St Francis Preaching to the Birds

Pentecost 17 – Feast of St Francis – October 6, 2019

I am really looking forward to my first Blessing of the Animals at Emmanuel Church on Sunday. The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is one of my favorite feast days in our church year, not only because I am a well-known animal lover (although that’s indeed a thing!), but also because I find St. Francis’s teachings and prayers so inspiring. St. Francis is remembered to have lived and taught peace and reconciliation, both among human beings and in the natural world – a holistic kind of unity that honors our incarnate world as God’s own creation.

Why do we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi with a Blessing of the Animals? We remember St. Francis for, among other things, his dedication to preaching the gospel. It is said that he preached to the birds of the air, and they listened to him, and that he once convinced a wolf that was terrorizing a village not to hurt people or livestock any more, but to wait peaceably and patiently for the villagers to feed him. The wolf lived out his days, the story goes, cared for and beloved by the villagers.

Our pets bring out our gentlest selves – our tender, patient, loving sides. Their trust, loyalty, and affection reminds us of our own best parts. We come together to notice and bless those holy responses and the relationships with our pets that inspire them, inspiring us to walk in love and peace in all of God’s creation. We remember St. Francis with the Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

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