Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.
~ Saint Francis of Assisi
Today, many Christians celebrate the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals and ecology. Francis serves to remind us that all of God’s creatures are worthy of our attention and care. They should be treated with the same dignity and respect we extend to one another.
Whether you have domestic pets, or like me, befriend animals in the wild, take a moment today to consider that like you and I, their lives matter too. The Lord made our dogs and cats, foxes and squirrels, and I believe, bestowed them each with their very own soul.
Do not be cruel to them. Be patient and kind, and love them as members of your family. For God created them, and has entrusted us to look after the innocents.
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
~ Genesis 1:24
I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you — the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth.
~ Genesis 9:9-10
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
~ Job 12:7-12
A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
~ Proverbs 12:10
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
~ Isaiah 11:6-9
… for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.
~ Psalm 50:10-11
Note: Today’s paintings are: Detail from Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem’s “The Fall of Man” (1592); Lodovico Cardi (Cigoli)’s “San Francesco”; Caravaggio’s “Saint Francis in Meditation”; Carlo Crivelli’s “Saint Francis of Assisi Catches the Blood of Christ from the Wounds”; and Alessandro Tiarini’s “Holy Family with St. Francis of Assisi, the Archangel Michael and St. John the Baptist” (1620). The header image is Lambert de Hondt the Elder’s “St. Francis with the Animals” — a collaboration with Willem van Herp — (17th century).