LITTLE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Chapter 44

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HOW THE MOTHER OF CHRIST AND ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST APPEARED TO BROTHER CONRAD, AND TOLD HIM WHO HAD SUFFERED THIS GREATEST SORROW AT THE PASSION OF CHRIST

This chapter is a wonderful chapter to reflect upon. I think our modern "sophistication" and our culture that ignores the whole spiritual realm are big factors in why accounts of present day (as opposed to historic) visions are rare among us today, compared with other eras. An account of seeing of a vision shouldn't sound incredible. It's a recognized fact that people dream, and we should expect that if people have spent a good deal of time reading about and reflecting upon religious subjects, some of their dreams would contain material from what they've been reading or reflecting upon.

Or maybe I should refine that further and say, we use the term,"vision" to mean something more than just a dream. There's an implication of spiritual agency, divine inspiration. So, maybe objection on scientific or some such grounds would be to calling what's just another dream a vision, thereby suggesting inspiration. We can accept a dream a priori: it's self evident, people have dreams. Calling it a vision with the implications just mentioned makes the assertion unverifiable. In an earlier era - I'm assuming - verification was hardly thought of, and then only when there might be a reason to question the reliablity of the source. Maybe another distinction between dream and vision is, the latter is more vivid, more "real."

This chapter mentions being crucified with Christ in mental sufferings, which is one thing to reflect upon. Do we choose this for ourselves, or does the Christ choose who will share these sufferings? Where we are in the ladder, Hilton mentions the war between the law of the spirit and the law of the flesh. The law of the flesh would have us avoid these sufferings, but the law of the spirit would have us embrace them.

We can also reflect on the symbolism of St. John the evangelist offering Brother Peter a robe, and the latter's terror. Brother Peter cries out, "Brother Conrad, Brother Conrad, haste thou to help me! come and see most wonderful things!" and the vision disappears.




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