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CHAPTER XII


HOW ST FRANCIS GAVE TO BROTHER MASSEO THE OFFICE OF PORTER, OF ALMONER AND OF COOK; AND HOW, AT THE REQUEST OF THE OTHER BRETHREN, HE AFTERWARDS TOOK THESE DUTIES FROM HIM


St Francis, wishing to mortify Brother Masseo, that pride should not enter his soul, because of the many graces and gifts he had received from God, and also that, through the grace of humility, he should advance from virtue to virtue, once when he was residing in a solitary convent with his first companions, who were all examples of holiness, of which number Brother Masseo was one, he said unto the latter, before all the brethren: “O Brother Messeo, all these thy companions have the grace of contemplation and of prayer; but thou hast the grace of preaching the word of God and of pleasing the people. I will therefore, in order that they may give themselves to contemplation, that thou fill the office of porter, of almoner and of cook, and that, when the other monks shall be at their meals, thou alone shalt eat outside the convent-gate, so as to be ready to say a few godly words to such as come to the convent, before they knock at the gate, and so that none other shall be obliged to go out but thee; this thou shalt accomplish, through the virtue of holy obedience.” Then Brother Masseo put down his hood, bowed his head, and meekly received and executed this order; filling for some days the offices of porter, of almoner and of cook. At this his companions, who were all men enlightened by the Spirit of God, seeing him thus employed, began to feel in their hearts great remorse, considering how Brother Masseo had reached a greater state of perfection than any of them, and how all the work of the convent fell to his share, and none to theirs. Then went they all to St Francis, begging him to divide among them those charges, since they could not in conscience allow Brother Masseo to bear all the burden of the convent. At this St Francis, heeding their request, granted what they asked, and calling Brother Masseo, said unto him: “Brother Masseo, thy brethren wish to share the charges I have given thee, wherefore I will that the charges be divided among you all.” Said Brother Masseo, with great humility and patience: “Father, whatever charge thou puttest upon me, be it small or be it great, I accept it as ordained by the Lord.” Then St Francis, seeing the charity of the brethren and the humility of Brother Masseo, made them a most wonderful sermon on holy humility, teaching them that, the greater the gifts and graces we receive from God, so much greater must be our humility; for without humility no virtue can be acceptable to him. Then, having finished his sermon, he distributed the charges among them with great charity.


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