To all the faithful (2)
Address and purpose of the letter
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
To all Christian religious: clergy and laity, men and women, and to all who live in the whole world, Brother Francis, their servant and subject, offers homage and reverence, true peace from heaven and sincere love in the Lord.
Since I am the servant of all, I am obliged to serve all and to administer to them the fragrant words of my Lord.
Therefore, on reflecting that, since I cannot visit each one of you in person because of the infirmity and weakness of my body, I have proposed to set before you in this present letter and message the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Word of the Father, and the words of the Holy Spirit, which are spirit and life.
Through his angel, Saint Gabriel, the most high Father in heaven announced this Word of the Father—so worthy, so holy and glorious—in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary, from which He received the flesh of humanity and our frailty. Though He was rich beyond all other things, in this world He, together with the most blessed Virgin, His mother, willed to choose poverty.
And, as the Passion drew near, He celebrated the Passover with His disciples and, taking bread, gave thanks, and blessed and broke it, saying: 'Take and eat: this is My Body'. And taking the cup He said: 'This is My Blood of the new covenant which will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.'
Then He prayed to His Father, saying: Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. And His sweat became as drops of blood falling on the ground. Nonetheless, He placed His will at the will of the Father, saying: 'Father, let Your will be done; not as I will, but as You will.'
And the will of the Father was such that His blessed and glorious Son, Whom He gave to us and Who was born for us, should, through His own blood, offer Himself as a sacrifice and oblation on the altar of the cross: not for Himself through Whom all things were made, but for our sins, leaving us an example that we should follow in His footprints.
And the Father wills that all of us should be saved through Him and that we receive Him with our pure heart and chaste body. But there are few who wish to receive Him and be saved by Him, although His yoke is sweet and His burden light.
Those who do not wish to taste how sweet the Lord is and love the darkness rather than the light, not wishing to fulfil the commands of God, are cursed; of them the prophet says: 'They are cursed who stray from your commands!'
But Oh, how happy and blessed are those who love God and do as the Lord Himself says in the Gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself. Let us love God, therefore, and adore Him with a pure heart and a pure mind because He Who seeks this above all else has said: 'The true worshippers will adore the Father in spirit and in truth'. For all those who worship Him are to worship Him in the spirit of truth. And let us praise Him and pray to Him day and night, saying: 'Our Father Who art in heaven', since we should pray always and never lose heart.
We must also confess all our sins to a priest, and receive from him the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who does not eat His Flesh and does not drink His Blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Yet let him eat and drink worthily, since he who receives unworthily eats and drinks judgement to himself not recognizing—that is, not discerning—the Body of the Lord. Moreover, let us perform worthy fruits of penance .
And let us love our neighbours as ourselves. And if there is anyone who does not wish to love them as himself, at least let him do no harm to them, but rather do good. But those who have received the power to judge others should exercise judgement with mercy as they themselves desire to receive mercy from the Lord. For judgement will be without mercy for those who have not shown mercy.
Let us then have charity and humility; let us give alms since this washes our souls from the stains of our sins. For people lose everything they leave behind in this world; but they carry with them the rewards of charity and the alms which they gave, for which they will have a reward and a suitable remuneration from the Lord. We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and from any excess of food and drink, and be Catholics.
We must also visit churches frequently and venerate and show respect for the clergy, not so much for them personally if they are sinners, but by reason of their office and their administration of the most holy Body and Blood of Christ which they sacrifice upon the altar and receive and administer to others. And let all of us firmly realize that no one can be saved except through the holy words and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which the clergy pronounce, proclaim and minister. And they alone must administer them and not others.
But religious especially, who have left the world, are bound to do more and greater things without however leaving these undone. We must hate our bodies with [their] vices and sins, because the Lord says in the Gospel: All evils, vices, and sins proceed from the heart. We must love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. We must observe the commands and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must also deny ourselves and place our bodies under the yoke of service and holy obedience, as each one has promised to the Lord. 41. And no one is to be obliged to obey another in anything by which a sin or a crime is committed. The one to whom obedience has been entrusted and who is esteemed as greater should be as the lesser and the servant of the other brothers. And he should use and show mercy to each of his brothers as he would wish them to do to him were he in a similar position. Nor should he become angry with a brother because of a fault of that brother, but with all patience and humility let him admonish him and support him. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh; rather, we must be simple, humble, and pure.
And let us hold ourselves in contempt and scorn, since through our own fault all of us are miserable and contemptible, vermin and worms, as the Lord says through the prophet: I am a worm and no man, the scorn of men and the outcast of the people. We must never desire to be over others; rather we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God's sake.
And upon all men and women, if they have done these things and have persevered to the end, the Spirit of the Lord will rest and He will make His home and dwelling among them. They will be children of the heavenly Father whose works they do. And they are spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are spouses when the faithful soul is joined to Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. We are brothers when we do the will of His Father Who is in heaven. We are mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to Him through His holy manner of working, which should shine before others as an example. Oh, how glorious it is, how holy and great, to have a Father in heaven! Oh, how holy, consoling, beautiful, and wondrous it is to have a Spouse! above all things to have such a Brother and Son, Who laid down His life for His sheep and Who prayed to the Father for us saying: 'Holy Father, protect those in your name whom you have given to me. Father, all those whom you gave me in the world were yours and you have given them to me.
And the words which you gave to me I have given to them.
And they have accepted them and truly know that I came from you and they have believed that you have sent me. I pray for them and not for the world; bless and sanctify them, and I sanctify myself for their sakes so that they may be holy in being one as we are. And I wish, Father, that where I am they also may be with me so that they may see my glory in your kingdom.'
Let every creature in heaven, on earth, in the sea and in the depths, give praise, glory, honour, and blessing to Him Who suffered so much for us, Who has given so many good things, and Who will continue to do so for the future. For He is our power and strength, He Who alone is good Who is most high, Who is all-powerful, admirable, and glorious; Who alone is holy, praiseworthy, and blessed throughout endless ages. Amen.
All those, however, who are not living in penance and do not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; who practice vice and sin and walk the paths of wicked concupiscence and evil desires; who do not observe what they have promised and bodily serve the world by the desires of the flesh, the cares and anxieties of this world, and the preoccupations of this life: such people are deceived by the devil, whose children they are and whose works they perform. They are blind because they do not see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They do not have spiritual wisdom because they do not have within them the Son of God Who is the true wisdom of the Father. Of these people it is said: Their wisdom has been swallowed up. They see and acknowledge, they know and do evil, and, knowingly, they lose their souls. See, you blind ones, you who are deceived by our enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devil. For it is sweet to the body to commit sin and bitter to it to serve God, because all evils, vices, and sins come from and proceed from the heart of men, as the Lord says in the Gospel. And you have nothing in this world or in the world to come. You think that you possess the vanities of the world for a while, but you are deceived, since the day and the hour will come to which you give no thought, of which you have no knowledge and of which you are ignorant.
The body grows weak, death approaches, family and friends come, saying: 'Put your affairs in order.' See, his wife and his children, relatives and friends pretend to cry. Looking at them, he sees them weeping and is moved by an evil impulse. As he thinks to himself, he says: 'Look, I put my soul and body, as well as everything I have, into your hands.' Certainly, that man is cursed who confides and entrusts his soul and body and all his possessions into such hands; for, as the Lord says through the prophet, Cursed is the man who confides in man. And immediately they summon the priest to come. The priest says to him:
- Do you wish to receive pardon for all your sins?
He responds: 'I do.'
- Do you wish to make restitution as far as you can from your substance for all that you have done and for the ways in which you have defrauded and deceived people?
He responds: 'No!'
And the priest asks: 'Why not?'
- Because I have placed everything in the hands of relatives and friends...
And he begins to lose the power of speech and thus that miserable man dies.
But let everyone know that whenever or however a person dies in mortal sin without making amends when he could have done so and did not, the devil snatches up his soul out of his body with so much anguish and tribulation that no one can know it unless he has experienced it. And every talent and power and knowledge which he thinks he possesses will be taken away from him. And whatever he leaves his relatives and friends they will snatch up and divide among themselves. And afterwards they will say: 'May his soul be cursed since he could have acquired more and given us more than he did.' Worms eat his body. And so he loses body and soul in this brief life, and will go down to hell where he will be tormented without end.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I, Brother Francis, your little servant, ask and implore you in the love which is God and with the desire to kiss your feet, to receive these words and others of our Lord Jesus Christ with humility and love, and observe them and put them into practice.
And to all men and women who will receive them kindly [and] understand their meaning and pass them on to others by their example: If they have persevered in them to the end, may the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit bless them. Amen.