In 1990 John Paul II named Francis of Assisi as the patron saint of ecology. Francis modelled a simple lifestyle while showing love to beggar and animals alike, kin to them all and the planets as well. He sang in celebration.
We are pushed back to reflect again on the message of the Scriptures and traditional Catholic teaching about creation. Faith says that Earth belongs to God and we are but caretakers. Each part of cosmic creation reveals something of God’s own self. We are to rejoice in the Earth as a gift of God’s presence knowing that it offers praise to God by its very existence.
Remembering the life of Francis has radical implications for the way we live and choices we make. His life calls us to act as peacemakers, respecting both people and all species on Earth as kin. He was transformed into a saint by simplicity and compassion, suffering and joy to personify Good News.
“Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there ... Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”
Lord, you raised up Francis of Assisi as a saint to challenge the luxury and frivolity of his age. He showed a new Gospel way of simplicity that valued poverty and care for the poor, reaching out to those on the margins and praising your gifts of Earth and in the heavens. Grow his spirit within us so that we may look to the challenges of our times, serving the alienated and a suffering planet.
JEREMIAH 7:3-7 – REFORM WAYS
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever.
Under God’s wings you will find refuge
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
ACTS 2:42-45 – PRAY AND SHARE
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
MATTHEW 23:37-38 – CARE
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.
We like telling stories that inspire us. Stories about saints who cared for earth and modern ecological martyrs are many. But we might be surprised at the number of stories from our own circles we can tell about environmental activists, champions and companions, people of faith on a shared eco-spiritual journey. Their stories strengthen our commitment and help broaden our vision
1. Knowing that God as creator willed a diversity of species evolve over eons, praising God in their own right, may we like St Francis call them sister and brother. Father of Jesus hear …
2. As St Francis embraced poverty as a loving sister, may we turn away from wasteful lifestyles and make laws to manage Earth’s resources with equity and justice. Father of Jesus hear …
3. As the psalmists saw God’s power in wilderness, may we find ways for disadvantaged young people to experience first-hand the uplifting wonders of Earth. Father of Jesus hear …
4. Just as Francis of Assisi left a home of luxury to tend to the poor and diseased, mental and deformed, may our hearts be changed to stop blaming those suffering need and support carers. Father of Jesus hear …
5. As St Francis initiated face to face dialogue with Muslim leaders in pursuit of peace, may all nations deal with each other justly, learning to respect each other’s gifts and not shed innocent blood. Father of Jesus hear …
6. As both Jesus and St Francis accepted the wounds of the cross, may we willingly take up our cross in service of our brothers and sisters and all our earthy kin. Father of Jesus hear …
7. As we offer the bread and wine, gifts of Earth and the fruit of human hands, may we not turn them into a pathway of abuse but use them as a source of joy and celebration. Father of Jesus hear …
Creative and nurturing God, Jesus made a family gathered around a festive table as the final sign of unity with his followers. May we be united and transformed like the saints in every age. As we remember Francis of Assisi, give us with his vision and strength to dedicate ourselves to re-building your house suitable to our times and a foretaste of the eternal Jerusalem. We ask …
“He (St. Francis) was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”