St Francis of Assisi, Apparition at Arles by Giotto di Bondone

St. Francis of Assisi cautions against worldly prudence: “We must not be wise or prudent according to the flesh, but simple, humble, and pure.”

St. Catherine of Bologna observes: “No one ever yet relied upon his own prudence without, by a just judgment of God, coming to great grief. This enemy is doubly powerful and malicious when linked with self-love.”

As for prudence in speech, St. Francis remarks: “Blessed the one who does not speak through hope of reward, who is not always ready to unburden himself of his secrets, who is not anxious to speak, but who reflects prudently on what he is to say and the manner in which he is to reply.”

St Leonard of Port Maurice

St. Leonard of Port Maurice adds this thought: “Let your conversation be seasoned with the precious salt of prudence and charity. Do not be too serious, nor immoderately gay and joyous. Be amiable with all, and let your intercourse with your neighbour be guided by the rules of Christian politeness.”

St. Francis comments on the propriety of giving credit where credit is due: “Happy he who attributes all he has to God; for he who reserves something for self hides the gift of God, and in punishment it will be taken away from him.” And again: “We have no right to glory in ourselves on account of any marvellous gifts, because these do not belong to us, but to God; but we may glory in crosses, afflictions, and tribulations, because these are our own.”

We not only give credit where credit is due by thanking God for gifts we receive from Him, but also by acknowledging gifts that He gives to others. Thus, St. Francis says: “We do not lose sight of God in ourselves when we acknowledge His gifts in creatures. There is no pride in the adoration the creature pays to the Divine Majesty within him.”

Although people glory in all sorts of things, St. Francis reminds us what is truly worthy of glory: “In one thing only can we glory,” he says, “in giving God the glory which is due to Him, in serving Him faithfully, and in referring all His gifts to Himself.”

Quotations from Flowers from the Garden of Saint Francis for Every Day of the Year (London: Burns and Oates, 1882).

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