Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Fioretti: On how St. Francis was just kidding about Lady Poverty ...

The habit of St. Francis.

From the Saint's last will and testament.

And when the Lord gave me some brothers, no one showed me what I ought to do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the holy Gospel.  And I caused it to be written in few words and simply, and the Lord Pope confirmed it for me. And those who came to take this life upon themselves gave to the poor all that they might have and they were content with one tunic, patched within and without, by those who wished,  with a cord and breeches, and we wished for no more.

We clerics said the Office like other clerics; the laics said the Paternoster, and we remained in the churches willingly enough. And we were simple and subject to all. And I worked with my hands and I wish to work and I wish firmly that all the other brothers should work at some labor which is compatible with honesty. Let those who know not [how to work] learn, not through desire to receive the price of labor but for the sake of example and to repel idleness. And when the price of labor is not given to us,  let us have recourse to the table of the Lord, begging alms from door to door.

The Lord revealed to me this salutation, that we should say: "The Lord give thee peace."  Let the brothers take care not to receive on any account churches, poor dwelling-places, and all other things  that are constructed for them, unless they are as is becoming the holy poverty which we have promised in the Rule, always dwelling there as strangers and pilgrims. - Source

No, St. Francis was not just pretending.

Of course things have changed over the centuries, the rule modified, the various branches moving from reform to moderation and so on, I just find it troubling how contemporary writers seek to revise the earliest writings and claim Francis didn't really intend actual poverty for his followers.  So many other saints, from Clare to Teresa of Avila, sought to emulate such absolute poverty, and always, they were confronted with arguments to the contrary.  An amazing fact actually, when Christ declared about himself, "Foxes have holes, the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."

In every age, God raises up souls who cling to the Lord in holy poverty, to remind us of these things.  From St. Benedict Joseph Labre to Willy Herteleer.  From the Missionaries of Charity* to the Fratti Minori Rinnovati:  Fools, paupers, homeless, beggars, refugees, the persecuted and religious - follow the poor Christ.

 And I strictly enjoin on all my brothers, clerics and laics, by obedience, not to put glosses on the Rule or on these words saying: Thus they ought to be understood; but as the Lord has given me to speak and to write the Rule and these words simply and purely, so shall you understand them simply and purely  and with holy operation observe them until the end. - St. Francis of Assisi

This venerable old friar was Fra Tommaso Maria di Gesù,
Fratti Minori Rinnovati.  I met him years ago in Naples.
The Rinnovati are a reform group-offspring of the Capuchins.
They live the primitive Franciscan life.
The Order's website here.

*BTW - did you know the Missionaries of Charity do not do fundraisers or allow Mother's name to be used for that purpose?


  1. I knew that Mother didn't do any fundraising, just relied on Divine Providence and assumed that the MC continued to rely thereon. It makes sense that they don't allow fundraising on her name.

  2. Oh, their website is beautiful!

  3. Well, Mother Teresa had faith that God would provide. What do we have today? Diocesan appeals run by professional fundraisers, electronic giving so the parish won't miss out on a single check while parishioners are on vacation, regular shakedowns of the people in the pew to empty their pockets.

    Frankly, I'm sick of it. We give a monthly donation to the Poor Clares and a crisis pregnancy center and support intermittently Mercy Chefs, Heifer International, other charities, and several great pro-life politicians. We don't give to a single diocesan collection. CCHD and CRS are scandalous. Catholic U. is more U than Catholic. I just don't trust any of them. Sad, isn't it?


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