The Perfect Joy 

     The spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi is summarized in the celebrated lesson on "perfect joy" which Francis gave Friar Leo.

     "One day near St. Mary of the Angels, the blessed Francis called Friar Leo and said, ‘Friar Leo.’
     ‘Here I am,’ replied the other.
     ‘Write down what is perfect joy. If a messenger should arrive from Paris announcing that all the teachers from Paris had come into the Order, write down: true joy is not therein.
       If all the prelates, archbishops and even the King of France and the King of England should join the Order, write down: true joy is not therein.
       Further if all my friars should go among the infidels and convert them all to the faith, or if I should have so much grace from God that I heal the sick and work miracles, write down: true joy is not therein.

     But what is perfect joy?  I return from Perugia in the black of night and I come here and it is winter, muddy and so cold that icicles form on the hem of my tunic and strike against my legs without cease and draw blood from my wounds. Thus covered with mud, soaked and frozen I come to the door and after I call out and knock for a long time, a friar comes and asks: ‘Who are you?’ I answer, ‘Friar Francis,’ and he says: ‘Begone! This is not an hour to be wandering around!’ And since I insist and knock further, he answers: ‘Begone! You are a worthless fellow, a simpleton. Don’t come here anymore. We are just so many and have no need of you!’
     I still knock on the door, and I say: ‘For the love of God give me shelter for this night.’ And he answers, ‘I will not. Go to the hospital of the Cruciferi and ask there.’

     And if I endure all this patiently and without dismay, I say to you, therefore, that therein lies perfect joy, true virtue and the salvation of the soul."

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