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 The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1267 - 748 

God's word, that I am getting old,a and I acknowledged I am hardly fit to do it. However, it is God who speaks in preaching. A preacher believes that sometimes he has preached well and thought out many fine ideas; sometimes he may have said nothing, for we read in Proverbs: It is a human's part to prepare the soul; it is the Lord's to govern the tongue.

I am afraid that if I preach with too much restraint, God will be angry with me. On the other hand, if I set myself to speak at great length on the glories of Saint Francis, I fear that some may think that in praising him I am really seeking praise for myself. It is difficult for me to speak on this matter. My aim, however, is to describe to you a holy and perfect man so that each of you may strive to imitate him. And in doing this I wish to put before you the example of Saint Francis, adhering all the while to the truth. At the beginning let us pray to the Lord that he will grant me to say and you to hear what is to his praise and glory and for our salvation.

We began with the text from Isaiah: Behold my servant . . . The meaning of these words refers primarily to our Lord Jesus Christ. However, what is true of the head may be applied to the members on account of their likeness and closeness to the head. Thus, these words may fittingly be understood of any holy and perfect person. But they highlight in a pre-eminent way the unique and perfect holiness of Saint Francis with regard to its root, its loftiness, and its radiance.

The root of perfect holiness lies in deep humility, its loftiness in well tried virtue, and its radiance in consummate love. Endowed with deep humility we are sustained by God; by well tried virtue we are made pleasing to him; and in consummate love we are taken up to God and brought closer to our neighbor. Consequently, in this text Saint Francis is commended for his deep humility, for which he was sustained by God, as its opening words say: Behold my servant whom I uphold. Then he is commended for his well tried virtue which made him pleasing to God, as the text continues: my chosen, in whom my soul delights. Third, he is commended for his consummate love whereby he passed over into God and opened his heart to his neighbor, as the text concludes: I have put my spirit upon him . . .

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 748

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