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 A Collection of Sayings of the Companions of Blessed Francis - 116 

moreover, be bound by obedience to permit them, kindly and generously, their request. If they refuse to do this, the brothers themselves have the permission and obedience to observe it literally, because all, both ministers and subjects, must be subject to the Rule. These could be the occasion of ruin and create the stain of division and scandal in the religion for brothers not fully grounded in the love of virtue. Therefore I want those words changed in such a way that every occasion of danger and division may be removed from the brothers and the religion."

7Blessed Francis answered, "It was not I but Christ who put these words in the Rule. He knows best what is useful and necessary for the salvation of souls and of the brothers, and for the good state and preservation of the religion. All that will happen in the future to the religion and to the Church is clear and present to Him. I must not and cannot change the words of Christ. It will happen that the ministers and others in authority in the religion will cause many bitter tribulations for those who wish to observe the Rule faithfully and literally. Therefore, since it is the will and obedience of Christ that this Rule and life be understood literally, so it must be your will and obedience that this be done and be written in the Rule."

10Then the Pope said to him, "I will do this in such a way that, keeping the full sense of the words, I will modify the letter of the Rule in this passage, in such a way that the ministers will understand they are obliged to do what Christ wills and the Rule commands, and the brothers will understand they have the freedom to observe the Rule purely and simply. This will provide no occasion, to those who frequently look for one, to transgress the Rule under the pretext of observing it." Therefore the pope changed the words of that clause, as they now stand in the Rule.

III. AN EXAMPLE OF THE WILL OF SAINT FRANCIS MENTIONED ABOVE

1This is proved by the answer he gave at Saint Mary of the Angels to that brother from Germany, a master of theology, who said to Brother Francis with great reverence: "I promised firmly to observe the Gospel and the Rule which Christ has spoken through you, until the end, simply and faithfully, with the help of His grace. But one favor I ask of you. If in my lifetime the brothers fall as far away from the pure observance of the Rule as you predict through the Holy Spirit, I ask by your obedience that I may withdraw from those who do not observe it, alone or with some brothers who wish to observe it purely."

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 116

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