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Drawing Inspiration from Saint Francis of Assisi

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By Laura V. Barker, Member,
Stewards of Our Common Home

For centuries, Catholics have celebrated Saint Francis of Assisi as the patron saint of animals and God’s creation. His works of care for the poor and God’s creatures have been immortalized by numerous artists providing us a visual reminder to do the same. Now, more than ever, there is a renewed focus on this important saint.

Pope Francis draws much inspiration from this patron saint.  In his encyclical, Laudato Sí, the Holy Father implores all of us to care for our common home.  “When we can see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship Him in union with them.” (LS 87)

Pope Francis further insists that all Catholics undergo an ecological conversion where we recognize that all of creation is from God and that our role is to be stewards of His handiwork, not merely consumers or exploiters of the earth for our own personal benefit. “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” (LS217)

On a daily basis, the media bombards us with information about ecological crises around the globe – droughts, floods, fires, and species on the verge of extinction.  God’s creation needs our help.  But where do we start?  In the Pastoral Statement by the California Bishops on the Fourth Anniversary of Laudato Sí, they urge all faithful to “take the Saint Francis Pledge to pray, act, and advocate for solutions to climate disruption.”

Pray
On October 4, Catholics around the globe will celebrate the Feast of Saint Francis.  Prayerfully consider your role as stewards of His creation. Start by attending Mass that day. Many parishes throughout the Diocese also offer the blessing of pets. In your daily prayers, thank God for all of his creation.

Act
Learn about the issues and why God is calling all of us to act. Read Pope Francis’ encyclical and the California Bishops’ statement on your own or as part of a book discussion at your parish.  Catholic Climate Covenant offers a free downloadable 90 minute course on how you and your faith community can better care for creation and the poor. Please see
https://catholicclimatecovenant.org/program/feast-st-francis.

Pope Francis notes that “people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending” as a form of compulsive consumerism that leads to a throwaway culture of pollution and waste. (LS 203).  Reconsider your purchasing needs with your wants and desires.  How we buy food, use energy resources, consume water and get from one place to another all has an impact on God’s creation.

Advocate
Catholic social justice teaching inspires us to get involved in civic affairs by advocating for governmental programs and policies to help solve the current crisis. Do your part by writing to local, state and national leaders on these issues.

We are a global community of one billion faithful. Pray, act and advocate. Together we can make a difference.