St. Francis of Assisi is not only and not even primarily about animals. Yes, he loved creation but he loved it because he loved the God Who created it.
+JMJ+ It took me longer than I expected tonight to write a post about St. Francis. Everything I looked at or read or thought about left me in tears. Not just sentimental tears, though there probably is some of that, but the tears of a deep longing. I don’t know what to call it. Maybe to see the way he saw, to love the way he loved.
I had almost said to live the way he lived, but I’m much too cowardly to say that and mean it. I’d have to say, to paraphrase St. Augustine, “Lord, give me a spirit of poverty, but not yet.” I’m too attached to things: house, books, chair by the fireplace (or the fan, I am in Alabama, ya know), the ottoman where I prop up my feet, the Earl Grey tea in my cup.
Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2416
St. Francis loved creation, but not just for the sake of creation itself but for the sake of the One Who created it and created us as part of it and gave us stewardship over it. To reduce that to loving animals (though that’s not a bad thing and I dearly love animals, too) is, I think, to shrink and flatten out what St. Francis is all about. For him loving creation is about loving God.
Remember, too, that there is no brotherhood without God’s Fatherhood. For what makes us brothers? In this case, that we share this same Father, the One Who gave us life and gives us the Fire of His Love.
I found some videos, linked below, that I have not watched all the way through yet, but I trust the providers.
Collect for the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi
O God, by whose gift Saint Francis was conformed to Christ in poverty and humility, grant that, by walking in Francis’ footsteps, we may follow your Son, and, through joyful charity, come to be united with you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Thanks for visiting the blog and reading. I pray that you and I will stay holy and virtuous, and help each other to see and love like St. Francis, and to become the SAINTS the Lord intends us to be. May the Lord bless and keep you, and may His Peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- More about St. Francis of Assisi at Catholic Culture.
- Video from Sensus Fidelium, Saint Life: Francis of Assisi – A Walking Crucifix
- Video, Franciscan University Presents (that’s a link to their playlist): St. Francis: Sign of Contradiction
- Book, The Life of St. Francis of Assisi (Tan Classics), by St. Bonaventure: Paperback, Kindle (Amazon affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below).
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Images: 1) Preaching to the Birds and Blessing Montefalco, by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1452, via WikiArt, public domain. I adjusted the color a little. 2) God creating the sun, moon and stars, by Jan Brueghel the Younger, Wikimedia Commons, public domain. 3) Paradise landscape with the Creation of the animals, by Jan Brueghel the Younger and workshop, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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