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 The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 650 

at another; now prosperity, then adversity; because He knows they need to keep themselves in humility, or rather to inflame more fully their desire for heavenly things. So it pleased the divine goodness, after three years, to take away from the same Brother John that ray and flame of divine love, and to deprive him of any spiritual consolation: so he remained without light and without love of God and completely desolate and afflicted and sorrowful. Because of this he wandered here and there through the woods in this anguish, calling out with cries and tears and sighs for the beloved Spouse of his soul, who had hidden Himself and departed from him; and without His presence his soul found neither rest nor repose. But he could not find the sweet Jesus in any place or in any way, nor could he return to those sweet spiritual sensations of the love of Christ as he had been accustomed. And he endured this tribulation for many days, in which he persevered in constant weeping and sighing and begging God in His mercy to return to him the beloved Spouse of his soul.

Finally, when it pleased God to have tested his patience sufficiently and ignited his desire, one day when Brother John was walking through the same woods, afflicted and troubled as he was, he was tired and sat down next to a beech tree; and he stayed there with his face all wet with tears looking toward heaven. Suddenly Jesus Christ appeared near him on the path by which Brother John had come, but He did not say anything. Brother John saw Him, and recognizing clearly that He was Christ, immediately threw himself at His feet, and with uncontrolled weeping humbly begged Him: "Help me, my Lord, because without You, my most sweet Savior, I remain in darkness and grief; and without You, meekest Lamb, I am in anguish and pain and fear; without You, Son of the Most High God, I am in confusion and shame; without You, I am deprived of all good and blinded, because You are Jesus Christ, the true light of souls; without You I am lost and damned, because You are the life of souls and the life of lives; without You I am sterile and dried up, because You are the fountain of every gift and every grace; without You I am completely desolate, because You are Jesus, our redemption, love and desire, the bread that restores and the wine that gladdens the choirs of Angels and the hearts of all the Saints. Enlighten me, O most gracious Master and most kind Shepherd, because, though unworthy, I am your little sheep."

But since the desire of holy men that God delays in granting inflames them to greater love and merit, the blessed Christ departed without granting it and without saying anything to him, and went away by that same path. Then Brother John jumped up and ran after Him and once again threw himself at His feet, and with holy

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 650

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