The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi
by Brother Ugolino
The slothful man loseth both this world and the next, because he brings
forth no fruit in himself, and is of no profit to others.
It is impossible for a man to acquire any virtue without diligence and
great labour. When thou canst stand in a place of safety, stand not in
a place of danger.
He standeth in a safe place who painfully and diligently labours and
toils in God, and for the Lord his God, not for fear of punishment or
hopes of reward, but for the love of God. The man who refuses to labour
and suffer for the love of Christ, truly refuses to share the glory of
Christ; and thus, inasmuch as diligence is useful and profitable to us,
so is negligence hurtful and dangerous.
As sloth is the way to hell, so is holy diligence the way to heaven.
Most solicitous and diligent ought a man to be in acquiring and
preserving virtue and the grace of God by constant faithful
co-operation with the grace vouchsafed to him; for it often happens
that he loses the fruit among the leaves, and the grain amid the straw.
On some our good God graciously bestows fruit with but few leaves; to
others He gives fruit and leaves together; others, again, there are,
who have neither fruit nor leaves. It seems to me a greater thing to
know well how to guard and secretly to preserve the fruits and graces
vouchsafed to us by God, than to know how to obtain them; for though a
man know well how to acquire and gather up wealth, yet, if he know not
well how to store it up and to preserve it, he will never be rich;
while another, who carefully treasures up what by little and little he
has acquired, becomes a man of great wealth.
Oh, how great a quantity of water the Tiber contain, did none of it
flow away in other channels!
Man asks of God an infinite gift, a gift which hath no measure and no
bound, yet he will but love God by measure and within bounds. He who
desires to be loved by God, and to receive from him an infinite,
immense and superabundant reward, ought to love God supremely and
immensely, and to serve him without limit or cessation. Blessed is he
who loves God with all his heart and with all his mind, who labours and
suffers with mind and body for the love of God, and yet seeks no reward
under heaven, but accounts himself only to be his debtor.
If one man were exceedingly poor and needy, and another were to say to
him: "I will lend thee something very precious for the space of three
days; and know, that if thou turn this thing to good account within the
space of these three days, thou shalt gain infinite treasure, and
become rich for evermore"; certain it is that this poor man would be
most diligent in turning that precious thing to the best possible
account. And so I say to thef, then, thou wouldst be rich, and eternally enjoy the sweetness of
his divine presence, strive to make the best profit thou canst of this
loan from the hand of God for the space of these three days, to wit, of
this thy body, which he hath lent thee for the brief space of thy
mortal life; for if thou art not diligent to labour and traffic in this
present life whilst yet thou hast time, thou shalt never enjoy
everlasting riches, nor repose eternally in the peaceful rest of
But if all the wealth of the world were in the hands of a man who made
no use of it, either for himself or others, what would it profit either
him or them? Assuredly it would be of no use or benefit whatsoever.
On the other hand, a man who possesses little, by turning that little
to good account, may bring forth abundant fruit, both for himself and
There is a proverb of this world which says: "Never set an empty pot to
boil on the fire, expecting thy neighbour to come and fill it." And in
like manner the good God will not have thee to leave any grace empty
and unused; because he never gives a single grace to any man that it
should remain unused, but he gives it, on the contrary, that it should
be filled and used by the performance of good works; for a good will is
not sufficient unless a man fulfill it, carrying it into effect by good
Said a begger man once to Brother Giles, "Father, I pray thee, give me
some little consolation"; to whom Brother Giles made answer: "My
brother, strive to stand well with God, and then shalt thou have the
consolation thou needest; for unless a man prepare within his soul a
fair dwelling, in which God may abide and rest, he will never find
peace or home or consolation amongst creatures."
When any man wisheth to do evil, he needeth not much counsel how to do
it; but to do well he taketh much counsel, and maketh long delay.
Brother Giles said once to his companions: "My brethren, it seems to me
that there is no one nowadays who wishes to do those things which he
sees to be most profitable to him both in soul and body. Believe me, my
brethren, for I can swear it in all truth, that the more a man shuns
and avoids the yoke of Christ, the more grievous he makes it to
himself, and the more heavily it weighs upon him; while the more
generously a man takes it up, lending himself willingly to its weight,
the lighter and the sweeter will he find it to bear. Now it is the will
of God that man should labour in this world for the good of the body,
provided he neglect not the good of his soul; for soul and body,
without any manner of doubt, shall be united together to suffer or to
enjoy for all eternity; to wit, either to suffer eternally in hell
inconceivable pains and torments, or to enjoy with the saints and
angels in Paradise perpetual joys and unspeakable consolations, as the
reward of good works. But if a man do good without humility, it shall
be turned into evil; for many there are who have done works good and
praiseworthy to the eye, but because they wanted humility the works
have become corrupt, thus showing that they sprang from pride; for such
as have their root in humility never decay."
A friar once said to Brother Giles: "Father, it seems to me that we
have not yet learned to know our true good." And Brother Giles replied:
"My brother, it is certain that every one practices the art which he
had learned, for no man can do good work unless he has first learned. I
would have thee to know then, my brother, that the most noble art in
the world is that of well-doing; and who can know it except he first
Blessed is the man whom no created thing can disedify; but more blessed
is he who receiveth edification from everything which he sees and hears.