It is a beautifully “WET” Thursday is Hazelwood (St. Louis) Missouri today. The fresh air, the birds singing in the distance, and the lack of the pitter-patter (actually it is “thump-thump”) of my teenage children’s feet as they are now in school makes for an awesome day. Three more days left of Eastertide and till the birthday of the Catholic Church.
Today in Catholic History:
† 325 – The First Council of Nicaea – the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church – is held.
† 1277 – Death of Pope John XXI (b. 1215)
† 1470 – Birth of Pietro Bembo, Italian cardinal (d. 1547)
† 1593 – Birth of Salomo Glassius, German theologian (d. 1656)
† 1825 – Death of Papaflessas, Greek priest and government official (b. 1788)
† 1927 – Birth of Franciszek Macharski, Polish Cardinal
† Feast and Memorials: Saint Bernardine of Siena, Saint Lucifer, Saint Austregisilus, Saint Ivo of Chartres, Abercius and Helena
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains un-awakened.
What is the difference between showing respect for animals and treating them as if they are humans? Do humans and animals have equal rights?
Probably the one big thing all people remember about St. Francis is that he was around animals. If there is a statue of St. Francis in your garden or on your stoop, it probably has him with birds, deer, a wolf, or other animals surrounding him. There are even many great stories about St. Francis’ encounters directly or indirectly, with animals found in nature.
It is true he loved animals. He was even known to feed them with food literally out of his own mouth. Our Seraphic Father (St. Francis) considered all creation, including people, animals, flowers and trees, and even the various weather patterns as divine gifts from God, for us to enjoy, use, and to care for.
Secular Franciscans Rule # 20 states to “respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High,” and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.” Let’s tear this rule down to its elements.
We, as Christians, MUST respect all creation that lives, or inspires us to live. Sounds simple, but the rule also says inanimate, meaning creation not in a physically live state; or not active, energetic, or lively. To me this means to respect everything God has created, and God doesn’t make anything bad: it becomes bad only because of free-will and choosing that path of life.
Weather; rain as an example, is a good thing for us and the earth. It cleans and refreshes the ground. It gives us the necessary resources we need to survive. Sometimes lightening occurs with the rain, and people see this as bad. Lightening burns the ground, and scourges the earth. It is a destroyer of the flora and fauna of an area. We need to remember that with this death, comes a new life. An area destroyed, within a few years, is thriving with a new growth of trees, grasses, and animal life.
It is everyone’s responsibility to remember that God gave us special gifts He did not give to any other earthly creation: a soul, and the responsibility to care for His creations. We are to be good stewards of this planet. Exploiting our resources is not only wrong: it is against God’s role for us, and is a sin against nature and divinity.
Does this mean we need to treat all creation as divine and Godly? Absolutely NOT! Only the Trinitarian God is divine, and deserves our worship. But God’s creation does need to be respected, and appreciated for what they are: God’s creation, for us to use and enjoy wisely. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church even covers many aspects of animal rights, and proper use of earthly resources. I will only print two for this article: #323- Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans. And In 2416 – Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.
Call to mind a time when you were outside, and felt the presence of God in the beauty of His awesome creations. I believe we all need to take time out from our busy schedules, and renew our appreciation of our earth. Go outside, sit in a chair, and put yourself in God’s presence. Reflect not only on the beauty and wonder of nature, but reflect on your responsibility as God’s instrument on earth.
In the 1970’s, there was a famous commercial saying, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!” Then came the famous and still frequently used, “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!” I think all of us know what the proper things are to help the world, and each other. We just have to realize that ecology, recycling, and resource management MUST be a priority. For those that pray the Liturgy of the Hours, a prayer in it says, “Come let us worship God who holds the world and its wonders in his creating hand.”
Instead of a closing prayer, I would like to offer this little known poem from St. Francis of Assisi:
“Not To Hurt”
“Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals)
Is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough.
We have a higher mission:
To be of service to them whenever they require it. ”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Bernardin of Siena 1380-1444
St. Antoninus, archbishop of Florence, begins the biography of Bernardin with the words, “The grace of God, Our Saviour, has appeared in His servant Bernardin, who shone like a bright star in a dark night, and with the heavenly brilliance of his virtue and doctrine frightened away the darkness.”
The great saint descended from the old knightly family of the Albizeschi of Siena, and was born on September 8, 1380, in the town of Massa, a dependency of Siena, where his father was governor. When Bernardin was only 7 years old, he had lost both his parents, but he was reared in the fear of God by devout relatives. He evinced a great love for the poor, with whom, as a little boy, he gladly shared his food. He attended divine services with the most edifying devotion, and listened to sermons with such attention that he could repeat them to his companions.
He loved purity above all the virtues. While he attended the secondary school in Siena, he could not hear an unbecoming word without blushing for shame, so that those who spoken it themselves blushed. When any indecent conversation was going on among his companions, they stopped as soon as they saw him coming. “Be still,” they said, “Bernardin is coming.”
While the holy youth was otherwise very meek, he was friendly to all, he could nevertheless grow extremely angry if decency was violated. A prominent citizen once purposely told him something indecent in the open market place. Bernardin gave him a resounding slap in the face, and amid the laughter of the bystanders the disgraced citizen had to withdraw.
With his great love for purity, Bernardin united a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, whom he used to call his beloved. Out of devotion to her he daily visited an image of Mary just outside the town of Siena; he prayed there especially to learn his vocation. The Mother of Grace, who had protected him in the world, now led him to the sanctuary of the convent. In the quiet little convent of St. Mary Colombaio, which St. Francis himself had founded. Bernardin received the holy habit on the feast of the Nativity of Mary in the year 1402. On the same feast in the following year, he made his profession, and after he was ordained and appointed to preach, he also gave his first sermon on the feast of Mary’s nativity.
Since, however, Bernardin’s voice was very weak and hoarse, he seemed ill-fitted for the office of a preacher. Yet here, too, his beloved Mother helped him. AT her intercession his voice suddenly became so powerful and melodious that he became one of the most distinguished missionaries.
Now he journeyed all over Italy in order to announce to the people the virtues and vices, and the reward of the former and punishment of the latter. In many places such depravity existed that he found it necessary to preach sermons which he himself called sermons for heathens. The effects, however, were so astounding that Pope Pius II compared him with the Apostle of the Gentiles and called him a second Paul. After he had shaken their truths, he poured into them the soothing oil of the sweet name of Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer, and preached on Mary, the Mother of Mercy.
His blessed ministry induced many towns to seek him as their bishop. This Siena, Ferrara, and Urbino petitioned in turn for this privilege, and the pope offered Bernardin the episcopal dignity. But with unchanging humility, he declined every time. He remained among his religious brethren whom he encouraged in religious perfection.
Rich in merits and virtue he died at Aquila on May 20, 1944, Pope Nicholas V canonized him 6 years later, whereupon the citizens of Aquila built to his honor a beautiful church with a magnificent marble tomb.
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #20:
The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels — local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.