We anticipate a busy weekend here at St. Francis. We remember the feast day of our patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, who died on October 3, 1226, near the church of the Portiuncula which is just outside the walls of Assisi. One of the more popular events of the weekend is the blessing of the animals which happens in the labyrinth area outside of the Assisi Community Center. I remember doing this when I was at Immaculate Conception in Durham and seeing that people bring their dogs, cats, birds – even once, in a pillow case, a python! I sent that one over to the other friar who was helping that day.
The blessing of the animals highlights something from the life of St. Francis himself. He loved animals. He would catch a fish and set it free. He would buy a lamb from the market to “ransom” it and set it free. And in one of the more charming stories that is passed down, he used to pick up worms on the road and bring them over to the side of the road so they would not be harmed by passing traffic. What do these stories tell us about Francis, beyond their simple charm? They tell us that Francis recognized the dignity and beauty of the created world, that he saw in all things something of the goodness of their Creator.
His vision, nearly 800 years after his death remains vital to us today – can we strive to see the environment, the earth, our neighbors, our friends, our enemies, the entire created web of all things – as relational, and not as something to be conquered? In his beautiful “Canticle of the Creatures,” written toward the end of his life and, remarkably, when he was nearly blind, Francis looks out at the world around him, the sun, moon, stars, fire, water – and calls them his brother or his sister. It’s a beautiful insight into the nature of the created world. If water is our sister, how then do we care for our lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans? St. Francis of Assisi remains a prophetic voice in our world today.
Also this weekend, more than 150 of our youth received the sacrament of confirmation from Bishop Burbidge. Congratulations to those who received the sacrament and thank you to all who helped prepare them.
Blessings to all on the week ahead.