Posted by: smstrouse | October 1, 2011

St. Francis: Tweeting Long Before Twitter

If Twitter and other social networking sites are all about making connections, then St. Francis was way ahead of his time. Francis, unlike Twitter et al, included non-humans in his social network. He took the animal world seriously, not merely as creatures placed here for our domination, even in our benevolent caregiving and pet ownership. Francis recognized animals, in their own right, as part of the interconnected family of God.

In a ‘tweet’ from The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi, we can read one of Francis’ sermons.  And while no doubt there have been some who at one time or another have thought my preaching was for the birds, Francis really did, as legend has it, preach to our feathered friends.

The story goes that in his travels Francis came upon a great flock of birds and said to his companions, “Wait for me here by the way, while I go and preach to my litttle sisters the birds.”  In his sermon, he reminded them of everything they had received from the bounteous hand of God and encouraged them to be grateful and to sing God’s praise at all times and in all places. It is said that as he preached to the birds on the ground, all those in the trees also gathered round and listened and did not fly away until he had given them his blessing.

It’s a lovely story to remind us that St. Francis Day is October 4, and that many churches will offer the Blessing of the Animals this weekend in honor of our city’s patron saint. But it also serves to remind us that the birds and the beasts exist for their own sake – not just for our use or pleasure. It reminds us to take seriously our role as caretakers of creation, to ensure a habitable home for all.

So in honor of St. Francis, may we follow the birds on Twitter and consider the beasts our Facebook friends. And may we rejoice in this wonderful, interconnected social network called Life.


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