The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 236 

themselves to the Church. This is the foundation for the life of the Lesser Brothers, and in Francis's vocation the brothers can find their own call.

Thus a dynamic exchange takes place between the two books in which a theme developed in the second book can be found in seminal form in the first. Book One begins with Francis in comparison to John the Baptist (2C 3-4), while Chapter I of Book Two begins describing Francis's spirit of prophecy (2C 27-54). The correspondence continues as Thomas highlights the image of Martin of Tours (2C 5-6) and develops the theme of poverty (2C 55-93). His new spiritual energy (2C 7) finds inspiration in prayer (2C 94-101), his Catholic faith (2C 8) in Sacred Scriptures (2C 102-111); his religious spirit overcoming both temptation and himself (2C 9) in varied temptations (2C 112-124); and his service of lepers (2 C 9) in his true spiritual joy (2C 125-134). Finally, there is his response to Christ's command and his new family of brothers (2 C 7-17) which prompts a consideration of the virtues of the new fraternity: humility (2C 139-150), obedience (2C 151-154), simplicity (2C 189-203), special devotions (2C 196-203) and care for the Poor Ladies (2C 204-207).

Although Thomas constructed Book Two according to a thematic, not without relationship to Book One, he never had far from his mind the central concern of the brothers of his day, the problem of interpreting provisions of the Rule.15 There is no rupture with the past, but rather in the past the future is already gestating. The foundation, however, is Christ in the grace of baptism, becoming every more present and finally giving to each person his or her own mandatum within the deepest recesses of the soul. This is the lesson he wishes to communicate to his brothers who struggle with the identity of their vocation in the tumultuous period of the 1240's.

Thomas concludes Book Two with a description of Francis's death. It is the one place in The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul that Thomas extensively uses what he had earlier written in The Life of Saint Francis. This indicates that Thomas took his new task seriously, to write about Francis from the memories of others and to present them in a new way for a new time. In Book One, even in our day, he reveals the ever-increasing gift of grace deep in the heart of the baptized, and in Book Two he motivates the grace-filled believer into action. In both books, however, remembrance of Saint Francis stirs the desire of every soul, eternal life.

Conclusion

The Remembrance of The Desire of a Soul: the title is provocative. Thomas's work is undoubtedly one of remembrance, a collage of the memories of Francis's companions stitched together in Thomas's unique style. Nonetheless, is it not difficult and, at the same time, intriguing to determine the soul possessing such desire? Is the desire of the companions? Of Thomas? Of Francis himself? Or did Thomas see his work as a means of stirring the memories of those who would read his work and, in so doing, re-enkindling the desire deep in their own souls?

 Previous

Next 

 

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 236

Hardcopies Available for Purchase