Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with St. Francis: Perfect Joy

Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Hosea 14:2–10;
Psalm 8:6c–8a, 8bc–9, 10–11ab, 14, 17;
Mark 12:28b–34

“Which commandment is the first of all?” —Mark 12 :28


One of the best stories about St. Francis is his explanation to Brother Leo about “perfect joy.”

One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suer keenly. St. Francis…said: “Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”

…And going on a bit farther, St. Francis called again strongly: “Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor could preach so well that he should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that perfect joy is not there.”

Now when he had been talking this way for a distance of two miles, Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: “Father, I beg you in God’s name to tell me where perfect joy is.”

And St. Francis replied: “When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily: ‘Who are you?’ And we say: ‘We are two of your brothers.’ And he contradicts us, saying: ‘You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away!’…and if we can bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!”

Francis discovered the hidden secret to inner peace: Don’t react. It doesn’t make the insults OK. But it does keep us from being consumed by our own anger.


Prayer

You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
Amen.


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