Feast Of St Francis of Assisi

4th October 2010 - Feast Of St Francis of Assisi

"Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Brother Sun, who is the day through whom you give us light."

This excerpt from The Canticle of Brother Sun, written by St. Francis of Assisi in 1225, is best sung or recited. In it, Francis invokes all of creation to praise the Creator. Francis' teachings about creation as a manifestation of God have impacted the Church's theology about creation such that Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis the patron saint of ecology in 1980.

Founder of the Franciscan Order, born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181 or 1182 — the exact year is uncertain; died there, 3 October, 1226.

He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment and one of the two patrons of Italy (with Catherine of Siena), and it is customary for Anglican and Roman Catholic churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October.

It is said that, one day, while Francis was traveling with some companions, they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to "wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds". The birds surrounded him, drawn by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. Francis spoke to them:

My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you... you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore... always seek to praise God.

The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The prayer has many of the biblical truths of what it means to be a Christian - to seek to give, and in so doing, receive blessings; that the Lord's Prayer asks God to forgive us as we forgive, and that the goal of eternal life can only result from us putting to death our old sinful lives.

Pointers for Prayer : Sometimes Christians are called to turn the world upside down. To bring the exact opposite of what we find in our world. St. Francis' prayer is a bold one, asking for strength to give of ourselves to meet the needs of others. He recognises that it "is in giving that we receive", that as we give of ourselves, we receive the peace and blessing of our risen Lord Jesus. We cannot earn eternal life, but that we are pardoned from the sins that block our claim on it.
Think about the situations that you are involved in that require peace, consolation, hope, light and joy. Then, if you're bold enough, pray the prayer!


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