Archive for October, 2014

Francis and Kaipua

Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the environment.  His Peace Prayer is one of my favorite prayers of all time.  And he’s also attributed with one of my favorite quotes of all time – “Preach the gospel; use words when necessary.”

I’ve always loved animals and it’s easy to be charmed by the life of a saint who gave up all his worldly possessions, spoke to birds, befriended wolves, wrote canticles to a brother sun and sister moon.  Francis’ popularity transcends the religious world.  Ask a non-Christian to name a saint, chances are, one will be Francis.  When I heard Cardinal Bergolio announce he was taking the name of Francis for his papacy, I was deeply moved.  Even teared up a little.  Pope Francis explains his choice in namesake because he wanted to emulate Francis of Assisi as “‘…a man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”  And while this makes perfect sense, it wasn’t the main reason I was so touched by his decision.

At the foot of the cross at the church of San Damiano, Francis of Assisi was praying and heard a voice speak to him saying, “Francis, repair my church.”  Francis took this literally, as a mission to restore the church he was in.  This is really the start of the Francis story, which I won’t go into too much detail about, but as he continued to discern his path, the idea of “repairing the church” came to mean much more.  He became a catalyst for a transformation in the Church of his time.  This message of “repairing the church” and bringing the focus back to caring for the poor, being a people of peace and loving the environment and creation is something that has been truly lacking in the discourse surrounding the Roman Catholic Church.  And I believe Pope Francis is honoring his namesake by doing his part in “repairing” what he can.

So what does this have to do with anything?  Well, on Francis of Assisi’s feast day, October 4th, churches usually open their doors to pets for a blessing of the animals.  Kaipua joined the household in March, so this marked her first opportunity to be blessed on the actual feast of St. Francis.  So we packed up Kaipua in a lidless bankers box and schlepped over to the Franciscan Monastery.  Needless to say, once we got there, she was a HIT.  Earlier that week, the monastery actually posted on their Facebook wall, Turtles will be welcomed, so Fr. Greg was especially amused that one actually came to the blessing.

The paparazzi were in full force, including coverage in the Washington Post and the Catholic Standard.  People asked to take her picture, shared stories about their own pet turtles growing up, one even gave her a scapular for her tank.  She seemed to love the attention and the opportunity to crawl around the beautiful grounds on a gorgeous fall day.  And to cap it off, Camille brought her THREE goldfish.  Quite possibly the best day of her turtle life thus far.

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Not sure what Francis would have to say about the lives of these pets, literally many living in the lap of luxury.  But I think he’d happy for the joy each of the creatures bring to their keepers lives.

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