The Life of Blessed Francis - 565 

One night, when one of the brothers was tormented with hunger because of his excessive fasting, he was unable to get any rest. The pious shepherd understood the danger threatening his sheep, called the brother, put some bread before him, and, to take away his embarrassment, he started eating first and gently invited him to eat. The brother put aside his embarrassment, took the food, overjoyed that, through the discerning condescension of his shepherd, he had both avoided harm to his body, and received an edifying example of no small proportion.

When morning came, after the man of God had called the brothers together and recounted what had happened during the night, he added this reminder: "Brothers, in this incident let charity, not food, be an example for you." He taught them, moreover, to follow& discernment as the charioteer of the virtues,a not that which the flesh recommends, but that taught by Christ, whose most sacred life expressed for us the exemplar of perfection.

8 Encompassed by the weakness of the flesh,
a human cannot follow
the spotless crucified Lamb so perfectly
as to avoid contacting any filth.
Therefore he taught
those who strive after the perfect life
to cleanse themselves daily
with streams of tears.
Although he had already attained extraordinary purity
of heart and body,
he did not cease to cleanse the eyes of his soul
with a continuous flood of tears,
unconcerned about the loss of his bodily sight.b
When he had incurred a very serious eye illness
from his continuous weeping,
and a doctor advised him to restrain his tears
if he wanted to avoid losing his sight,
the holy man answered:
"Brother doctor,
we should not stave off




Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 818-819

2Cum enim quadam nocte unus ex fratribus prae nimietate abstinentiae admodum fame cruciatus, nullam posset habere quietem, intelligeretque pius pastor ovi suae imminere periculum, vocavit fratrem, apposuit panem, et ut ruborem illi tolleret, coepit ipse prior comedere eumque ad manducandum dulciter invitare. 3Deposuit frater verecundiam, sumpsit cibum, gavisus quam plurimum, quod per circumspectam condescensionem pastoris, et corporis evasisset d1Spendium et non modicum accepisset aedificationis exemplum.

4Mane facto fratribus convocatis in unum vir Dei referens quod acciderat nocte, provida commonitione subiunxit: « Sit vobis, fratres, non cibus, sed caritas in exemplum ». 5Docuit insuper eos discretionem sequi ut aurigam virtutum, non eam, quam caro suadet, sed quam edocuit Christus, cuius sacratissimam vitam expressum constat esse perfectionis exemplar.

8 1Et quoniam Agnum sine macula crucifixum
non est possibile homini
carnis infirmitate circumdato sic perfecte sectari,
quin aliquas contrahat sordes,
ideo documento certo firmabat,
eos qui perfectioni vitae invigilant,
quotidianis debere se
lacrimarum emundare fluentis.
2Licet enim adeptus iam esset
cordis et corporis puritatem mirabilem,
non cessabat tamen lacrimarum imbribus
iugiter oculos expiare mentales,
corporeorum luminum non ponderando iacturam.
3Cum enim ex continuo fletu
infirmitatem oculorum incurrisset gravissimam,
suadente sibi medico,
quod abstineret a lacrimis,
si corporei visus caecitatem vellet effugere,
vir sanctus respondit:
4« Non est, frater medice,
ob amorem luminis,
quod habemus commune cum muscis,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 565