On October 4, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of one of the most loved and popular saints, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226). In 1979, Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis as the “heavenly patron of those who promote ecology” (cf. Apostolic Letter Inter Sanctos: AAS 71 , 1509f). As the late Pope states:
“He offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation. As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation—animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon—to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.”1
St. Francis’ exemplary relationship with God’s creation, where every creature was sacred, is a path to follow today. It is a call to be stewards and care takers of creation recognizing our interconnection to it. St. Francis illustrated for us today that the best way to reach a perdurable peace is when we live our life as part of the creation no when we live to master or plunder it. An his example of deliberately embracing material poverty to both be in solidarity with poor of his age and as a way to live in harmony with Creation is a model for us to follow in a resource-scarce world.
In our days, St. Francis exemplary relationship with God’s creation serve as model to fight against the most dangerous effect of the ecological crisis we live in, climate change. Following St. Francis, the Catholic Climate Covenant, an organization supported by a dozen national Catholic organizations including the USCCB’s Office of Justice, Peace and Human Development and the bishops’ Environmental Justice Program, through the Catholic Climate Ambassadors’ program offers presentations on the moral implications of climate change consistent with Catholic teaching as outlined by our Holy Father in his World Day of Peace Message of 2010, If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation, and in the U.S. Catholic bishops’ statement, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good.
Each ambassador is charged with promoting The St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor: a promise and a commitment by Catholic individuals, families, parishes, organizations and institutions to live our faith by protecting God’s Creation and advocating on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts of global climate change. To join the Covenant, you commit to act on each of the five elements of the St. Francis Pledge.
I / We Pledge to:
PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
ASSESS how we-as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations-contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.
ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.
If you are looking for how to celebrate St. Francis feast, I invite you to go to http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/the-st-francis-pledge/ It is your first step in the right direction to care for creation and the poor.
If you want to know more about the Catholic Climate Ambassador’s program go to http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/about-us/catholic-climate-ambassadors/
Happy St. Francis’ Day
1. John Paul II “Peace with God, Peace with the Creator, Peace with All of Creation,” Vatican.
Nelson Araque, M.A.
Catholic Climate Ambassador
Nelson Araque is from Bogota, Colombia and he lives in Dania Beach, FL with his wife and his daughter. He teaches at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Mr. Araque holds a B.A in Philosophy and Literature from Universidad de La Salle in Bogota, Colombia, a M.A. in Pastoral Ministries from St. Thomas University in Miami and he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Theology at Barry University where he hopes to receive a D. Min soon.
Mr. Araque is also a Catholic Climate Ambassador and you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org