I love stories that begin “Legend has it. . .” That’s how I might begin speaking of St. Francis of Assisi, for legend has it that he had a special relationship with animals, sometimes calling them his brothers and sisters. One story goes that he was preaching in a small village. The people listened intently but Francis couldn’t be heard over the noisy nest-making sounds of a group of swallows. Francis addressed the birds as his sisters and asked them to be quiet for it was his turn to speak. According to the story, not only did the birds fall silent, but they listened intently to the rest of his sermon.
My first question is why would a saint talk to birds? Then I think about the many conversations I have had with my cat, Sandbakkelse. (OK, she talks. I obey.) I think St. Francis had better luck than I do.
Francis came from a wealthy family, but he renounced his inheritance and became “wedded to Lady Poverty.” Remembered for his acts of charity, the prayer that begins “Lord, make us instruments of your peace,” and the great hymn “All Creatures Worship God Most High,” his commemoration has become a day to bless animals and give thanks for all of creation. (The prayer is on page 87 of Evangelical Lutheran Worship and the hymn is no. 835.)
Please join us at St. Mark’s for our Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, October 3rd, at 5:30. The service will be held in the courtyard, and all of your animal friends are welcome: cats, dogs, snakes, birds, chickens, hamsters, and the entire menagerie. (Yes, you read that right. Even the snakes are welcome.) We will also be accepting dog food and cat food to be delivered to the Jacksonville Humane Society.
Top Photo: Sandbakkelse, Her Royal High and Mightiness
Bottom Photo: Bill and Punkie with their friend at a past Blessing of the Animals service