A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘St. Francis Day’

Happy Feast of St.Francis

Happy Feast Day FSPA community and Franciscans everywhere!

On this special day to honor the life and legacy of St. Francis a  reflection from Sr. Joan Chittister entitled: We need St. Francis now.

Blessings!

We need St Francis now

By Joan Chittister

Created Sep 27, 2010

Some things never go way. The best ones, in fact, come back to us in whole new ways. Saints are like that.

The church calendar that formed me, for instance, provided the Catholic community one feast day after another designed to remind us of the heroes of the Catholic community. On those days, congregations held special masses, sang special songs, prayed special prayers and blessed special statues.

On St. Joseph’s Day, for instance, the Italians had street fairs in which they spread a family feast from one end of the country to the other in honor of Joseph, the just one, who protected the Virgin and raised the child Jesus in a holy family. And so that Holy Family became a model for us all. For committed children and faithful fathers and strong mothers.

On St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish carried shamrocks to remind us of Patrick’s exegesis of the Trinity which, we were told, converted the pagans of Ireland and were still a clear icon to us of the God whose presence is “three in one.” It was the articulation of a ‘mystery’ that became clearer as we got older.

On Halloween, all the saints of the church were honored for their faithful lives and their models of goodness. We dressed up to look like Therese of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola and the Children of Fatima rather than Peter Pan and The Terminator and a vampire or two on Halloween.

We named our children for saints. We dedicated our churches to their memory. We presented them as icons and heroes to our children long before celebrities and rock bands and rappers and reality shows conquered the airwaves and took their place. Long before Brittany and DeShaun and Darcy and Travis replaced Peter and Mary and John and Theresa as baptismal names.

In that period, we lived immersed in a veritable “communion of saints,” surrounded by signs and images of those whose lives were themselves meant to be templates for our own.

We don’t do those things anymore. For many good reasons, both liturgical and theological. At the same time, the stories and the figures go on stirring in my memory, raising old ideals, provoking old memories of beauty and fidelity and awareness and commitment. Only now those figures and those stories ring in strong new ways.

For instance, Oct. 4 is the Feast of Francis of Assisi, il poverello, the poor one, whose voice in the newly emerging mercantile class of the 13th century warned of the greed and corruption and destitution that would come when the world was run more on profit for the rich than it was on a prophetic commitment to the poor. And he was right.

But Francis was known for more than protests.

Francis loved animals, too. He was a walking apostle for ecology and the protection of woodlands which having been destroyed for parking lots and housing estates leave animals who once lived in caves and forests spilling over into our largest cities. He talked to the animals. He understood them. He knew their place in creation.

Francis talked to the birds about their call to the unceasing singing of the praises of God. When the birds surrounded him, he told them,”My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in every place give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you …

He calmed the wild. The wolf Gubbio who had been ravaging animals and people alike lay down at his feet like a puppy when Francis scolded him for his violence: “All these people accuse you and curse you … But Brother Wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people.”

Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had “done evil out of hunger”, the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly, and in return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator.”

No doubt about it. In a world where species after species is disappearing under the rubric of “progress,” where animals are being used for research on materials and cosmetics, where the boundaries between forests and cities are fast disappearing, where bears show up in shopping districts of major cities and crocodiles show up on people’s front lawns, we need St Francis now.

It is also becoming clear that Francis knew what we are only now discovering.

In our time, the science that separated us from nature is now declaring that animals, too, have intelligence, have emotions, have needs like ours. Research by Dr. Filippo Aureli, professor of animal behavior and co-director of the Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology in Liverpool, England, indicates that the study of animal emotions, particularly in birds and primates is providing new insight and information on the emotions of humans, as well as the feelings of animals.

Well, I am an animal lover, too. And I have been threatening for years now that my last book would be Two Dogs and a Parrot: The Spiritual Lessons I Have Learned From My Pets. The parrot, named “Bennie” for obvious Benedictine reasons, is the most obvious educator of them all.

From Bennie I am learning persistence and emotional sensitivity. Both of which are needed in this world of invisible women and neglected children.

Persistence is a very good thing for a woman to know in a man’s church. If Bennie needs something, she simply refuses to give up trying to get it. She will knock at her hopper until it gets filled, until the door gets opened, until you put her on your shoulder and make her a real part of the community.

Emotional sensitivity, the awareness of the needs of needy others, is her forte. She stretches herself out on the top of her cage, thin as a pencil, rigid as a piece of steel and stares at you until you stop work and give her the loving she seeks, for her sake and yours. She teaches us to be very aware of very small signals in life.

No wonder that churches to this day bless animals on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis.

St. Francis would find it all very normal, very necessary.

From where I stand, we need to take another look at what animals have to teach us today, yes, but we have to take another look at what the saints have to say to us today, too. Somehow or other, the models we have put in their stead have not, as a class, managed to fill the gaps.

Happy Feast of St. Francis!

Happiest of all feast days!

The United States and the Wolf of Gubbio

Dear All – First a very Happy and Blessed Feast of St. Francis this weekend! May the memory of St. Francis infuse our world with the passion, creativity and vast love he lived so deeply.

I have copied below one of my favorite stories of St. Francis –St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio. I invite you as you read this familiar tale to picture the wolf as the United States and the village as one of the many communities that has had to survive our dominating presence.

Imagine the United States offering its “paw” as we promise the world to no longer terrorize but rather live in harmony.  St. Francis opened a new space when he chose to not encourage the villagers to kill the wolf; let us honor that creative action today as we work to open new spaces to transform the wolf, heal the village and trust in the faith that guides us.

At the end of the story is a great link from American Friends Service Committee which looks at our military spending and challenges us to imagine a world where 53% of our resources would not be going to war.

Happy Feast Day! Pace e Bene

Liz

St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio

At the time when St Francis was living in the city of Gubbio, a large wolf appeared in the neighbourhood, so terrible and so fierce, that he not only devoured other animals, but made a prey of men and women also; and since he often approached the town, all the people were in great alarm, and used to go about armed, as if going to battle. Notwithstanding these precautions, if any of the inhabitants ever met him alone, he was sure to be devoured, as all defence was useless: and, through fear of the wolf, they dared not go beyond the city walls.

St Francis, feeling great compassion for the people of Gubbio, resolved to go and meet the wolf, though all advised him not to do so. Putting all his confidence in God, he went forth from the city, taking his brethren with him; but these fearing to go any further, St Francis bent his steps alone toward the spot where the wolf was known to be, while many people followed at a distance, and witnessed the miracle.

The wolf, seeing all this multitude, ran towards St Francis with his jaws wide open. As he approached, the saint, cried out: “Brother Wolf; I command you, in the name of Christ, neither to harm me nor anybody else.”

Marvellous to tell, no sooner had St Francis cried out, than the terrible wolf, closing his jaws, stopped running, and coming up to St Francis, lay down at his feet as meekly as a lamb. And the saint thus addressed him: “Brother wolf, you have done much evil in this land, destroying and killing the creatures of God without God’s permission all creatures are made after the image of God; for which thing you could be hanged like a robber and a murderer. All of the people cry out against you, the dogs pursue you, and all the inhabitants of this city are your enemies; but I will make peace between them and you, O brother wolf, if you will no longer offend them, and they shall forgive you and all your past offences, then neither people nor dogs shall pursue you any more.”

Having listened to these words, the wolf bowed his head, and, by the movements of his body, his tail, and his eyes, made signs that he agreed to what St Francis said. On this St Francis added: “As you are willing to make this peace, I promise you that you shall be fed every day by the inhabitants of this land so long as you shalt live among them; you shalt no longer suffer hunger, as it is hunger which has made you do so much evil; but if I obtain all this for you, you must promise, on your side, never again to attack any animal or any human being; do you make this promise?”

Then the wolf, bowing his head, made a sign that he consented.

Said St Francis again: “Brother wolf, wilt you pledge your faith that I may trust you to keep this promise?” and putting out his hand he received the pledge of the wolf; for the latter lifted up his paw and placed it familiarly in the hand of St Francis, giving him thereby the only pledge which was in his power.

Now, the news of this most wonderful miracle spreading quickly through the town, all the inhabitants, both men and women, small and great, young and old, flocked to the market-place to see St Francis and the wolf.

St Francis spoke these words: “Listen my brethren: the wolf who is here before you has promised and pledged his faith that he consents to make peace with you all, and no more to offend you, and you must promise to give him each day his necessary food; to which, if you consent, I promise in his name that he will most faithfully observe the compact.”

Then all the people promised with one voice to feed the wolf to the end of his days.

Now this event caused great joy in all the people, and a great devotion towards St Francis, both because of the novelty of the miracle, and because of the peace which had been concluded with the wolf; and they lifted up their voices to heaven, praising and blessing God.

The wolf lived two years at Gubbio; he went familiarly from door to door without harming anyone, and all the people received him courteously, feeding him with great pleasure, and no dog barked at him as he went about.

At last, after two years, he died of old age, and the people of Gubbio mourned his loss greatly; for when they saw him going about so gently amongst them all, he reminded them of the virtue and sanctity of St Francis.

http://www.oneminuteforpeace.org/

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