Franciscan Joy: Finding God in creation
BY FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM
When I was a kid, we had several dogs: Sambo; Smokey; and Peanuts. We also had two birds, Stinker and Buttons. We grieved and buried them when we lost them; they were part of the family. We learned responsibility in caring for them. I remember one time when my mom picked us up after school – a most unusual thing, since we usually walked home. We knew something was up, and I was sure our dog had been hit by a car. I am embarrassed by this now, but in my childish way of thinking, I was relieved to learn that it was only my uncle who had passed away! We obviously loved Smokey so much! As an adult, my itinerancy and community life has not really permitted me to have a pet, but most of my relatives have one or two or three, and they love them like family.
Around the feast of St. Francis, many people bring their pets to be blessed. We do so because Francis had a great love for all of God’s creatures, and felt a great sense of connection with them. Francis knew that we are all members of God’s great family; in fact, we are brothers and sisters. "Be praised my Lord, for Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Mother Earth, Brother Wind and Sister Air," he wrote. God’s creation leads us to God, for as St. Francis says of Brother Sun, "of you, Most High, he bears the likeness." I am always struck by the love and care that people have for their pets. They often love us unconditionally. They are family to us, and with them we sense the intuition of St. Francis and feel some intimate connection with the rest of the created world.
As we inaugurate our new e-newsletter, we invite you to listen to Fr. Greg Friedman's reflections on the insights of St. Francis and his view of God and the natural world. Share with us the joy of being part of God’s wonderful creation which, using St. Francis’ words in describing Water, is "precious and pure," and Fire, which is "beautiful and cheerful." We hope it might help you sense God’s merciful love for all creation. Don’t forget to take your pet for a blessing! Thanks for your friendship and support of our fraternity!
(Fr. Jeff is Provincial Minister of St. John the Baptist Province.)