On the 4th of October every year we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The figure of Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) has always captured the imagination of people from all walks of life: Christians and Muslims, royalty and prime ministers, rich and poor, intellectuals and workers, philosophers and theologians, poets and novelists, artists and filmmakers, historians and sociologists, peacemakers and environmentalists, people of all religions.
Francis, one of the Church’s most popular saints, was a person who lived out the Gospel better than anybody! Taking the Gospel seriously and living it passionately, he followed the footprints of Jesus Christ religiously, becoming an extraordinary example of Christian living in our world. Part of his charism was his very ordinariness, his closeness and accessibility to the average person. He lived an extremely radical, counter-cultural lifestyle which included poverty, prayer, fasting, and preaching. He believed in the physical as well as the spiritual imitation of Christ (Imitatio Christi).
Francis was very much a man of action. He gave away all his worldly possessions and lived a life of radical penance, manifesting himself in a deep spirit of poverty, simplicity and humility. His life of penance was evangelical in its fervor and purpose, namely to lead people to God in Christ. Francis believed that deeds were more important than creeds. He said, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” He exhorted his brothers: “Preach the Gospel at all times and use words when necessary.”
He saw the Divine not only “in all the peoples of earth” but also in all created things, and he sought a reconciliation of all creation with both humanity and with God. Part of Francis’ love for and appreciation of the environment is expressed beautifully in his Canticle of the Sun. He saw himself as part of the ecosystem. He talked lovingly and personally to the stars, trees, birds and animals; and referred to all creatures and created things as “brothers” and “sisters” and therefore all of the environment is worthy of respect. The beautiful Peace Prayer of St. Francis embodies all of his spiritual ideals and values!
May the inspiration of St. Francis of Assisi help us keep ever alive a sense of ‘fraternity’ by walking the path of dialogue, peace, openness, poverty and reverence for nature.
Our Lady of Mercy parish will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis with the Blessing of the Pets on Sunday, October 1st at 2:00 pm at OLOM School football field. All pets (they need not be Catholic) are invited to bring their owners for this wonderful blessing.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!