A Mirror of the Perfection (The Sabatier Edition, 1928) - 267 

15
AVOIDING LUXURIOUS AND ABUNDANT CLOTHING
AND ON BEING PATIENT IN NEED

Clothed with virtue Lk 24:49 from on high, this man was warmed inwardly more by divine fire than outwardly by what covered his body.

He detested those in the Order who dressed in three layers of clothing or who wore soft clothes without necessity. As for "necessity" not based on reason but on pleasure, he declared that it was a sign of a spirit that was extinguished. "When the spirit is lukewarm," he said, "and gradually growing cold as it moves from grace, flesh and blood inevitably seek their own interests. Phil 2:21 When the soul lacks spiritual delight, what is left except for the flesh to look for some? Then the base instinct covers itself with the excuse of necessity, and the mind of the flesh forms the conscience."

And he added: "If one of my brothers encounters a real necessity and immediately rushes to satisfy it, what reward will he get? He found an occasion for merit, but clearly showed that he did not like it. Not bearing patiently with need is the same as returning to Egypt."

Finally, on no account did he want the brothers to have more than two tunics, although he allowed these to be mended with patches on them.a

He used to say that fine fabrics should be shunned, and those who acted to the contrary he rebuked publicly with biting words. To confound them by his example, he sewed coarse sackcloth on his own rough tunic and at his death he ordered that the tunic for his funeral be covered in cheap sackcloth. But he allowed brothers pressed by illness or other necessity to wear a soft tunic next to the skin, as long as rough and cheap clothing was kept on the outside. For, with great sorrow he said: "A time will come when strictness will be relaxed, and tepidity will hold such sway, that sons of a poor father will not be the least ashamed to wear even velvet cloth, just changing the color.b

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Speculum Perfectionis, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1872-1873


De vitanda mollitie et multitudine tunicarum
et habenda patientia in necessitatibus.
Caput 15.

1Indutus homo iste virtute ex alto plus interius igne calescebat divino quam exterius corporeo tegumento.

Exsecrabatur vestitos triplicibus et qui praeter necessitatem mollibus vestibus utebantur in ordine . 2Necessitatem vero quam non ratio sed voluptas ostentat, signum exstincti spiritus asserebat: « Spiritu, inquit, tepido et paulatim a gratia frigescente, necesse est carnem et sanguinem quae sua sunt quaerere ». 3Et dicebat: « Quid enim restat, quando anima caret spiritualibus deliciis, nisi ut caro convertatur ad suas? Et tunc animalis appetitus necessitatis articulum palliat, tunc sensus carnis conscientiam format.

4Si adest fratri meo vera necessitas et statim satisfacere properat, quid mercedis accipiet? Accidit enim occasio meriti sed displicuisse sibi studiose probavit. Ipsas namque indigentias non patienter ferre nihil aliud est nisi Ægyptum repetere ».

5Denique nulla occasione volebat fratres habere plures quam duas tunicas, quas tamen concedebat consutis petiis suffultari.

6Exquisitos pannos horrendos esse dicebat, et acerrime mordebat contrarium facientes; atque ut suo exemplo tales confunderet, semper super tunicam suam saccum asperum consuebat; unde etiam in morte jussit exsequialem tunicam operiri sacco. 7Fratribus autem quos urgebat infirmitas vel alia necessitas indulgebat aliam tunicam mollem subtus ad carnem, ita tamen quod foris in habitu semper asperitas et vilitas servaretur. 8Dicebat enim cum dolore maximo: « Adhuc tantum laxabitur rigor et dominabitur tepor quod filii pauperis patris non verebuntur portare etiam scarleticos pannos solo colore mutato ».

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 267