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The Feast of St. Francis

I wrote the following for the parish bulletin this weekend.

On Monday, we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  His father was a very well-to-do merchant who wished his son would go into the family business.  Everyone liked Francis because he was always happy.  He sought glory by becoming a soldier.  He was captured and held prisoner.  Even during his imprisonment he kept on being happy.  

He was freed when the ransom was paid.  He continued to seek glory as a soldier, joining the Crusades, but before he fought another battle, he felt the call of God.  So, he returned home and began to turn his life over to God.  

Francis then heard God telling him to “repair my Church.”  Francis took it literally and rebuilt the local church, only to discover that was not God’s ultimate purpose for him.  Instead, God wanted Francis to help the Church recover from scandal.  

Eventually, he would start the Order of Friars Minor that we know today as the Franciscans.  It was never his intent to start a new order.  What he promoted in his preaching and his lifestyle was living a simple life.  He is now a symbol of poverty and the simple life.  The Franciscan Order formed when a group of men adopted his lifestyle.  

One of the ways that Francis would find the presence of the Lord was in the things that God had created, in nature and animals.  For his love of creation, St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment.  

Following Francis’ love of animals, each year many parishes offer a pet blessing where we ask for St. Francis’ intercession to keep our pets safe and healthy (we had our pet blessing Saturday).  

We also ask for St. Francis’ intercession to help us use wisely the natural resources of the world as created by God.  Each year, our diocesan Public Policy selects three issues to focus on to help the people understand Catholic teaching on the issues.  This year, one of the issues is our energy policies and global climate change.  You can find some information from the diocese at http://www.dor.org/charities/dioprograms/AdvocacyGlobalClimateChange.htm.  

Another good place for Catholic Social Teaching on the environment is http://catholicsandclimatechange.org/.  You can find out about the St. Francis’ pledge at http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/the-st-francis-pledge/.  

I understand that some people are not convinced that we have a “global climate change” problem.  Others may admit there is a small problem but think the Earth can “take care of itself.”  I think we have do have a problem with the way we use our natural resources without concern.  Even, if global climate change isn’t as bad as some say, why would we ever use our natural resources wastefully?  As Christian stewards, recognizing creation as a gift, we should cherish the gift and use it wisely.  What might you do to be a little wiser about how you use our natural resources? 

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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,
It is in dying . . . that we are born to eternal life.

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