Sunday, October 2 is one of our “signature Sundays” at All Saints: the Pet Blessing!
On this Sunday, we remember and honor St. Francis of Assisi, that holy one who sought to follow Jesus by embracing poverty and the way of humility. Along the way, he became the patron saints of animals and the environment because he saw God’s glory shining through all creation and couldn’t separate himself from “Brother Sun and Sister Moon” or from his friends the birds of the air and the wolves of the fields.
But St. Francis was no harmless cartoon saint, which is how we often portray him—an innocent with birds on his shoulder, cement statue in a garden. No, born into a “one percent family,” St. Francis was changed by an encounter with a poor leper, which led him to renounce his father’s wealth by stripping naked before the bishop and taking on the rough clothes of the poor. He inspired others to live simply and to follow in a literal fashion our Lord’s commands to trust God completely, forgive without limit, and love one’s neighbor, especially one’s poor neighbor.
St. Francis did preach to the animals and was seen surrounded by all of God’s creatures and, so, this Sunday we will follow him by honoring God in our beloved creatures—dogs and cats, iguanas and hamsters—as we bless them and pray for all of creation.
But in this time of climate crisis, species collapse, and “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” as we watch the devastation of Hurricane Ian and grapple with how care for creation intersects with care for all people, let us also follow St. Francis in a way of humility and simplicity, in becoming instruments of God’s peace here on earth.