Yesterday, October 4th was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Christians around the world celebrated Francis’ amazing life and teachings on parish lawns, city parks and even at the altar of some daring churches by bringing their dogs and cats and birds and hamsters for a blessing. Francis was a great lover of animals. He believed that God gave us humans a role of priesthood between God and the creatures he has made on earth. Our role is to steward not only their physical existence but also their role in God’s great drama. We are to bless them on his behalf.
Francis is one of the most beloved saints in the world. He preached a gospel of kindness, love and respect for creation. Many stories are told of his amazing kinship with birds and even wild wolves. During his lifetime, St. Francis gathered followers and founded the Order of Mendicant Friars or Franciscans. His disciples take a vow of poverty, chastity, love and obedience.
Francis understood the great charge and mandate that we humans have received from God. We are to steward the earth and its inhabitants. We are God’s governors.
“God we thank you for the trust you have extended to us by giving us charge over the creatures of your world. You have blessed us to bless them. Forgive us for our misuse of this authority. We have in many ways abused the creation. We pray that the earth itself and the creatures of the earth would be blessed to praise and worship you. We are in fact the worship leaders of your creation. We bless them so that they in turn might live as you have planned and purposed. Your blessed best, in Jesus’ name!”