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 The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 183 

This is quite true, for the desires of parents are more injurious to their children, the more they yield gladly to lax discipline.

But even when the children advance a little more in age, they always fall into more ruinous actions by their own choice. For a flawed tree grows from a flawed root; and what was once badly corrupted can only with difficulty be brought back to the norm of justice.

But when they begin to enter the gates of adolescence, what sort of individuals do you imagine they become? Then, without question, flowing on the tide of every kind of debauchery, since they are permitted to fulfill everything they desire, they surrender themselves with all their energy to the service of outrageous conduct. For having becomeslaves of sin by a voluntary servitude, all the members of their body display the weapons of iniquity, and, displaying nothing of the Christian religion in their own lives and conduct, they content themselves with just the name of Christian. These wretched people generally pretend that they have done more wicked things than they actually have, so that they do not appear despicable by seeming innocent.a

2This is the wretched early training in which that man whom we today venerate as a saint—for he truly is a saint—passed his time from childhood and miserably wasted and squandered his time almost up to the twenty-fifth year of his life. Maliciously advancing beyondall of his peers 2 Mc 4:1 in vanities, he proved himself a more excessive inciter of evil and a zealous imitator Lk 19:20 of foolishness. He was an object of admiration to all, and he endeavored to surpass others in his flamboyant display of vain accomplishments: wit, curiosity, practical jokes and foolish talk, songs, and soft and flowing garments. Since he was very rich, he was not greedy but extravagant, not a hoarder of money but a squanderer of his property, a prudent dealer but a most unreliable steward.b He was, nevertheless, a rather kindly person, adaptable and quite affable, even though it made him look foolish.c For this reason more than for anything

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Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 277-278


6Testimonium hoc verum est, cum eo inimiciora sint filiis vota parentum, quo cessere felicius.

7Sed et cum paulo plusculum aetate profecerint, se ipsis impellentibus, semper ad deteriora opera dilabuntur. 8Ex vitiata namque radice arbor vitiosa succrescit, et quod semel male depravatum est vix reduci potest ad regulam aequitatis.

9Cum vero adolescentiae portas coeperint introire, quales eos fieri arbitraris? 10Tunc profecto omni dissolutionis genere fluitantes, eo quod liceat eis explere omne quod libet, omni studio se tradunt flagitiis deservire. 11Sic enim voluntaria servitute servi effecti peccati, arma iniquitatis exponunt omnia membra sua, et nihil in se christianae religionis in vita seu in moribus praeferentes, solo christianitatis nomine se tuentur. 12Simulant miseri plerumque se nequiora fecisse quam fecerint, ne videantur abiectiores, quo innocentiores exsistunt.

2 1Haec sunt misera rudimenta, in quibus homo iste, quem sanctum hodie veneramur, quoniam vere sanctus est, a pueritia versabatur et fere usque ad vigesimum quintum aetatis suae annum tempus suum miserabiliter perdidit et consumpsit. 2Immo super omnes coaetaneos suos in vanitatibus male proficiens, incentor malorum et aemulator stultitiae abundantius exsistebat. 3Admirationi omnibus erat et in pompa vanae gloriae praeire caeteros nitebatur, in iocis, in curiosis, in scurrilibus et inanibus verbis, in cantilenis, in vestibus mollibus et fluidis:4quia praedives erat, non avarus sed prodigus, non accumulator pecuniae sed substantiae dissipator, cautus negotiator sed vanissimus dispensator; homo tamen humanius agens, habilis et affabilis, multum, licet ad insipientiam sibi. 5Quoniam multi ob hoc maxime post ipsum abibant,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 183

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