Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sermon: St. Francis (Blessing of Animals)

“If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” ~ St. Francis

It is St. Francis that reminds us that everything is connected. How we treat animals is the way we also deal with each other. On this day, when we remember this great saint of the Church and his words and works, it behooves us to remember the creatures we care for, our pets, and all living creatures.

I recently came across All Creatures Great and Small, which is a campaign of Animals & Religion of the Humane Society, which aims to raise awareness about our responsibilities to all animals, including those raised for food.

“In recent decades, agriculture has taken a harsh turn and animals on factory farms are treated like mere objects. Eating is an activity that has moral and spiritual significance.”

Indeed the Eucharist, a Christian sacrament is deeply rooted in eating and drinking and having a meal, it is an example of the relationship between food and faith.

This year, the All Creatures Great and Small Campaign focuses on the cruel and inhumane system of battery cages for hens.

"While many of us picture an idyllic Old MacDonald's farm when we think about where our eggs come from, nothing could be further from the truth. Most eggs produced in the United States come from industrialized factory farms confining hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of laying hens in overcrowded battery cages."

This October, we are being asked to switch to cage-free eggs (or eggs substitutes), a simple commitment that can make a big difference. You can take the pledge online.

“They too, are created by the same loving hand of God which Created us...It is our duty to Protect them and to promote their well-being.” ~ Mother Teresa.

A story of St. Francis:

Once, when he was staying in the town of Greccio, a hare was caught in a trap and brought live to Francis by a brother. Seeing the hare, Francis was moved to pity and said, "Brother hare, come here. Why did you let yourself be fooled in this way?" As soon as the hare was released by the brother, he dashed over to Francis and, without being forced to do so, jumped into his lap as the safest place available. When he had rested there a while, Francis, stroking him with maternal affection, let him go so that he could return to the wild. Each time he was placed on the ground, the hare ran back to Francis' lap. Finally Francis asked that the brothers carry him to a nearby forest.

May we have the same care for animals as St. Francis did in his time. Amen.

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