And because He has suffered so much for us, because He has given us so many blessings, and will procure so many more for us in the future, let every creature in heaven and earth, in the sea and in the depths, give honor, praise, blessing and glory to God: He is our might, He alone is good, He alone most high, all-powerful and worthy to be admired, holy and glorious, He alone be blessed and praised from everlasting to everlasting, world without end. Amen.
But all those, alas! who do not live in penitence and who do not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who live in vice and sin, following the lead of their evil passions and their base desires, who do not keep their promises, who obey the world and matter, the desires of the flesh, the claims and demands of this world, serving in their heart the devil who deceives them, whose sons they are and whose works they do, all these are blind, they do not see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Golden Sayings of Brother Giles of Assisi, Chapter IV
No one can come to the knowledge of God except through humility. The way of going above is to go below.
All the perils and all the great disasters that have taken place in the world would not have happened save for holding the head high, as is clear in the case of him who was created in heaven, and of Adam, and of the pharisee in the Gospel, and many others. And all the great good that has taken place has been on account of inclining the head, as is clear in the case of the Blessed Virgin, of the publican, of the good thief, and of many others. Blessed Giles also said: “O! that we might have a great pack which would always make us bend our head!”
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by Me. If you had known Me, you would without doubt have known My Father also ; and from henceforth you shall know Him, and you have seen Him. Philip saith to Him: Lord, shew us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus saith to him: So long a time have I been with you, and have you not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me, seeth the Father also.” The Father “inhabiteth light inaccessible, ” and “God is spirit,” and “no man hath seen God at any time.”
The graces and virtues which are merited and found in prayer are many. The first is, that man is enlightened in mind; the second, that he is strengthened in faith; the third, that he knoweth his own miseries; the fourth, that he arriveth at holy fear and is humiliated and becometh despicable in his own eyes; the fifth, that he attaineth to contrition of heart; the sixth, that he is purified in conscience; the seventh, that he is confirmed in patience; the eighth, that he placeth himself under obedience; the ninth, that he cometh to true discretion; the tenth, that he attaineth knowledge; the eleventh, that he cometh to understanding; the twelfth, that he acquireth fortitude; the thirteenth, that he attaineth wisdom; the fourteenth, that he arriveth at the knowledge of God who manifesteth Himself to those that adore Him in spirit and in truth. Then man is inflamed with love, runneth in the odor, and attaineth to the suavity, of sweetness, is led to peace of mind, and finally cometh to glory. But after he shall have placed his mouth to the words of the Most High where the soul is filled, who shall be able to separate him from prayer which hath led him to such contemplation? Hence, Gregory (saith): heavenly sweetness having been tasted, “all things that are on earth become sordid.”
In a letter addressed to the Ministers General of the three families of the First Order of Minors, the Holy Father gives expression to “a certain fear that an unwise zeal for novelty, under the pretext of doing better work for society, is in some places insinuating itself into the Order of Tertiaries, and gradually diverting it from the scope for which the most holy Francis has ordained it.”
The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi, Chapter XX
At the time when St Francis was living in the city of Gubbio, a large wolf appeared in the neighborhood, so terrible and so fierce, that he not only devoured other animals, but made a prey of men also; and since he often approached the town, all the people were in great alarm, and used to go about armed, as if going to battle. Notwithstanding these precautions, if any of the inhabitants ever met him alone, he was sure to be devoured, as all defense was useless: and, through fear of the wolf, they dared not go beyond the city walls. St Francis, feeling great compassion for the people of Gubbio, resolved to go and meet the wolf, though all advised him not to do so. Making the sign of the holy cross, and putting all his confidence in God, he went forth from the city, taking his brethren with him; but these fearing to go any further, St Francis bent his steps alone toward the spot where the wolf was known to be, while many people followed at a distance, and witnessed the miracle.
The graces of God and virtues are the ladder and way of ascending into heaven; but vices and sins are the way and the ladder of descending into hell.
Vices and sins are poison, and good works are the antidotes.
Grace draweth grace, and one vice leadeth to another vice.
Grace doth not seek to be praised, and vice doth not wish to be despised. That is, the man of grace doth not wish to be praised nor doth he seek human praise, and the man of vice doth not wish to be despised or reproved which proceedeth from pride.
(continued from Jan 29…) Leo continues to speak of the Franciscan Spirit, showing clearly how it is suited to the present day. In conclusion he exhorts all Christians to join the Third Order. He writes: “For all these reasons we have long and earnestly desired that each one shall strive to the utmost of his power to imitate St. Francis of Assisi. Wherefore, as we have in former times ever had special interest in the Third Order of Franciscans, so now, being called by God ‘s great goodness to the Supreme Pontificate, as a most fitting opportunity has occurred, we exhort all Christians not to hesitate to enlist in this sacred army of Jesus Christ. Many there are everywhere of both sexes who have already readily begun to follow the footsteps of the Seraphic Father. We praise and warmly commend their zeal, but we desire that it may be augmented and extended to many more, especially, Venerable Brethren, by your assistance. What we chiefly commend is, that they who have put on the badge of Penance, should look up to the image of their sainted Founder and strive to imitate it; otherwise the good effect they hope for will not follow. Do your best, therefore, that the people may know and really esteem the THIRD ORDER.
The Third Order of St. Francis, called by its holy Founder the Order of Penance, is now in existence for almost seven hundred years. During this time it has been a source of many blessings to numberless Christians who received the habit of penance and, in conformity with the Rule of the Third Order, led a life in close imitation of our Divine Lord. The popes, the promoters of everything good and holy, have from time to time warmly recommended this institution of St. Francis, and have always vigorously defended it against the attacks of its enemies.
Next to Gregory IX, the friend and adviser of St. Francis, no pope has been more enthusiastic about the Third Order, or has done more to make it known to the faithful, than Leo XIII., of blessed memory.