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 The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 185 

over within himself Lk 12:17 things that were not usual for him.a When he had recovered a little and, with the support of a cane, had begun to walk about here and there through the house in order to regain his health, he went outside one day and began to gaze upon the surrounding countryside with greater interest. But the beauty of the fields, the delight of the vineyards, and whatever else was beautiful to see could offer him no delight at all.b He wondered at the sudden change in himself, and considered those who loved these things quite foolish.

4 From that day he began to regard himself as worthless and to hold in some contempt what he had previously held as admirable and lovable, though not completely or genuinely. For he had not yet been freed from the bonds of vanities nor had he thrown off from his neck the yoke of degrading servitude. It is difficult to leave familiar things behind, and things once instilled in the spirit are not easily weakened. The spirit, even a long time after its early training, reverts to them; and vice, with enough custom and practice, becomes second nature.c

Thus Francis still tried to avoid the divine grasp, and, for a brief time losing sight of the Father's reproach while good fortune smiled upon him, reflected upon worldly matters. Ignoring God's plan, he vowed, out of vainglory and vanity, to do great deeds. A certain nobleman from the city of Assisi was furnishing himself on a large scale with military weaponry and, swollen by the wind of empty glory, Gal 5:26 he asserted solemnly that he was going to Apulia to enrich himself in money or distinction.d When Francis heard of this, because he was whimsical and overly daring, he agreed to go with him. Although Francis did not equal him in nobility of birth, he did outrank him in graciousness; and though poorer in wealth, he was richer in generosity.

5 One night, after Francis had devoted himself with all of his determination to accomplish these things and was eager, seething with desire

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Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 279-280


coepit intra se alia solito cogitare. 3Cumque iam paululum respirasset et baculo sustentatus, causa recuperandae sanitatis coepisset huc atque illuc per domicilium ambulare, die quadam foras exivit et circumadiacentem provinciam coepit curiosius intueri. 4Sed pulchritudo agrorum, vinearum amoenitas et quidquid visu pulchrum est, in nullo eum potuit delectare. 5Mirabatur propterea subitam sui mutationem, et praedictorum amatores stultissimos reputabat.

4 1Ab ea itaque die coepit seipsum vilescere sibi, et in contemptu quodam habere, quae prius in admiratione habuerat et amore.2Non plene tamen nec vere, quia nondum solutus erat a vinculis vanitatum, nec perversae servitutis iugum excusserat de cervice.3Gravissimum enim est assueta relinquere et animo semel iniecta non de facili enervantur; recurrit animus longo tempore segregatus ad rudimenta principii et assiduitate plerumque5 vitium vertitur in naturam. —

4Tentat proinde Franciscus adhuc divinam fugere manum, et paternae correctionis paulisper oblitus, arridentibus sibi prosperis, cogitat quae sunt mundi ac ignorans consilium Dei, de gloria saeculi et vanitate facturum adhuc maxima se promittit.5Nam nobilis quidam civitatis Assisii, militaribus armis se non mediocriter praeparat et inanis gloriae vento inflatus, ad pecuniae vel honoris augenda lucra, iturum in Apuliam se spopondit.6Quibus auditis, Franciscus, quia levis animo erat et non modicum audax, ad eundum conspirat cum illo, generis nobilitate impar sed magnanimitate superior, pauper ior divitiis sed profusior largitate.

1Nocte igitur quadam, cum ad haec consummanda tota se deliberatione dedisset et desiderio aestuans ad iter agendum maxime anhelaret,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 185

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