Friday, June 9, 2017

They're necessary, so use words

The power of his words,
and the witness given to this by a physician

107Although the evangelist Francis
preached to the simple,
in simple, concrete terms,
since he knew that virtue
is more necessary than words,
still, when he was among spiritual people
with greater abilities
he gave birth to life-giving and profound words.
With very few words he would suggest
what was inexpressible,
and, weaving movement with fiery gestures,
he carried away all his hearers toward the things of heaven.
He did not use the keys of distinctions,
For he did not preach about things he had not himself discovered.
Christ, true Power and Wisdom [(1 Cor 2:1-2, 4-5)],
made his voice a voice of power [(Ps 68:34)].

     A physician, a learned and eloquent man, once said:  'I remember the sermons of other preachers word for word, only what the saint, Francis, says eludes me.  Even if I memorize some of his words, they don’t seem to me like those that originally poured from his lips [(Wis 4:11)].'

     Thomas of Celano, The remembrance of the desire of a soul (The second life of Saint Francis) (1247) I.73.  Francis of Assisi:  early documents, vol. 2, The founder, ed. Armstrong, Hellmann, & Short (New York:  New City Press, 2000), 318.

36Francis, Christ’s bravest soldier,
went around the cities and villages [(Mt 9:35)],
proclaiming the kingdom of God
and preaching peace [(Mt 9:35; Acts 10:36)]
and penance for the remission of sins [(Mk 1:4)],
not in the persuasive words of human wisdom
but in the learning and power of the Spirit [(1 Cor 2:4)].

     He acted confidently [(Acts 9:28)] in all matters because of the apostolic authority granted him.  He did not use fawning or seductive flattery.  He did not smooth over but cut out the faults of others.  He did not encourage but struck at the life of sin with a sharp blow, because he first convinced himself by action, and then convinced others by words.  Not fearing anyone’s rebuke, he spoke the truth boldly, so that even well-educated men, distinguished by fame and dignity, were amazed at his words and were shaken by a healthy fear in his presence.

     Thomas of Celano, Life of Saint Francis (1229) I.15.  Francis of Assisi:  early documents, vol. 1, The saint, ed. Armstrong, Hellmann, & Short (New York:  New City Press, 1999), 214-215.

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