Sunday, Oct. 2nd this year was World Communion Sunday. Today, Oct. 4th is the day marked by Catholics, some Protestants and even a few post-religious folx as St. Francis day, or the feast of Saint Francis. St. Francis of Assisi is known for his love of nature, a life lived in service, preaching even to the flowers, and a celebrant of poverty. In 1979 St. Francis was recognized as the patron saint of ecology.
Francis considered all nature as the mirror of God and as so many steps to God. He called all creatures his kin and inspired millions of people to step away from the mainstream and into contemplative, service-centered life.
From St Francis’ CANTICLE OF THE CREATURES
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.
If you have not yet, I invite you to take the time today to read LAUDATO SI’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment in which he calls all people, especially people of faith, to rewild their understanding of our place in nature and our responsibility to care for our common home, earth.
Though I am a far-left process, transcendentalist, universalist Christian-ish gal, I am energized, encouraged and wildly grateful for the Pope’s pointed and clear paper on our human responsibility to one another in and through our commitment to the environment.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children.”
To truly be in communion with the whole world, to share in the body of the Creation and incorporate the heartbeat of the Eternal into our own lives, we must include our kith and kin of the plant and animal kingdom in our yearning for liberation and justice.
What might communion that includes a call to environmental justice look like?
As as start, I’d like lift up a professor, preacher, theologian and new friend, Rev. Dr. Leah Schade who is doing wonderful work offering congregations the tools they need to discern faithful ways to be in full communion with the created world. Dr. Schade’s book Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit is a powerful resource for leaders at every level of congregational life.
And finally, you are invited to offer your own whole-world, fullness of creation, communion prayers and practices in the comments.