Saturday, October 16, 1999

The Rule of the Celi De as given by Saint Maelruain of Tallaght

The Rule of the Celi De
as given by Saint Maelruain of Tallaght

Translated by Edward Gwynn with minor corrections by Fr. Kristopher Dowling, S.S.B.

1.The Beati of the refectory is sung standing, and thereafter the Magnificat and Ego vero and other canticles.

2.It is usual to make a brew of thick milk, with honey added on the eves of the chief festivals, namely, Christmas and the two Easters. It is not lawful to make a feast or drink beer on these nights, because of going to Communion the next day.

3.On the Sundays of Great Lent a draught of milk is allowed to those undergoing strict penance. A selann at night is, however, not forbidden on these Sundays. Penitents get no butter before or after, but only on Saint Patrick's Day, and further, when this feast falls on a Friday or Wednesday, a draught of milk is what is taken on it. On a Sunday, or on a festal day if it falls otherwise than on a fast-day, a selann (i.e. a half-quantity) is taken. Of bread the Celi De allow no increase, even on the festivals, but only of drink and of condiment and other things.

4.If there chance to be any kale, the quantum of bread is not diminished, because they regard kale as a condiment, and it is dressed with milk, not butter. As for a piece of fish, or a little biestings or cheese, or a hard boiled egg or apples, none of these things diminish the quantum of bread, so long as not more than a little of any of them is eaten, nor all of them together. Of apples, five or six along with the bread are enough, if they are large; while if they are small, twelve are sufficient.

5.Three or four heads of leeks are allowed. Curds and whey are not eaten by them, but are used to make cheese. Flummery is made for them, and is not forbidden, provided that no rennet is put into it. The reason why it is not forbidden may be that it counts as bread. Whey of curds is not drunk alone, but is mixed with small curds as well.

6.The relaxation at Easter permits eggs and lard and the flesh of deer and wild swine.

7.It is usual to lay additional penance on cooks and milkers and scullions on account of spilling the produce, both milk and corn.

8.Ye may have flesh meats in Great Lent , when other things are scarce, yet unless lives are in danger, it is better to keep the fast.

9.On principal feast-days which fall on a Thursday or Tuesday outside Lent a half-selann is allowed, with a bochtan (lit: pauper i.e.: small amount) of beer or whey-water. If, however, a sip of whey-water or a goblet of beer is not to be had, then a small mess of gruel is made instead, that is, a quarter ration. When there chances to be a goblet of beer, it is not drunk at a draught, though they may be thirsty, but in sips, because these quench thirst, and thou hast not less sense of pleasure from them in thy drink.

10. No selann of butter is made, but instead of them a draught of whey-water is taken on the evening of a Monday or Wednesday or Friday or Saturday, even outside of Lent , or on a principal feast-day; but the feast-day which comes on a Monday is transferred to Tuesday, on which comes on Wednesday is transferred to Thursday, and one which comes on a Friday is transferred to the Tuesday following.

11.To a draught on new milk, if there be no other milk [mixed with it], a fourth part of water is added.

12.With the Celi De, castigation is not inflicted on a man by himself, but by some one else; and it is administered between Epiphany [and Easter], and between Low Sunday and Christmas Day following.

13.He that goes for the first time to midnight Mass [on Easter Eve] receives only the Bread and not the Cup, and he does not go again until the end of the year. He goes again to midnight Mass the year after, and receives the Bread of Easter on the morrow. The third time, he goes to midnight Mass and receives the Bread at Easter and on Christmas Day. The fourth time, he goes at Christmas and at the two Easters and at Pentecost. In the fifth year, he goes at the high festivals, and also after every forty nights. In the sixth year at the end of each month. In the seventh year, at the end of every fortnight. After seven years, he goes every Sunday.

14. The Our Father and Deus in adiutorium as far as festina are recited first facing east, with both hands raised to heaven and making the sign of the Cross with thy right hand: then thus similarly facing each quarter, downward and upward . This they call the Shrine of Piety; but first a Cross-Vigil is made, and the name of this is the Corslet of Devotion.

15. When anyone fails to go to Communion on a Sunday, he goes on the Thursday following, because to wait until the next Sunday would be too long a delay for one who goes to Communion regularly every Sunday: for these two days are always specially observed by them for attending Mass.

16. Further, it is not necessary to put off minor confessions of evil thoughts and faults of idleness and bitter words and anger and so forth until Sunday, but they should be confessed immediately as they are committed.

17. He that makes confession to a soul-friend, if he does penance as he directs, need not confess to another soul-friend, excepting such sins as he may subsequently commit.

18.Frequent confession, however, does not profit, if the transgression be also frequent.

19.On Maundy Thursday no selann is made, except a draught of milk or a goblet of beer and, it may be, a spoonful of honey, for this is usual on solemn days and high festivals, without a vigil or castigation being imposed as punishment. Whey-water and bread are the diet for this day: a sermon is preached, and then dinner in the afternoon.

20.At the washing of the feet the Beati is recited as long as the washing lasts. After that comes the Sermon on the Washing.

21.When intercession is made for any one at the celebration of Vespers, his Baptismal name is used.

22.When the Psalms are recited, one division is said standing and the next sitting, because when they remain seated, it begets sleep: while if they remain too long standing, it is wearisome.

23.Twelve repetitions of the Beati are a substitute for the hundred and fifty Psalms.

24.A mess of gruel is allowed to penitents on festivals and on Sundays. and they have no exemption from vigils, except for one evening of very principal festival between Easter and Pentecost, and on Tuesday and Thursday between Christmas and Epiphany.

25.He that regularly abstains from flesh takes a small particle at Easter, as a precaution against the occurrence of dearth or famine during the year; for he that does not relax on Easter Day has no opportunity to do so till the following Easter.

26.The priest who falls away from his Orders may not offer the Sacrifice of the Mass thereafter, even though he do penance, since it is not admissible for a man without Orders to offer it.

27.When a chief festival falls on a Saturday, if it be outside Lent , the evening vigil is excused. If, however, it comes on a Wednesday or Friday or Monday, the indulgence is transferred to Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.

28.Irksome, truly, is the matter of soul-friendship, because if the proper remedy is prescribed, it is more often violated than fulfilled: while if the soul-friend does not prescribe it, liability falls upon him; for there are many who deem it sufficient to make confession without doing penance. So it is better for the soul-friend to admonish them of what is profitable for them, even though he does not demand confessions.

29.Recourse may be had, if necessary, to another soul-friend, on obtaining leave from the original soul-friend.

30.With the Celi De it is not the practice to sleep in the oratory. Their practice is that two of them should remain in the oratory until Midnight, and recite the hundred and fifty Psalms: they dine at Nones and sleep until night, and sleep [again] from Midnight till Matins. Two others then remain from Midnight till Matins, and they also recite the hundred and fifty Psalms, and then sleep until Terce and say the office of Terce in company with all the brethren.

31.It is the practice of the Celi De that while they are at dinner one of them reads aloud the Gospels and the Rule and miracles of Saints, to the end that their minds may be set on God, not on the meal: and the man who preaches at that time has his dinner in the afternoon, and in the course of the [next] day they are questioned severally about the subject of the sermon, to see whether their minds were occupied with in on [the previous] night or not.

32.He that has not attended Mass on Sunday must recite fifty [Psalms], standing, in a closed house, with his eyes signed with the Cross: this is the price he pays for the Mass. A hundred genuflections and a Cross-Vigil, with the Beati, discharge his obligation.

33.However much a man may suffer from thirst, he may not take a drink before Midnight. He may drink between Midnight and the office at bedtime.

34.If thou art angry with a servant, and there is no cursing and abuse, thou must first receive a hundred blows on the hands, and [also] pass that night on bread and water.

35.It is not lawful for a Celi De to drink anything after making water.

36.All Maelruain's community keeps a fast once a month, namely, half rations of bread and half rations of whey-water.

37.It is proper to refuse the confession of one who does not perform the penance imposed by his soul-friend. If any one does not happen to find nearby a soul-friend whom he considers sufficient (that is, one learned in the rules of conduct laid down in Scripture and in the Rules of the Saints), and if the precepts he brings from the learned soul-friend whom he first met are observed, and if there be moreover some one to whom he may make confessions on each point, and if penance be done thereafter according to the rules of minor confession, it is no matter to whom his confession is made, even though it be to a student or to a young cleric.

38.There are four things for which no penance can be done in the land of Erin, namely, lying with a dead person, (i.e.: woman): transgressing with a kinswoman (i.e.: sister or daughter): falling into sin while holding higher Orders (i.e.: that of Bishop or Priest): and divulging a confession by saying 'this is what this man did.'

39.Some persons aver that the small, delicate diet is safer and better for the soul than the large coarse diet. On the Feasts of the Apostles and high Festivals and Sundays a change of diet (that is, something more delicate than other fare) is proper, rather than an increase.

40.Further, when they are thirsty, a bochtan of whey or buttermilk, with water added, may be taken. This is to be drunk is sips.

41.Any one who eats before the time, or takes such food that is not customary for him to take, must fast for doing so two nights on bread and water.

42.Privies and urinals are abodes for evil spirits. The sign of the Cross should be made over these places, and a man should cross himself when he enters them, and its is not lawful to pray in them, except to repeat Deus in adiutorium, down to festina.

43.The food that is in a house when any one dies in it ought to be blessed and distributed among the poor: because food ought not to be kept in the same house with a sick man, or eaten in the same house with a dead man, however holy he may be.

44.This is what Maelruain heard by venerable persons about deserting the country. Any one who deserts his country (save by removing from the east of it to the west and from the north of it to the south) is a denier of Patrick in heaven and of the faith he brought to Erin.

45.There is nothing that a man does on behalf of the soul of one who dies that does not help it, whether vigil or abstinence, or requiem or frequent benediction. Sons ought to do penance for their dead parents. Maedoc of Ferns and all his community spent a full year on bread and water in order to gain the release of the soul of Brandub mac Echach from hell.
46.Now if a man should desire to practise abstinence, and if it has not been his habit to subtract from his rations, let him subtract one eighth for a period of six months. What he can bear then throughout that period in point of abstinence or in foregoing part of his sleep will abide with him till his death. If he desires further abstinence, let him subtract another eighth of his rations in the same way, up to three, four or five eighths. He can bear all that amount, provided he does it gradually; also, what he subtracts by degrees from his sleep will not be harmful to him. A man however who disciplines himself severely, and whom sickness or disease distresses through his abstinence, must impose upon himself only a little additional, like a child. If he endures for six months, he will be able to bear the further imposition until death.

47.It is forbidden to bathe in polluted water, and it is a defilement for every one who pours such water upon his head. Persons in Orders whose head it touches must take care to anoint and cross themselves thereafter

48.If thou give thy ration to God and consume the other half thyself, this serves instead of a fast.

49.When disease attacks a pregnant woman so that she is near to death, the Baptismal service is read aloud over water, and the woman makes confession on behalf of her unborn child, and the name of Flann or Cellach is given to it (each of these names being common to man or woman), and let the mother drink the water, so that it passes over the child, and this constitutes Baptism for it.

50.During the monthly sickness of daughters of the Church, they are excused from vigils, morning and evening, so long as it lasts, and gruel is to made for them at Terce, at what ever time this happens, because it is right that this sickness should have attention. They do not attend Communion in such case, for they are unclean at these times.

51.Food that is brought from a distance on a Sunday as an offering to anyone, it is not lawful for him to eat, but he should distribute it among the poor.

52.The castigation of Sunday evening is administered on Saturday at the hour of Nones.

53.Tonsure is regularly performed once a month, on a Thursday.

54.Tithes are collected in this way. Every animal that a man owns is let out through a gap, and every tenth beast is given to God, except only oxen: because every tenth cartload of [the fruit of] their labour is taken.

55.Three profitable things in the day: prayer, labour and study: or it may be teaching or writing or sewing clothes, or any other profitable work that he can do; so that none be idle, as the Lord has said: 'Thou shalt not appear in my sight empty.'

56.Do not eat till thou be hungry: do not sleep till thou be ready for it: speak to none till there be cause.

57.The free tenure of the Church of God, in return for Baptism, and Communion and intercessory prayer, with boys for study and with the sacrifice of the Body of Christ on every altar. Churchmen have no claim to tithes, nor to the heriot cow, nor to the third that belongs to the patron's church, nor to compensation for valuables, unless the church provides its proper equivalents in Baptism and Communion and intercessory prayer for her tenant both living and dead, and unless there be sacrifice upon the altar on Sundays and high-days, and every altar have its complete furniture. Any church which has not its proper provision [of equipment and services] has not claim to the full compensation due to a church of God; but the name that Christ gives it is 'a den of thieves and robbers'.

58.In any church, moreover, in which there is an ordained Priest from the minor churches of the laity, he has the claim to the stipend of his Orders, namely a house and garth and bed and a habit every year, so far as shall be in the power of the church, a sack [of seed-corn] with its yield, a cow in milk every quarter, and every reasonable demand of his generally. On his part again, the rites of Baptism and Communion (that is the Sacrament) and intercessory prayer for the living and the dead, and Mass every Sunday and every chief high-day and every chief Festival: celebration of all the canonical hours, and chanting of the hundred and fifty Psalms daily, unless hindered by teaching or hearing confessions. Any ordained Priest, therefore, who has no lawful title nor knowledge to discharge the duties of his Orders so that he is incompetent to celebrate the Hours and the Mass in the presence of kings and Bishops, has no claim to the privileges of an ordained priest in state or in church.

59.Any Bishop, therefore, who confers higher Orders on any one who is not capable of exercising them, both as to piety and learning, and as to hearing confessions, and as to knowledge of law and rule, and appropriate remedies for every sort of sin, -- that Bishop is culpable before God and man, for what he has done is an affront to Christ and to his Church. Let him, therefore, do six years' penance, and let him give seven cumals of gold as satisfaction to the Creator as well.

60.Therefore it lies upon the souls of the men of Erin by the commandment of Patrick, that there be a chief Bishop to every chief state in Erin, for ordaining men to holy Order, for consecrating churches, for receiving confession from kings and eranaghs and priests in Orders, for hallowing and blessing their children after Baptism, for appointing the labours of every church, and setting boys and girls to study and piety: for if the boys do not study at all seasons the whole Church will die, and there will be no belief, but black paganism in the land of Erin.

61.If any one therefore shall offer the tithe [of the fruits] of his body to God for the purpose of study, it will be the same as if he renovated the churches of Erin and restored its belief after it had vanished. Whereas is any one withdraws his son from study after offering him to God and to Patrick, it is as if he should revoke the offerings of the whole world and violate the Church of Heaven and earth.

62.Any one, moreover, with whom the boys study who are thus offered to God and to Patrick has a claim to reward and fee at the proper seasons, namely, a mich-cow as remuneration for [teaching] the Psalms with their hymns, canticles and lections, and the rites of Baptism and Communion and intercession, together with the knowledge of the ritual generally, till the student be capable of receiving Orders. A heifer and a pig and three sacks of malt and a sack of corn are his fee every year, besides tendance and a compassionate allowance of raiment and food in return for his blessing. But the mich-cow is made over immediately after the student has publicly proved his knowledge of the Psalms and hymns, and after the public proof of his knowledge of the ritual the fee and habit are due. Moreover the doctor or Bishop before whom proof in the Psalms has been made is entitled to a collation of beer and food for five persons the same night.

63.This is the most excellent of all labours, to wit, labour in piety; for the kingdom of heaven is granted to him who directs study, and to him who studies, and to him who supports the pupil who is studying. It is the duty of every one In Orders with whom these boys study to correct and chastise them and to press them to take ecclesiastical Orders forthwith, because they are being bred up for the Church and for God with a view to receiving Orders.

64.It is the duty of any one in Orders who undertakes the charge of a church to hear the confessions of that church's tenants, men, boys, women and girls. If any one will not accept the yoke of a confessor, so that his is not under the authority of God or of man, he has not claim to be given Communion, nor to have intercession made for him, nor to be buried in God's church because he has refused to be under God's authority in the churches in the land or Erin. For it is right to show reverence to ordained Priest, and to fulfill their behests, just as if they were God's angels among men; seeing that it is through them that the kingdom of Heaven is to be won, by means of Baptism and Communion and intercession, and by the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and by preaching of the Gospel and by building up the Church of God, and by unity of law and rule; and this is what is pleasing to God on earth.

65.Any one therefore, who violates the Church of God, that is, who buys or sells her out of greed and envy, will be selling the resting-place of his soul in Heaven, if [otherwise] he might reach it. For this is the worst bargain a man makes in the world, to sell his seat in the Church of Heaven, and to sell his soul to the Devil, and to sell his body in order to earn much hire from the churches, so that he eats the wage of his flesh before he dies. For this cause, he has nothing of his own, either body or soul or land, but all belongs to the Devil. For he who constantly violates God's church, it is God whom he violates and resists, even the man who abides not in His Commandments in the bosom of the Church of God. Through him the powers of all princes have perished, and their children and their sovereignty after them. Through him moreover, belief in the Lord has perished in states and kindreds. Through him are the doors of heaven shut and the doors of hell open, and the angels of God cease from watching over the earth, save when they come to wreak vengeance on this race of men, to wit, on wicked, prideful erenaghs, and on wicked greedy kings, who transgress the behests of Patrick, both in violating the Church and in buying and selling her, and in exalting pride and vainglory, so that their reward hereafter is in hell. But he that protects the Church of God with humility and obedience and observance of these behests of Patrick, may he receive a hundredfold in the present world and [inherit] the Kingdom of Heaven with out end! many we dwell therein for unto ages of ages.



1.1. The Beati are the Beatitudes

2.The Magnificat: Luke 1:46 3.Ego vero: Psalm 69:13 to the end 4.The two Easters: The "Great Easter" was Easter Day, the "Little Easter" was the Sunday after, or Clausem Pashae or Low Sunday. 5.Lent: there were three Major Fasting periods of 40 days: before Easter, before Christmas and after Pentecost. 6.Deus in adiutorium: O God, come to my assistance: O Lord, make haste to help me. Psalm 69:2 7.Selann: In the Tallaght documents, the word implies some special indulgence in the way of food, especially butter, allowed either at certain festival seasons or to persons whose health needed it. 8.Flummery is a custard or cream made from calves-foot gelatine and oats or nuts 9.Biestings are the first milkings after a calf is born.

(I'm posting many of these as the electronic file is going bad and I'm losing chunks of text on many files. Posting them on the blog, strips them of old formatting, and may save them. They were collected during the early days of the internet. If I can find a source, I'll add annotation. MH 11/2015)

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