October 4th is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the world’s most beloved saints. Francis was known as a wealthy young man who gave up all his material goods to follow the way of Christ. Francis was the founder of the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare and the Third Order of St. Francis. In addition to being recognized as a holy man, a philosopher and mystic, Francis became the protector of animals and the natural environment. Even today many parishes hold ceremonies blessing animals.
Francis considered all nature as the mirror of God and as so many steps to God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,” and, in the most endearing stories about him, preached to the birds and persuaded a wolf to stop attacking the people of the town of Gubbio and their livestock if the townspeople agreed to feed the wolf. In his “Canticle of the Creatures” (less properly called by such names as the “Praises of Creatures” or the “Canticle of the Sun”), he referred to “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon,” the wind and water, and even “Sister Death.” He nicknamed his long and painful illnesses his “sisters,” and he begged pardon of “Brother Ass the body” for having unduly burdened him with his penances. Above all, his deep sense of brotherhood under God embraced his fellow men, for “he considered himself no friend of Christ if he did not cherish those for whom Christ died.” (St. Francis of Assisi: Italian Saint by Ignatius Charles Brady)
What better saint to emulate in our world today where the environment is hurting, the air we breathe is tainted with pollution, the natural world is losing ground due to corporations seeking financial gain and many in the animal world are becoming extinct. Do we consider our world and all of nature the mirror of God? Just think about what is happening with global warming and climate change. Just think about deforestation and water pollution. Just think about the loss of biodiversity and depleting the soil and damaging marine ecosystems. We are surrounded by problems that have negative effects on the world around us.
Each and every one of us has a responsibility to become more knowledgeable to what is happening around us and to seek solutions that can be acted upon at the local level – beginning in our own homes. If one candle can make our surroundings brighter, so too the elimination of one piece of plastic from our waste can make a very tiny dent in our environmental problems.
Let’s help Brother Sun and Sister Moon shine a little brighter because we have helped to clean our air in whatever way we can.
What environmental problem touches you most deeply?
What is one action you can do today, this week and all month to help our environment?
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, all praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name. All praise be yours, my Lord, through all you have made, and first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and through whom you give us light. How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor; Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness. All Praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, bright, and precious, and fair. All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers wind and air, and fair and stormy, all the weather's moods, by which you cherish all that you have made. All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure. All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten up the night. How beautiful is he, how cheerful! Full of power and strength. All praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs. All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy are those who endure in peace, By You, Most High, they will be crowned. All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, From whose embrace no mortal can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your will! The second death can do them no harm. Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks And serve him with great humility.