Random Reflections on the Secular Franciscan Rule

Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High,” and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship. Article 18, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order

Morning weather reports speaks of drought conditions, of various degrees, existing in Massachusetts, and the rest of New England. A story on a morning news program shows drought conditions in Italy, and it’s affects on the Italian agriculture. And I have seen the pictures of the American West, forest fires burning up dried forests. The famous Lake Meade, slowly became a puddle. Yellowstone National Park, which I love with all my heart, damaged by floods, started by premature melting mountain snows.

All this confirms, for me anyway, that we are at a serious stage of global warming; that the window of opportunity to stop the effects is growing smaller. Special interests, who have a financial stake in keeping things as they are, are keeping the pressure up on civic leaders to leave things alone. And let’s be honest, we enjoy the comfort of our present lifestyle, and really do not want to change anything. But that may not be a choice we can maintain much longer.

It now that we followers of Saint Francis of Assisi need to act more forcefully, and take the implications of what it means love and respect God’s creation as St. Francis did. We are all created by God; we all share in the responsibility of maintaining life on this good Earth. All our actions, whether big or small, will have an effect. All our words, our political activity in defense of the environment can have an effect.

The work of a Franciscan is conversion, of ourself, of our society, of our world never ends. The time of taking it easy is past. The time of being silent is past. It is now time to roll up our shelves, and get to it.

Laudato Si’ is Out; And it is Shaking Things Up!

Laudato Si 2On June 18th, the Vatican officially released Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment:  “Laudato Si’.”  Truth be told, I have not actually read the document myself; I am basing my own observations on the analysis and commentary of others, whose opinions I trust.  Chief among them is John Allen, Jr. of Crux who has done some analysis on the encyclical.

The theological analysis of the document I have; comes from Father Dan Horan OFM, of Dating God, who gives a Franciscan perspective on the encyclical.  The other comes from Jay Michaelson, of Religion News Service.  He brings out some of the theological points in the document that he considers truly radical.

As a Franciscan, the theological points that grabbed my attention were found in Chapter 2: “Human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbors, and with the earth itself.”  And in Chapter 3: “Our ‘dominion’ over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.”  To Western ears these statements may seem very strange, but they are not new.  If one was to get beyond the image of St. Francis of Assisi as a statue holding a birdbath, one can see a Francis who knew that because of his intimate relationship with God, he had to have an intimate relationship with all people, and all creation.  Joined intimately with Christ, through the Gospels, through the Eucharist, and prayer, he was fully open to, and accepted the reality that he shared a kinship with all people, with all creatures, with everything that exists.

Francis passed this realization on to his followers, through his words and his actions.  Sadly, some of his children did not realize the depth of his teaching, but in recent times, we are finally beginning to get the point.  In our Secular Franciscan Rule, we have Article 18: “Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which bear the imprint of the Most High, and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.”

It is this idea of “universal kinship” that Pope Francis is calling on the world, on all of us, to realize, and to act on.  It is a call to change our way of life, that is abusing our earth, and live in ways that will enhance our planet.

I do plan to read this encyclical myself, and hopefully I will be able share my own insights with you soon.  Pace e Bene!

Countdown to the “Eco Encyclical”

Canticle of the SunIn anticipation of the release this morning (5:00 AM EST) of Pope Francis papal encyclical on the environment; the “Canticle of the Sun” by St. Francis of Assisi:

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!

All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.