The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi
by Brother Ugolino
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."