The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
MANY griefs and many sorrows will that wretched man have who setteth his desire and his heart and his hope on earthly things, for the which he abandoneth and loseth heavenly things; and finally he will also lose these earthly things. The eagle flieth very high; but, if she had some weight tied to her wings she could not fly very high: and thus man by reason of the weight of earthly things cannot fly high, to wit cannot attain unto perfection; but the wise man, who tieth the weight of remembrance of death and of judgment to the wings of his heart, could not, by reason of great fear, go astray or fly among the vanities and riches of this world, which are the cause of damnation. Every day we see the men of the world labour and strive much, and risk great bodily perils to gain these transitory riches; and after they shall have laboured and gained much, in a moment they will die and will leave that which they shall have gained during their life: and therefore this deceitful world is not to be trusted, for it defraudeth every man which believeth it, since it is false. But whoso desireth and is minded to be great and abundantly rich, let him seek and love the riches and the possessions of eternity, which always satisfy and never cause satiety and never become less. If we would not err, let us take ensample from the beasts and birds, which, when they have fed are content, and seek nothing save their sustenance front one hour to another, when they have need thereof; and even so should man be content with the necessities of life temperately and without superfluity. Friar Giles said that the ants pleased not St. Francis as did the
other animals, by reason of the great care which they had to gather together and to lay by great store of grain in the summer time for the winter: but he used to say that the birds pleased him much more, because they gathered together nothing on one day for another. But the ant setteth us this ensample that we ought not to stand idle in the summer-time of this present life, to the end that we may not find ourselves empty and without fruit in the winter of the last and final judgment.