A Mirror of the Perfection (The Sabatier Edition, 1928) - 316 

who are tested and proven will receive the crown of life, to which the malice of reprobates all the while spurs them."

71
HOW HE ANSWERED HIS COMPANION WHY HE DID NOT CORRECT THE ABUSES THAT OCCURRED IN THE ORDER AT HIS TIME

One of blessed Francis's companions once said to him: "Father, excuse me, because what I want to say to you, many have already thought. You know," he said "how formerly through the grace of God, the whole religion flourished in the purity of perfection, that is, how all the brothers fervently and zealously observed holy poverty in all things, in small and poor dwellings, in small and poor furnishings, in small and poor books, and in clothing. And as in these things, as well as in all other exterior things, they were of one will and fervor, concerned about observing everything that had to do with our profession and calling, and eager to give good example to everyone. In this way they were of one mind in the love of God and neighbor, and were truly apostolic and evangelical men.

"But, for some time now, this purity and perfection have very much begun to change into something different, although many use the great number of brothers as an excuse, claiming that on this account these things cannot be observed by the brothers. In fact many brothers have become so blind that they think people are more edified and moved to devotion by these ways than by the former ones. And it seems to them more fitting to live and behave according to these ways. Therefore they despise and consider worthless the way of holy simplicity and poverty, which were the beginning and foundation of our religion. Thinking this over, we firmly believe that they displease you. But we are greatly amazed. Why, if they displease you, do you tolerate them and do not correct them?"

"May the Lord forgive you," blessed Francis responded to him, "for wanting to be against me and opposed to me and involve me in these things that do not pertain to my office. As long as I held the office of prelate for the brothers, and they remained faithful to their calling and profession, and, although I was always ill from the beginning of my conversion, I satisfied them with a little of my care, by my example and preaching. But afterwards I realized that the Lord multiplied the number Acts 6:7 of the brothers, and that, due to tepidity and lack of spirit, they began to turn away from the straight and sure way which they had been accustomed to walk. They would take the

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Speculum Perfectionis, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 316