Skip to comments.Trad Vs trad: The three murderous robbers
Posted on 04/30/2007 7:04:18 PM PDT by indult
Trad Vs trad: The three murderous robbers
Monday, April 30, 2007
So as I logged off the latest round of internecine trad Vs trad warfare Sunday night, and headed up to bed, my wife was reading a chapter to our children from a book about "The Wondrous Adventures of St. Francis of Assisi."
Ironically, just as I entered our bedroom, she was reading the part where St. Francis was upbraiding Brother Angelo following his behavior towards The three murderous robbers.
Feeling duly chastened myself by this simple children's tale, I share it here with you now:
...After a while, Br. Angelo was appointed the brother in charge of the house. At the time there were three murderous robbers living in the area. They had committed so many crimes the people were terrified to walk on the roads by day or by night.
One spring day, the robbers came to Monte Casale. They banged noisily on the door of the brothers' house, but there was no answer. Yelling angrily, they tried to scare someone into opening the door.
"Open up! We're hungry," the largest of the robbers bellowed. He glared furiously at the little window in the door. The shutter was closed tight and did not budge.
"No one will answer," the second robber growled. He rubbed a long scar on his cheek, scratching his matted hair.
"We'll have to burn the place down," the third one hissed through broken yellow teeth, fingering his long knife.
Suddenly, the little window was whipped open and the round cupid-like face of Br. Angelo filled the space. "What do you want?" he asked with a start, recognizing them immediately. They were the three murderous robbers who had been tormenting the people of the area.
"Food, imbecile! We want food. Didn't you hear me yelling? Are you deaf as well as stupid?" the huge robber bellowed back, his bearded face flushing.
Br. Angelo stared for a long moment. Anger slowly turned his pale face beet red. "How dare you come here asking for something to eat? You robbers and murderers aren't even ashamed of the crimes you commit. Then you have the nerve to eat up what we poor brothers bring home by the Grace of God! You do not even deserve to walk on the earth God Created! You have no respect for man or beast or the Holy God who created you. Get out of here and never come back!" he roared, hitting the door with his doubled fist. Then he quickly slammed the wooden shutter over the window. Hurriedly, he pulled a thick bar into place to keep the angry robbers out. None too soon! The sound of their firsts beating furiously on the door echoed back to him.
Finally, they saw they could not get in. They left, yelling curses and threats all the way down the road.
That same day, Br. Francis returned after many hours of preaching the Holy Gospel of Jesus. He brought a very large jug of fine wine and a thick hot loaf of freshly baked bread for the brothers' dinner.
Kneeling in front of Br. Francis, Br. Angelo quickly told him about the visit of the robbers. His anger was gone. His face was very pale, and his hands were still shaking. All that remained was regret.
Br. Francis stared down at the thin brother, the jug of wine in one hand, and the loaf of bread in the other. His gaunt bearded face grew sad. His dark liquid eyes filled with tears, but for a moment there was a glint of anger in the inky interior of his gaze. Straightening his thin shoulders, he spoke.
"You were very cruel, Brother Angelo," said Br. Francis. "We cannot bring men to love the Lord by angrily scolding or upbraiding them for their wrongdoings. They see only themselves in that kind of behavior. They would not see a need to change if they thought we were all like them." He paused, slowly shaking his head.
"Sinners are lead to God through meekness and gentleness," he continued, "by showing them we are willing to love them, as Jesus did."
Br. Francis' dark eyes shown as if he were looking into the face of Jesus at that very moment!
Br. Angelo hung his head, suddenly seeing how wrong he had been. Br. Francis' voice grew gentle when he saw Br. Angelo's head droop. "Remember, Br. Angelo," he said, "our Master told us in His Gospels that the doctor is not needed by those who are well, but by the sick. He did not come to call the just to repentance but the sinner."
"I, too, am a sinner. I have sinned against God and those three men," Br. Angelo whispered, not even able to look at Br. Francis.
Br. Francis' heart ached for the young brother. Still, he compressed his thin lips and forced himself to remain very stern. Br. Francis knew Br. Angelo had to learn to walk the Gospel way and that he would only learn by actually doing what Jesus would do.
"Yes, we are all sinners, Brother," said Br. Francis. "Now, I command you under holy obedience to take this jug of wine and loaf of bread. Search carefully for the robbers. Search the mountains, the hills, the valleys, and the dells. When you find them, offer them all of this bread and wine for me, in the name of Jesus. Kneel down in front of them. Then, humbly beg their forgiveness for the sin of cruelty." Br. Francis paused, seeing the young brother trembling with fear at what he had to do.
"Then ask them, my Brother," Francis went on, "for me, in Jesus' name, to stop doing the evil things they have been doing. Ask them to fear God. Ask them to remember He will be the one to open either Heaven or Hell to them when they die. And ask them never to offend God and their neighbors again. Tell them, if they agree to do this, I will give them food and drink the rest of their lives. Finally, when you have done all of this, come back here." Br. Francis waited, seeing Br. Angelo had stopped trembling.
Br. Angelo lifted his head, his eyes full of a beautiful compassion. Tears ran down his cheeks as he nodded in obedience.
So Br. Angelo left Monte Casale and began to search the mountains, the hills, the valleys, and the dells for the three murderous robbers.
While Br. Angelo was searching, Br. Francis knelt down on the hard stones in front of the crucifix of Jesus. He began to pray that the hearts of the murderous robbers would soften. He prayed that they would begin to fear God enough to repent and change their ways.
Br. Angelo tramped steadily down the road. He had seen many people. All of them had a similar response when he asked where the murderous robbers could be found. They said, "Follow the road, Brother. They'll find you!"
Turning a bend in the road, Br. Angelo came upon a farmer sitting dejectedly in his field. He looked very tired and sad. His hat shaded his tearful face. So Br. Angelo stopped to cheer him up and ask directions.
"Why are you so downcast on such a beautiful day, sir?" Br. Angelo asked and smiled, inhaling the sweet smell of cut hay.
"Oh, Brother," the farmer sighed, wiping his eyes on his shirt sleeve, "not long ago three robbers came and stole all the money I had made from selling my eggs and vegetables." Shaking his head, he stared at his hands in his lap. "I needed that money to buy medicine for my wife," he said, "and now I don't know what to do."
"I am so sorry," Br. Angelo said slowly. Reaching into his sack, he brought out the coin he had been given for his journey. "Take this coin and go buy your medicine," he said. Pressing the coin into the man's hand, he waited. Br. Angelo wanted to give the farmer the jug of wine and the bread, too, but he knew he was bound by holy obedience to give it to the three murderous robbers.
The farmer smiled, at once more cheerful. Standing up, he patted Br. Angelo on the back. "Thank you, Brother," he said. "Now you be careful on this road because the robbers may not have gone too far. They have killed many men."
That was not what Br. Angelo wanted to hear, but, forcing a smile, he turned back to his journey. After a while, he came down into the valley. He could see smoke billowing from a burning house by the road. Flames leapt high into the air. Wood crackled and crashed as it fell burning to the ground. A small crowd of people stood back, helplessly watching the house turning to charred rubble.
"What happened?" Br. Angelo asked, hurrying up to the nearest man, who was leaning on a long crutch.
"The robbers," the man said, as his broad, soot smeared face grew red with anger. "They could get no food here they killed the owner and burned his house."
Br. Angelo stared in disbelief, his mouth gaping. 'What am I getting myself into?' he thought, perspiration beading his forehead. Reluctantly, he turned back to the road, thinking, 'Surely they will kill me, too!'
Swallowing painfully over the lump in his throat in his throat, he went on, his heart heavy with fear as his teeth chattered noisily. "Please," he prayed, "give me the courage to carry out my mission for the love of Jesus."
Walking steadily through a stand of trees into a small dell, Br. Angelo paused in a shaded glen. He heard the soft sound of crying close by. Brushing back his perspiration-dampened hair, he peered into the shadows. "Hello?" he whispered, his blue eyes wide with fear. And then, seeing a small boy leaning against the trunk of a thick tree, he saod louder, "Why are you crying, boy?"
The boy jumped. "You frightened me, Brother," said the boy, looking up at him. Then the boy peered this way and that, as if looking for someone else.
That was when Br. Angelo noticed the little dog lying in the boy's lap. Its wiry fur was matted with blood.
"Who did this?" asked Br. Angelo, hurrying to the boy and putting down his sack. The little terrier whimpered.
"Three robbers came," the boy sniffed, stroking his dog's head. Slowly he wiped his nose on his sleeve. "They took my bread and cheese," he went on, "and one of them cut Doggy with his long knife because he wouldn't stop barking at him." Covering his face, the boy sobbed loudly into his hands.
"Poor Doggy," Br. Angelo murmured. "Don't cry, child," he said, and, patting the boy's arm, he opened his bag. Taking out his water gourd and some medicine he squatted down. Carefully he tore a little strip of linen from the cloth the bread was wrapped in. After cleaning the wound he sprinkled some medicine powder on it. Then he gently bandaged it. "Now, you give Doggy some water and carry him home so he can be warm." Br. Angelo smiled at the boy.
"Will he be all right?" the boy asked, raising his tear stained face to Br. Angelo, his big dark eyes hopeful.
"He'll be all right," Br. Angelo smiled again. "Say a little prayer for him, too. OK?"
"Ok," said the boy. Getting up with Doggy in his arms, the boy shuffled his bare feet. Suddenly he was very nervous. "I have nothing to pay you with," he said softly.
"You don't need to pay me!" Br. Angelo laughed, "because I did it for the love of Jesus."
"Thank you!" the boy said and smiled, turning away. Hurrying off, he turned once to wave.
Waving back, Br. Angelo picked up his things. Once again he continued his search. What kind of men were these robbers? How could they hurt a child's dog? Surely, their hearts were as hard as stone. Shuddering, Br. Angelo prayed even more fervently to be able to do what Jesus would do when he came face to face with these men. Could he? Would he? His steps faltered. And then he remembered the beautiful look in Br. Francis' eyes as he seemed to be looking at the face of Jesus.
"I can do it, with your help, Lord," Br. Angelo said, suddenly humbled.
Finally, Br. Angelo found the cave the robbers were using for a home. He quietly followed the path up the hill. Stopping in his tracks, he trembled at the sound of the robbers quarreling. "Run!" his heart said. "Holy obedience!" his head said, and so he stayed.
"OK," he whispered, his breath shallow with fear. "Hello?" he called loudly, and clutched the jug of wine more tightly. Then he whispered another prayer for courage.
"Who is that?" one of the robbers bellowed, charging out with a club in one hand.
"It must be the law!" another robber leapt into the light swinging his long knife.
"Wait!" Br. Angelo cried.
The last robber loomed in the shadows of the dark cave. Holding up his enormous fists like huge hammers, he glared at Br. Angelo. "Who are you and what do you want?" he demanded.
For a moment, Br. Angelo's head began to spin. His heart thumped wildly in his chest. He swayed unsteadily, sure he would faint from fear.
"I asked you a question!" the largest robber roared.
"I ... I ... I am Br. Angelo," Br. Angelo squeaked.
"Br. Angelo?" the second robber asked, and thumped the club against a grimy palm. "He is the brother who treated us so foully!" he sneered, the long scar on his cheek livid.
"So!" the robber with the long knife grinned, his broken yellow teeth making him look more menacing. "You have a lot of guts coming here."
And as the robbers closed in on him, Br. Angelo began to pray, because he knew if he didn't pray his courage would fail him and he would run.
He heard their words accusing him of his sins. Then he remembered Br. Francis. As he prayed, the fear grew smaller in him. He began to speak as the robbers surrounded him. "Brothers, you are right," he said, dropping his gaze in shame. "I treated you cruelly. I sinned grievously against you and God. Now I bring food and wine. Please accept them."
For a moment, the largest robber stared at Br. Angelo as if he were speaking another language. Then he turned, staring at his companions.
"Give me that wine," the robber with the knife said as he grabbed the jug of wine and hurried back into the cave.
The second robber lifted his club as though he would hit the brother, but Br. Angelo did not cower.
"Please, brother," Br. Angelo said softly, "take this loaf of bread."
Glancing at the bread and then at the largest robber, the second robber lowered his club.
The largest robber snatched the bread and dragged Br. Angelo into the cave. "I should crush your throat right now," he said in a growl. "Why did you follow us?"
Praying silently, Br. Angelo inhaled a deep breath. "I came to beg you to forgive me for my cruel treatment of you," he said.
"To beg us?" the huge robber burst into loud laughter.
Br. Angelo's face burned with shame.
The three robbers divided the bread and began to devour it. Slurping wine from wooden cups, they watched Br. Angelo. It was as if they thought he would try to run away.
But the longer he stayed and the more he prayed, the less fear blinded Br. Angelo. He was no longer afraid of what the robbers would do to him. He began to feel a deep sadness for them, knowing how unhappy they were in their sins.
Looking more like an angel than a man, Br. Angelo knelt. Raising his arms to the robbers, he said, "Please, brothers, I beg you in the name of Jesus and on behalf of Br. Francis, to stop doing the evil things you have been doing."
The robbers froze. Hands half way to their mouths, they stared at him. But Br. Angelo went on.
"I beg you to stop because you fear God, fear Him because He is the one who will open Heaven or Hell to you when you die," said Br. Angelo. He lowered his arms and joined his hands in prayer. "I beg you and I pray you will never offend God and your neighbor again."
The robbers continued to stare. The candle on their crude wooden table suddenly seemed dim. The shining cupid-like face of Br. Angelo shown in the darkness beseechingly.
"And if you agree to do this," said Br. Angelo, "Br. Francis will give you food and drink the rest of your lives." Closing his eyes, Br. Angelo grew very quiet. His fear was gone. He could feel the warmth of Jesus' love surrounding him.
"Good bread," the biggest robber grunted, clearing his throat. Suddenly he wanted to talk. He could feel a strange warmth from Br. Angelo and talking made him more comfortable.
"Yes, it is good bread and fine wine," the second robber agreed, belching loudly. He inhaled uneasily, looking at his companions one by one. Then he looked back at Br. Angelo, shuddering.
"I wonder what horrible tortures God is going to let the devil deal out to us for all the misery and evil we have done," the third robber said, gulping wine. He too, was unable to stop staring at the brother's shining face.
The biggest robber shivered as a chill raced up his back. He stared uncomfortably at the little brother. "I don't know. If we had any fear of God we wouldn't rob and murder," he said, chewing his bread vigorously.
"I cannot understand what made this brother come after us like this," the second robber said. "He may have been angry, but everything he said was true."
"It was true all right," the third robber admitted, "but he was shaking like a leaf when he first got here. Then...he...he...wasn't scared at all."
"He called us 'brothers,'" the second robber said, swallowing a lump in his throat.
"He must be a very holy man, to trust God and come all the way out here alone to do what he did," said the third robber, narrowing his eyes. He tipped his head at Br. Angelo, who was still kneeling, his lips moving in prayer, his eyes still closed. Light seemed to surround him.
"This Br. Francis promised to feed us if we stop robbing," the first robber said aloud. He turned his cup of wine, watching the light play on the ruby red liquid.
"And if we stop killing," the third robber said in a quiet voice, fingering his long knife.
"What if we did go and ask forgiveness of God?" the first robber asked suddenly. "Would God be as gentle or as merciful as this Br. Francis?"
"After all we've done? I don't think we'll be able to get mercy from God," the second robber said, hurriedly carrying off another hunk of bread.
"But there is...there is still Hell..." the first robber's big shoulders shuddered. It was as if he had seen a glimpse of what was in store for him.
The three robbers turned and looked at Br. Angelo.
"God is mercy and kindness," Br. Angelo said slowly. "We are made in His image so we can show mercy and kindness. But our mercy is only a small measure of what he is able to offer." Opening his eyes he looked into the face of each of the robbers. "Jesus will show those who repent the full measure of his Divine Mercy and unfathomable kindness."
"All right!" the third robber said and jumped to his feet. "Let's go talk to this Br. Francis. If he, too, gives us hope of being forgiven, we'll do it! If he thinks God will be merciful, we'll do whatever he commands us!"
"Yes!" the second robber cried. "Then we'll be free of the threat of Hell!"
The first robber rose menacingly to his full height, his face becoming a glowering mask. Then slowly his expression changed. "Come on then, little brother," he said to Br. Angelo, "Show us the way back."
Br. Francis welcomed them to the brothers' house in Monte Casale. With a radiant smile and great words of holy consolation he embraced them. He took the robbers inside and spoke so well about God's mercy that they were astonished. He promised them, if they repented, they would be forgiven by the Lord Jesus. Then he showed them with his gentle, kind words and actions how God's mercy is greater than all our sins. He told them how Jesus came into the world to redeem sinners, not to condemn them.
One by one, the murderous robbers fell to their knees. Their hearts were so deeply touched they repented all their sins. And, to everyone's surprise, they asked to be received as brothers in Br. Francis' religious order!
After proper instruction, they were gladly admitted. Then they prayerfully, with humbled hearts, lived out the remainder of their lives as faithful followers of Jesus Christ in Br. Francis' way.
[Maybe its just a corny kids story, but I couldn't find this story online, so I typed this in here by hand (as a small personal penance) while my daughter re-read it to me. I only type with one finger, so that's more of a chore than one might think.]
I cannot go into the den of the three murderous robbers, so this is the best I can do at present...
Some days, rarely, we are St. Francis in this story.
Most days, most of us are Br. Angelo, slamming the shutter closed indignantly on a world full of murderous robbers.
Some days, more often than any of us will admit to ourselves or others, we are one of the three murderous robbers, at least spiritually, if not literally. We rob people of hope by our constant bitterness and anger, and we kill the faith in those who have little, by our own lack of charity.
To those to whom much (traditional Catholicism) is given, much will be expected.
All we can hope is that, before we die, we repent, and be used by God to help bring over a few other murderous robbers along the way.
Thank You, I can appreciate the trouble that you took to type this story.
Thank you for sharing this. I needed to see this today, especially from your community. Although I see trads constantly persecuted and vilified, I am always heartened by those who accept their sufferings with humility and offer it up- not afraid to defend their traditions and their culture, but refusing to be embittered or uncharitable because of it.
Always preach the Gospel, and use words if you have to. - St. Francis
Good morning (and welcome back :-).
Bump for later reading, must run before it gets to hot.
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