Sermon I to the Lesser Brothers - 587 

they can benefit from the labors of others. For this is exactly the purpose of the Communion of Saints, and especially of those who serve the Lord in one brotherhood, because the merits of each are the common property of all, just as all [the soldiers] share equally in the spoils—whether they marched in the first rank of battle or whether they were exhausted and had to remain behind to guard the baggage. Therefore the rabbit, a weak people, cannot fittingly represent those who fast, keep vigils, and perform other works of penance, but those [weak ones] who do not despair or lose hope, but make their bed in the rock and rest in the mercy of Christ, who did penance for all of us on the cross and thus supplied for our weaknesses.

Others are able to labor much in meditating, reading, and praying, thus elevating themselves with the wings of reason and understanding to heavenly things. These are compared to the locusts because of the leap they make in contemplation and the flight of their sublime way of life.

Finally, others go out to preach and actively strive through their works for the salvation of their neighbors. These support themselves by hands in the manner of lizards, yet dwell in the house of the heavenly king, for they have their hearts in their heavenly dwellings and yet labor for the reward of eternal life . . .

4 And since it is written, How are they to preach, unless they are sent? Rom 10:15 a brother should not claim this office for himself, but should wait for the command of his superior . . . They should not be quick to go out [of the friary], but leave only when compelled by obedience. For to the scandal of many people, the town squares, the waterfronts, the palaces of princes, the residence of prelates, are at times full of religious, without any compelling necessity save the urge of curiosity and their stomach.

5 We do not call those people poor who are able to live by the work of their hands and yet beg. They are not thought of as poor but as robbers. If they ask others to give them bread, may not these justly reply: “Give us your ability, so that you might thus work for us”? . . . Since these wanderers are not in the bed of contemplation, nor in the field of preaching, nor in the mill of physical labor —for they have no orderly life—what is left for them save that place where the shadow of death, and no order, but everlasting horror dwells? Jb 10:22

6 Some, miserable and senseless, seeking an excuse for their laziness, say that they should not study, but that it is better for them to remain brothers in the humility of their simplicity, because knowledge




Sermo primus ad fratres minores, Analecta Ordinis Minorum Capuccinorum, p. 114-122

in labore aliorum recuperant. Hoc est siquidem communio sanctorum, et maxime illorum, qui in collegio Domino serviunt, quorum merita omnibus communia sunt, ut aequales portiones habeant, qui ad praelium procedunt et qui fatigati subsistunt ad sarcinas remanendo. Si igitur non possit lepusculus, plebs invalida, tantum jejunare, vigilare, vel alia opera poenitentiae facere, non desperet vel deficiat, sed cubile suum in petra ponat et in Christi misericordia quiescat, qui pro nobis in cruce poenitentiam fecit et defectus nostros supplevit.

Alii autem meditando, legendo, orando multum laborare valent, et pennis rationis et intellectus ad superna se elevant. Qui locustis comparantur propter saltum contemplationis et volatum sublimis conversationis.

Alii vero ad praedicandum exeunt et operibus active proximorum saluti intendunt. Hi etsi manibus more stellionis nitantur, ipsi tamen in domibus superni regis commorantur, semper in coelestibus mansionibus corda habentes et pro praemio vitae aeternae laborantes.

Et quoniam scriptum est : Quomodo praedicabunt, nisi mittantur? non se debet Frater ingerere, sed mandaturn Superioris expectare, . . . Non igitur ad exeundum sint proni, nec exeant nisi obedientia compulsi. Aliquando enim non absque scandalo plurimorum quibusdam religiosis plenae sunt plateae civitatum, exitus maris, palatia principum, hospitia praelatorum, nulla necessitate compellente, sed curiositate vel cura ventris impellente...

...Illos quidem non dicimus indigentes, qui de manuum labore vivere possent, et mendicant. Hi non pauperes, sed raptores judicantur. Si autem petunt ab aliis, ut dent eis panem, nonne me–rito respondere possunt : «Date nobis artem, ut scilicet pro nobis laboretis»? Cum igitur quidam gyrovagi non sint in lecto per contemplationem, nec in agro per praedicationem, nec in mola per manuum laborem, quia nullum ordinem observant, quid aliud restat eis, nisi locus ille, ubi umbra mortis et nullus ordo, sed sempiternus horror initabitat

Quidem transmiseri et vecordes, pigritiae suae solatium quaerentes, dicunt, quod non oportet studere, sed securius est quod maneant Fratres in suae simplicitatis humilitate, eo quod scientia inflat,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 587