The vita communis (“community life”) had been adversely affected by a decline in the spirit of poverty, lapses against chastity, and the dilution of obedience to the religious superiors by the granting of privileges and exemptions.
The newly elected Prior General Gregory of Rimini sent his reform decrees to all Augustinian Provinces. Like all reformers he generalized a very dark picture; he believed that the increased possession of material goods by the community and by individual friars had led to the decline of Augustinian values and the quality of community life within the Order.
Gregory wrote: “In order to restore the former zeal Gregory decrees the exact rubrical observance of the Prayers of the Divine Office day and night. In case of the failure to do so, graduates shall sit at a bare table and ordinary conventuals (non-graduates) on the bare floor in the middle of the refectory when taking their penitential meals. Lectors actually engaged in teaching shall be deprived of their weekly allowance if they do not attend choir on Sundays and feast days. Masters (who should be an example to all) failing twice in succession to attend the Prayer of Matins shall suffer the same punishment. If a Prior or Procurator should give them the allowance they shall pay it from their own allowance.”
“No one may excuse himself from the common table more than three times a week.”
“A soft life must be avoided by a religious; therefore only the sick may sleep on featherbeds or use linen within the monastery. Anyone else caught using them loses his provisions for one year. All bedding of this type (except that for the sick) must be sold within three months.”
(Continued on the next page.)