The Road to Assisi


“Croagh Patrick, May 2016” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)


As I have mentioned here before, to try and help me deal with the madness that is Trump, I have been trying to slow things down, pay attention to baseball again, and read about St. Francis.

Here are some quotes about St. Francis and the nature of religion from The Road to Assisi, by Paul Sabatier.

On the Reformation:“The Reformation only substituted the authority of the book for that of the priest; it is a change of dynasty and nothing more. As to the majority of those who to-day call themselves free-thinkers, they confuse religious freedom with irreligion….”

On True Love: “It is far indeed from hatred of evil to love of good. Those are more numerous than we think who, after severe experience, have renounced what the ancient liturgies call the world, with its pomps and lusts; but the greater number of them have not at the bottom of their hearts the smallest grain of pure love. In vulgar souls disillusion leaves only a frightful egoism.”

On Denominational Differences: “In certain counties of England there are at the present day villages having as many as eight and ten places of worship for a few hundreds of inhabitants. Many of these people change their denomination every three or four years, returning to that they first quitted, leaving it again only to enter it anew, and so on as long as they live. Their leaders set the example, throwing themselves enthusiastically into each new movement only to leave it before long. They would all alike find it difficult to give an intelligible reason for these changes. They say that the Spirit guides them, and it would be unfair to disbelieve them, but the historian who should investigate conditions like these would lose his head in the labyrinth unless he made a separate study of each of these Protean movements. They are surely not worth the trouble.”

On the Modern Source of Heresies: “Still, a few general characteristics may be observed; in the first place, heresies are no longer metaphysical subtleties as in earlier days; Arius and Priscillian, Nestorius and Eutychus are dead indeed. In the second place, they no longer arise in the upper and governing class, but proceed especially from the inferior clergy and the common people.”

On Dogmatizing: “St. Francis never consented to occupy himself with questions of doctrine. For him faith was not of the intellectual but the moral domain; it is the consecration of the heart. Time spent in dogmatizing appeared to him time lost.”

On Fighting Evil: “The only weapon which he would use against the wicked was the holiness of a life so full of love as to enlighten and revive those about him, and compel them to love.”

On Living in Interesting Times: “The ages of great terror are also the ages of great hope; it is to the captivity of Babylon that we owe, with the second part of Isaiah, those pictures of the future which have not yet ceased to charm the soul of man; Nero’s persecutions gave us the Apocalypse of St. John, and the paroxysms of the twelfth century the eternal Gospel.”

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