Francis and the Animals
Week Forty Summary and Practice
Sunday, October 3—Friday, October 8, 2021
Each and every creature is a unique word of God, with its own message, its own metaphor, its own energetic style, its own way of showing forth goodness, beauty, and participation in the Great Mystery. —Richard Rohr
Francis of Assisi knew that the finite manifests the infinite, and the physical is the doorway to the spiritual. If we can accept this foundational principle we call “incarnation,” then all we need is right here and right now—in this world. —Richard Rohr
I made an effort to make the animals understand that I was a friend. At first they were astounded and incredulous. But then they believed. —Carlo Carretto
Francis grants all of reality, even elements and animals, an intimate I-Thou relationship. This could be a definition of what it means to be a contemplative, which is to look at reality with much wider eyes than mere usability, functionality, or self-interest—with inherent enjoyment for a thing in itself as itself. —Richard Rohr
Every creature is born out of the love of God, sustained in love, and transformed in love. Every sparrow that falls to the ground is known and loved by God (Matthew 10:29). —Ilia Delio
In telling the stories of their saints, Celtic hagiographers sought to teach lessons, reinforcing a perspective that humans and animals are all related to one another, and that we are meant to enjoy each other’s company as well as alleviate each other’s pain. —Edward Sellner
Blessing the Animals
On the Feast of St. Francis, “Blessing the Animals” events take place throughout the world. We invite you to take the time to sit with this poem by Galway Kinnell (1927–2014).
Saint Francis and the Sow
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of the earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
If you have a pet, “retell it in words and in touch it is lovely until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.” Or perhaps you could volunteer at an animal shelter where abandoned or abused animals need to be reminded of their loveliness.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
“Saint Francis and the Sow,” from Mortal Acts, Mortal Words by Galway Kinnell. Copyright © 1980, renewed 2008 by Galway Kinnell. Reprinted by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
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