Franciscan Theology and Philosophy

St. Francis and DeerThe Franciscan emphasis on the goodness of God and creation focuses on the outpouring of God’s love into the universe. Creation reveals to us God’s love for us and God’s beauty, which is why Franciscans call creation “the mirror of God.”

Francis and the Franciscans honored the world around them and were ignited in praising God from their experiences. Francis was able to see God imbedded in a marvelously interconnected world with God as the source of each and every thing. He saw the world in universal kinship, with the moon, the water, and the birds as his sisters and the sun and the wolf as his brothers.

Franciscan Way of Living

Broadly, the Franciscan way is to live knowing that all of creation is the place to encounter God. Concrete manifestations of this involve living more simply on the earth and with other people in order truly experience and savor God’s gift of life.

The things of this world are God-like just as they are and reveals God to us in their specificity. Therefore, to deepen our relationship to God we need regular, attentive contact with the world in its simple, humble state. We can forget about a search for things and people that are worthy of love or that will make us happy. The world is full of signs of God’s presence, with God telling us what we need to hear through the bits and pieces we encounter in a day. In an ongoing way we are converted to the gospel through God’s daily work inside and outside of us.

Francis’ first biographer, Thomas of Celano describes the way of Francis like this:

Who could ever express the deep affection Francis bore
for all things that belong to God?
Or who would be able to tell
of the sweet tenderness he enjoyed
while contemplating in creatures
the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator?
From this reflection
he often overflowed
with amazing, unspeakable joy
as he looked at the sun,
gazed at the moon, or observed the stars in the sky.

Excerpted from franciscanaction.org.

Issues and Campaigns

Global Catholic Climate Movement Supports Pope Francis’ April Prayer Intention for Creation

Pope-Care-4-880x550In support of Pope Francis’ April prayer intention for environmental protection-“That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God”- the Global Catholic Climate Movement announces its “Care4Creation Month” prayer campaign by offering resources to help individuals, parishes, and religious communities pray for the protection of the natural and human environment.

The Care4Creation Month campaign includes reflections on the Stations of the Cross based on Saint John Paul II’s call for an “ecological conversion,” a specially developed set of meditations for the Glorious, Joyful, Sorrowful, and Luminous mysteries of the Rosary, and a Litany to the Holy Trinity, the Creator. There are also posters, liturgical aids, daily meditations, and other help.

The group’s invitational letter to parishes states, “in April 2015 we would like to invite your parish community to join Pope Francis’ universal prayer intention for creation and prepare for his upcoming encyclical on ecology and climate change. Our concern for creation is above all a concern for life and what is life-giving.”

“Recognizing that it is Christ who makes all things new,” said Bill Patenaude, a founding member of the Global Catholic Climate Movement and author of CatholicEcology.net, “we eagerly join our voices to Pope Francis’ prayer intention for April. And we ask others to join us. We pray for the virtue to live in accord with God’s laws. We pray for mercy for our sins against each other and against the natural order. And given that issues like climate change can cause division, we especially pray for unity within the Church and a willingness to act.” The Global Catholic Climate Movement encourages parishes to organize special holy hours in April with Eucharistic adoration and Benediction by including Pope Francis’ prayer intention and the provided prayer resources.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement is an international network of around 100 Catholic organizations aiming to mobilize Catholics around the world for climate action, in line with Catholic values, especially the protection of creation and all life. The movement has recently completed a Lenten Fast for Climate Justice and currently offers a petition asking to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C, in line with a letter from Catholic bishops on all continents, developed for the climate meeting in Lima, last December.

“Praised be You, my Lord, through all your creatures…”

By Sister Caryn Crook, OSF

Sister CarynThis quote from St. Francis of Assisi, found in his Canticle of Creatures, fills my heart, mind and soul today as I celebrate Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban High Volume Hydrologic Fracturing (fracking), in New York State. Today, many people of New York rejoice as their voices were heard and their health and well being were deemed worthy of protection over short term economic gains. As I celebrate I think of those who are not happy with this decision. Those who were depending on the added income that fracking would generate. I celebrate with the earth that the sanctity of all life is affirmed.

Fracking-880x550People from all over New York State stood up for protecting water, air, land and property rights. They banded together to form non- profits to educate the public on the effects fracking have on human health and the environment. Their voices were heard above the voices of industry, struggling municipalities, and economists. It truly is a day to celebrate.

I also hold in my heart, those who were counting on the added income to keep their family farms. Many farmers were looking for the added income just to stay in business. Some small businesses were also relying on the added revenue to stay afloat. They do not celebrate but fret about what tomorrow will bring. May Governor Cuomo address the issues in New York State that may assist businesses and family farms in this position?

As with all issues, they are never as simple as they seem. Fracking shows us how interconnected creation is. Geologists, economists, ecologists, hydrologists, biologists, attorneys, and health professionals all weighed in on the issue. Even Oil production in the Middle East and foreign policy has a role in the viability of fracking. Truly, creation is an interconnected web of relationships.

Today the winner is Mother Earth, who does indeed sustain and govern us. Banning fracking gives credence to the importance of balanced ecosystems and their connection with social justice. For when Mother Earth is harmed, we harm ourselves and mostly we harm those who have no ability to move from contaminated water wells and land. Banning fracking in New York State is a pro-life decision. May New York State continue to uphold the rights of all peoples to clean air, clean water, healthy land and healthy bodies?

Originally published at franciscanaction.org.

Fracking: Silent Spring and the Impact of Fracking

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Canticle of the Sun

In an age desperately in need of an intelligent response to the environmental crisis, St Francis’s Canticle of the Sun suddenly sounds very contemporary.