The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1267 - 756 

you, but not like silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of poverty. Poverty is a furnace which consumes some and refines others. It consumes those whose poverty is coupled with impatience and covetousness for worldly goods. As the Book of Sirach says: Poverty is evil in the opinion of the ungodly. On the other hand, voluntary poverty which carries with it imitation of Christ and conformity to him, is a furnace which purifies God's chosen ones. The three young men mentioned in the Book of Daniel were in a furnace of this kind. Commenting on this Chrysostom says: "And as one like the Son of God appeared in the midst of the fiery furnace with the three young men, so in a similar way the Son of God appears in the world among the poor." The Lord Jesus says: Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Lk 14:33 Having spoken earlier about the need to hate one's very life in order to be his disciple, he adds: Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Lk 14:27 That poverty which is inseparable from bearing one's own cross, is like a refining furnace, and is an integral part of gospel discipleship. Life according to the Gospel consists in self-denial, purity, simplicity, and every form of kindness. Self-denial eradicates greed; purity, lust; simplicity, inquisitiveness; humility, pride; and kindness drives away anger. By keeping these virtues, a person is a follower of the naked Christ in the furnace of poverty. If I choose to be greedy, unchaste, or proud, this is not to be in the furnace which refines, but in that which destroys.

Saint Francis was like pure gold, refined in the furnace of poverty. How wretched are those who go into this furnace and then jump out again. They are not worthy to be purified. Dear brothers, it is a noble thing to enter this furnace, for as we said earlier: The angel made the midst of the furnace like the blowing of a wind bringing dew. Dn 3:50

A brother who stayed with Saint Francis at Montepulciano near Siena, related how one day they could find only some stale bread to eat.a They went to the entrance of a church where they ate the bread and drank water. When they had finished eating they went into the church where Saint Francis was filled with great joy. He stood there for a whole hour and this tired the other friar. Afterwards, he asked Saint Francis what he had experienced. He told him that he had never felt such sweetness from the time of his conversion. How pleasing to God is poverty combined with self-denial, purity, simplicity, humility, and kindness. Afterwards, he went to Saint Peter's in Rome so that the Apostle might be his surety that he never deflected from his promise to observe poverty. Anyone who seeks




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 756