General Interest

Today’s the Church celebrates one of the most popular saints on the calendar, Friar Francis, the poor man of Assisi. Saint Francis has been a patron saint of the environmental movement long before there was an environmental movement. His songs in praise of nature and his legendary love of animals make Francis an inspiring figure especially now as the nations and peoples of the world struggle with what to do about climate change.


“St. Francis called all creatures — and not merely those nonhuman animals we classify as sentient, but rocks and trees alike — his sisters and brothers because, in a real sense, they are.


“On the elemental level, we share a common compositional DNA of sorts, made as we are of the same substances as everything else that exists: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and so on. This is what Genesis 2 proclaims [and] we humans so often refuse to accept: that we are made from the ‘dust of the earth’ and to that dust, like all creatures, we will return.


“On the evolutionary level . . . We are part of an ‘entangled bank’ as Charles Darwin creatively put it, joined to other creatures by the branches of creation's large family tree.


“On a pragmatic level, we survive only because of the care and resources the rest of the family of creation provides for us. The air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the water we drink — none of these are of our own making. We cannot survive by ourselves. We are in many ways an extremely weak and vulnerable species, dependent on the rest of creation for our daily existence . . .


“As Christians, we believe that we are part of God's family of creation, but we rarely act like it, choosing instead to follow the primordial model of Genesis 3 in order to put ourselves in God’s place. We are witnessing the consequences of that hubris on display before us in the manifold crises of pollution, extinction and global climate change.” (Daniel Horan)


As we struggle to mend our broken earth and reclaim our environment for our children and our children’s children, may we begin by embracing the spirit of Francis of Assisi: that we are one with God’s creation and that we have been entrusted with the care of that creation for the good of all the world’s peoples, made one in the image and love of our Creator.