Preach to every creature

Daily Reading for October 5

Francis led a life of exceedingly great joy and a life of constant praise of God, a life of blessedness in the midst of the fecund goodness of God’s creation, celebrated most forthrightly by his “Canticle of the Creatures.” As a citizen of the peaceable kingdom, transported there by his vision and his prayers, Francis could thereafter call every human, however different or distant, and each of the creatures of nature, however alien to human sensibilities, his brother or his sister. He could be a troubadour of a higher order, constantly rejoicing with friends and foes alike, and with birds and oxen and even wolves and worms. The mandate of Christ had claimed Francis’s soul profoundly: to preach the Gospel to every creature. This he made remarkable efforts to do, in deed most often and in word whenever necessary. And, notwithstanding all the challenges he experienced and all the pains that were thrust upon him, he found joy in the nearness of God to him in every creature, in his encounters with lepers no less than in his songs of praise with the birds of the air.

Francis found peace and joy in his vocation not by getting away from it all, but by getting into it all. His was a vision and a way of life that is open to all of us by the grace of God, even to the most affluent among us who choose to claim his vision and follow his way, to engage ourselves with this world as if it were the world of the kingdom to come.

From “The Spirituality of Nature and the Poor: Revisiting the Historic Vision of St. Francis” by H. Paul Santmire, Ph.D., in Tending the Holy: Spiritual Direction Across Traditions, edited by Norvene Vest. Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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