A Mirror of the Perfection (The Sabatier Edition, 1928) - 343 

show your sadness and sorrow over your offenses? This sadness is a matter between you and God. Pray to Him, that by His mercy He may spare you and grant your soul the joy of salvation of which it was deprived by the guilt of sin. Try to be joyful always around me and others, because it is not fitting that a servant of God appear before his brother or others with a sad and gloomy face."

It should not be understood or believed, however, that our father, a lover of total maturity and integrity, would have wanted this joy to be shown through laughter or even empty words, when, through this, it is not spiritual joy that is shown but vanity and foolishness. In fact, he abhorred laughter and an idle word to an exceptional degree in a servant of God, since he not only wanted him not to laugh, but not even to give the slightest occasion for others to laugh. Therefore, in one of his Admonitions, he quite clearly expressed what the joy of a servant of God must be: Blessed is that religious who has no pleasure and delight except in the most holy words and deeds of the Lord and, with these, leads people to God with gladness and joy. Woe to that religious who delights in idle and empty words and leads people to laughter with them.

By a joyful face he understood the fervor and solicitude, the disposition and readiness of a mind and body to willingly undertake every good work; because through this kind of fervor and disposition others are at times more motivated than through the good deed itself. In fact, if an act, however good it might be, does not seem to be done willingly and fervently, it brings forth tedium rather than motivating good.

That is why he did not want to see a gloomy face, which more often shows laziness, a closed mind, and a body listless for every good work. Most of all, he always loved, both in himself and in others, a seriousness and maturity in expression and in all the body's members and senses, and, as much as he could, he led others to this by word and example. For he knew by experience that this kind of seriousness and modest behavior is like a wall and a very strong shield against the arrows of the devil, and that a soul without the protection of this wall and shield is like a naked soldier among the most powerful and armed enemies incessantly rabid and intent on its death.

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Speculum Perfectionis, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 343

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