Let's face it: not all pets are as pious and prayerful as the pup in this picture! Maybe that why it's good for us to bring our animals for a blessing on St. Francis Day. Why on the feast of St. Francis?
Many of the stories that surround the life of St Francis deal with his love for animals. Perhaps the most famous incident that illustrates the Saint’s humility towards nature is recounted in the 'Fioretti' (The Little Flowers), a collection of legends and folk-lore that sprang up after the saint’s death. 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… for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore… always seek to praise God."
Another legend from the Fioretti tells us that in the city of Gubbio , where Francis lived for some time, there was a wolf “terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals.” Francis had compassion upon the townsfolk, and went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, but the saint pressed on and when he found the wolf he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one...Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens he made a pact between them and the wolf... In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator...
These legends exemplify the Franciscan mode of charity and poverty as well as the saint's love of the natural world. Part of his appreciation of the environment is expressed in his Canticle of the Sun, a poem... which expresses a love and appreciation of Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Mother Earth, Brother Fire and all of God's creations personified in their fundamental forms. In "Canticle of the Creatures," he wrote: "All praise to you, O Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures." - Wikipedia
Many parishes have a Blessing of Animals this weekend because the Feast of St. Francis is celebrated this Saturday, October 4. Check with your local parish for a blessing in your area.
(At Holy Family Parish in Concord on Sunday, October 5 at 1:00 p.m. in the parking lot.)
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