November 2009 - Vol. 34
One day while Francis was praying fervently to God, he received an answer: "O Francis, if you want to know my will, you must hate and despise all that which hitherto your body has loved and desired to possess. Once you begin to do this, all that formerly seemed sweet and pleasant to you will become bitter and unbearable, and instead, the things that formerly made you shudder will bring you great sweetness and contentment." Francis was divinely comforted and greatly encouraged by these words.
one day, as he was riding near Assisi, he met a leper. He had always felt
an overpowering horror of these sufferers, but making a great effort, he
conquered his aversion, dismounted, and, in giving the leper a coin, kissed
his hand. The leper then gave him the kiss of peace, after which Francis
remounted his horse and rode on his way. From that day onwards he mortified
himself increasingly until, through Godís grace, he won a complete victory.
Indeed, his previous aversion to lepers had been so strong that, besides being incapable of looking at them, he would not even approach the places where they lived. And if by chance he happened to pass anywhere near their dwellings or to see one of the lepers, even though he was moved to give them an alms through some intermediate person, he would nevertheless turn his face away and hold his nose. But, strengthened by God's grace, he was enabled to obey the command and to love what he had hated and to abhor what he had hitherto wrongfully loved. In consequence of this he became such a friend to the lepers that, as he himself declared in his Testament, he lived with them and served them with loving eagerness.
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