Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Saint Francis of Assisi on the beauty of creation

May 2021 is the anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.” To recognize the namesake for which Pope Francis wrote this encyclical, Saint Francis of Assisi, here is a short excerpt from Laudato Si’ on the invitation that Saint Francis' life leaves us with:

"I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.


Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “[God's] eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty. Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise."

(Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 10-12, 2015)


Questions for Reflection:

  1. Just as Saint Francis is an exemplar of integral ecology and justice, who are contemporary 'monks in our midst' modeling this for us today? 
  2. As Pope Francis says, Saint Francis views creation not as "a problem to be solved," but "a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise." How does this reframe invite us into relationship with, and action on behalf of, the climate?


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