The heart of the good news for Francis
This is the section of St Francis’, unofficial rule of 1221 that is the marrow of the Gospel and applies to every person who wants to live in the glorious freedom of the Gospel.
Let us all, brothers, hear what the Lord says:
Love your enemies, and do good to them that hate you.
For our Lord Jesus, whose footsteps we ought to follow, called His betrayer friend, and offered Himself willingly to those who crucified him. Therefore all those who unjustly inflict upon us tribulation and anguish, shame and injury, sorrow and torment, martyrdom and death, are our friends whom we ought to love much, because we gain eternal life by that which they make us suffer.
And let us turn from our body with its vices and sins, because by living carnally it wishes to deprive us of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and eternal life, and to lose itself with all else in hell; for we by our own fault are corrupt, miserable, and averse to good, but prompt and willing to evil; because, as the Lord says in the Gospel:
Out of the heart come evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, false testimonies, blasphemy, foolishness. All these evils come from within, from the heart of man, and these are what defile a man.
But now, after having renounced the world, we have nothing else to do but to be solicitous, to follow the will of God, and to please Him.
Living and growing seed
Let us take much care that we re not the wayside, or the stony or thorny ground, according to what the Lord says in the Gospel:
The seed is the word of God.
That which fell by the wayside and was trampled under foot
are they that hear the word and do not understand,
then the devil comes,
and snatches that which has been sown in their hearts
and takes the word out of their hearts,
lest believing they should be saved.
That which fell upon the rock
are they who, when they hear the word,
at once receive it with joy;
but when tribulation and persecution arise on account of the word, they are immediately scandalized,
and these have no roots in themselves,
but are for a while,
for they believe for a while,
and in time of temptation fall away.
That which fell among thorns
are they who hear the word of God,
and the solicitude and cares of this world,
the deceit of riches,
and the desire of other things
entering in choke the word,
and it becomes unfruitful.
But that sown on good ground
are they who, in a good and best heart,
hearing the word understand and keep it,
and bring forth fruit in patience.
For this reason, brothers, let us, as the Lord says, let the dead bury their dead. And let us be much on our guard against the malice and cunning of Satan, who desires that man should not give his heart and mind to the Lord God, and who going about seeks to seduce the heart of man under pretext of some reward or benefit, to smother the words and precepts of the Lord from memory, and who wishes to blind the heart of man by worldly business and cares, and to dwell there, as the Lord says:
When an unclean spirit is gone out of a man,
he walks through dry places seeking rest and finding none;
then he says: ‘I will return into my house whence I came out.’
And coming he finds it empty, swept, and garnished.
Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits
more wicked than himself,
and they enter in, and dwell there;
and the last state of that man is made worse than the first.
God's life is in you
Therefore let us all, brothers, watch much, lest under pretext of some reward or labor or aid we lose or separate our mind and heart from the Lord.
But I beseech all the brothers, both the ministers and others, in the charity which God is, that, overcoming all obstacles and putting aside all care and solicitude, they strive in the best manner they are able, to serve, love, and honour the Lord God with a clean heart and a pure mind, which He seeks above all.
And let us always make in us a tabernacle and dwelling-place for Him, who is the Lord God Omnipotent, Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, who says:
Watch, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted to escape all the evils that are to come, and to stand before the Son of Man.
When you stand to pray, say, Our Father, who art in heaven.
Let us adore Him with a pure heart, for we ought always to pray, and not grow weary, for the Father seeks such worshippers.
God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth
And let us have recourse to Him as the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, who says: I am the Good Shepherd, who feeds my sheep, and I lay down my life for my flock.
But all you are brothers: call none your father upon earth; for only one is your Father who is in heaven. Neither shall you be called masters, for one is your master, who is in heaven, Christ.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you
Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Hold fast to the Word
Let us therefore hold fast to the words, the life and doctrine and holy Gospel of Him who deigned for us to ask His Father to manifest to us His Name, saying:
Father, I have manifested your name
to those whom you have given me
because the words which you gave we I have given to them,
and they have received them,
and have known in very deed that I came forth out of you,
and they have believed that you did send me.
I pray for them,
I pray not for the world,
but for them whom you have given me,
because they are yours
and all my things are yours.
Holy Father, keep them in Your Name whom you have given me, that they may be one,
as we also are are one.
These things I speak in the world
that they may have joy filled in themselves.
I have given them your word,
and the world has hated them,
because they are not of the world,
as I also am not of the world.
I pray not that you should take them out of the world,
but that you should keep them from evil.
Consecrate them in truth.
Your word is truth.
As you have sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world.
And for them I do sanctify myself,
that they may be sanctified in truth.
Not for them only do I pray,
but for those also who through their word
shall believe in me,
that they may be consummated in one,
and that the world may know that you have sent me,
and have loved them,
as you have also loved me.
And I have made known your name to them,
that the love with which you have loved me may be in them,
and I in them.
I will that where I am,
they also whom you have given me may be with me,
that they may see your glory in your kingdom.