Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Walking with St. Francis, the earthiest saint

Image result for St. Francis
image borrowed from Wikipedia
Today is the day the world celebrates a little Italian guy who lived over eight hundred years ago and who really appreciated life, love and beauty in all forms. Francis of Assisi was born into material wealth but saw beyond it to the things that are really valuable -- compassion, openness, the beauty of creation, the importance of living in harmony with nature, the value of those on the margins of society, and the power of simple living. He disregarded the church authorities of the day (who were on the wrong track in many ways) and invited a group of his friends to join him in following Jesus in a radical way, living with the poor and sharing everything that came his way. He was probably the first (only?) Christian to befriend Muslims in the age of the Crusades, and he understood that really, we can own nothing -- all that we have is gift from God.

It gives me no end of joy that there are still many Franciscans and other people of all stripes who follow in Francesco's footsteps today. The present Pope was inspired to take Francis as his name, and what a beloved man he has become even for people who have nothing to do with the Catholic church. Pope Francis is down-to-earth rather than in the usual churchy ivory tower, and offers our world a necessary alternative to the cult of celebrity and consumerism at a time when we really need alternatives! His common-sense approach to life is refreshing after so many church leaders who have been stuck in theological dogma and doctrine to the detriment of really understanding human beings.

If you've followed my moodlings for a while, you already know that St. Francis gets a lot of mention here. I've always felt a deep kinship with him. Today, as I walk the dog, I'll exercise my imagination and invite Francis to walk beside me. We'll discuss the state of our world and what we should be doing about it, laugh at how Shadow-dog imagines he might jump up a tree to catch a magpie, and just appreciate the beauty of a crisp autumn morning. And maybe my side of the conversation will be like the prayer below:

Holy Francis,
please pray with me.
I grieve the struggles
of those who have lost loved ones and livelihoods
to earthquakes and climate change
and human made tragedies of outrageous proportions.
Help us all to find ways to help each other.

Lover of creation,
please pray with me.
I am mourning the loss of life and good portions of earth's abundance
where wildfires, floods, hurricanes and other climate disasters
have killed and
destroyed beauty and goodness.
Remind us all how to live in harmony with nature.

Channel of God's peace,
please pray with me.
I lament the escalation of war and war-like behaviour
in so many people and places in our world.
Help us all to learn your lessons
about sowing love rather than hatred,
forgiveness where there is anger,
hope where there is despair,
and light where there is darkness.

Saint Francis,
please pray with me.
Help us all to be like you --
to welcome those on the fringes,
to follow wisdom and share with others,
to care for creation,
and to offer inclusion and love to all.

+Amen.

Happy St. Francis Day!

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