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CHAPTER XIII

Of his humble service among the Brothers

(1)

CHRIST, the Light of the World, came into the world to enlighten the minds of the faithful by preaching the Word of Heavenly Life, and it was chiefly by the example of His humility that He did kindle 108the sullen hearts of sinners to love His Name; and He left this example as a pattern to all the faithful throughout the earth. For Christ so bore Himself among His disciples as if He were one of them, showing them the ministry of love and not exercising the lordship of power, so that if any is willing to imitate Him, the same is worthy to be honoured by Him, and to be made a ruler of all good things in the Kingdom of Heaven: for He saith: “I am in the midst of you as He that serveth,” and again: “The Son of Man is not come to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life to many.” This rule of holy servitude Florentius that humble servant of Christ was zealous to follow with the Brothers, persuading all that clave to him of whatever age they might be to take their turn of servile work in love and in turn to bear the common burden, to shrink from no menial task, but gladly to occupy themselves with humble service, embracing the more eagerly those tasks which are deemed less honourable and are harder and more toilsome.

(2) So there grew up amongst them this holy custom, and approved virtue, that every one of the Brothers should do service for a week in the kitchen, and should there cook with all humility, or promptly and cheerfully fulfill the injunctions of the cook. For at that time all were ardent to perform the less honourable tasks, inasmuch as to labour with their hands for the Kingdom of God was thought to be a pleasant recreation. So Florentius, the good Father and kindly Master, wishing to set a good example before those whom he ruled, himself took his turn in the kitchen as far as he could, and when a neighbour, moved by compassion, said to him: “Why, good Sir, dost 109them occupy thyself in the kitchen? Hast thou none that can do this for thee? Would it not be better that thou shouldest go to the Church, and another cook for thee?” the humble servant of Christ answered: “Should I not rather strive for this to gain the prayers of all the other Brothers rather than my own prayers alone. For during the time that I am in the kitchen all the others are constrained to pray for me? I hope therefore to gain a greater blessing from the prayers of those that are in the Church than I could if I alone were praying.”

Thus he edified them all both by example and precept, seeking not what was pleasant to himself, but what was useful to others and a good example. Whenever he took his meals with the Brothers he placed the first dish upon the table with his own hands; and he grieved much because through the hindrance of his infirmity he was not able to take his place every day at the Common table of the Brotherhood. For this cause he used to eat in the kitchen alone with the cook, having a small table meanly served, because the weakness of his stomach suffered him not to take solid food. I myself, unworthy as I am, often made ready his table at his request, and brought from the buttery that modest draught which he desired, and I gladly served him with much cheerfulness of spirit.

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