The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 349 

brothers, so that he would not happen to hear some evil report about any of them, and so renew his pain.

He also said: "A time will come when the religion loved by God will have such a bad reputation because of bad examples that it will be embarrassing to go out in public. Whoever comes to enter the Order at that time will be led only by the working of the Holy Spirit; flesh and blood will put no blot on them; they will be truly blessed by the Lord. Although they will not do works of merit, the love which makes saints work fervently will have grown cold, still they will undergo temptations; and whoever passes the tests of that time will be better than those who came before. But woe to those who congratulate themselves over the appearance of a religious way of living, those numbed by idleness, those who do not firmly resist the temptations which are permitted to test the chosen! Only those who are tested will receive the crown of life, those who, in the meantime, are disturbed by the malice of the wicked."

Chapter CXVII
A REVELATION MADE TO HIM BY GOD ABOUT THE STATE OF THE ORDER
AND THAT THE ORDER WILL NEVER DIE OUT

158 He was greatly consoled, however, by God's visitations 1 Pt 5:6 which reassured him that the foundations of the religion would always remain unshaken. He was also promised that the number of those being lost would undoubtedly be replaced by those being chosen. One time he was disturbed by some bad examples. In his disturbance he turned to prayer and received a scolding from the Lord: "Why are you so upset, little man? Have I set you up as shepherd over my religion so that you can forget that I am its main protector? I have entrusted this to you, a simple man, so that the things that I work in you for others to imitate may be followed by those who want to follow. I have called; I will preserve, and I will pasture; and I will raise up others to make up for the fall of some, so that, even if they have not been born, I will have them born! So do not be upset, but work out your salvation, for even if the religion should come to number only three, by my gift it will still remain forever unshaken."

From that time on he used to say that the virtue of a single holy person overwhelms a great crowd of the imperfect, just as the deepest darkness disappears at a single ray of light.

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 349