There are many reasons to celebrate St. Francis of Assisi, a man whose life took what we would probably call a 180-degree turn after a serious illness and became one of Christianity’s most beloved saints. We who live in this neighborhood of the USA cannot help thinking of Francis as we watch the splendid transformation of the trees – not unlike the life and conversion of Francis himself. From the greening of spring when they seem to be born again to the maturing in summer, reflecting the grandeur of God, to the flaming out in vivid color that seems to lead to death, they are a metaphor for his 44 years on the earth. We know that after the next few weeks of spectacular color – already manifesting in New Hampshire and Vermont – the trees will join the bears in hibernation only to return again after the long sleep of winter. Francis knew all these seasons in his life and praised God for all of it in the wonderful prayer that we know as the Canticle of Creation. As we pray it today, let us be mindful of our earth and the challenges faced by climate change, asking St. Francis (and Pope Francis!) to increase our mindfulness of the need to care more consciously for this, our home.
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, all praise is yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings. To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name. Praised be You, my Lord with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day through whom you give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor. Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars. In the heavens You have made them bright, precious and fair. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and fair and stormy all weather’s moods by which You cherish all that You have made. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You, my Lord, through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial. Blessed are those who endure in peace. By You, Most High, they will be crowned. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Death, from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in sin! Blessed are they she finds doing your will. No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks. And serve Him with great humility.