Sermon I to the Lesser Brothers - 588 

puffs up 1 Cor 8:1 and much learning makes them foolish. To them we can respond that the other virtues can also occasionally make one proud. In fact, without charity, none of them are profitable, but for the most part are an obstacle. For if they disdain to learn and fill themselves with the words of Scripture, how will they be able to ruminate? . . .

If therefore a simple brother is not gifted with much cleverness, let him make up for his lack of brilliance with the ardor of study. Let him not be ashamed to beg the bread of the word of God where he can, and commit to memory each day at least one good passage. I have seen many who were slow in wit make more progress than those who presumed on their abilities and their intelligence and refused to learn from others. . . .

7 We read of a certain king, who said to one of his soldiers: “Let’s go out tonight through the streets of the city and see what is going on.” When they came to a certain place, they saw a light coming from the window of an underground dwelling. There a poor man sat, covered with filthy and torn clothing, beside his wretched little wife. She was dancing near her husband, singing and exulting with great joy. Then the king began to wonder how these people, who were surrounded by such squalor, not having decent clothing or even a real house, could lead such a happy and secure life, indeed seemingly a rich one. And he said to his soldier: “It is truly amazing that you and I are not more pleased by our life, surrounded as we are with so many pleasures and so much glory, while these stupid people rejoice in their miserable life which seems to them sweet and gentle, when it is really bitter and harsh.” The soldier replied very wisely: “How much more stupid and miserable does our life seem to the lovers of true life and of eternal glory. When compared with heavenly treasure, they would judge our splendid palaces and clothing and riches as dung and our glory as wind, nothing when compared to the ineffable beauty and glory of the saints which is in heaven. For just as these people we’ve seen appear crazy to us, in the same way and more do we, who wander about in this world and think we have fulfillment with this false glory, appear worthy of tears in the eyes of those who enjoy the delights of eternal goods.”

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


eo quod scientia inflat, et multae litterae faciunt insanire. Quibus respondemus, quod aliae virtutes occasionaliter aliquando faciunt superbire. Non enim absque caritate prosunt, sed plerumque obstant. Si autem contemnant addiscere et verba Scripturarum glutire, quomodo poterunt ruminare. ...

...Licet igitur simplex frater non multum ingenio caleat, solerti studio defectum ingenii suppleat. Non erubescat panem verbi Dei a quibuscumque potest mendicare, et saltem singulis diebus unum bonum verbum memoriae commendare. Multos enim vidimus magis proficere, licet tardi ingenii, quam qui de viribus et subtilitate ingenii praesumebant et ab aliis audire nolebant.

Legimus de quodam rege, qui dixit cuidam militi suo: «Eamus nocte per civitatem et videamus, quae fiant in ea ». Cum autem ad quemdam locum devenissent, viderunt lumen per foramen in quodam subterraneo habitaculo, in quo sedebat homo pauper cum sordidis et laceratis vestibus, cum uxore sua pauperrima, quae coram viro suo saltabat, cantabat et laudibus eum extollebat. Tunc rex mirari coepit, quod hi, qui tanta gravati erant inopia, et vestimentis carebant, nec domum habebant, ita laetam et securam et quasi locupletem vitam ducebant. Et ait militi suo : «Valde mirabile est, quod nunquam mihi et tibi ita placuit vita nostra, quae tantis deliciis et tanta refulget gloria, sicut hos stultos laetificat miserrima vita sua quae dulcis et suavis videtur eis, cum sit aspera et amara» . Cui miles sapienter respondit : «Multo amplius miseram et stultam nostram reputant vitam verae vitae et aeternae gloriae dilectores, qui splendida palatia nostra et vestes et divitias tamquam stercora reputant respectu coelestium divitiarum, et gloriam nostram tamquam ventum et inane aestimant respectu inenarrabilis pulchritudinis et gloriae Sanctorum, quae est in coelis. Nam quemadmodum desipere nobis isti visi sunt, eodem modo et amplius nos, qui in hoc mundo erramus et sufl?cientiam nobis esse putamus in ista falsa gloria, lamentationibus digni sumus in oculis eorum, qui gustaverunt dulcedinem aeternorum bonorum.»

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 588