October 4

 Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
Reflection

Francis of Assisi astounded people by taking the gospel seriously.  In prayer Francis  had heard the words, “Go rebuild my house” and took them literally.  He began to rebuild the church of San Damiano stone by stone.  But, as he reflected on these words, he began to realize a deeper meaning to them.  He realized that the ”house of God” is first the human person.  The Divine Mystery dwells in human flesh not in stone buildings. The God who is made flesh in Jesus is the same Divine Mystery through whom all things are made.  Fish, trees, birds, air, wind, fire—all are created by God.  What Francis heard originally, “Go rebuild my house” became much larger for him—it became the entire oikos.  “Go rebuild my oikos—as you see it is all being destroyed.”  The life of Francis of Assisi shows us that right relationship to creation is not easy.  Francis saw the inner truth of creation as the very place where God is revealed—or concealed when humans fail to see God as humbly present in the magnificent diversity of creation. The love Francis had for God’s creation and his respect for and gentleness with animals have inspired many. The Church honors him as the patron saint of animals and ecology.

Prayer

O God, who inspired Francis to leave everything to follow the way of Jesus, grant us the grace of simplicity and sincerity. Help us to love and respect all Creation. May the Patron Saint of Ecology inspire us to have great respect and care for all God’s creatures.

Action

Francis took the poverty of Christ literally. He also revered and loved all God’s creatures. How do I consider those who are poor? What is my appreciation of creation and all sentient beings? Is there a specific positive action I can take in any of these areas?

Suggested Reading

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.
Francis of Assisi

What a man is before God, that he is, and nothing more.
St. Francis of Assisi

Each one should confidently make known his need to the other, so that he might find what he needs and minister to him. And each one should love and care for his brother in all those things in which God will give him grace, as a mother loves and cares for her son.
St. Francis of Assisi 

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.
Francis of Assisi

He is great because he is everything. He is a man who wants to do things, wants to build, he founded an order and its rules, he is an itinerant and a missionary, a poet and a prophet, he is mystical. He found evil in himself and rooted it out. He loved natureanimals, the blade of grass on the lawn and the birds flying in the sky. But above all he loved peoplechildren, old people, women. He is the most shining example of that agape.
Pope Francis

St. Francis is not only the most attractive of all the Christian saints, he is the most attractive of Christians, admired Buddists, atheists, completely secular, modern people, Communists, to whom the figure of Christ himself is at best unattractive.
Kenneth Rexroth

Franciscan Pet Blessing
Blessed are you, Lord God,
maker of all living creatures.
You inspired St. Francis
to call all animals
his brothers and sisters.
We ask you to bless this animal.
By the power of your love,
enable this animal to live happily and in
peace according to its nature.
Amen.
(Many people bless their pets with this prayer on October 4.)

 

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