am happy, and can rejoice manner. heartily in the happiness of Nannerl and As we went on our way, I and my comReichardt. In the convent, as well as else. panions made the woods resound, from time where, we can bear one another's burdens, and to time, with Psalms and holy hymns, thus so fulfil the law of Christ.
lightening the way; and thus also, towards And, perhaps, in this tumultuous world, it nightfall, effectually keeping the powers of is well that there should be some set apart on darkness avaunt, the deacon Theodore being high, so that the strife and eager chases of the of somewhat a fearsome spirit. At other times, present may sound to them faiut as those of I meditated on some holy text, the theme of the past, with no seasons but the seasons of my next day's discourse, refreshing myself heaven; like church-towers rising above the with the living bread wherewith I afterwards common homes of men, yet echoing with deep fed the people. At night, we cut down branches tones their joys and sorrows, and telling them, from the trees, and made palisades around our amidst their toils and pleasures, how the time beasts of burden, which carried the holy vessels is passing.
and vestments; lighting watchfires, also, to Yet, if any ask my advice as to leading a
away wild beasts and other evil religious life, I usually say, “My child, in your things. home you are sure God has placed you. There Once I awoke at dead of night, hearing a He is sure to bless you. Be quite sure that He strange rustling amongst the fir twigs which calls you away before you change. He knows covered the ground, and a cracking of boughs, what work to give His servants, and in good miogled with stifled, unearthly cries. Moretime He is sure to let them know.”
over, by the moonlight, which came down in
strange and shifting patterns on the bare April 13.-S. Justin, Martyr.
trunks, and on the ground, I perceived some I am just returned from a preaching tour dark object flitting rapidly away amongst the amongst the villages of the forest (anciently distant pine-stems. Whereat I arose, and, called of Odin), with two choristers and a stirring the watchfires, commenced singing deacon, to celebrate the mass, and preach the the fourth Psalm in a loud voice. When I had Easter sermons.
concluded the last verse, crossing myself on Much grieved at discovering in some of the brow and breast, I laid me down in peace and peasants' houses a superstitious rererence and slept. fear of the old heathen gods (or demons)—the In the morning our best ass was gone. Withpeople in many places using pagan charms and out it we could scarcely proceed, the other beasts incantations against them, and even endeavour. being slow-paced and old; yet without it se ing to propitiate them with wheaten cakes and feared to return, the creature being a favourite other offerings. I told them that either the with our lord the Abbot. Wherefore, kneeling old gods and goddesses were nothing, and down, we laid our trouble before God, pleading therefore could do nothing either for or against that it was His errand on which we were jourthem: or they were fiends, and God was stronger neying, and telling Him of our sore need; our than they; and that, when affrighted at night, lord the Abbot being withal a man of a hasty or in lonely places, they should have recourse spirit. How marvellously He heard the prayers to prayer and to the sign of the holy cross. of His servants, the sequel will show. Some places, where the apparitions and wicked A few days thereafter, I preached in a cerdemons seem to have been more than com- tain village, on the commandments, dwelling, monly malignant, I purified and exorcised, amongst the rest, on the sin of theft. Great sprinkling them with holy water. Nevertheless, power was present to smite the consciences of in my sermons, and at all times, I told the
the hearers. Many wept, and before the close people, that it is only sin which gives the devil of my sermon one came forth, and before
them all cried out, " Lay on me what penance About midnight I awoke, startled by the you will. It is I who stole the Abbot's ass.” crackling of the watchfires. The robber sat
The whole assembly were greatly moved, close to my bead, stirring one of the fires with and would have fallen on the thief, but, hastily a huge pine-log. I arose and seated myself descending from the pulpit, I went to him, opposite to him. and as he knelt before me, I said,
“Father,” he said, leaning on the log, his "Thou seest, my son, that the eyes of the dark strong features glowing in the red light, Lord are in every place, seeing in the darkness "thou art a man of peace, but thou hast of the pine forest at midnight, as in the assem. courage; knowest thou who I am p." bly at midday. Thou canst not fly from Him, “I know, my son,” I replied,“ that thou hast for He is everywhere; thou needest not fly been a great sinner; but I trust One stronger from Him, for He is ready to forgive. It is than thou is melting thy heart." because thou hast not known His grace, that "I am he whom the peasants call Otho the thou hast despised His law. But, if now thou Thunderbolt,” he said. “My name has been a repentest, and with thine heart believest, I, terror to thousands, yet thou fearest me not. although a sinner as thou art, absolve thee I have many bold followers in this forest; if I froin thy sin.” He had been a very fierce were to give one of my gathering.cries, in half robber, the terror of the neighbourhood. an hour you would see fifty men around these
After the service he brought the ass to the fires." door. As I left the place, the people thronged “The Name of the Lord," I said, " is more around us to seek my blessing; and lifting up terrible than yours, my son; but to those who my hands I blessed them, many weeping and trust in it, it is a strong tower: the righteous kissing my hands. But I turned and said, runneth into it, and is safe. The voice of the “ Mourn not, my brethren, that ye see me no Lord is stronger than yours; and legions of more; but look, I pray you, to Him whose His angels encamp around those that fear Him. arms were stretched out on the cross to save I have not much courage, but I have faith, you—whose hands are lifted up always to bless which is stronger." you. Look to Him!"
“ I know it, father,” he replied; “I, too, The robber went forth with us, although know that the voice of God is strong, for it the deacon Theodore much misliked his com. has made my heart tremble like a reed. He is pany. He spoke not a word for many miles, mighty, and He is against me, for I have walking, with head bowed down, at my ass's sinped." head.
“Nay, He is for you," I said, " for He came At last, as it grew dusk, and we were enter- to save the sinner.” ing on a thick part of the Odenwald, said to Then he unfolded to me the terrible story of be infested with plunderers, brother Theodore his life of violence, and I unfolded to him the came to my side and whispered,
good tidings. “ Were it not better to send this man away ? It was a strange chapel-the wind roaring He may have too many friends here."
in the tops of the pine-trees, and driving the But I answered, in the words of the wise clouds overhead ; and a strange audienceking, "" The hearts of men are as the rivers of the wolves howling around the fires--the chief water; He turneth them whithersoever He of a robber band ; but are not all places boly will,' Let us not hinder His work on this poor for holy words ? soal."
And the heart which had never quailed before At length the shadows fell around us, and, man, but had quivered in the grasp of the coming to a glade of the forest, we alighted Almighty, melted as a child's at the story of for our night's encampment. The robber con- the love and sacrifice of Jesus. tinued with us, serving us much in hewing “Father,” he said, “can you admit one like branches and lighting our fires, he being more me within your holy walls ? The meanest skilled in such work than we.
office would be welcome to me-the meaner After offering our vesper prayer and hymn, the fitter for me, if only I might work for the I laid down to sleep, none making me afraid. poor I have robbed.”
The robber sat watching the fires, whilst "Nay," I said, “ go and tell thy companions brother Theodore lay, with half-closed eyes, what great things the Lord hath done for watehing him. But the peace of God kept thee. Mayhap they too will repent and be. my heart, and I slept soundly.