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

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How St.Francis sent his companions to preach in different parts, while he went to another part with Brother Masseo (13)

The wonderful servant and follower of Christ, our master St.Francis, wanted to conform himself to Christ in everything. According to the Gospel Our Lord sent His disciples two by two into all the towns and places where He Himself was going; therefore St.Francis, after having assembled twelve companions according to the example of Christ, sent them out, two by two, into the world to preach. In order to give them an example of true obedience, he was the first to go out, following the example of Christ, who began with actions before He thought. Therefore, having assigned other parts of the world to his companions, he took the road accompanied by Brother Masseo, towards the land of France.

One day they arrived very hungry at a town and proceeded, according to the Rule, to beg their bread for the love of God. St.Francis went along one street, Brother Masseo along another. But as St.Francis was of despicable aspect and small of stature and therefore was taken for a poor, wretched little man by those who did not know him, he succeeded only in collecting a few mouthfuls of bits of dry bread. Brother Masseo, however, was a tall man of handsome presence, and there he was given a great deal, fine large pieces of bread and even whole loaves.

When they had finished begging, they met outside the town in a place where they could eat, where there was a beautiful fountain beside a fine, broad stone on which they each set out the alms they had collected. When St.Francis saw that the pieces of bread received by Brother Masseo were far better and larger than his own, he was overjoyed and said:

"O Brother Masseo, we are not worthy of so great a treasure."

He repeated these words several times, and Brother Masseo said: "Dearest father, how can one speak of a treasure where there is such poverty and so great a lack of the things we need? Here is not tablecloth, no trencher, no bowl; no house, no table, no man or maid to serve us."

Then St.Francis said: "And that is what I call a great treasure, that there is not one thing prepared by human hands, but what there is has been prepared by divine providence, as we see by the bread we have collected, by our table of so beautiful a stone and the fountain so limpidly clear. Therefore I would have us pray God that He make us love with all our heart the treasure of Holy Poverty, who is so noble that God Himself becomes her servant."

When he had said these words, and they had prayed and taken bodily sustenance from those pieces of bread and the water from the fountain, they arose to continue their way to France. They came to a church, and St.Francis said to his companion: "Let us go into this church and adore the Lord." St.Francis went behind the altar and entered into prayer, and in that prayer he received such great favours of divine visitation that his soul was wholly inflamed with love of holy poverty; his face was flushed, his lips opened so that it seemed that he was throwing out flames of love.

And coming thus all flowing to his companion, he said: "Ah, ah, ah, Brother Masseo, give yourself to me!" This he said three times, and the third time St.Francis raised Brother Masseo into the air with his breath and threw him forward the length of a great spear. Brother Masseo was greatly amazed, and later he told his companions how, when St.Francis with his breath had lifted and propelled him, he had experienced such sweetness of spirit and consolation of the Holy Ghost that nothing he had known in his whole life could equal it.

And St.Francis said: "Dearest companion, let us now go to St.Peter and St.Paul and ask them to teach us and help us to possess the immeasurable treasure of holy poverty."

And they came to Rome, and entered into the church of St.Peter, and St.Francis knelt to pray in one corner of the church and Brother Masseo in the other. Then, filled with gladness, they both decided to return to the valley of Spoleto and leave their journeying to France. Praise be to Christ our Lord, Amen.

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