Excerpt from Letter to the Faithful

‘Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb’ 1634 Francisco de Zurbarán

The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi

And because He has suffered so much for us,  because He has given us so many blessings,  and will procure so many more for us in the future, let every creature in heaven and earth, in  the sea and in the depths, give honor, praise, blessing and glory to God: He is our might, He  alone is good, He alone most high, all-powerful  and worthy to be admired, holy and glorious,  He alone be blessed and praised from everlasting  to everlasting, world without end. Amen. 

But all those, alas! who do not live in penitence and who do not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who live in vice and sin, following the lead of their evil passions and their base desires, who do not keep their promises, who obey the world and matter, the desires of the flesh, the claims and demands of this world, serving in their heart the devil who deceives them, whose sons they are and whose works they do, all these are blind, they do not see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ.   

They ignore spiritual wisdom, they do not carry within them the Son of God who is the true wisdom of the Father. Of them it is said: “All their wisdom is swallowed up.” They see, they know, they do evil, they knowingly lose their souls. Behold, ye blind, dazzled by your enemies the world, the flesh and the devil, how sin flatters the body, and how bitter to it is the service of God: all vices and sins “come forth from the heart” of man, as it is said in the Gospel. 

You will never have any real good, either in this world or the next! You think you will long enjoy the vanities of this world, but you deceive yourselves, for the day and the hour cometh of which you do not think, and you will not consider it, you ignore it.   

The body is sick, death approaches; relations and friends are assembled! they say, “Make thy will.” His wife, children, relations, friends pretend to weep. And the sick man, seeing them weep, is moved by a bad emotion, and thinks to himself: “Yes, my soul, my body, all  my goods, I leave them in your hands.” Truly he is cursed who confides his soul, body and all his goods into such hands. Also the Lord says by His prophet: “Cursed be the man that  trusteth in man.” Then they send for a priest,  and the priest says: “Wilt thou do penance for  thy sins?” He replies: “I will.” “Wilt thou from thy substance amend thine errors, frauds and injustices towards others, as far as it is in thy power?” He replies, “No.” And the priest continues, “Why not?” “Because I have given all into the hands of my friends and relations.”  Soon afterwards speech fails him, and thus the miserable one dies this bitter death. 

Now let all know well that if a man, of no matter what kind, and of no matter what place, dies in his sins and crimes without having expiated them, after having had opportunity to repent without having done so, the Devil tears his soul from his body with so much violence and pain that he alone who has gone through it can know it. All talents, power, wisdom and knowledge he thought he possessed are taken from him. His relations and friends seize his fortune, share it and say afterwards: “Cursed be the soul of him who might have enriched himself more than he has done, and have left us more.” Meanwhile worms are gnawing his body. And in this way he has lost soul and body in this short life, and he is in hell, where he will undergo eternal judgement. 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. To all those who shall see this letter, I, Brother Francis, your little servant, beg and implore you by love which is God, and with desire to kiss your feet, to constrain you humbly and lovingly to receive these  fragrant words of our Lord Jesus Christ, to  put them cheerfully into practice, and to obey  them to perfection. And let those who do not know how to read have them read to them often, carry them about with them, endeavor diligently  to realize them unto their life’s end, for  they are spirit and life. And those who act otherwise will give an account at the Day of Judgement to the tribunal of Christ. And may all those who accept them with goodness, understand and communicate them to others, and persevere to the end in this conduct, be blessed by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

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