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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How St.Francis taught Brother Leo to give him the responses at Matins, and how Brother Leo always said the contrary of what St.Francis told him (9)

One day, at the beginning of the Order, St.Francis was with Brother Leo in a place where they had no books wherewith to say the divine office. When the hour of Matins came, St.Francis said to Brother Leo: "Beloved Brother, we have no breviary wherewith we could say Matins, but so that we may spend our time in praising God, I will speak and you shall answer as I will teach you. I will say: "O Brother Francis, you did so much wrong and committed so many sins in the world that you deserve to go to hell." And you, Brother Leo, will answer: "That is indeed true, that you deserve to go to the very depths of hell."

And Brother Leo, with the simplicity of a dove, answered: "Willingly Father, begin them in God's name."

Then St.Francis began to say: "O Brother Francis, you did so much wrong and committed so many sins in the world, that you deserve to go to hell."

And Brother Leo answered: "God will do so much good through you that you will go to paradise."

St.Francis said: "Not so, Brother Leo, but when I will say: "O Brother Francis, you have done such iniquitous things against God that you deserve to be accursed of God," then you shall reply: "Truly you deserve to be thrown among the damned."

And Brother Leo answered : "Willingly, Father."

Then St.Francis, weeping and sighing and beating his breast, said in a loud voice: "O Lord my God of heaven and earth, I have offended thee by so many iniquities and so many sins, that I fully deserve to be accursed by thee."

And Brother Leo answered: "God will make you so that among the blessed you will be singularly blessed."

St.Francis was amazed that Brother Leo should answer by saying the contrary of what he told him to say and reproved him with the words: "Why do you not answer as I tell you? I command you by holy obedience to make the responses as I teach them to you I will say: "O you bad Brother Francis, do you believe that God will have mercy on you, seeing that you have committed so many sins against the Father of mercy and the Lord of consolation that you are not worthy to find mercy?" And you, Brother Leo, my little lamb, you will answer: "In no way you are worthy of mercy."

But then, when St.Francis said: "O you bad Brother Francis," etc., Brother Leo answered thus: "Our Heavenly Father, whose mercy is infinitely greater than your sins, will show you great mercy and will, in addition, give you much grace."

At this answer ST.Francis, gently angered and patiently perturbed, said to Brother Leo: "How can you be so presumptuous as to act against holy obedience, and why have you said over and over again the contrary of what I bade you to say?"

Brother Leo answered very humbly and reverently: "God knows, my father, that I intended every time to answer as you told me, but God makes me speak according to His will.

St.Francis wondered greatly, and said to Brother Leo: "I entreat you most lovingly to answer me this time as I tell you."

Brother Leo answered: "Say it, in the name of God, and most certainly I will answer this time as you wish."

Brother Leo answered: "You will receive abundant grace from God, and He will exalt and glorify you in eternity, for the humble will be exalted - and I can speak no differently, for God is speaking through my lips."

And thus, in this contest of humility, with much weeping and much spiritual consolation, they kept their vigil until the day.

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