The truth is freeing, and St. Francis spoke timeless truths that leave us with much to ponder.
Eight hundred years after his death, the pearls of wisdom of St. Francis of Assisi remain astonishingly relevant to our modern lives. If he were given the chance to speak to us today, there’s no doubt that the holy friar would encourage us to love God above all else, and to be full of gratitude for the gifts we receive from Him every day.
Although St. Francis abandoned riches to follow Christ, he was well acquainted nevertheless with the temptations and trials of life. This is particularly evident in his Admonitions. His words and example encourage us to simplify our lives, and to find God in everything. Nothing could better help us to live a peaceful and satisfying life together. Here are some examples of his timeless wisdom.
1Be humble: Only glory in your sufferings for Christ
“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 … 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, and in bearing daily the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Admonitions, 5
2Be pure of heart
“‘Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.’ (Mt 5:8) 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.” – Admonitions, 16
3Patience and humility are proven in adversity
“How much interior patience and humility a servant of God may have cannot be known so long as he is contented. 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.” – Admonitions, 13
4Be a peacemaker when it hurts
“’Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ (Mt 5:9) 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.” – Admonitions
5True charity lies in helping those who cannot help us
“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.” – Admonitions
6Don’t gossip or be a backstabber
“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.” – Admonitions
7Be patient with others
“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.” – Admonitions
8Virtue makes us free
“Where there is charity and wisdom there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility there is neither anger nor worry. 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.” – Admonitions
9We must do what is right, not just talk about it
“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; 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 practiced works, we should expect to receive honor and glory for reading and preaching the same.” – Admonitions, 6