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Today there will be celebrations and prayer services throughout the world commemorating the life and death of one of the most beloved saints in the history of Christianity: Francis of Assisi. The website franciscanmedia.org has much to say about Francis but for those who seek brevity, there is a summary statement on their calendar at the beginning of the biography which gives a taste of the most important information, including the most recent title under which Francis is known.

Saint Francis of Assisi: founder of the Franciscan family, Patron Saint of Ecology, inspiration to thousands, claimed by people of all faiths as well as those with no particular faith, a truly “catholic and apostolic man.” Though born in the 13th century, he belongs to all ages.

I think of Francis walking the Italian countryside, addressing all of nature as Sister and Brother, talking to the beasts and birds and listening to God’s messages everywhere. Today we are in the company of Brothers Wind and Air, and “fair and stormy all weather’s moods.” Tonight I will hope for a sighting of Sister Moon and the stars, who “in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and fair.”

Francis is a good model of how to live – amazed at everything – but also how to die, offering himself and all his suffering to the God in whom he placed all his faith, hope and (boundless) love. As I wrote that last sentence, Brother Sun made a momentary appearance, bathing the autumn countryside with golden light before receding into the cloudy sky. Just like Francis. Praised be…