Today we celebrate the legacy of St. Francis. We’ve probably all heard stories about him – making you believe he was, perhaps, a little crazy – but he was a good man and loved to share the Good News of the Gospel.
One story tells of an encounter with a flock of birds – doves, crows – all sorts of birds. When St. Francis spotted them down the road, he ran toward them and expected them to scatter but to his surprise – and probably anyone else’s who may have witnessed this – the birds stood still and seemed to wait for him. He was filled with awe and he asked them to stay and then proceeded to give them a little sermon, reminding them that they should always praise their Creator for he was the one who gave them feathers for clothes, wings to fly, and anything else that was needed. “It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you received God’s guidance and protection.” And so the story goes that from that day on, Francis made it his habit to invoke all animals to praise and love their Creator.
But wait a minute, Francis. While all of what you told those birds was certainly true – if I may say so – you missed the bigger picture! I believe that animals have a lot to tell us, to teach us, and to remind us of. They are messengers and, I believe, vessels enabling 2-way communication with God. So, Francis, perhaps spending some time listening to them would have done you some good, too.
Click here to read the whole sermon preached by Susan Mitchell on Pet Blessing Sunday, 2019