Christ in Creation
Francis is well known as the saint who loved animals. He preached to the birds, and wrote the Canticle of the Sun which many Christians will have sung as the hymn ‘All creatures of our God and King’. He responded passionately to the world around him. But this was not a sentimental response. It included the less lovely parts of the natural world as well. He would not step on worms in his path, and when his eye was to be cauterised, he spoke kindly to the fire which was to cause him great pain.
|At the heart of his love for creation was an even
greater love for its creator. He saw creation as a gift of
God, and as a means of knowing God. In some forms of
spirituality our eyes are closed to shut out any distraction
from the created world; in Franciscan spirituality our eyes
are open wide to see everything which God has made, and to
give thanks for everything.
official biographer, wrote:
‘Francis sought occasion to love God in everything … In
everything beautiful, he saw him who is beauty itself, and he
followed his Beloved everywhere by his likeness imprinted on
creation; of all creation he made a ladder by which he might
mount up and embrace Him who is all-desirable.’
(Bonaventure, Major Life of St Francis, IX:1 -
One of the outcomes of this love for
the creator and the creation was a strong sense that
everything created was brother and sister to him. God was
father to and of all, and so everything and everyone was a
sister or brother to Francis. This is why in the Canticle he
refers to the Sun, Wind and Fire as brother, and the Moon and
stars, Water, and Earth, as
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