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Monday, October 4, 2010

Sister Patricia On: St Francis of Assisi

(Sister Patricia Owens O'Flannery, OP, a post-modern pre-traditional omni-spiritual Dominican sister, periodically contributes to AoftheA. Today she offers a reflection on the life of St Francis of Assisi.)

Hello gentle readers! May the Autumn Spirit fill you with peace and joy, and shower you with the bounty of a rich harvest. I just love Fall, don't you? The crisp evening air, the colorful display of changing leaves - wondrous gifts from Godde and Gaia. We are so blessed! And toss in collegiate football...why, all of it is so, so good!

One of my most favorite celebrations this time of year, besides the Autumnal Equinox of course (and our order had a wild time, let me tell you! But you know the saying: What happens in the convent, stays at the convent! wink wink!), is the Feast of St Francis of Assisi.

I just love St. Francis. He's the patron saint of environmentalism, ecological awareness and PETA, you know. It's true! He founded his order way back in the 13th Century, exhorting his followers to not eat meat, to love animals, and to tend the environment. It's no wonder why the Earth-loving people of the environmentalist movement have taken so warmly to the holy and humble saint.

St Francis used to preach to the birds, he called the Earth our "Mother", and he even went barefoot as a form of protest against the evil shoe and sandal businesses that killed cows and stole their leather. But perhaps the most famous story about his encounter with Nature was when he wrestled a bear in the backwoods of the Kentucky mountains....or maybe that was someone else. Well, I'm sure he wrestled a bear at least one time, and probably let him win so as not to hurt his feelings, and then taught him Jesus' message of love, compassion and vegan living.

St Francis composed a beautiful prayer called "Canticle of the Sun", the spiritual basis for the Green Movement. Our order prays it every morning, and twice on Thursdays (that's the day we take our newspapers and plastic bottles to the local recycling center). My favoritest one, though, is the Prayer of St Francis, commonly sung in Church as the great hymn "Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace". Now, I know there are some who claim he never wrote that prayer - probably the sort of folks LarryD hangs out with - saying that there's no "evidence" linking the prayer to St Francis. Hogwash, I say. Who needs evidence when you have faith, and if you have faith in anything, then it must be true - just like global warming. At least, that's what our local LCWR representative always tells me.

Tonight, at our order's celebration of this great feast day, I'm going to perform an updated version of the Prayer of St. Francis - with interpretive dance, while a chorus of sisters sings the prayer a capella. I wish you could be there to see it - it will be so inspiring!

Here's the updated prayer:

Make me a channel of Greenpeace
Where there is warming, let me bring your guilt.
Where there are plastic bags, Reusables.
And where there's doubt, true faith in Gore.

Make me a channel of Greenpeace
Where there's gas guzzling cars, let me bring Volt.
Where there is fatness, only Lite
And where there's fast food, ever soy.

Oh Gaia, grant that I may never seek
So much to be controlled as to control
To be overcome as to overtake.
To love the Earth with all the strength that's in my soul.

Make me a channel of Greenpeace
It is with CFL's that we're enlightened.
In giving all men condoms, births recede
And reducing your footprint helps to improve my life.

I think the order is going to love it! What do you think?

Celebrate responsibly today! Go barefoot, replace your incandescent bulbs with those swirly types, eat a salad or protest outside a coal-fired power plant! It's what St Francis would do!