Bless The Animals

Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

For many of us animals are an important part of our spirituality. This is also true in Christianity. What some people deem as such a pagan concept is not as far fetched as many believe. St. Francis of Assisi was born in 1181 in Umbria. He is the Patron Saint of Animals (merchants and ecologists too). Why? Because he cared for animals and nature as if part of his brotherhood. There is a difference between a person who loves and takes care of animals and someone who does it as a job.  Animals were just as important to him as any human being.

Francis’ brotherhood included all of God’s creation. Much has been written about Francis’ love of nature but his relationship was deeper than that. We call someone a lover of nature if they spend their free time in the woods or admire its beauty. But Francis really felt that nature, all God’s creations, were part of his brotherhood. The sparrow was as much his brother as the pope.

In one famous story, Francis preached to hundreds of birds about being thankful to God for their wonderful clothes, for their independence, and for God’s care. The story tells us the birds stood still as he walked among him, only flying off when he said they could leave.

Another famous story involves a wolf that had been eating human beings. Francis intervened when the town wanted to kill the wolf and talked the wolf into never killing again. The wolf became a pet of the townspeople who made sure that he always had plenty to eat.1

In reading about St. Francis I find that the distance between Native American respect for animal spirit and the story of St. Francis is really not so far off. I have often seen an animal in an unexpected place and thought what am I missing? What am I being told? And most often the answer does come.
I once saw a bald eagle flying beside me over a river in northern Wisconsin. I looked over out the passenger side window and it looked like national geographic was on outside my window. The Eagle grabbed a fish and flew up and away he went, flying in the opposite direction that I was going. I stopped overjoyed at what I had seen and low and behold, wasn’t I going the wrong way and had to turn around and go in the direction of the eagle. To this day I will be thankful for that. I would have ran out of gas going the other way and been stranded.
Animals can tell us a great many things. They can warn us of inclement weather, they can warn us of natural disasters, they can warn of illness. If following the creation story they were made a day before we were which in my books makes them just a bit wiser on those instinct levels. Horses can reach people on levels people can’t reach people as do dolphins. They are worthy of our respect and gratitude and blessings. In writing this I came across a beautiful Canticle by St. Francis called Canticle to the Sun. I have never seen this before and so I share it with you. Perhaps we are not so different from one another as we think!   

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.

~St. Francis of Assisi

©Adrienne McLeod 2011



About Adrienne

I am Canadian born, for those of you needing clarification. I was raised in Minnesota, The Land of 10,000 Lakes, Multiple Musical Geniuses, Lake Wobegon, and really, really cold winters. Writing, Music and Photography are my passions. My current companion is my camera though my guitars and the piano are always close by and often consulted. Inspiration is everywhere and so is beauty. I now reside in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. I love to write, ponder and give back what I have learned in my journey with the hope that it will benefit others.

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