The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1255 - 510 

Lord says this not because there is sin in having possessions, but because it is sinful to be anxiously concerned about them. In any case, it is impossible, or at least very difficult, to have great possessions without being preoccupied with them. And so the Lord stipulates: Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Taking this to heart, Saint Francis on hearing God's voice at once gave everything away to the extent that he did not even keep back a stitch to cover his nakedness. As in his heart he despised all possessions, so outwardly he gave away everything he had. This is what anyone must do who desires to be a perfect disciple of Christ: he must go, sell everything he has and give to the poor. Mt 19:21 If one does not have the will to do that, one must at least keep oneself from the cares, anxieties, and vanities that go with possessions; otherwise, one will be a disciple, not of Christ, but of the devil. Mt 6:24 It is impossible to serve God and mammon at the same time. As it says in the First Epistle to Timothy: Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. Not all learn the teaching of Christ; some learn to catch prey as Ezechiel has it: She brought up one of her whelps; he became a young lion, and he learned to catch prey; he devoured men.

Third, the true disciple must rid himself of inordinate attachments to his loved ones. As Saint Paul teaches, the sensual or unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor 2:14 and Saint Luke records: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Lk 14:26 The Lord does not forbid us to love our father and mother, for the Decalogue commands that we honor them; what he does forbid is to be inordinately attached to our parents, because inordinate attachment rejects the teaching of Christ.

Understanding this, Saint Francis hated his father and mother, and having broken the ties of natural attachment, he abandoned them completely. Anyone who desires to attain perfect discipleship of Christ must forget his father's house and hate his own life, Ps 45:10 [Vulgate, Ps 44:10] that is, his natural affections, in order to imitate Christ who gave his dear soul into the hands of her enemies. Jer 12:7 But if a man does not wish to hate or sacrifice natural affections for his parents altogether, he must at least sacrifice them in regard to women; otherwise, he will not be able to attain knowledge of the truth. As Saint Paul writes to Timothy: For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

Fourth, the true disciple of Christ must purify his heart of all that militates against the practice of virtue. As the Book of Wisdom says:




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 510