Front Page Titles (by Subject) I.: Words of Admonition of our Holy Father St. Francis. - The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi
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I.: Words of Admonition of our Holy Father St. Francis. - Saint Francis of Assisi, The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi 
The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi, newly translated into English with an Introduction and Notes by Father Paschal Robinson (Philadelphia: The Dolphin Press, 1906).
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Words of Admonition of our Holy Father St. Francis.
UNDER this title a precious series of spiritual counsels on the religious life has come down to us from the pen of St Francis The early Legends afford no indication of the time or circumstances of the composition of these Admonitions; nor is it possible to determine by whom they were collected. But they accord so completely with the Saint’s genuine works and are so redolent of his spirit that their authenticity is admitted by all.1 Moreover, the various codices in which these Admonitions may be found are unanimous in attributing them to St. Francis, while the number of the Admonitions2 and the order in which they are given in the different codices are almost the same as in the Laurentian codex at Florence, dating from the thirteenth century.
Codices containing the Admonitions of St. Francis are to be found at the following places 1. Assist (Munic. lib. cod. 338, fol. 18),—2. Berlin (Royal lib. cod. lat. 196, fol. 101);—3. Florence (Laurentian lib. cod. X. Plut XIX dextr., fol. 448),—4. Florence (cod. of the Convent of Ognissanti, fol. 5);—5. St. Floriano (monast lib. cod XI 148, fol 38);—6. Foligno (cod. of Capuchin Conv., fol. 21),—7. Lemberg (Univ. lib. cod. 131, fol 331),—8 Liegnitz1 (lib. of SS Peter and Paul cod. 12, fol 131),—9. Luttich (Munic. lib. cod. 343, fol. 154),—10. Munich (Royal lib. cod. lat. 11354, fol 25, number 1 only);—11. Naples (Nation lib. cod XII. F. 32, folio antepaen. numbers 6-27),—12 Oxford2 (Bodl. lib. cod. Canon miscell. 525, fol. 93);—13 Paris (Nat. lib. cod 18327, fol. 154),—14, 15. Paris (Mazarin lib. cod 1743, fol. 134, and cod. 989, fol 191),—16. Paris (codex at lib. of the Prot. theol faculty, fol. 86);—17. Prague (Metrop. lib. cod B XC., fol. 244),—18. Rome (codex at St. Antony’s Coll.,3 fol. 77),—19, 20. Rome (archiv. of St Isidore’s College, cod. 1/25, fol. 14, and cod. 1/78, fol 11);—21, 22. Rome (Vatic. lib. cod. 4354, fol. 39, and cod. 7650, fol. 10);—23. Toledo (capit. lib. cod. Cai. 25, no. 11, fol. 65) and—24 Volterra (Guarnacci lib. cod 225, fol. 141).
Of the foregoing codices that in the Laurentian Library at Florence dates from the thirteenth century; those at Ognissanti, Florence, at Assisi, Berlin, St Floriano, Oxford, Rome (St. Antony’s, St. Isidore’s, and the Vatican codex 4354), Toledo, and Volterra date from the fourteenth, and the others from the fifteenth century.
For the Quaracchi edition of the Admonitions, upon which the present translation is based, the two oldest of all these codices, to wit, those of the Laurentian Library at Florence and of the Municipal Library at Assisi,1 have been used Those at St Isidore’s, Rome, and Ognissanti, Florence, have also been consulted, besides the editions of the Admonitions found in the Monumenta Ordinis Minorum (Salamanca, 1511, tract. 11, fol. 276 r), the Firmamenta Trium Ordinum2 (Paris, 1512, P. I, fol. 19 r), and the Liber Conformitatum of Bartholomew of Pisa (Milan, 1510, fruct. XII, P. 11). But for the titles and paragraphing, which differ more or less in different codices, the Laurentian codex has been followed3
So much by way of preface to the
Of the Lord’s Body.
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, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you and have you not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me seeth [My] Father also. How sayest thou, Shew us the Father?”1 The Father “inhabiteth light inaccessible,”2 and “God is a spirit,”3 and “no man hath seen God at any time.”4 Because God is a spirit, therefore it is only by the spirit He can be seen, for “it is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.”5 For neither is the Son, inasmuch as He is equal to the Father, seen by any one other than by the Father, other than by the Holy Ghost. Wherefore, all those who saw the Lord Jesus Christ according to humanity and did not see and believe according to the Spirit and the Divinity, that He was the Son of God, were condemned. In like manner, all those who behold the Sacrament of the Body of Christ which is sanctified by the word of the Lord upon the altar by the hands of the priest in the form of bread and wine, and who do not see and believe according to the Spirit and Divinity that It is really the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, are condemned, He the Most High having declared it when He said, “This is My Body, and the Blood of the New Testament,”6 and “he that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath everlasting life.”1
Wherefore [he who has]2 the Spirit of the Lord which dwells in His faithful, he it is who receives the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord: all others who do not have this same Spirit and who presume to receive Him, eat and drink judgment to themselves.3 Wherefore, “O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart?”4 Why will you not know the truth and “believe in the Son of God?”5 Behold daily He humbles Himself as when from His “royal throne”6 He came into the womb of the Virgin; daily He Himself comes to us with like humility; daily He descends from the bosom of His Father upon the altar in the hands of the priest. And as He appeared in true flesh to the Holy Apostles, so now He shows Himself to us in the sacred Bread; and as they by means of their fleshly eyes saw only His flesh, yet contemplating Him with their spiritual eyes, believed Him to be God, so we, seeing bread and wine with bodily eyes, see and firmly believe it to be His most holy Body and true and living Blood And in this way our Lord is ever with His faithful, as He Himself says: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”7
The Evil of Self-will.
The Lord God said to Adam: “Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat. But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat.”1 Adam therefore might eat of every tree of paradise and so long as he did not offend against obedience he did not sin. For one eats of the tree of knowledge of good who appropriates to himself his own will2 and prides himself upon the goods which the Lord publishes and works in him and thus, through the suggestion of the devil and transgression of the commandment, he finds the apple of the knowledge of evil; wherefore, it behooves that he suffer punishment.
Of Perfect and Imperfect Obedience.
The Lord says in the Gospel: he “that doth not renounce all that he possesseth cannot be” a “disciple”3 and “he that will save his life, shall lose it.”4 That man leaves all he possesses and loses his body and his soul who abandons himself wholly to obedience in the hands of his superior, and whatever he does and says—provided he himself knows that what he does is good and not contrary to his [the superior’s] will—is true obedience. And if at times a subject sees things which would be better or more useful to his soul than those which the superior commands him, let him sacrifice his will to God, let him strive to fulfil the work enjoined by the superior. This is true and charitable obedience which is pleasing to God and to one’s neighbor.
If, however, a superior command anything to a subject that is against his soul it is permissible for him to disobey, but he must not leave him [the superior], and if in consequence he suffer persecution from some, he should love them the more for God’s sake. For he who would rather suffer persecution than wish to be separated from his brethren, truly abides in perfect obedience because he lays down his life for his brothers.1 For there are many religious who, under pretext of seeing better things than those which their superiors command, look back2 and return to the vomit of their own will.3 These are homicides and by their bad example cause the loss of many souls.
That no one should take Superiorship upon himself.
I did “not come to be ministered unto, but to minister,” says the Lord.4 Let those who are set above others glory in this superiority only as much as if they had been deputed to wash the feet of the brothers; and if they are more perturbed by the loss of their superiorship than they would be by losing the office of washing feet, so much the more do they lay up treasures to the peril of their own soul.
That no one should glory save in the Cross of the Lord.
Consider, O man, how great the excellence in which the Lord has placed you because He has created and formed you to the image of His beloved Son according to the body and to His own likeness according to the spirit.1 And all the creatures that are under heaven serve and know and obey their Creator in their own way better than you And even the demons did not crucify Him, but you together with them crucified Him and still crucify Him by taking delight in vices and sins. Wherefore then can you glory? For if you were so clever and wise that you possessed all science, and if you knew how to interpret every form of language and to investigate heavenly things minutely, you could not glory in all this, because one demon has known more of heavenly things and still knows more of earthly things than all men, although there may be some man who has received from the Lord a special knowledge of sovereign wisdom. In like manner, if you were handsomer and richer than all others, and even if you could work wonders and put the demons to flight, all these things are hurtful to you and in nowise belong to you, and in them you cannot glory; that, however, in which we may glory is in our infirmities,2 and in bearing daily the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of the Imitation of the Lord.
Let us all, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd who to save His sheep bore the suffering of the Cross. The sheep of the Lord followed Him in tribulation and persecution and shame, in hunger and thirst, in infirmity and temptations and in all other ways;1 and for these things they have received everlasting life from the Lord. Wherefore it is a great shame for us, the servants of God, that, whereas the Saints have practised works, we should expect to receive honor and glory for reading and preaching the same.
That Good Works should accompany Knowledge.
The Apostle says, “the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.”2 They are killed by the letter who seek only to know the words that they may be esteemed more learned among others and that they may acquire great riches to leave to their relations and friends. And those religious are killed by the letter who will not follow the spirit of the Holy Scriptures, but who seek rather to know the words only and to interpret them to others. And they are quickened by the spirit of the Holy Scriptures who do not interpret materially every text they know or wish to know, but who by word and example give them back to God from whom is all good.
Of avoiding the Sin of Envy.
The Apostle affirms that “no man can say the Lord Jesus but by the Holy Ghost,”1 and “there is none that doth good, no not one.”2 Whosoever, therefore, envies his brother on account of the good which the Lord says or does in him, commits a sin akin to blasphemy, because he envies the Most High Himself who says and does all that is good.
The Lord says in the Gospel, “Love your enemies,” etc.3 He truly loves his enemy who does not grieve because of the wrong done to himself, but who is afflicted for love of God because of the sin on his [brother’s] soul and who shows his love by his works.
Of Bodily Mortification.
There are many who if they commit sin or suffer wrong often blame their enemy or their neighbor. But this is not right, for each one has his enemy in his power,—to wit, the body by which he sins. Wherefore blessed is that servant who always holds captive the enemy thus given into his power and wisely guards himself from it, for so long as he acts thus no other enemy visible or invisible can do him harm.
That one must not be seduced by Bad Crample.1
To the servant of God nothing should be displeasing save sin. And no matter in what way any one may sin, if the servant of God is troubled or angered—except this be through charity—he treasures up guilt to himself.2 The servant of God who does not trouble himself or get angry about anything lives uprightly and without sin. And blessed is he who keeps nothing for himself, rendering “to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”3
Of Knowing the Spirit of God.
Thus may the servant of God know if he has the Spirit of God: if when the Lord works some good through him, his body—since it is ever at variance with all that is good—is not therefore puffed up; but if he rather becomes viler in his own sight and if he esteems himself less than other men.4
How much interior patience and humility a servant of God may have cannot be known so long as he is contented1 But when the time comes that those who ought to please him go against him, as much patience and humility as he then shows, so much has he and no more.
Of Poverty of Spirit.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”2 Many apply themselves to prayers and offices, and practise much abstinence and bodily mortification, but because of a single word which seems to be hurtful to their bodies or because of something being taken from them, they are forthwith scandalized and troubled. These are not poor in spirit: for he who is truly poor in spirit, hates himself and loves those who strike him on the cheek.3
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”4 They are truly peacemakers who amidst all they suffer in this world maintain peace in soul and body for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of Cleanness of Heart.
“Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.”1 They are clean of heart who despise earthly things and always seek those of heaven, and who never cease to adore and contemplate the Lord God Living and True, with a pure heart and mind.
Of the Humble Servant of God.
Blessed is that servant who is not more puffed up because of the good the Lord says and works through him than because of that which He says and works through others. A man sins who wishes to receive more from his neighbor than he is himself willing to give to the Lord God.
Of Compassion toward one’s Neighbor.
Blessed is the man who bears with his neighbor according to the frailty of his nature as much as he would wish to be borne with by him if he should be in a like case.
Of the Happy and Unhappy Servant.
Blessed is the servant who gives up all his goods to the Lord God, for he who retains anything for himself hides “his Lord’s money,”2 and that “which he thinketh he hath shall be taken away from him.”3
Of the Good and Humble Religious.
Blessed is the servant who does not regard himself as better when he is esteemed and extolled by men than when he is reputed as mean, simple, and despicable: for what a man is in the sight of God, so much he is, and no more.1 Woe to that religious who is elevated in dignity by others, and who of his own will is not ready to descend. And blessed is that servant who is raised in dignity not by his own will and who always desires to be beneath the feet of others.
Of the Happy and the Vain Religious.
Blessed is that religious who feels no pleasure or joy save in most holy conversation and the works of the Lord, and who by these means leads men2 to the love of God in joy and gladness. And woe to that religious who takes delight in idle and vain words and by this means provokes men to laughter.
Of the Frivolous and Talkative Religious.3
Blessed is that servant who does not speak through hope of reward and who does not manifest everything and is not “hasty to speak,”4 but who wisely foresees what he ought to say and answer. Woe to that religious who not concealing in his heart the good things which the Lord has disclosed to him and who not manifesting them to others by his work, seeks rather through hope of reward to make them known to men by words: for now he receives his recompense and his hearers bear away little fruit.
Of True Correction.
Blessed is the servant who bears discipline, accusation, and blame from others as patiently as if they came from himself. Blessed is the servant who, when reproved, mildly submits, modestly obeys, humbly confesses, and willingly satisfies. Blessed is the servant who is not prompt to excuse himself and who humbly bears shame and reproof for sin when he is without fault.
Of True Humility.1
Blessed is he2 who shall be found as humble among his subjects as if he were among his masters. Blessed is the servant who always continues under the rod of correction. He is “a faithful and wise servant”3 who does not delay to punish himself for all his offences, interiorly by contrition and exteriorly by confession and by works of satisfaction.
Of True Love.
Blessed is that brother who would love his brother as much when he is ill and not able to assist him as he loves him when he is well and able to assist him. Blessed is the brother who would love and fear his brother as much when he is far from him as he would when with him, and who would not say anything about him behind his back that he could not with charity say in his presence.
That the Servants of God should honor Clerics.
Blessed is the servant of God who exhibits confidence in clerics who live uprightly according to the form of the holy Roman Church. And woe to those who despise them: for even though they [the clerics] may be sinners, nevertheless no one ought to judge them, because the Lord Himself reserves to Himself alone the right of judging them. For as the administration with which they are charged, to wit, of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they receive and which they alone administer to others—is greater than all others, even so the sin of those who offend against them is greater than any against all the other men in this world.
Of the Virtues putting Vices to flight.
Where there is charity and wisdom there is neither fear nor ignorance Where there is patience and humility there is neither anger nor worry.1 Where there is poverty and joy there is neither cupidity nor avarice. Where there is quiet and meditation there is neither solicitude nor dissipation. Where there is the fear of the Lord to guard the house the enemy cannot find a way to enter. Where there is mercy and discretion there is neither superfluity nor hard-heartedness.
Of hiding Good lest it be lost.
Blessed is the servant who treasures up in heaven2 the good things which the Lord shows him and who does not wish to manifest them to men through the hope of reward, for the Most High will Himself manifest his works to whomsoever He may please. Blessed is the servant who keeps the secrets of the Lord in his heart.3
[1 ]See Goetz Quellen zur Geschichte des hl Franz von Assisi, in Zeitschrift fur Kirchengeschichte, t xxii, p 551, and Van Ortroy, S J., in Anal. Bolland, t xxiv, fasc. iii (1905), p 411.
[2 ]The codex of St Antony’s College, Rome, omits the Admonitions numbered 11 and 22 It may be noted, however, that both these numbers are found at the end of the Speculum Perfectionis, ed Lemmens. See Documenta Antiqua Franciscana, P. II, p 84
[1 ]On this MS see Sabatier, Opuscules, fasc. ii.
[2 ]On this MS. see Little, Opuscules, fasc. v.
[3 ]As to this codex see Lemmens Documenta Antiqua Franciscana, P. III, p 72.
[1 ]Mgr. Faloci has edited the first of the Admonitions from this codex in his Miscellanea Francescana, t. vi, p 96
[2 ]In this edition, which Wadding has followed (fol 21 v.), nos 20, 21, and 23 are repeated.
[3 ]In places where variants are noted at the foot of the page the following abbreviations will be used.
[1 ]John 14. 6-9
[2 ]I Tim 6. 16.
[3 ]John 4 24.
[4 ]John 1 18
[5 ]John 6 64.
[6 ]Mark 14. 22-24.
[1 ]John 6. 55.
[2 ]These words are added in the text given by Pis. and Wadd.
[3 ]See I Cor. 11 29
[4 ]Ps 4 3.
[5 ]John 9. 35.
[6 ]Wis. 18. 15.
[7 ]Matt. 28 20.
[1 ]Gen. 2. 16-17.
[2 ]To which, namely, he has no right after religious profession, having relinquished his will by the vow of obedience.
[3 ]Luke 14 33.
[4 ]Matt. 16 25.
[1 ]See John 15. 13.
[2 ]See Luke 9. 62
[3 ]See Prov. 26 11.
[4 ]Matt. 20 28.
[1 ]See Gen. 1. 26.
[2 ]See II Cor. 12. 5.
[1 ]See John 10. 11, Heb. 12. 2, John 10 4, Rom. 8 35
[2 ]II Cor. 3. 6
[1 ]I Cor. 12 3.
[2 ]Ps 52 4
[3 ]Matt 5. 44.
[1 ]This Admonition is wanting in codex An., but is found in the Speculum Perfectionis, ed Lemmens. See Documenta Antiqua Franciscana, P. II, p. 84
[2 ]See Rom. 2. 5
[3 ]Matt. 22: 21.
[4 ]Cod O and Is. read “If therefore his body is puffed up, he has not the Spirit of God. If, however, he becomes rather viler in his own sight, then he truly has the Spirit of God.”
[1 ]Cod O. reads “so long as he enjoys everything according to his wish and necessity.”
[2 ]Matt 5. 3
[3 ]See Matt. 5. 39
[4 ]Matt. 5. 9.
[1 ]Matt. 5 8.
[2 ]See Matt 25 18
[3 ]Luke 8 18.
[1 ]See Bonav Leg Maj, VI, 1. “And he had these words continually in his mouth ‘what a man is in the eyes of God, so much he is, and no more’ ” See also Imitation of Christ, Bk III, Chap L, where the same saying of St Francis is quoted
[2 ]See Speculum Perfectionis, ed. Sabatier, p 189
[3 ]This Admonition (like No 11) is wanting in Cod An, but is found in the Speculum Perfectionis, ed Lemmens See Doc Ant. Franc, P II, p 84.
[4 ]Prov 29 20
[1 ]In Cod. O. numbers 23 and 24 are not divided
[2 ]Cod An reads “Blessed is that superior . . . ”
[3 ]Matt 24 45.
[1 ]Cod. O omits this sentence.
[2 ]See Matt 6 20
[3 ]St Francis would often say to his brethren “When a servant of God receives any divine inspiration in prayer, he ought to say, ‘This consolation, O Lord, Thou hast sent from heaven to me, a most unworthy sinner, and I commit it to Thy care, for I know that I should be but a thief of Thy treasure.’ And when he returns to prayer, he ought to bear himself as a little one and a sinner, as if he had received no new grace from God”—St Bonaventure, Leg Maj., X, 4