The Evening Sermon on Saint Francis, 1262 - 724 

sufficient to conquer such temptations. His desire was to overcome completely both the lust of the flesh and evil thoughts and desires of the heart. This man was totally possessed of bodily purity, or better, heavenly purity. And I would remind you, dear brothers, that purity enhances the other virtues, it adorns and ennobles them all. When we hear it said of someone that he leads an honorable life and is chaste and pure, that means in fact that he has honor and glory in the sight of God. The cross of Christ is the sign of chastity, of bodily mortification, and of lamb-like simplicity and purity. Therefore, how right it is that this sign should have been found on Saint Francis.

I pointed out, finally, that the heavens remain unalterable in their position. They suffer no disturbance and everything they contain is fixed according to an order. Saint Francis can be compared to this characteristic of the heavens on account of his humble obedience. We read that Job was asked: Do you know the order of the heavens? And we may ask: "What is the order of the heavens?" We know that the higher sphere draws all the other spheres by its movement. Though these move in their course by their own power, nevertheless they move with the higher sphere which draws them all with itself in such a way that in the heavens there is no toil, disorder, or hardship.

There is a similar order in the ranks of heaven where the activity of the highest determines all the rest. And who established that order? Beyond doubt its origin is this: the highest order of angels, the supreme spirits, conforms to the eternal law, and the lower ranks of angels, in their turn, are subject to the higher ranks. If you were to ask an angel of one of the lower ranks: "Why do you obey the higher angels when you, like them, were created directly by God?" he would reply: "Why should it be strange that I obey an angel of a higher rank? He commands nothing of himself, but only what has been entrusted to him by God. And I must needs obey my Creator." According to this pattern there is an established order both in God's Church, where the lower ranks are subject to the higher and should obey them, and in the soul of the just man, where the lower faculties are subject to the higher and should obey them.

Why then does the flesh rebel against the spirit? This was not the case at the beginning, for it is unthinkable that God should have created humanity in such disorder. If humanity had remained in original innocence our lower nature and the desires of the flesh would never have rebelled against reason, and we should not have been ig-




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 724