Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 5),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914

The Book of Customs


THE Monks will be awakened each morning with the call "Benedicamus Domino," to which they will answer "Deo Gratias." During Eastertide the call will be "Christ is Risen," and the answer "The Lord is Risen Indeed."

They will dress as quickly as possible, being in their place in Choir before the first stroke of the bell.


WE are to count the recitation of the Divine Office as second only to the daily offering of the Holy Sacrifice. Therefore it should be rendered with regularity, perfect promptness, and reverence and devotion.

All are to be present in Choir unless dispensed by the proper authority.

They are to go deliberately and quietly into the Chapel before the second bell is rung.

Those who come late are not to go into Choir, but to remain without in the Chapel.

They shall also make satisfaction before all by public penance.

If perchance any of the brethren be on a journey, let them recite the Offices at the accustomed time. (Chap. LI.)

St. Benedict insisted on great care being taken in the recitation of the Divine Office, that no mistakes be made in the pronunciation and wording.

The Psalms are to be recited slowly, with a distinct pause at the colon.

Care should be taken to maintain a dignified and devout attitude during the recitation of the Office.

At Matins and Lauds all may sit for the Psalms, rising for the Gloria. At the other Offices they shall stand for the Psalms.

They will always use their books during the recitation of the Office, and not trust to memory for its recitation.


CHAPTER shall commence with the reading of the Martyrology by a junior.

After which follows the prayers as given in the DAY OFFICE.

After the blessing follows the TABULA, or list of duties and notices, and each Monk, on hearing his name, shall bow.

Then shall follow a discourse by the Superior, if he sees fit.

After this the postulants shall go out.

Then shall follow the Chapter of faults. Breaches of the Rule only shall be dealt with at Chapter, and not sins that do not implicate the breaking of the Holy Rule or Customs of the Monastery.

The Superior has the right to accuse, but may not be accused by any of the Brethren.

The Superior shall make his acknowledgment to the Brother next in rank.

The Superior presiding at Chapter shall assign the penances.

When one is proclaimed he shall arise and go into the middle of Choir and prostrate himself before his Brethren.

When the proclamations are over, any Monk desiring the prayers of the Community for any special objects shall go into the middle of the Choir, and after prostrating himself shall, in answer to the Superior's demand, reply, "I ask and beseech God's mercy and yours for ---- " according to his special need.

The business being completed, the special prayers for the Dead shall be said, after which follows a lesson and the Response and Blessing.

In cases where the advice or opinion of the Community is asked, the youngest shall be asked first.


THE Prior will inspect the cells weekly.

The floors must be washed every week at least, and swept every day.

The mattress should be turned daily, and the bed-linen renewed weekly.

Permission must be obtained to move about the furniture, etc., of the cells.

Absolute silence must be kept in the cells at all times.

No visiting is allowed at any time in the cells.

When the lamps are lighted, the shades must always be drawn.

The proper time for the tidying of the cell is between Pittance and Tierce.

No doors are to be kept locked at any time.


The Monks, on receiving any instructions, shall simply acknowledge by bowing the head.

They should never manifest any reluctance when work is assigned to them.

They shall always wear an extra scapular when working.

They will pay attention to the directions given them, and be sure that they understand them.

When transmitting directions about work, they should be accurate in repeating them as they are given.

When work is committed to you, remember your responsibility is for getting it done, not for providing the reasons why it was not done.

When any work is finished, the Brother should report to the Prior.

Should any duty assigned conflict with the Tabula or Daily time table, it should be reported to the Prior.


THE Brothers will not make any noise with the dishes at the table.

If they are to be absent from a meal, they will inform the Prior.

They will not make any sign of the food being distasteful to them.

They will never talk about the food, either in praise or criticism.

The Holy Rule forbids eating between meals.

They will wash their hands before entering the Refectory.

Each will say the De Profundis while taking his place.

The Monks will face the Crucifix while saying Grace, also at Thanksgiving.

At the end of Grace the reader approaches the Prior's table and asks the Blessing.

Until the reader has commenced the first sentence the Monks will sit quietly at the table.

The various dishes shall be taken first to the Superior, and then to the guests, if there be any present in the Monk's Refectory.

No singularity in eating or drinking is allowed at the common table.

They shall eat with their head covered with the Hood, except it be a feast day, when conversation is allowed.

The servers shall be appointed weekly and shall eat with the reader after the common refection.

No Brother shall fast without permission.


SILENCE shall be kept by all in all parts of the house, except in the Common Room at Recreation time and when permission is granted.

Care shall be taken to close all doors quietly.

The felt slippers provided shall be worn in the house, and not heavy walking shoes.

Speaking in a low voice does not prevent breaking silence.

Silence extends not only to all spoken words, but to all unnecessary greetings and gestures.

Care should be taken to observe silence in the cells.

Silence is to be observed always at breakfast and supper and at dinner, except when permission is granted to speak by the Prior. He will signify this by addressing one of the Brothers in conversation.

Monks shall never speak to a secular or extern without special permission.

When speaking to a secular or extern, never say more than is necessary, or to enter upon subjects or conversation not bearing upon business which is imposed.

Never speak of our earthly relations except to God in Prayer.

Never mention any of the events which happened before our conversion to the Holy Rule, except to the Superior, or to refer to our position in the world before we came to conversion.

Never speak of another Brother either in praise or criticism.

Absolute silence shall be kept in the Chapel at all times, when not engaged in Divine service.


CHAIRS should be returned to their places when not in use.

The Brother in charge of the room will be responsible that nothing be left lying about out of place.

The books in the common room shall not be taken from the room without permission.


ALL letters shall be placed in the letter rack in the hall unsealed, and shall be mailed by the Superior or his deputy. The Superior reserves the right to read all mail and eliminate anything that he deems objectionable.

Incoming mail shall be taken from the box by the Superior or his deputy, and shall be distributed at the discretion of the Superior.

Read Chapter LIV. of our Holy Rule.


ALL the Brothers shall dress alike, the same cut, material, and colour.

The Habit shall be worn by all members of the Order at all times and in all places, excepting when withdrawn for the night and when bathing.

Members of the Order are never to leave their cells at home or their rooms when away, without wearing at least the Tunic.

Great care is to be taken that the Habit is kept clean and neat and mended at once when ragged or frayed.

Garments may be worn if neatly patched.

The Habit, when discarded, shall not be used for any secular purpose.

We are always to remember that the Habit is a sacred expression of the character we are vowed to bear, as separating us from the world, as witnessing to our life of purity, of penance, and prayer, and of holy joy, as indicating that we are ever engaged in heavenly activities, and that we carry with us in all places the sanctuary of God's Presence, to Whom we, in a peculiar sense, belong. We therefore should take great care to have our Habit neat and clean and in good repair.


BOOKS read shall be such as tend to spiritual edification, or as fitting them for their Mission work.

They will read no books save those approved by the Abbot or Prior. They will study Holy Scripture and Church History, especially that of the Anglican Church.

Secular papers are not to be taken to the House.


THE members will maintain a cheerful countenance and demeanour. The conversation shall be strictly guarded. There should be no discussion of theological questions. If one desire information about any theological matter, he is to ask the Abbot or Prior.

Great courtesy should govern the conversation. There should be no direct contradiction of one another.

Care should be taken not to repeat Church gossip.

Divine charity should govern the lips and the heart.


ALL haste in walking is to be avoided.

Such attitudes as crossing of the legs and swinging the arms are to be carefully avoided.

If the Abbot or his representative enters any room, the Brothers should rise at once, and also on his leaving.

They will always rise when sitting in the hall or common room when the Superior or a Priest passes them.

If spoken to by the Superior, they will stand if he is standing.

Never to go beyond enclosure, or the bounds permitted by Holy Obedience.

Never to speak about Superiors to others.

Never to go into Choir, Refectory, or the presence of the Abbot or Prior or Strangers, but with the Habit scrupulously clean.

Never to repeat anything said to us unless commanded to do so.

Never to excuse oneself in a fault, unless it be for God's glory, that the true offender should be discovered.

During times of Solemn Silence, and in places of perpetual silence, the hood must always be worn over the head.

The hands, when not engaged in work, should be kept under the Scapular.

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