Francis began preaching around 1207 and traveled to Rome to seek approval of his order from Pope Innocent III in 1209. The original Rule of Saint Francis approved by the pope disallowed ownership of property, requiring members of the order to beg for food while preaching. The austerity was meant to emulate the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Franciscans traveled and preached in the streets, while boarding in church properties.
Centuries later, so the story goes, we find two Brothers walking through the countryside in silence. They were going to stay a few days in a Church located in a small village and they estimated it would take a day to get there. The walk was long but not difficult. So that morning walk, like all others before, felt fresh and always experimental.
The sun came up behind them and the air went warm and dewey. At the start of their trip the older Brother had told the younger Brother that they would observe silence until 5 minutes before stopping to sleep.
The Brothers walked at walking speed. There was a substantial distance behind them and a substantial distance ahead of them. The Brothers would be fine with whatever came next for they had no ambitions and very few and simple needs. They continued their trip praying in silence when came to a point where they had to cross a brook.
There were four young ladies and one not so young lady. There were patched clothes drying up on top of rocks washed so thin they were almost transparent. The Brothers walked to the brook and removed their sandals in order to cross to the other side. One of the young ladies tried to seduce the young Bother. He didn’t say a word but his silence spoke volumes. Nevertheless, the young lady after insisting so much, got a piggy-back ride to the west bank.
The Brothers continue their walk and they saw small houses with small yards. There were chickens here. There were goats there. And the occasional pig as well as a few dogs sleeping around. Night was coming in fast and the Brothers decided to stop and choose a place to sleep. There was nothing much to eat – bread and some dry meat.
When was time for the Brothers to have their five minutes of talking to each other, the older Brother went ballistic towards the younger Brother.
“How could you allow yourself to be manipulated by a prostitute?
Didn’t you see that she was seducing you?
You have to listen to me because you show that you cannot be trusted when you see young ladies showing off their parts without any respect to us!”
The younger Brother had only forty seconds to talk and he tried to use it as wise as he could possibly master: “Brother, I carried the young lady in my back for seven minutes across the brook. You, however, have been carrying her in your heart all day…”
They went to sleep in silence.