The Office of Washing Feet

From The Admonitions, 4-5 (ca. 1223-1226)

“I did not come to be served, but to serve,” says the Lord. Those who are placed over others should glory in such an office only as much as they would were they assigned the task of washing the feet of the brothers. And the more they are upset about their office being taken from them than they would be over the loss of the office of washing feet, so much the more do they store up treasures for the peril of their souls.

Be conscious, O man, of the wondrous state in which the Lord God has placed you. For he created you and formed you in the image of his beloved Son according to the body, and to his likeness according to the spirit. And yet all the creatures under heaven, each according to its nature, serve, know, and obey the Creator better than you. And even the demons did nor crucify him, but you, together with him, have crucified him, and crucify him even now by delighting in vices and sins.

In what can you glory? For if you were so subtle and wise that you had all knowledge and knew how to interpret tongues, and minutely investigated the course of the heavenly bodies, in all these things you could not glory, for one demon knew more about the things of the earth than all mortals together, even including if there were someone who received from the Lord a special knowledge of the highest wisdom. Likewise, if you were even more handsome and richer than everyone else in the world, and even if you performed wonders such as driving out demons, all these things would be an obstacle to you and none of them would belong to you, nor could you glory in any of these things. But in this alone can we glory, in our infirmities, and in bearing daily the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was an Italian preacher, mystic, and servant of the poor, the founder of the Order of Friars Minor. After a dramatic conversion as a young man, he gathered a community of followers dedicated to the renewal of the church. He and his friars were mendicant preachers of repentance and fostered an awakening in piety across Christendom. The Admonitions are a series of brief words of instruction he delivered at general meetings of the order during the last years of his life. His feast day is October 4.


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