A St. Francis attitude all year long

Typically in October, Christian churches honor the famous, beloved St. Francis of Assisi by having pet blessings. But did you know that St. Francis is not just the patron saint of animals, he is also the patron saint of stowaways, the environment and ecology? He was a friend to the poor, calmed and blessed an attacking wolf and his quotes are well documented and used each day.

Researching St. Francis’ biography, I learned that he was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, the Third Order of St. Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. St. Francis is considered one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

Heightened awareness of present our environment and ecology made me wonder what would St. Francis say or do in current times.

It is documented that he believed “that nature was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his brothers and sisters.” He preached to and about animals. St. Francis wrote in his Canticle of the Creatures about the moon, the sun, wind and water. Because of his devout love for all animals and the environment, he believed that creatures (including humans) have a responsibility to protect and be respectful to all of creation. Statues and printed materials of him almost always have a bird on his shoulder, surrounded by scenes of nature.

Here are a few of his quotes to meditate on and apply as we try to make our homes, city and world a little nicer place to live in:

“Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, then suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

“Praise be to you my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth who sustains and governs us producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.”

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.”

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man.”

“Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”

In just a few months local churches will start honoring and remembering St. Francis with pet blessings, but you do not have to wait until then to celebrate him or repeat his acts of kindness. Pet shelters are always in need of blankets, towels, crates, pet dishes and monetary donations. This is a great way to recycle pet products. Local facilities include the Bay Village and Westlake police departments, the Cleveland APL, and the Lorain and Cuyahoga county dog kennels.