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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER XVI


OF TRUE RELIGIOUS LIFE


Brother Giles said of himself: “I would rather have a small measure of the grace of God as a Religious in Religion, than have many graces from God as a secular living in the world; for in the world are many more perils and hindrances, and far fewer remedies, than in Religion.” He said also: “It seems to me that a sinful man fears his good far more than he fears his loss or injury; for he fears to enter Religion and to do penance, yet he does not fear to offend God and lose his own soul by remaining hard and obstinate in the world, awaiting his eternal damnation in the mire and misery of his sins.”

A man of the world asked Brother Giles: “Father, what wouldst thou advise me to do - to enter Religion, or to remain and do good works in the world?” To whom Brother Giles thus replied: “My brother, it is certain that if a man knew of a great treasure lying hidden in a common field, he would not ask counsel of any one to ascertain whether or no he should take possession of it and carry it to his own house: how much more ought a man to strive and hasten with all care and diligence to possess himself of that heavenly treasure which is to be found in holy religious orders and spiritual congregations, without stopping to ask counsel of so many!” The secular, on receiving this answer, immediately distributed all that he possessed to the poor; and having thus stripped himself of all things, entered forthwith into Religion.

Brother Giles said: “Many men enter Religion, and do not put into effect and operation those things which belong to the perfection of that holy state; but these are like the ploughman who arrayed himself in the armour of Orlando, and knew not how to manage it, or how to fight under its weight. It is not every man who can ride a restive and vicious horse; and if he attempt to mount it, he will perhaps be thrown when the animal rears or runs away.”

Brother Giles added, moreover: “I account it no great matter for a man to enter into the king’s court; nor do I think it any great thing for a man to obtain certain graces or favours from the king; but it is a very great thing for him to be able to dwell and converse discreetly in the king’s court, persevering wisely and prudently in his service.

“Now the court of the great King of Heaven is holy Religion, and there is no great labour in entering it, and receiving therein certain graces and favours from God; but the great thing is, that a man should know how to live well therein, and to persevere therein discreetly until the day of his death.”

Brother Giles said also: “I would choose rather to be in the secular state, continually and devoutly desiring to enter into holy Religion, than to be clothed in the religious habit without the exercise of good works, but persevering in sloth and negligence. And therefore ought the Religious ever to strive to live well and virtuously, knowing that he can be saved in no other state but that of his profession.”

On another occasion Brother Giles said: “It seems to me that the Order of the Friars Minor was instituted by God for the utility and great edification of the people; but woe to us friars if we be not such men as we ought to be! Certain it is that there can be found in this life no men more blessed than we; for he is holy who followeth the holy, and he is truly good who walketh in the way of the good, and he is rich who goeth in the path of the rich; and the Order of Friars Minor is that which follows more closely than any other the footsteps and the ways of the Best, the Richest, and the Most Holy who ever has been or ever will be, even our Lord Jesus Christ.”


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