St. Francis of Assisi was born around 1181 and died on October 3, 1226. He was a man of peace and non-violence, compassion, joy and love. He saw how wealth set people apart from one another. His commitment to poverty was a radical response to the Gospel call to be one with every person and one with all of creation. Through nonviolence and compassion he reached out to those in need. He discarded the sword of his early youth and replaced his shining armor and rich clothing with a simple tunic of sack cloth. He went about the countryside tending to the lepers, sharing his food with the poor, rejoicing in nature’s beauty, diversity and might, and thanking God with joyful song. Francis is now honored as the patron saint of nonviolence and peace-making, as well as the patron saint of those who work for ecology. His life embodied the message of Laudato Si over 800 years before it was written— “The care of the poor and the care of earth are one”. How appropriate that Pope Francis’ concept of “integral ecology” articulated in Laudato Si was inspired by the saint whose name he chose for himself.
Holy One, we praise you for the wondrous gift of creation and thank you for Saint Francis’ canticle of creation that proclaims all of creation as brothers and sisters. We also praise and thank you for the diversity of the human family. Every person is a unique revelation of your creative love. Help us to recognize the divine in each and every person and creature. When we encounter brokenness and evil, inspire us to respond with compassion. When we experience wonder, beauty, grandeur and peace, may we respond with joy and gratitude.