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St. Francis and the snail

This is one of many stories told by St. Francis to his followers and it goes something like this . . . The very first animal to appear at the gates of heaven was the snail. St. Peter bent forward tapping the snail with his staff, and asked, "What are you looking for here my fine little snail?" "Immortality" the snail answered politely. Peter howled with laughter. "Immortality! And just what do you plan to do with immortality?" ''Don't laugh,' the snail countered. "Aren't I one of God's creatures? "Aren't I a son of God just like the Archangel Michael? . . . Archangel Snail, that's who I am" "Where are your wings of gold, your scimitar, the scarlet sandals betokening your regality?" Peter replied. ''Inside me, asleep and waiting." "Waiting for what?" "Waiting for the Great Moment," replied the snail. "What Great Moment?" "This one now!" said the snail. And before he had finished saying 'Now' he took a great leap as though he had sprouted wings, and he entered paradise. . . St. Francis finished by saying to his followers "Do you understand? We are just like Brother Snail. Within us are the wings, the scimitar and the royal sandals. If we want to enter Paradise we can at any moment. We must simply want it more than anything else and we must be willing to take the leap . . . jump!"

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