From "The Little Flowers, Legends, and Lauds"

Edited by Otto Karrer,
Translated by N.Wydenbruck
1979, Sheed & Ward, London.

E.Morrogh Bernard,
Vicar General, Westminister
Aug.14, 1947

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How St.Francis instructed Brother Leo as to the nature of perfect joy (8)

One day when St.Francis came from Perugia to St.Mary of the Angels (Portiuncla) with Brother Leo in winter, and the great cold was tormenting him, he called brother Leo, who was walking ahead of him, and said:

"O Brother Leo, although God is pleased that the Brothers Minor give a great example of saintliness and edification in all lauds, nevertheless you must write down and note diligently that not in that consists perfect joy."

And going a little further, St.Francis called out a second time:

"O Brother Leo, even if a Brother Minor should give sight to the blind, make straight the crooked, cast out the devils, give back their hearing to the deaf and make the lame to walk and the dumb to speak, and even more, resuscitate a man dead four days, write that not in that consists perfect joy.

And going on again, St.Francis called out loudly; "O Brother Leo, if a Brother Minor possessed every language and every science and the whole of the Scriptures, even if he could prophesy and reveal not only the future but the secrets of the conscience and the soul, write that not therein consists perfect joy."

Passing on a little further, St.Francis again called out loudly:

"O Brother Leo, little lamb of God, even if a Brother Minor should speak with the tongue of an angel and know the course of the stars and the virtues of the herbs, even if all the treasures of the earth had been revealed to him and he know the qualities of the birds, the fish and all the animals, of men and of trees and stones and roots and waters - write that not therein consists perfect joy."

And going on another stretch, St.Francis called loudly: "O Brother Leo, even if a Brother Minor could preach so eloquently that he converted all the infidels to the faith of Christ, write that not therein consists perfect joy."

And thus he spoke for the best part of two miles, until Brother Leo in great amazement questioned him, saying:

"Father, I beseech you for God's sake, tell me wherein consists perfect joy!"

And St.Francis answered him thus:

"When we come to Saint Mary of the Angels drenched by the rain, numbed with cold, covered with mud and tormented by hunger, and knock at the gate, and the porter comes and asks: "Who are you?" and we answer: "Two of your brothers," and he says: "You are lying, you are a pair of scoundrels who go around deceiving people and robbing alms from the poor, go away!" and refuses to open and leaves us standing outside in the snow and the rain, shivering and hungry until night-time: then if we endure so much abuse and cruelty patiently and calmly and without murmuring, thinking with humility and charity that this porter knows us as we really are, and that God makes him turn against us thus, O Brother Leo, write that therein consists perfect joy. And if we persevere and go on knocking, he will come out angrily and chase us away like importunate louts with insults and blows, saying: "Get away from here, you good-for-nothing thieves, get you gone to the workhouse! for here there is neither lodging nor food for you." To endure this patiently, with gladness and good humour, therein, O Brother Leo, consists perfect joy. And if we, constrained by hunger and cold and darkness, go on knocking and weeping loudly, entreat him for the love of God to open the door and he lets us in, he will be even more enraged and say: "These are importunate scoundrels, I will give them what they deserve!" and rush out with a knotted stick, and seizing us by our hoods, throw us down and roll us in the snow and beat us with all the knots of his stick: if we endure all these things patiently and with gladness, thinking of the sufferings of our blessed Lord, which we must bear for love of Him: O Brother Leo, write that therein consists perfect joy. And now listed to the conclusion Brother Leo. Above all grace and all gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ vouchsafes to His friends, is that of overcoming one's self, and for the love of Christ gladly bearing pain, insults, disgrace and hardship. For we cannot glory in any of the other gifts of God, as they are not ours but God's. Therefore, the Apostle says: "What hadst thou, that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as though thou hadst not received it? (1 Cor.4:7). But we may glory in the cross of the tribulation and of affliction, for that is ours, wherefore the Apostle says: "For God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" to whom be honour and glory, world without end, Amen.

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