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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER VII


OF THE CONTEMPT OF TEMPORAL THINGS


Many sorrows and troubles shall befall the miserable man who sets his heart and desires upon earthly things, for which he forsakes and loses the things of heaven, and at last those of earth also. The eagle flieth very high; but if a weight be laid upon his wings, he can no longer soar aloft; and so by the weight of earthly things man is hindered from soaring on high, to wit, from attaining to perfection; but the wise man, who lays the weight of the remembrance of death and judgment on the wings of his heart, cannot fly and range freely amid the vanities of this world, lest they prove to him occasion of damnation. We see daily how men of the world toil and labour hard, placing themselves in many bodily dangers, to acquire its false riches; and then, after they have thus laboured and acquired, in a moment they die, and leave behind them all that they have gathered together in their lifetime. Therefore there is no dependence to be placed on this deceitful world, which deceiveth every man who trusteth in it, for it is a liar. But he who desires to be truly great and rich indeed, let him love and seek the true and eternal riches, which never satiate or weary or grow less.

Let us take example from the beasts and birds, who, when they receive their food are content, and seek only what they need from hour to hour: and so also ought man to be content with what is barely sufficient temperately to supply his needs, asking no more. Brother Giles said that St Francis loved the ants less than any other animal, because of the great care they take in the summer to gather and lay up a store of grain against the winter, but that he said that he loved the birds far better, because they gathered nothing one day for another.

But the ant giveth us an example that we should not remain idle in the summer-time of this present life, lest we be found empty and without fruit in the winter of the last and final judgment.


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