Chapter 25

[ 25 ]

       When, however, swift report of the unexpected, longed-for return of duke William had smitten the minds of those dwelling in Norman territory and forewarned them that their duke (so eminent!) would be there, the whole city of Rouen, moved by very great joy, sprang forth towards him in an unexpected procession and sought out diverse by-ways in order to be able to see him. And as those of the female sex stood in the towers of the wall, as those of senile age stood in the crossroads, as those of youthful and middle age ran to meet him, the clergy, waiting for him at the gate of the city, received him exultingly with the reverence of religious custom. And immeditaly he began to busy himself with the laws and rights and paternal ordinances which had been slighted in his absence. He would settle contentions and complaints, terminating them by law, and he would pacify everyone by the laws or by agreement.
       Then he constructed at JumiŠauml;ges a temple (how marvelous to tell! and of marvelous form!) bolstered profusely by a clergy of the monastic way of life. Moreover, a certain Martin was the most holy abbot of that monastery, guarding the monks under the training of a rule constructed for meditative contemplation. For one day, having gone to JumiŠauml;ges to pray, he kept conversing with himself, meditating in his soul upon what, for the sake of obtaining that foremost crown, he had conceived in his heart, saying to the most holy abbot Martin: "If the Christian way of life visits church according to a tripartite order, why will the offices of Christian religiosity, which differ from each other, still not receive the same recompense and the same reward?" The abbot replied: "Each and every individual will receive his recompense according to his labor. But for you, faltering in fidelity concerning such matters, I will reveal these things more plainly."
       "It is certain that the whole of the Christian way of life is divided into a trimodal order, practiced diligently by the wonderful labor of lay people and canons and monks, describing the God of this faith as one in substance, a Trinity in persons. The perfect servitude of all three happily strives toward heaven at an equivalent pace. And although there be three orders in which one may cultivate the worship of the true faith, the way there (in the certain hope of true belief) is the double path of a double road, part of which, under whose authority the lay order resides and lives, named 'active' (note 1) , sails more freely and has deserved to be called 'canonical.' But the other part, named 'contemplative,' (note 2) constrained from all directions within straightened limits, does not sail through level ground but, transfixed in a solitary retreat and glad for perennial privacy, struggles always towards the steep. This road has also been named 'apostolic,' which we sinners follow and with which we, with our inward purpose of unremitting exertion, try to wrestle."
       William, however, hearing these things replied to the abbot, saying: "In the flower of youthful age, I very much wished to barter away the freer and broader way and to substitute the one bound fast and confined within limits, but my father and his leaders appointed me, all unwilling, as their duke. But because I am now my own master and in my own power, leaving behind the world and with changed habit, I wish to arrive at the wrestling-place of the contemplative path, strictly bound from all directions."
       However Martin, deservedly a most distinguished abbot, hearing the declaration of that singular plan, sighing, suddenly became stiff and dragging his voice from the depths of his breast, said: "Defendor of this fatherland, why have you even explored doing such things? Who will cherish the clergy and the populace? Who will withstand the assault of pagan armies? Who will actively rule the populace according to paternal laws? To whom will you intrust and commend your flock? To whom will you bountifully give the ducal dignity of the Breton and Norman region? The will of divine providence will not concord with your forethought, nor will you perform what you are attempting to do, nor will I permit such a thing to be pondered any longer. But if you should prefer, by force of your own power, to make your profession in this monastery and, leaving the world behind, to devote yourself to the rule of the contemplative way, you would find me nowhere in your region, if you were to seek me."
       And in the face of these kinds of attempts at objection, duke William is said to have answered these thing: "My beloved son Richard, still wrapped in the ignorance of puerile age, will be in my stead the most powerful duke of this region, with the willing approval of my leaders. And what I have vowed to God will be fulfilled as speedily as I am able." However, as William was passing through the entrance to the temple with abbot Martin, a small host of monks tumbled down at his feet, praying that he accept his daily allowance of food, that is victuals for this corporeal life, in God's benevolence. But he, moved in his soul by the abbot's objections, denied their requests, nor did he assent to the offering of food, but swiftly made for the town of Rouen.


The one God foreknows and predestines every good,
The one God foreknows, but does not destine, every evil.
He foreknows your happy wish, but he does not predestine it,
He who remains a triadic whole, a triple ideal, a single vigor.
For you, happy, will stealthily approach your wish
To know the glory of God' martyrdom, as your surpassing merits grows.


1. In Greek.

2. In Greek.

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