To allthe Faithful of Christ.
To all Christians, religious, priests,laymen,and women, and to all who dwell in the world: Brother Francis, theirservantand slave, reverently wishes true peace from heaven, and sincere charityin theLord. I, being the servant of all, am bound to serve all, and to ministertothem the most sweet words of my Lord. Wherefore, considering in my mind thatonaccount of my infirmities and of the weakness of my body, I cannotpersonallyvisit each one, I desire by this letter to announce unto you thewords of myLord Jesus Christ, Who is the Eternal Word of the Father, and also thewords of the Holy Ghost, which are spirit and life.
This Word of theFather, so divine, so holy,and so glorious, was announced from heaven by theholy Archangel Gabriel, andHedescended into the womb of the glorious VirginMary, receiving from her thetrue flesh of our frail humanity. And being rich,He, together with His mostblessed Mother, desired above all things in thisworld to embrace poverty.Before His Passion He celebrated the Pasch with Hisdisciples, and taking bread,He gave thanks, and blessed and broke it, saying:' Take and eat, this is MyBody and taking the chalice, He said : ' This is MyBlood of the New Testament, whichis shed for you andfor many, for theremission of sins? Soon after He prayed toHis Father, saying: i Father, if itbe possible, let this chalice pass from Me.'And His sweat became as drops ofblood falling down upon the ground. But Heunited His will with that of HisHeavenly Father, saying : (Father, Thy will bedone ; not what I will, but whatThou wiliest?
It was the will ofHis Father that this mostglorious and blessed Son, Whom He gave to us, and Whowas born for us, should,bythe shedding of His Blood, offer Himself as asacrifice on the Altar of theCross, not for Himself, for by Him all thingswere made, but for our sins, *leaving us an example that we should follow inHis footsteps., And He desiresthat we should all be saved by Him, and that weshould receive Him with a puremind and a chaste body. But alas! there are fewwho are willing to receive Himand to be saved by Him, although His yoke issweet and His burden light.
Those who will nottaste how sweet is the Lord,and who love darkness rather than light, beingunwilling to fulfill the law ofGod, are cursed; for the prophet, speaking ofthem, says: Cursed are theythat decline from Thy commandments.' But, onthe contrary, how blessed and happyare they who adore Him (as they ought) inspirit and in truth. Let us praise andbeseech Him day and night, saying : 'Our Father, Who art in heaven/ etc.,for we ought always to pray, and not tofaint.
We ought indeed toconfess all our sins to apriest, that we may receive the Body and Blood of OurLord Jesus Christ, becausewhoever does not eat His Flesh and drink His Bloodcannot enter into the kingdomof God. We must also each of us partake of thisSacrament worthily, for 'he whoeateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth anddrinketh judgment to himself notdiscerning the Body of the Lord.
Let us moreover bearworthy fruits of penance,loving our neighbour as ourselves, and if anyonecannot love him as much as himselflet him at least inflict no evil on him, butdo him good.
Let those who havereceived the power to judge,exercise justice with mercy, as they hope toobtain mercy from God. 'Judgmentwithout mercy to those who show no mercy? Letus have charity and humility, andgive alms, for alms giving cleanses our soulsfrom the filth of sin. At death welose all that we have in this world, but wetake with us charity and thealms-deeds we have done, and for these we shallreceive a great reward from God.
We ought to fast, andto abstain from all vice,and from all that will lead us into sin, as well as fromextravagance andsuperfluity. We should often visit the churches, and venerateand reverence allecclesiastics on account of their office, and because theydistribute the SacredBody and Blood of Christ, which they offer in sacrifice,receive themselves, andadminister to others. And let everyone know and holdforcertain that we cannotbe saved except through the sacred Words and thePrecious Blood of our LordJesus Christ, which priests preach, announce, anddistribute, and of which theyare the sole ministers.
We religiousespecially, and all who have renounced the world, are bound to do more andgreater things; we must give up all that is not necessary, and hate our bodywith its vices and sins, for Our Lord says in the Gospel: * From the heartcomes forth evil things we must love our enemies, and do good to those who hateus ; we must observe the precepts and counsels of our Redeemer, denyingourselves and subjecting our bodies to the yoke of obedience. But no one isbound to obey where there is sin or fault, for we came to religion in order tosave our souls, and to give good example to others.
Those to whompower is entrusted, and who are considered Superiors, must be mindful to becomeas the least, and servants of their brethren, and they must show mercy to theirsubjects as they would wish to have mercy shown to them if they were subjects.Let them not be angry with the brethren on account of their defects, butcorrect them kindly with all patience and humility, and support and assist themby their counsels.
Let us not be wiseand prudent according to the flesh, but simple, humble, and pure. Let usdespise our bodies and hold them in subjection, because on account of our sinswe have become miserable and corrupt, as the Lord says by the prophet: ' I am aworm and no man.' We should never desire to be • above others, but rather to besubject to every human being for the love of God. And the Spirit of God willrest on all those who act in this way, and persevere therein to the end ; Hewill make of them His temple and dwelling-place ; they will become the childrenof the Eternal Father, whose works they perform; the spouses, brothers, andmothers of Our Lord Jesus Christ We are His spouses because all faithful soulsare united to Him through the Holy Ghost; we are His brothers when we do thewill of His Father, Who is in heaven; we are His mothers when we bear Him inour hearts and bodies by love and a pure conscience, and bring Him forth byholy works, which shine as examples to others. Oh, how great and glorious it isto have a Father in heaven! Oh, how holy to have a sweet and loving Paracletefor our Spouse! Oh, how holy, how delightful, how sweet, how peaceful, howamiable, how desirable above all is it to have such a Brother, Who gave Hislife for His sheep, and Who prayed for us to His Father, saying:' Father, keepthem in Thy name whom Thou hast given Me. Father, all those whom Thou hastgiven Me in the world were Thine, and Thou hast given them to Me, and the wordswhich Thou gavest Me, I have given to them ; and they have received them, andhave known for certain that I came forth from Thee, and they have believed thatThou didst send Me. I pray for them ; I sanctify Myself that they may be madeperfect in one as We are One. And I will, Father, that where I am, there alsoMy ministers may be, that they may see the glory of My kingdom?
Oh, how great and glorious it is to have a Father inheaven! Oh, how holy to have a sweet and loving Paraclete for our Spouse! Oh,how holy, how delightful, how sweet, how peaceful, how amiable, how desirableabove all is it to have such a Brother, Who gave His life for His sheep, andWho prayed for us to His Father, saying:' Father, keep them in Thy name whomThou hast given Me. Father, all those whom Thou hast given Me in the world wereThine, and Thou hast given them to Me, and the words which Thou gavest Me, Ihave given to them ; and they have received them, and have known for certainthat I came forth from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. Ipray for them ; I sanctify Myself that they may be made perfect in one as Weare One. And I will, Father, that where I am, there also My ministers may be,that they may see the glory of My kingdom?
Therefore let all creatures who are in heaven, on earth,in the sea, and under the earth give praise, honour, glory, and benediction tothe Lord, for all He suffered for us, and for all He has done, and will do foreach one; for He is our strength and our fortitude, He only is good, He onlyMost High, omnipotent, admirable, glorious, and most holy, and worthy to bepraised and blessed for ever and ever. Amen.
But all those who do not the works of penance, who willnot receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but who do the worksof sin and death; who follow their own concupiscence and wicked desires ; whowill not keep what they have promised ; who are slaves to the world and totheir bodies, and are engrossed by the desires, cares, and anxieties of thislife—all these are deceived by the devil, whose children they are, for they dohis works. They are blind, for they cannot see the true light, Jesus Christ OurLord. They have not the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, because the Son of God isnot in them, and He is the Wisdom of the Father. It is of these that it is said: ' Their wisdom has been devoured,’they know, and see, and understand how todo evil; knowingly they lose their souls. See, O ye blind, how you are deceivedby your enemies, that is the world, the flesh, and the devil, because the fleshfinds pleasure in sin, and bitterness in the service of God, for all evils comefrom the flesh, as Our Lord says in the Gospel. You think to possess the vainjoys of this world for a long time, but you are deceived, for the day and thehour are coming of which you will not think, and of which you do not know.
When sickness lays hold of the body, and deathapproaches, the friends and relations of the sick man come round him saying : 'Settle the affairs of thy house/ etc. And behold his wife and his children, hisrelations and friends, pretend to weep, and, seeing their tears, his heart istouched, and being moved by the evil spirit, he says : ' Behold, I place mysoul and my body and all I have in your hands? Truly this man is cursed whoconfides and leaves his soul and body and all he has in such hands. Of him OurLord spoke by the prophet: ' Cursed is the man who places his hope in man?
Then they call the priest, who says to the sick man : 'Dost thou desire to do penance for thy sins ?' He answers: ' I do? ' Wilt thoumake satisfaction out of thy property to all those whom thou hast defrauded anddeceived ?' He replies : ' No.' ' Why not ?' asks the priest. * Because I haveplaced it all in the hands of my relations? And then he loses his speech, andso he dies miserably. But let all know that any man, in whatever place, or ofwhatever quality, who dies in sin without satisfaction, and who can make satisfactionand will not, is seized upon by the devil, who tears his soul from his bodywith such anguish and tribulation, that none will believe it unless they feelit And all the knowledge, the talents, and the powers that he had will be takenfrom him, and his friends and relations, to whom he gave his goods, will dividethem, and then they will curse his soul and say: ' Cursed be he, for he mighthave given us more, only he would not; he might have made more money/ and soon. His body is eaten by worms, his soul is tormented by the devils, and so heloses both soul and body through the love of this short life.
I, Brother Francis, the least of your servants,desiring to kiss your feet, pray and beseech you by that Love which God is, toreceive, keep, and observe these words, and all the words of Our Lord JesusChrist, with humility and charity. And let all those who receive and understandthem, practise them as an example to others. And if they persevere in them tothe end, may they be blessed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.