This afternoon we are remembering St. Francis, one of the most popular saints of the Church, by blessing animals in the parking lot, acknowledging the special place that our furry, or feathery, or scaly companions have in our lives.

There is some good reason to associate this sort of activity with St. Francis. He is the patron saint of animals and ecology, after all. There are also many stories that are told about him that have to do with the natural world. As well, one of his most famous writings, the Canticle of the Creatures, talks about how all creation praises the Lord. “Praise be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun…Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon…” and “Brother Wind,” and “Sister Water,” and “Brother Fire,” and “Sister Mother Earth.”

However, that is not all of who he was. He is also remembered for having a rich spiritual life, both as an individual and in community. He is remembered as someone who humbly and sacrificially served the poor and vulnerable. He is remembered as one who broke bread with people who were different than him.

As the Season of Creation comes to an end on his feast day, I think about how for all of these reasons he is the perfect saint for our times, for the environmental crises we are facing. I believe this because environmental justice and healing is tied up in racial justice and healing, in justice for the poor and marginalized, in our own healing and growth. It is intersectional, just like St. Francis was. 

So, let us be encouraged in our walk with each other, with ourselves, with the earth, with our animal companions, and with God by the example of our brother Francis. 

Thanks be to God!