Now more than ever, you are needed to donate your old blankets, towels, and sheets to your local animal shelter. With financial cut-backs, repairs on shelters are often put off, so if it's drafty, the animals suffer. I know my shelter uses rags to stuff under doors. No kidding! Empty out those closets... this is your chance to get rid of stuff and do something useful!

Monday, October 4, 2010

St. Francis - Please Look Out For All The Animals

A re-post from last year... and don't you know I was just in San Francisco, again, like last year!

As you may have noticed, this blog's Patron Saint is St. Francis. What does that mean?  Well, I like to think he looks over the place and all the animals that I and others advocate for. In my family, St. Francis takes on a prominent role. First, my Grandmother was named Frances, and when she passed away, my own Mother, also named Frances, built her a memory garden at the nursing home where she spent the last two and a half years of her life, and in the center of this garden is a five foot statue of the saint. He also occupies no fewer than three spots in my Mom's own garden. In my own house - well, I go a little crazy. He's an important saint.  He brought the concept of joy to Catholicism, a return (back then) to simple living and total devotion to God, and he was known for giving sermons to the birds in the rural area outside of Assisi. Why did he do this? For the value of proclaiming God (Jesus, in his and my case)-  anywhere and to anyone

(This person's calligraphy work seems beautiful!
Take a look at this link.)

St. Francis was actually not a priest, but a deacon, and he began a Catholic order of friars - the Franciscans- whom he attracted because of his insistence that they live meager lives and be totally devoted to preaching the Gospel through their actions, the way they lived, and their regard for others. Wealthy people who were used to being considered the top of the food chain in 12th century Europe, were struck by his message (really, His message,) that anyone could enter into the kingdom. A young woman named Clare began to follow him and she ended up charting out a path for women who wanted to live this way. She cut her long locks, relinquished all her money and the intention to marry (to the horror of her wealthy family), walked barefoot, wore a burlap sack for clothes, gave away all her possessions, and chose to live a poor life -- all to not have any distraction as she worshipped God. Today she is credited with founding the Poor Clares, an order of Catholic nuns who live simply, obedient to the Church, and who incidentally have been sprouting monasteries up all over the place.  But that's another story for someone else's blog.

How did we get from a devoted young man in the early 1200's, to where people like me have statues and plaques and call upon him to help any animal in need, even yorkies?  It's a good question! I think it can be summed up by saying he struck a chord of the authenticity of Christ, and people were moved to follow him because of it.  Till today, there are many, many people who admire and reach out to him, and try, even in small ways, to emulate his example of loving people and creatures around him. He allowed himself to be a reflection of Jesus' love for us all.

I don't happen to know the whole timeline, but I will share some personal reflections, and some links to stories about Francis I hope will do some of the explaining.

First, some personal pics:
This wonderful one was made in El Salvador (above).

Hanging out with the family!
(Note who is in the picture behind St. Francis... Little Guy, dressed in his Santa outfit!)

Funny, I just placed this up on my bookshelf and it landed in front of Nicholas Sparks's book
called The Guardian, which features a dog that saves the day!

I got this statue in Las Vegas.
I bought it the day my little dog, Miss Maddie, fell ill
while I was away on vacation. I did not know she was sick until I got home, as the neighbor who was watching her did not realize how bad off she was.
I always felt like St. Francis was going to look out for her after she died because I got this statue on the day she got sick. While she was in intensive care for three days, I had a St. Francis medal taped to the wall of her holding cage. He couldn't bring her back to me, but he walked with her then, and does now, I believe, till we can be together again.

Miss Maddie...she was something! I was heartbroken when she died, truly. I never felt that way over a lost pet. She knew every mood, even facial expressions, and she was beloved by everyone in my neighborhood. She went with me to the stores, to vote, and she slept right next to me; had to have her little back touching my leg. Everyone knew her name. This picture was taken in Las Vegas, during Easter (this was her "Easter Outfit"), about two years before she died. I have family out that way and am there often.

A friend of mine bought a house and the man who owned it before left this hand crafted painting/drawing. His wife loved cats and it was her's. When she died, he left the house almost unchanged for 19 years. Then he finally moved to Florida, leaving many things just as they were.
 My friend gave it to me.

Back to St. Francis:

Here is a good and reliable link to a very complete story about St. Francis.

That about says it all! I highly recommend spending some time at that link.

Here are some pictures of him I've saved over the year:

Saint Francis and the Wolf

Saint Francis and the Jack Russell

I love this one (above)! And I made a Rosary box using the below image.

Beautiful painting (above), that can be purchased at:
Note the beautiful representation of the Stigmata on his hand!

A wonderful film project, it seems! 

And, my favorite, by Giovanni Bellini. The original of which is at the Frick Museum in New York City.
It is a magnificent painting!
I notice, with delight, that people stand in front of it for a long time, contemplating.

I am struck by all these different representations of St. Francis.  He's touched so many lives. 

St. Francis, please look out for all the animals;
the one's who need you most, who have no one to feed them or care for them;
who may be hungry and in danger.
Please reach into the hearts of those who would do them harm, and soften those hearts. 

Animals give us such joy; they are a reflection of God's love for us,
asking for nothing in return, loving us without condition.
We are challenged each day to say thank you to Him
through our actions towards all creatures.
Help us, St. Francis, to do better in showing our appreciation to Him.

I wish I could go to the Blessing of the Animals in my church again this year,
but I'll be on a business trip in San Francisco!  No kidding!

So, for now: