A Mirror of the Perfection (The Sabatier Edition, 1928) - 278 

Chapter Two
CHARITY, COMPASSION, AND SELF-EMPTYING FOR A NEIGHBOR

27
IN THE FIRST PLACE
HIS SELF-EMPTYING TOWARD A BROTHER DYING OF HUNGER
BY EATING WITH HIM
AND HOW HE THEN ADMONISHED HIS BROTHERS TO USE DISCERNMENT
IN DOING PENANCE

 

One time, when blessed Francis began to have brothers, he was staying with them at Rivo Torto near Assisi. One night around midnight, when all the brothers were asleep, one of the brothers cried out, saying: "I'm dying! I'm dying!" Startled and frightened, all the brothers woke up.

Getting up, blessed Francis said: "Brothers, get up and light a lamp." After the lamp was lit, he said: "Who was it who said, 'I'm dying?' "

"I'm the one," the brother answered.

"What's the matter, brother?" he said to him. "Why are you dying?"

"I'm dying of hunger," he answered.

So that that brother would not be ashamed to eat alone, blessed Francis, a man of great charity and discernment, immediately had the table set and ate with him. At his request, all the other brothers ate as well. This brother, as well as all the others, were newly converted to the Lord and afflicted their bodies excessively.

After the meal, blessed Francis said to the other brothers: "My brothers, I say that each of you must consider his own constitution, because, although one of you may be sustained with less food than another, I still do not want one who needs more food to try imitating him in this. Rather, considering his constitution, he should provide his body with what it needs that it may suffice to serve the spirit. Just as we must beware of overindulgence in eating, which harms body and soul, so we must beware of excessive abstinence even more, because the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice."

And he said: "Dearest brothers, great necessity and charity compelled me to do what I did, namely, that out of love for our brother we ate together with him, so he wouldn't be embarrassed to eat alone. But I tell you in the future I do not wish to act this way because it

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Speculum Perfectionis, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1892-1894


CAPITULUM II (III)
- DE CARITATE ET COMPASSIONE ET CONDESCENSIONE AD PROXIMUM.

Et primo
qualiter condescendit fratri qui moriebatur fame
comedendo cum ipso,
admonens fratres ut discrete
paenitentiam agerent.
Caput 27.

1Quodam tempore, cum beatus Franciscus coepisset habere fratres, et maneret cum eis apud Rigum Tortum, prope Assisium, 2accidit ut quadam nocte, quiescentibus omnibus fratribus, circa medium noctis, exclamaret unus ex fratribus, dicens: « Morior! morior! ». Stupefacti autem et territi fratres evigilaverunt omnes.

3Et exsurgens beatus Franciscus, dixit: « Surgite, fratres, et accendite lumen! ». Et, accenso lumine, dixit: « Quis est ille qui dixit morior? ».

- 4Respondit ille frater: « Ego sum ».

- Et ait illi: « Quid habes, frater? Quomodo moreris? ».

- At ille ait: « Morior fame! ».

5Tunc beatus Franciscus statim fecit apponi mensam, et sicut homo plenus caritate et discretione, comedit cum eo ne verecundaretur comedere solus; et de voluntate ipsius omnes etiam alii fratres pariter comederunt. 6Nam ille frater et omnes alii noviter erant conversi ad Dominum et ultra modum sua corpora affligebant.

7Et post comestionem dixit beatus Franciscus ceteris fratribus: « Fratres mei, ita dico vobis quod unusquisque consideret naturam suam, quia licet aliquis vestrum sustentari valeat pauciori cibo quam alter, nolo tamen quod ille qui indiget majori cibo nitatur imitari illum in hoc, 8sed naturam suam considerans tribuat corpori suo necessitatem suam, ut sufficiat servire spiritui. Sicut enim a superfluitate comestionis quae obest corpori et animae tenemur nobis cavere, ita etiam a nimia abstinentia, immo magis, quoniam Dominus misericordiam vult et non sacrificium.

9Et ait: Carissimi fratres, hoc quod feci, videlicet quod propter caritatem fratris mei comedimus pariter cum eo, ne verecundaretur solus comedere, magna necessitas et caritas facere me coegit, sed dico vobis quod de cetero nolo ita facere, quia non esset religiosum,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 278

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