10/3/2012 6:00:00 AM St. Francis to celebrate patron saint
By REV. WATSON LAMB
This year St. Francis Episcopal Church would like to invite you to share with us in the celebration of our patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi.
On Wednesday Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. we will be having our annual blessing of the animals.
This year we will have chili as well as treats for our furry friends following the service.
Also Hank Lamb from Lamb's Photography will be taking portraits with our pets with prices starting at $15.
The proceeds will go to a new animal fund at the Neshoba County Animal Hospital to help animals in need.
St. Francis was a lover of all God's Creation, and he saw the holy being expressed in both living creatures and inanimate objects such as a sunset, a rock, or plants.
For Francis all of creation is meant to glorify the Lord our Savior.
He sees and expresses the sacramental nature of everything around us.
There are also many stories about St. Francis which point to the nature of his beliefs about creation.
One such story is about the time that St. Francis preached to the birds.
This story was first written by Thomas of Celano in the 13th century and is retold in the following rendition by John Feister on Americancatholic.org.
"St. Francis and his friends were walking through the Spoleto Valley near the town of Bevagna. Suddenly, Francis spotted a great number of birds of all varieties. There were doves, crows and all sorts of birds. Swept up in the moment, Francis left his friends in the road and ran after the birds, who patiently waited for him. He greeted them in his usual way, expecting them to scurry off into the air as he spoke. But they moved not.
"Filled with awe, he asked them if they would stay awhile and listen to the Word of God. He said to them: "My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God's guidance and protection."
At this the birds began to spread their wings, stretch their necks and gaze at Francis, rejoicing and praising God in a wonderful way according to their nature. Francis then walked right through the middle of them, turned around and came back, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic.
Then he gave them his blessing, making the sign of the cross over them. At that they flew off and Francis, rejoicing and giving thanks to God, went on his way.
Later, Francis wondered aloud to his companions why he had never preached to birds before. And from that day on, Francis made it his habit to solicitously invoke all birds, all animals and reptiles to praise and love their Creator. And many times during Francis' life there were remarkable events of Francis speaking to the animals. There was even a time when St. Francis quieted a flock of noisy birds that were interrupting a religious ceremony! Much to the wonder of all present, the birds remained quiet until Francis' sermon was complete."
It is because of this deep respect for everything that God created, that St. Francis is remembered as the patron saint of animals and ecology.
So, on Wednesday Oct. 3 at 6 p.m., St. Francis Episcopal church will be remembering this blessed saint with a blessing of the animals. St. Francis is located on St. Francis Dr. between the hospital and Neshoba Central.
We invite the community to join us with your animal friends as we glorify God in all of his beauty and holiness.