The most quoted passage from the Gospel in the writings was not any of the famous hard sayings of the Gospel about poverty or renunciation. Seven times Francis cited the “golden rule” of human relationships: “Whatever you would wish a person to do you to do, do you also to them” (Matthew 7:12). Francis did not present an ascetical system for his friars.
Jordan of Giano was a novice at the Pentecost Chapter of 1221 in Assisi. He tells in his Chronicle how Francis he went among the friars removal of the instruments of penance from among them. The saint knew it was easier to wear a hair shirt than live in patient kindness with others. Francis went straight to the Gospel. In his writings, love, humility, meekness, forgiveness, mutual service and courtesy were exalted to priority while programmes of ascetical exercises were lacking.
The friars’ approach must be to draw by attraction. In an exhortation to the friars Francis told them: “Since you speak peace, all the more so must there be peace in your hearts. Let none be provoked to anger or scandal by you. But rather may they be drawn to peace, goodness and unity by your gentleness. We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and bring home those who have lost their way.”
They were to be brothers who make credible in their lives the truth of the Gospel, who manifest in their deeds, great and small, the compassion of the God Jesus has made known and the beauty of the Christian, Catholic faith.