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 The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1267 - 752 

that he had given up all his worldly goods. Later, after he had become a man of outstanding holiness, he had himself dragged naked through mud. He could not bear to hear himself praised. From all this we see that he reached the summit of perfect holiness and humility. Saint Bernard writes: "The truly humble man wants to be considered despicable rather than to be proclaimed a humble man;"a and Saint Gregory writes: "As the proud glory in their superiority, so the humble rejoice in being despised."b Where does humility have its source? Most surely in the depths of the heart.

Brother Pacifico, who first introduced the Order of Lesser Brothers into France, was a man of great holiness. One day while praying in a church with Saint Francis, he fell asleep. In his sleep he saw heaven opened and there in heaven a glorious throne. When he asked whose throne it might be, he was told it was the throne which Lucifer had lost because of his pride, and it was now reserved for Saint Francis because of his humility. When he woke up he asked Saint Francis: "What do you think of yourself?" Saint Francis answered: "I think I am the greatest sinner in the world." Pacifico rejoined: "But there are murderers and robbers and all kinds of wicked people." "Even the greatest sinner in the world," replied Saint Francis, "would be holier than I am if he had received so many graces."

We should take careful note of this remarkable fact. Of everything that can cause us to wonder, it is among the greatest wonders that of all the figures in the Old and New Testaments, God has exalted only those who were humiliated and despised.

In the Old Testament the Lord firmly exalted three men. Saul was not among them because he was not steadfast in virtue. These three were Joseph, Moses, and David. What do we read of Joseph? The Psalmist says: He sent a man before them: Joseph who was sold for a slave. The text goes on to say that he was imprisoned and bound with fetters; and he served his fellow prisoners. Then afterwards Pharaoh made him lord of his house.

Moses was adopted as son by Pharaoh's daughter. Ex 3:1 The Lord did not promise him exaltation in the land of Egypt, but when Pharaoh's anger blazed against him and he had become a shepherd in the desert, then the Lord appeared to him and revealed to him his judgments.

And what is said about David, what do we read of him? He himself tells us: And he chose his servant David, and took him from the sheepfolds;




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 752

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