Saturday, October 4, 2014

St Francis on being at peace with the clergy - words to ponder in these times

Today, on his feast day, I want to share a quote from St. Francis of Assisi and how he instructed his brothers to handle difficult priests.

I'm quoting from a great resource on all things Francis in the book:  St. Francis of Assisi: Writings and Early Biographies: English Omnibus of the Sources for the Life of St. Francis.

This quote comes from the Mirror of Perfection - one of the many classic texts within the above mentioned omnibus (emphasis mine in bold; added emphasis underlined; comments bracketed in red, mine).

54. On perserving humility, and on being at peace with the clergy.   
Blessed Francis wished his sons to be at peace with all men and to behave themselves humbly to everyone, but he showed them by his own words and example to be especially humble to the clergy. For he said, 'We have been sent to help the clergy in the salvation of souls, so that we may supply whatever is lacking in them.  But men will not be rewarded according to their office, but their work. Remember, my brothers, that winning of souls is what pleases God most, and we can do this better by working in harmony with the clergy than in opposition. [Pay attention here] But if they obstruct the salvation of the people, vengeance belongs to God, and He will punish them in His own time. So obey your superiors, and let there be no wrongful jealousy on your part. If you are sons of peace, you will win both clergy and people, and this will be more pleasing to God than if you were to win the people alone and alienate the clergy. Conceal their mistakes and make up for their many defects; and when you have done this, be even more humble than before.' 

While St. Francis is obviously addressing religious brothers who took a vow of obedience when he refers to obeying superiors, there is nothing in the rest of that counsel which does not apply to lay people.

Just think, that was quoted from the 13th century.  The advice is timeless.

Painting at top: Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy by Carravaggio, 1595


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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
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