Chapter XXXV and XXXVI

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CHAPTER XXXV
HOW ST CLARE, BEING ILL, WAS MIRACULOUSLY CARRIED, ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT, TO THE CHURCH OF ST FRANCIS, WHERE SHE ASSISTED AT THE OFFICE


St Clare was at one time so dangerously ill that she could not go to church with the other nuns to say the Office on the night of the Nativity of Christ. All the other sisters went to Matins; but she remained in bed, very sorrowful because she could not go with her sisters to receive spiritual consolation. But Jesus Christ, her Spouse, unwilling to leave her comfortless, carried her miraculously to the church of St Francis, so that she was present at Matins, assisted at the Midnight Mass, and received the Holy Communion, after which she was carried back to her bed. When the nuns returned to their convent, the ceremonies being ended at St Damiano, they went to St Clare and said to her: "O Sister Clare, our Mother, what great consolations we have experienced at this feast of the Holy Nativity! Oh, if it had but pleased God that you should have been with us!" To this St Clare answered: "Praise and glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed one, my beloved sisters and daughters; for I have not only assisted at all the solemnities of this most holy night, but I have experienced in my soul even greater consolations than those which have been your share; for by the intercession of my father, St Francis, and through the grace of our Saviour Jesus Christ I have been personally present in the church of my venerable father, St Francis, and with the ears of my body and those of my spirit have heard all the Office, and the sounds of the organ, and the singing, and have likewise received there the most Holy Communion. Rejoice, then, because of these graces which I have received, and return to thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ."

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CHAPTER XXXVI
HOW ST FRANCIS EXPLAINED TO BROTHER LEO A BEAUTIFUL VISION THAT HE HAD SEEN


St Francis being once grievously ill, Brother Leo, as he was in prayer by his bedside, was rapt in ecstasy, and carried in spirit to a great, wide and rapid river;
and watching those who crossed it, he saw some brothers enter the river heavily laden, who were carried away by the current and were drowned; some contrived to reach one third of the way; others arrived as far as the middle of the stream; yet none could resist the rapidity of the waters, but fell down and were drowned. Presently he saw other brothers arrive; these carried nothing on their backs, but all bore upon the marks of holy poverty. They entered the river, and passed over to the other side without any danger to themselves. Having seen this, Brother Leo came to himself; and St Francis knowing in spirit that he had had a vision, called him to him, and asked what he had seen. When Brother Leo had related to him the vision, St Francis said: "What thou hast seen is indeed true. The great river is the world; the brothers who were drowned are those who do not follow their evangelical profession, or practice the great virtue of poverty; but they who passed the river are those who neither seek nor possess in this world any earthly riches, who having food and raiment are therewith content, and follow Christ naked on the cross, bearing joyfully and willingly his sweet and easy yoke and loving holy obedience: these pass easily from this earthly life to life eternal."









 
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