May the Lord give you peace! The title of the document produced at the most recent General Chapter of our order in 2009 was ‘Bearers of the Gift of the Gospel’. In that document it says: “The gift of the Gospel is at the origin of our fraternity.” The document goes on to quote an extract from the first biography of St. Francis of Assisi by Thomas of Celano who pointed out that when the first two companions of Francis asked him what they must do to live with him, he replied: “Let us ask counsel of Christ,” and with them he went into the church to open the book of the Gospel three times.A good account of this event appears in ‘The Wisdom of St. Francis and His Companions’ , pp.30-31 – Stephen Clissold, ed.
“After a time people began to be attracted to the humble way of life that Francis had chosen to lead, and two men came to him saying that they wanted to become his companions. Tomorrow morning we will go to church, he told them, and there we will learn through the gospels how the Lord instructed his disciples. In their simplicity they were unable to find the verses in the Holy gospel which dealt with renouncing the world, so they devoutly prayed that God would show them his will by the first words they should see on opening the book. Francis knelt before the altar with the Bible, and when he opened it he found the passage: If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. He opened the Bible a second and a third time and read: ‘Take nothing for your journey; and if any man will come after me, let him deny himself. Francis thanked the Lord for having thus confirmed the resolution he already heald in his heart, and he said to his two companions: My Brothers, this is our life and our Rule, and shall be so for all who wish to join our community. Go then, and act according to what you have heard!”
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