The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 439 

II
THE HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE OF SAINT FRANCIS AND BROTHER BERNARDa

1 Blessed Francis, that most devout servant of the Crucified Christ, became almost entirely blind. Because of the rigor of his penance and continuous weeping, he could see very little.

2 Once he left the place where he was and went to the place where Brother Bernard was staying, so that they could talk to each other about divine things. Bernard was standing in the woods totally withdrawn and joined to the Lord in divine contemplation. Then Saint Francis went into the woods and called to Brother Bernard: "Come and talk to this blind man." Since Brother Bernard was a man of great contemplation and his spirit at that time was clinging to God, he did not answer Saint Francis nor did he go to him. Brother Bernard had a unique gift of speaking about God, as Saint Francis had already experienced many times, and that is why he wanted to speak with him. Therefore, after a short interval, he called him a second and a third time, repeating the same words: "Come and talk to this blind man." Brother Bernard paid no attention either time; he neither came nor spoke to Saint Francis. Then Saint Francis left, feeling a little abandoned, surprised, and almost complaining to himself because even though being called three times Brother Bernard had refused to move.

7 Saint Francis was thinking about this as he was leaving and, as he walked along the road, he said to his companion: "Wait for me a moment!" Then, while giving himself to prayer in a solitary place, an answer suddenly came to him from God: "You poor little man, why are you disturbed? Should a man leave God for some creature? When you called Brother Bernard, he was joined to me, and therefore could not come to you nor answer. You should not be surprised if he could not speak to you, for he was so far beyond himself that he did not hear a word you said." As soon as he heard this, Saint Francis hurried back to accuse himself humbly before Brother Bernard for his earlier thoughts. But Brother Bernard, a truly holy man, immediately came toward Saint Francis and threw himself at his feet. The humility of Saint Francis and the love and reverence of Brother Bernard met each other. After recounting the divine reproof he had received, Saint Francis ordered Brother Bernard under obedience to do whatever he would order. However, Brother Bernard feared that Saint Francis would impose something excessive upon himself as he usually did. Therefore, wishing to submit with a pious obedience, he said:

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 439

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