The Evening Sermon on Saint Francis, 1262 - 729 

Lastly, the heavens encompass everything, they contain all things, yet they are contained by nothing. Saint Francis can be likened to this aspect of them because he was filled with God's sevenfold grace. We read that God said to Abraham: Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them . . . so shall your descendants be. There is no star however small whose immensity would not fill the earth and give it light. Though the light and rays of each star coalesce in the atmosphere, they are found to be distinct when we look up at the stars themselves.a It is something similar with devout souls whom the Holy Spirit enlightens with divine radiance. These are the posterity of the Holy Spirit and his posterity is as the stars of heaven, for the Holy Spirit brings forth devout souls in an altogether wondrous way. The Book of Job says: His Spirit has adorned the heavens—that is, men of heavenly virtue—and with a midwife's skill his hand brought forth the winding serpent. The marvel of Holy Scripture is how it brings together ideas which appear disparate but in fact are not. What is this hand of God whereby his works are wrought? As regards the creation of the world the Son can be called the hand of God through whom he made all things; as regards the variety of gifts, the Holy Spirit is God's hand who distributes the diverse gifts of grace and apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Cor 12:11 Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the hand of God which bestows the manifold gifts of grace. How many are the graces placed in our hands? They are fourteen. The winding serpent will only be brought out of us if this hand of God, that is, the Holy Spirit, showers down on us his sevenfold grace: the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues, so that we can set out on the path of holiness and persevere to the end. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us that we may do good works with zeal. Christ's cross is the sign of God's boundless grace because from the cross, that is, from Christ's sufferings, flow all the gifts of grace. So, once again, we should expect to find the sign of the Son of man, the cross of Christ, on Saint Francis who was filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, I wish to say a word about the four effects the heavens have on the earth. They light up the earth by their luster, moisten it with rain from the clouds, bestow warmth on it from their heat and give it brilliance in flashes of lightning. In a similar way these effects of the heavens may be attributed to Saint Francis. He shed light on his neigh-




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 729