The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How Friar Masseo obtained from Christ the virtue of his humility
THE first companions of St. Francis strove with all their might to be poor in earthly things and rich in those virtues, through the which we attain unto the true celestial and eternal riches. Now it befel upon a day that, while they were gathered together to speak of God, one of them told this ensample: "There was one who was a great friend of God, and had great grace in the active and contemplative life; and there-withal so extreme was his humility, that he deemed himself a very great sinner: the which humility sanctified him and confirmed him in grace, and made him to increase continually in virtue and in the gifts of God, and never suffered him to fall into sin". Friar Masseo hearing such marvellous things concerning Humility, and knowing that she was a treasure of life eternal, began to be so inflamed with love and desire of this virtue of humility, that with great fervour lifting up his face toward heaven, he made a vow and very firm resolve never again to take any joy in this world, until he should perfectly feel the said virtue in his soul; and from thenceforward he abode well-nigh continually shut up in his cell, afflicting himself with fasts, vigils, prayers
and very bitter weepings before God, to the end that he might obtain from Him this virtue, wherewith that friend of God of whom he had heard was so abundantly dowered, and lacking which he deemed himself worthy of hell. And when Friar Masseo had continued for many days in this desire, it came to pass that one day he entered into the wood, and in fervour of spirit went therethrough, shedding tears and sending forth sighs and cries, demanding of God, with ardent desire, this Divine virtue; and, because God willingly giveth ear to the prayers of the humble and contrite, while yet Friar Masseo was praying, there came a voice from heaven which called him twice: "Friar Masseo! Friar Masseo!" And he, knowing through the Holy Spirit that it was the voice of Christ, made answer: "My Lord!" And Christ spake unto him saying: "What wouldest thou give to have this grace which thou beseechest?" Friar Masseo answered: "Lord, I would give the eyes out of my head". And Christ said unto him: "It is My will that thou have this grace and thine eyes also". And anon; with these words, the voice ceased; and Friar Masseo remained fulfilled with so much grace of the virtue of humility after which he had yearned, and of the light of God, that from thenceforward he was always glad; and oftentimes when he prayed he gave vent to his joy by making a soft low sound like the cooing of a gentle dove; and with happy face and joyful heart he abode on this wise in contemplation; and therewith having become most humble, he esteemed himself the least of all men upon earth. When Friar James of Fallerone asked him wherefore in his chant of joy he never changed his note, he replied with great gladness: that, when a man findeth every good in one thing, he needeth not to change his note.