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The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, [1906], at


O THOU servant of the heavenly King, that wouldst learn the mysteries and the profitable and virtuous prudence of the holy spiritual doctrine, open well the ears of the intellect of thy soul, and receive with desire of heart; and keep carefully in the house of thy memory the precious treasure of these precepts and teachings and spiritual warnings, the which I speak unto thee, whereby thou shalt be illuminated and directed on thy journey, to wit of the spiritual life, and shalt be armed against the evil and subtle assaults of thy corporeal and incorporeal enemies, and shalt go with humble boldness, safely voyaging over the tempestuous sea of this present life, until thou shalt reach the longed-for harbour of salvation. Then, my

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son, attend well and mark that which I say unto thee: If thou wouldst see well, put out thine eyes and be blind; if thou wouldst hear well, become deaf; if thou wouldst speak well, become dumb; if thou wouldst walk well, stand still and walk with thy mind; if thou wouldst work well, cut off thy hands, and work with thy heart; if thou wouldst love well, hate thyself; if thou wouldst live well, mortify thyself; if thou wouldst gain much and be rich, lose and be poor; if thou wouldst enjoy thyself and take thine ease, afflict thyself and be always sorrowful; if thou wouldst be safe, be ever fearful and suspect thyself; if thou wouldst be exalted and have great honour, humiliate and revile thyself; if thou wouldst be held in great reverence, despise thyself and do reverence to them that do thee despite and dishonour; if thou wouldst have good always, endure evil always; if thou wouldst be blessed, desire that all folk curse thee; and if thou wouldst have true rest and eternal, labour and afflict thyself, and desire every temporal calamity. O how great wisdom is it to know how to do and to perform these things! but because these things are great and very high therefore are they granted by God to but few persons. But verily he who shall study well all the aforesaid things and shall do them, of him I say that he needeth not to go to Bologna or to Paris to learn other theology; for if a man should live 1,000 years, and should do no outward bodily action and should speak no word with his tongue, nevertheless I say that he would have enough to do, disciplining himself inwardly in his heart, labouring within himself in the purifying and directing and justifying of his mind and of his soul. A man ought not to wish either to see, or to hear, or to speak of anything save only what is profitable for his soul.

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[paragraph continues] The man who knoweth not himself is not known. And therefore woe unto us, when we receive the gifts and graces of the Lord and know not enough to recognise them: but greater woe to those who neither receive them nor recognise them, nor even care to obtain and to possess them. Man is made in the image of God, and as he willeth so he changeth; but the good God changeth never.

Next: Chapter of Profitable and Unprofitable Knowledge