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Christianity as a heroic adventure

If we could conceive of one of Plutarch’s men armed, not with any carnal weapon, but with the sword of the spirit, overflowing with the love which was manifested in the fields of Galilee, and entranced by that vision of divine things which the Greek mind at its best saw but as through a glass darkly,—we should perhaps gain some conception of the true personality of St. Francis. We must, while remembering all the wonderful work of the Franciscans in their best days, think of their founder, not primarily as a monk, but as a man, a veritable medieval embodiment of the purest love, but strong with a human strength, no weak- ling, no mourner, fresh and lithe as a young sapling, rejoicing in his freedom from entanglements of those worldly lusts which war against the soul. Say what we will, the world, sunk in materialism and at the best conscious of but a low average of aspiration, will never rise to any further height of attainment till the spirit of St. Francis is once more incarnate amongst us. It is not by mere machinery that our cities are to be purged, our waste places made glad, and our social life redeemed. One spiritual hero is worth all the social machinery ever created or all the committees of worthy busybodies ever devised. The world needs above all else the man who will conceive of Christianity as a heroic adventure, who will be untrammelled, free, and yet joyous as a young Apollo. That was St. Francis, and so he was the true agent of redemption of a mediaeval world, stained with wrong and doomed to corruption.



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