The Rule, Article 4

Monday, March 1, 2010


If you look for an inheritance in the world, you will not be a joint heir with Christ.

What are you doing in the world, my brother, you who are greater than the world? Do you fear poverty? Christ calls the poor blessed. Are you deterred by exertion? No athlete wins a crown without sweat. Are you concerned about food? True faith has no fear of hunger. Are you afraid to lay your body emaciated by fasting on the bare ground? The Lord lies there with you. Does an unkempt disheveled head of hair terrify you? Christ is your head. Does the boundless waste of the desert fill you with fear? Then in your mind walk in paradise for as often as you raise your thoughts to heaven you will not be in the desert. O blessed desert, blossoming with the flowers of Christ! O blessed solitude where are quarried the stones out of which the city of the great King in the Apocalypse is built! O blessed desert enjoying intimate association with God! Add to this also the well known words of the Apostle: I consider the sufferings of the present to be as noting compared with the glory to come to be revealed in us.

Why, then, are you a fainthearted Christian? The Son of man had not whereon to lay his head, yet you set great value on large porticos and spacious dwellings. If you look forward to an inheritance in the world you will not be a joint heir with Christ. The desert loves the poorly clad. The body accustomed to tunics does not tolerate the weight of the breastplate. The head swathed in linen refused to wear the helmet. The rough hilt of the sword chafes the hand grown soft in idleness.

We are earth and ashes, anxious at every moment about our salvation, and soon to be returned to dust. Let us, then, forthwith abandon the fleeting world with all speed. If perchance our stomach is in pain on account of our mortification – a thing that rarely happens – and if we are burning with fever, let us look upon our infirmity as the gateway to eternal life.

Proper Offices of Franciscan Saints and blesseds in the Liturgy of the Hours
The so-called Rule for Monks, excerpts from the works of Saint Jerome the Priest (PL 30, 339D-341A)

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