The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1267 - 762 

III

Finally, he is commended for his consummate love as the text concludes: I have put my spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. Saint Paul writes to the Romans: God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. When we receive grace, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Lord put his Spirit into Saint Francis, and afterwards he brought forth justice. Thus we read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew: For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Mt 10:20 Our text asserts that God put his spirit upon him. What spirit is this? It is the spirit who is enabled to teach others, that is to say, God put the hierarchical spirit upon him.a Scripture says: By his Spirit the heavens were made fair, and Saint Gregory writes: "The virtues of preachers are the adornment of heaven."b I maintain, then, that God gave him the spirit of purification, enlightenment, and perfection, because the Spirit of the Lord first purified him, then enlightened him, and finally brought him to perfection.c

First, the Lord endowed him with the spirit of purification of which Ezechiel speaks: The Spirit also lifted me and took me up, and I went away in bitterness in the heat of my spirit; for the hand of the Lord was with me, strengthening me.

Our spirit is purified when it has lost the desire for earthly things. As light makes the air purer, so the soul becomes pure when it is united with the Eternal God. When the soul is united by love to a creature, it takes on that creature's likeness. Ezechiel's text says: The Spirit lifted me, and Job writes: My soul would choose to be suspended. When the soul is lifted up to God it must needs experience bitterness and conceive a distaste for created things past, present and future. As King Hezekiah lamented: All my sleep has fled because of the bitterness of my soul. Is 38:15

Saint Francis was raised on high by this purifying, strengthening, and uplifting spirit. When he went to Rome a priest saw him lifted a few feet from the ground into the air to about the height of a barrel, and the brothers often saw him lifted from the ground. All this happened because of his utmost purity. The angels lifted him into the air;

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 762