The Feast of St. Francis on Oct. 4 concluded the Season of Creation, so appropriate for the man named the Patron Saint of Ecology by Pope Paul II.
For Francis of Assisi, every person, every creature, and every thing was interconnected and in relationship with one another as illustrated throughout his writings. In his Second Letter to the Faithful, he tells his followers that they were “servant and subject to every creature.”
In the Canticle of the Creatures, he writes, “Praise be You, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day through whom you give us light; Praise be You, my Lord, for Sister Mother Earth who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”
In his life, he and his brothers ministered to people with leprosy, as well as sought to seek peace with Muslim leader Sultan Malek al-Kamil. These were radical acts, contrary to the worldly values of his day. His understanding of the world and power was different from the culture of his time.
He focused on relationships and recognized the interconnectedness and goodness of each person with all creatures and creation. For Francis, these reflected God’s goodness, infinite beauty, and desire for harmonious and inclusive relationships. For Francis, everything exists in equal relationships–as brother and sister. This is quite a challenge to live out, but is a great message for us today.
I see St. Francis as the Patron Saint of Ecology, but also believe there are also many other “patron saints of ecology” today. Lest I be disrespectful, I believe that any person or organization that advocates care for creation or works for harmonious and rightful relationships between diverse peoples are patron saints of ecology. I have my own list–create yours–and I would like to think that many of you reading this could be added to the list of “patron saints of ecology!”
I can’t resist mentioning Pope Francis’ newest encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” or “Brothers All,” released on the feast day. This lengthy message reflects earlier Francis insights and message of building right relationships with all. Check it out: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-10/fratelli-tutti-pope-fraternity-social-friendship-long-summary.html
Thank you for your efforts and remember our Sister Mother Earth needs you, especially now.