The Paradox of ‘True and Perfect Joy’
Given the events of recent days, this parable of St. Francis, titled True and Perfect Joy, dictated by Francis to his brothers toward the end of his life, seems to be worth considering. I hope the wisdom of the Poverello speaks to your hearts as it does to mine.
A Selection from True and Perfect Joy of St. Francis of Assisi
Brother Leo asked Francis: “What is true joy?”
Francis said: “I return from Perugia and arrive here in the dead of night. It’s winter time, muddy, and so cold that icicles have formed on the edges of my habit…I come to the gate and, after I’ve knocked and called for some time, a brother comes and asks: ‘who are you?’
‘Brother Francis,’ I answer.
‘Go Away!’ he says. ‘This is not a decent hour to be wandering about! You may not come in!’ When I insist he replies, ‘Go Away! You are simple and stupid! Don’t come back to us again! There are many of us here like you — we don’t need you!’ I stand at the door and say: ‘For the love of God, take me in tonight!’ and he replies: ‘I will not! Go to another monastery and ask there!’
I tell you this: If I had patience and did not become upset, true joy, as well as true virtue and the salvation of my soul, would consist in this.”