CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILY MINISTRIES
On Sunday we have our annual blessing of animals, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, whose Christian witness is celebrated every year on October 4. We tend to associate Francis with animals and the natural world, and for good reason: he felt a deep kinship with every living thing. But Francis’ decision to walk away from a life of luxury, to embrace a life of extreme poverty, and to devote himself to the welfare of those in severe need was what really got him noticed in his own time. Today, 7 centuries after his death, you can find Franciscans all over the world, men and women, lay and ordained, cloistered or out in the world, prayerfully following Francis’ example, devoting their lives to Christ and to all whom Christ loves.
As described in the book Holy Women Holy Men, “Francis left few writings; but, of these, his spirit of joyous faith comes through most truly in the ‘Canticle of the Sun,’ which he composed at Clare’s convent of St Damian’s [where he first heard Christ’s call to ministry.]” The beginning of that prayer (cited above) pretty much sums up my own experience of pilgrimage in southwest Ireland during this past week. What a wonderfully moving and spiritually rich experience it was! I came away from it humbled by awe for the magnificence of God and the holiness and beauty of all that comes from God.
Director of Children’s, Youth & Family Ministries