Francis Rebukes a Brother

by Thomas of Celano, Second Life of St. Francis

Francis Rebukes a brother who was sad and admonishes him and tells him how to behave.

Francis once saw a certain companion of his with a peevish and sad face. Francis, not taking this lightly, said to him, “It is not becoming for a servant of God to show himself sad or upset before man, but he should always show himself honorable. Examine your offenses in your room and weep and groan before your God. But, when you return to your brothers, put off your sorrow and conform yourself to the rest” and he said. “They who are jealous of the salvation of men envy me greatly. They are always trying to disturb in my companions what they cannot disturb in me.” So much did Francis love a man who was full of spiritual joy that he had these words written down as an admonition to all at a certain general chapter. “Let the brothers beware lest they show themselves outwardly gloomy and sad hypocrites; but, let them show themselves joyful in the Lord, cheerful and suitably gracious.”

True Joy of The Spirit

St. Francis maintained that the safest remedy against the thousand snares and wiles of the enemy is spiritual joy. For he would say, “The devil rejoices most when he can snatch away spiritual joy from a servant of God. He carries dust so he can throw it into even the tiniest chinks of conscience and soil the candor of mind and purity of life. But, when spiritual joy fills the heart,” he said, “the serpent throws off his deadly poison in vain. The devils can not harm the servant of Christ when they see he is filled with holy joy. When, however, the soul is wretched, desolate, and filled with sorrow, it is easily overwhelmed by its sorrow or it may turn to vain enjoyments.”

The saint, therefore, made it a point to keep himself in joy of heart and to preserve the unction of the spirit and the oil of gladness. He avoided with the greatest care the miserable illness of dejection, so that if he felt it creeping over his mind even a little, he would quickly return to prayer.

Francis would say, “If the servant of God, as may happen, is disturbed in any way, he should rise immediately to pray and he should remain in the presence of the heavenly Father until he restores unto him the joy of salvation. For if he remains stupefied in sadness, the Babylonian stuff will increase, so that, unless it be at length driven out by tears, it will generate an abiding rust in the heart.”

From Thomas of Celano, Second Life, Omnibus.

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