“Following the example of Francis , patron of ecologists, they should actively put forward initiatives that care for creation and should work with others in efforts that both put to a stop to polluting and degrading nature and also establish circumstances of living and environment which would not be a threat to the human person.” (Art 18.4, Secular Franciscan Order General Constitutions – 2000)
My wife and I live in a third floor apartment with a small balcony. When the weather grows warmer, she takes me to the local garden nursery and we stock up on flowering plants and herbs. She turns our balcony into a small beautiful garden. Sometimes I sit out there in the light of dawn to pray the morning office or just to enjoy the beauty of the flowers, the trees that surround our complex, and the smell of the herbs. It is in those moments that I perceive, like Francis, the love of the Creator for His creation.
The biographies and legends about Francis of Assisi, all speak of his feeling of kinship with all creatures, all plants, with the very elements that make up our planet. There are many stories of the lengths he went to, to save lambs, doves, even earthworms. There was something about him that drew birds, animals, and fish to him. He recognized that if God is the Creator of all things, then we all have a relationship with all things, that all created things must be respected, cherished, and loved.
Today, we live in a world that is consuming itself into a hollow shell. Ageless forests are being cut down to supply not just building materials, but also wood pulp for disposable paper products. The land that is cleared is then planted not for local sustenance, but for exportable food stuffs. In both developed and developing countries, the ground, the air and water is being polluted, to maintain our consumer lifestyles.
The situation may look hopeless, overwhelming, but we Franciscans can help call the world back from the brink. By lessening our own consumption, use every opportunity to recycle, and support those movements that promote better treatment of the earth. And finally, maybe plant some herbs and flowers in memory of Francis.