The Assisi Compilation - 210 

[105]
[THE SAME NOVICE ASKS HIM AGAIN ABOUT A PSALTER, AND HE IS UPSET]

Many months later, when blessed Francis was at the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, at a cell behind the house on the road, that brother spoke to him again about the psalter. And blessed Francis said: "Go and do as your minister tells you." When he heard this, that brother began to go back by the same road he had come.

Blessed Francis remained on the road, and began to think over what he said to that brother. Suddenly he yelled after him: "Wait for me, brother, wait!" He went up to him and said: "Come back with me and show me the place where I told you to do with the psalter what your minister tells you." When they returned to the spot where he had said this, blessed Francis bent over in front of the brother and, kneeling, said to him: "Mea culpa,brother, mea culpa. Whoever wishes to be a Lesser Brother must have nothing but the tunics, a cord, and short trousers the Rule allows him; and for those forced by necessity or illness, shoes."

Whenever brothers came to him to ask advice about such things, he would give them the same answer. For this reason he used to say: "A person is only as learned as his actions show; and a religious is only as good a preacher as his actions show;" as if to say, "A good tree is known only by its fruit."

[106]
[HE REPLIES TO A BROTHER WHO ASKED HIM WHY HE DID NOT CORRECT ABUSES IN THE ORDER;
AND THE PORTIUNCULA AS AN EXAMPLE]

One day while blessed Francis was staying in that palace, one of his companions there said to him: "Father, excuse me, because what I want to say to you, many have already thought. You know," he said "how formerly through the grace of God, the whole religion flourished in the purity of perfection, that is, how all the brothers fervently and zealously observed holy poverty in all things, in small and poor dwellings, in small and poor furnishings, in small and poor books, and in poor clothing. And as in these things, as well as in other exterior things, they were of one will, concerned about observing everything that had to do with our profession and calling and good example. In this way they were of one mind in the love of God and neighbor.

"But now for a little while, this purity and perfection have begun to change into something different, though the brothers make lots of

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Compilatio Assisiensis, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1646-1648


[105]

1Postea elapsis pluribus mensibus, cum esset beatus Franciscus apud ecclesiam Sancte Marie de Portiuncula iuxta cellam post domum in via, et ille frater locutus est iterum ei de psalterio, 2cui beatus Franciscus dixit: « Vade et facias inde sicut dixerit tibi minister tuus ». 3Quo audito, frater ille cepit redire per viam unde venerat.

4Beatus Franciscus autem remanens in via cepit considerare id quod dixerat illi fratri, 5et statim clamavit post ipsum dicens: « Exspecta me, frater, exspecta! » 6et sic ivit usque ad ipsum dicens illi: « Revertere mecum, frater, et ostende michi locum, ubi dixi tibi, quod faceres de psalterio, sicut diceret tibi minister tuus ». 7Et pervenientibus ad locum ubi dixerat illi verbum illud, beatus Franciscus inclinavit se coram fratre et stans genu flexo dixit: 8« Mea culpa, frater, mea culpa, quoniam quicumque vult esse frater minor, non debet habere nisi tunicas sicut Regula sibi concedit et cordam et femoralia et, qui necessitate manifesta coguntur vel infirmitate, calciamenta ».

9Unde quotquot fratres veniebant ad ipsum pro huiusmodi ad habendum consilium eius, tale responsum exhibebat illis. 10Quapropter dicebat: « Tantum scit homo de scientia, quantum operatur; et tantum est religiosus bonus orator, quantum ipse operatur », 11ac si diceret: « Bona arbor non in alio quam in fructu cognoscitur».

[106]

1Iterum dum maneret beatus Franciscus in eodem palatio, quadam die dixit ei unus de sociis suis ibi: « Pater ignosce michi, quoniam que tibi dicere volo iam plures consideraverunt ». 2Et ait: « Tu scis, quemadmodum olim per gratiam Dei viguit in puritate perfectionis tota Religio, 3quomodo scilicet universi fratres cum fervore et sollicitudine in omnibus observabant sanctam paupertatem, videlicet in parvis et pauperculis hedificiis, in parvis et pauperculis utensilibus, in parvis et pauperculis libris et in pauperculis vestimentis, 4et sicut in hiis, ita et in aliis exterioribus unius erant voluntatis, solliciti observare omnia, que pertinent ad nostram professionem et vocationem et bonum exemplum; et sic erant unanimes in dilectione Dei et proximi.

5Nunc ergo a parvo tempore cepit hec puritas et perfectio dissimiliter variari, licet multum dicant, et excusent fratres,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 210

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