THE BLOG
10/05/2015 04:28 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2016

What Does St. Francis of Assisi Have to Say to Us Today

God. Dogs. The world and St. Francis.

The Newberry Award winning poet, Cynthia Rylant, writes in the title poem of her new book, God Got a Dog,

But She saw this dog
out by the tracks
and it was hungry
and cold
and lonely
and God realized
She'd made that dog
somehow,
somehow She was responsible
though She knew logically
that She had only set the
world on its course.
She couldn't be blamed
for everything.
But She saw this dog
and She felt bad
so She took it home
and named it Ernie
and now God....
has somebody
keeping Her feet warm at night.

God. Dogs. And heaven.

Author Bruce Bawer points out that rather than asking the question, "Will my dog [or cat, ferret or fish] go to heaven, we should be asking the inverse of this: "Will I bring heaven to my dog? In other words, does my faith manifest itself in such a way that not only my fellow human beings, but animals can tell the difference.

Stories of St. Francis preaching to birds and having one on one conversations with rampaging wolves, may sound far fetched and utterly whimsy filled, yet these instances point back to his essence. That is, he was completely filled with a sense of God's wonder, so much so he felt called to share that love and awe with ALL of God's creation.

My question for us, on this fabulous autumn day, is how can we live our lives, so that God's creatures have the food and habitats necessary to live full lives.

Specifically, what personal and communal practices do we have that move us toward a sustainable world?

Do you remember June 24, 2012? Do you recall what happened that day?

That is the day that Lonesome George, a male Pinta Island tortoise, of the Galapagos Islands died. He was the last known individual of his subspecies and was for years known as the rarest creature in the world. He spent much of his life alone.

According to the UN Environment Programme, we are in the midst of a massive extinction, with species rapidly dying out. Not since the loss of the dinosaurs have we had an extinction happening at this alarming rate. Let me state the obvious truth that we seem content to ignore: our world is set to go over a cliff:

  • Biodiversity and climate change our linked.
  • Biodiversity compounds poverty.
  • Destroy your nature and you increase poverty and food insecurity.

St. Francis, a man ahead of his time in the 13th century, is ahead of our time as well. We are linked one to another, rich and poor, human and animal.

We as people of faith are called to use our gifts, our resources, our brains to protect all species, all organisms, all creatures of our God and King.

Do dogs go to Heaven?

May we live our lives so that they see heaven on earth.

What are we doing to make it so?