Thursday, October 4, 2018

Remembering Saint Francis the Patron Saint of Ecologists

The Feast of St. Francis is celebrated worldwide on October 4th and this is the day that marks the end of the Season of Creation. St. Francis is the Patron Saint of Animals and in 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis the Patron Saint of Ecologists. Many people have their their pets blessed on this day. Other events celebrating the life of this ecological saint include nature walks and games for children.

Francis de Sales was born in Italy in 1181 and he was beatified in 1661 by Pope Alexander VII, who then canonized him four years later.  Francis was a soldier in his youth, but after a conversion experience, he renounced his family’s wealth and devoted his life to God.

Francis' devotion to God was expressed through his love for all of God's creation. St. Francis cared for the poor and sick, he preached sermons to animals, and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God. His death in 1226 brought three million people together for his funeral. He is well known as the author of the author of the Canticle of the Creatures.
"O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God, to you belong praise, glory, honour and all blessing. Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation and especially for our Brother Sun, who brings us the day and the light; he is strong and shines magnificently. O Lord, we think of you when we look at him. Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon, and for the stars which you have set shining and lovely in the heavens. Be praised, my Lord, for our Brothers Wind and Air and every kind of weather by which you, Lord, uphold life in all your creatures. Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water, who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure. Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire, through whom you give us light in the darkness: he is bright and lively and strong. Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Earth, our Mother, who nourishes us and sustains us, bringing forth fruits and vegetables of many kinds and flowers of many colours. Be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for love of you; and for those who bear sickness and weakness in peace and patience - you will grant them a crown. Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face. I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you, and I will serve you in all humility."
The message of St. Francis is even more prescient today than it was in the 12th century. We are living during what has been described as a mass extinction event where half of the animals on earth are at risk of disappearing. Humans are the primary cause of this extinction and combating climate change may be our best hope of preserving these threatened species.

Season of Creation raises ecological awareness through prayer
Pope Francis Creates Global Environmental Day of Prayer
Time for Creation (World Council of Churches)
Church leaders endorse Season of Creation in rare ecumenical joint letter
Information and Resources for the Season of Creation
The WCC and the Season of Creation
Resources for Planning a Season of Creation Event
Pope Francis Calls Everyone to Pray and Act During the Season of Creation

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