Papal Documents - The Prophet - 739 

since the last Papal interpretation of the Rule that was issued thirty years previously. The lengthy and detailed prescriptions about the ways in which the brothers might licitly accept money donations, for example, vividly attest to the fact that the Lesser Brothers were now a major institution within the church, with an important role to play in its pastoral ministry and with corresponding organizational needs. The Pope felt he had to make these as easy as possible for the brothers to fill, but without betraying their distinctive way of life. Here again he followed the policy of Bonaventure, who as general minister maintained a middle path between the forces of liberalization and primitivism that were increasingly dividing his Order. Like him, Nicholas was convinced that the Lesser Brothers filled a providential role in God's history of salvation, but he also knew that their favored place in the Church was dependent on their living the "apostolic life" of poor Gospel preachers.a

The text of the bullb does not have articles; they were, however, quickly added by teachers and commentators.

Nicholas, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record.

1 The Sower went out to sow his seed, that is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, clad in the garb of human nature, came forth from the bosom of the Father into the world to spread the Word of the Gospel among all people: the good and the bad, the foolish and the sensible, the eager and the indolent. As the husbandman foreseen by the Prophet who was to come into the land, He made no distinction as He scattered the seed of Gospel teaching among everyone. Wishing to draw all things to Himself, He came to save all people; thus for the salvation of all humankind, He offered Himself as a sacrifice to God the Father as the price of its redemption.

Although in God's abundant love the seed [of the Gospel] was scattered among all humankind, some of it fell along the wayside, that is, on hearts corrupted by the temptations of the demons; others fell on stony ground, that is on hearts never broken by the plowshare of faith; others fell among thorns, that is, on hearts torn by their anxiety for wealth. So we read that some seeds were trodden underfoot by base passions, others parched for lack of the moisture of grace, whereas others were smothered amid inordinate preoccupations. Some seed, however, was welcomed by the good soil of a meek and ready heart.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 739