To all those who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with their whole strength (cf. Mk 12:30) and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance: Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, since the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them (cf. Is 11:2) and He will make His home and dwelling among them (cf. Jn 14:23). They are children of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45) whose works they do, and they are spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).
We are spouses when the faithful soul is joined to our Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. We are brothers to Him when we do the will of the Father Who is in Heaven (Mt 12:50); mothers, when we carry Him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and pure and sincere conscience and when we give birth to Him through a holy manner of working, which should shine before others as an example (cf. Mt 5:16). 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 such a Spouse! Oh, how holy and how loving, pleasing, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all things to have such a Brother and such a Son: our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave up His life for His sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and Who prayed to the Father saying:
O Holy Father, protect those in your name (Jn 17:11) whom you have given to me in the world; they were yours and you have given them to me (Jn 17:6) and the words which you gave to me, I have given to them, and they have accepted them and have believed truly that I have come from you and they have known that you sent me (Jn 17:8). I pray for them and not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and sanctify them and I sanctify myself for them (Jn 17:19). Not only for these do I pray, but for those who through their words will believe in me (Jn 17:20), so that they may be made holy in being one (Jn 17:23) as we are one (Jn 17:11). And I wish, Father, that where I am they also may be with me so that they may see my glory (Jn 17:24) in your kingdom (Mt 20:21). Amen.
FROM THE SECOND LETTER OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, TO THE FAITHFUL
Artwork by Eugene Burnand