The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 259 

Those enrolled in that first school also subjected themselves to every discomfort. It was even considered criminal to seek any consolation except that of the spirit. Acts 9:31 Wearing iron belts and breastplates they grew weak from constant fasting and frequent vigils. 2 Cor 11:27 They would have collapsed many times, were it not for their devoted shepherd’s constant warnings that made them relax the rigors of their self-denial.

Chapter XV
THE DISCERNMENT OF SAINT FRANCISa

22 One night while all were sleeping, one of his flock cried out: “Brothers! I’m dying! I’m dying of hunger!” At once that extraordinary shepherd got up, and hurried to treat the sick lamb with the right medicine. He ordered them to set the table, although filled with everyday fare. Since there was no wine—as often happened—they made do with water. Francis started eating first. Then, he invited the rest of the brothers to do the same, for charity’s sake, so their brother would not be embarrassed.

Once they had taken their food in the fear of the Lord, so that nothing would be lacking in this act of charity, the father wove for his sons a long parable about the virtue of discernment. He ordered them to season with salt every sacrifice to God. Lv 2:13 With concern he reminded them that in offering service to God each one should consider his own strength. Jn 16:12

He insisted that it was just as much a sin to deprive the body without discernment of what it really needed as, prompted by gluttony, to offer it too much. And he added: “Dear brothers, realize that, what I just did by eating was not my own choice, but an exception,b demanded by fraternal charity. Let the charity, not the food, be an example for you, for the latter feeds the belly while the former feeds the spirit.”

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Vita Secunda Sancti Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p. 463


3Sic etiam et tota prima illa sua schola omnibus se subdebat incommodis, ut nefas duceretur, si quis in aliquo alio quam in consolatione spiritus respiraret. 4Nam cum circulis ferreis et loricis se cingerent et vestirent, vigiliis multis et ieiuniis macerati continuis, multoties defecissent, nisi pii pastoris monitione assidua rigorem tantae abstinentiae relaxassent.

Caput XV
De discretione sancti Francisci.

22 1Clamat una de ovibus noete quadam, quiescentibus caeteris: « Morior, fratres, morior, ecce, fame! ». 2Surgit protinus pastor egregius, et oviculae morbidae remedio debito subvenire festinat. 3Mensam parari iubet, licet rusticanis refertam delitiis, ubi vini defectum, sicut et saepius, aqua supplevit. 4Incipit primus ipse comedere, et ad caritatis officium, ne tabescat frater ille rubore, reliquos fratres invitat.

5Sumpto cum timore Domini cibo, ne quid deesset officiis caritatis, longam filiis pater de virtute discretionis texit parabolam. 6Sale conditum sacrificium Deo semper reddere iubet, et ut vires proprias in Dei obsequio unusquisque consideret, monet attente.

7Peccatum simile asserit indiscrete corpori subtrahere debitum, sicut, imperante gula, ei exhibere superfluum. 8Et addit: « Quod feci ego manducans, carissimi, dispensatione, non voluntate id factum noveritis, quia charitas fraterna mandavit. 9Sit vobis caritas in exemplum non cibus, quia ille gulae haec deservit spiritui ».

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 259