In the year of Our Lord 1181 Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone was born in Assisi, Duchy of Spoleto, in the Holy Roman Empire.
We know him as St Francis of Assisi. This coming Saturday we here at Trinity will honor him in our Blessings of the Animals at 11:00 on the Stockton Lawn. St Francis has long been understood to be the informal patron saint of animals, the natural world, indeed, of all Creation.
In his lovely Canticle of the Sun, he expresses his profound understanding of the sacredness of all that God has created. And central to his hymn is the clear and humbling message that we human beings are a beloved and valued part of God's created order — but the center of it. We are meant to live and thrive in concert with all that God has made.
Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
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 which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which 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 Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.
On the east facing wall of the south transept of Trinity Church, our St Francis window vibrantly illustrates this exceptional canticle. It is especially beautiful on a sunny morning.
Come and see it!
Stand close, look carefully, and let the light that shines through that window envelope you with St Francis’s vision of the interdependent and holy balance of all that IS.
The Rev. Joanne Epply-Schmidt