The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1255 - 520 

find living water has to dig a well of humility inside himself. As Sirach says: The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself and you will find grace before God. It was on account of her humility that the Blessed Virgin Mary found grace with God, as she herself testifies in Saint Luke's Gospel: He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. That is hardly to be wondered at because humility prepares a dwelling place for love and clears the mind of vanity. That is why Saint Augustine writes: "The more we rid ourselves of the canker of pride, so much the more are we filled with love."a As water flows into valleys, so the grace of the Holy Spirit comes down on the humble; or again, the higher water rises, the further it descends, so it is with prayer coming from a humble heart. It rises up to God and resounds in his ears to implore his grace. Thus Sirach tells us: The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord, and the Psalmist says that the Lord fulfills the desire of all who fear him, he also hears their cry and saves them.

The third fruit of humility is that it brings righteousness to perfection. The Lord said to John the Baptist: Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness, " Mt 3:15 that is," according to the Gloss on this text, "perfect humility, which is perfect righteousness."b Total righteousness consists in perfect humility, and humility, the greatest virtue, in total righteousness, as we read in Proverbs: In total righteousness there is the greatest virtue. Perfect humility is the greatest virtue both because it makes us perfect in God's sight and because by it uniquely God is revered and honored to the utmost, as Sirach says: For great is the might of the Lord: he is glorified by the humble alone. Only the humble revere God, for the rest seek to glorify themselves, not God. Thus, if all our righteousness and the sum total of the Christian religion consist in honoring God, then it is obvious that total righteousness lies in humility and the greatest virtue in total righteousness. To Dioscorus, seeking to know the summit of gospel perfection, Saint Augustine replied in a way similar to a certain philosopher when asked what should be taught in rhetoric. When asked the first time, he replied: "eloquence;" the second time, again he replied: "eloquence," and the same the third time. Saint Augustine answered likewise: "If you were to ask me what is the summit of gospel perfection, I would answer: humility. Should you ask me a second and




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 520