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St. Francis and Wolves

Story ID:8193
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various varuiys
Year:2012
Person:St. Francis
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I am sure that everyone has heard the story of St. Francis and
the wolf of Gubio. It was reported that the villagers of Gubio
were very unhappy with one very enterprising wolf who was eating
their livestock. As the account goes, they appealed to St. Francis
to do something to stop the carnage. And whether you want to
believe it or not, St. Francis did. He approached the wolf and
told him if he would stop killing their animals, the villagers
would keep him fed. And the wolf agreed, and from then on things
were so much better in the village of Gubio -thanks to the
intervention of St. Francis.

You may think this is a fairy tale. I don't because I love
St. Francis and believe that he was capable of doing extraordinary
things. In fact, because of my great admiration for him, I wanted
to become a Third Order Franciscan. Well, around the turn of the
century, I did take classes and became a Third Order Franciscan.
Sadly today, I am no longer a Third Order Secular Franciscan.

What happened? My chapter was not involved at all in animal concerns.
However, they were a very spiritual and praying group who tried to
involve themselves in human needs and concerns. That is certainly
commendable, but there never was anything about helping suffering
animals. I was quite disappointed and I obviously did not do my
homework well. I just believed that Franciscans would have a mission
and concern for the animals, but I was wrong.

I tried to bring the topic of animal concerns to them, but it was an
effort in futility. I wish them well, but I knew that this is not
what I had expected when I became a Third Order Franciscan.


WOLF ON FACEBOOK. This morning- Barbara's link asked us to write
the governor of Montana to outlaw trapping. The picture accompanying
her request showed a very self-satisfied and smug trapper standing
next to the emaciated body of a poor wolf caught in his trap. He
obviously wasn't the least bit concerned or saddened that this poor
wolf lingered long and starved to death in his trap because he failed
to check it in a timely fashion and put him out of his misery.

So, I sent an e-mail to the Governor of Montana:
"To see this innocent creature of God in a horrible trap and starved
to death is a hauntimg portrayal of our cruelty to our fellow living
creatures. No living being should be tortured because he is what God
made him.
I hope you believe that we should be responsible and caring to other
beings -human or animal. If so, trapping should be a thing of the
ignorant past. Shouldn't a compassionate people see this?
Thank you for whatever you can do in this regard."

VASU MURTI ON ST. FRANCIS

I have Vasu Murti's well written book "They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy"
and when I saw him remark about St. Francis on the Catholic Vegetarian
Facebook site, I knew it would be something worthwhile to read and share,
and I was right.

He begins by quoting Steven Rosen re the schools of Christian thought:
The Aristotelian-Thomistic school and the Augustinian-Franciscan school.

"The Aristotlian-Thomistic school has, as its fundamental basis, the
premise that ANIMALS ARE HERE FOR OUR PLEASURE--THEY HAVE
NO PURPOSE OF THEIR OWN. We can eat them, torture them in laboratories
--anything.... Unfortunately, modern Christianity embraces this form of their religion.

The Augustinian-Franciscan school, however, teaches that WE ARE ALL
BROTHERS AND SISTERS UNDER GOD'S FATHERHOOD. Based largely
on the world view of St. Francis and being platonic in nature, this school fits in
very neatly with the vegetarian perspective."

MORE ON ST. FRANCIS. Murti reflects on some of St. Francis' life re the
animals:

"It is said that St. Francis of Assisi bought two lambs from a
butcher and gave them the coat on his back to keep them warm; and
that he bought two fish from a fishwoman and threw them back into
the water. He even paid to ransom lambs that were being taken to
their death, recalling the gentle Lamb who willingly went to
slaughter to pay the ransom of sinners."

In his "Admonitions" St. Francis said: "Be conscious, O man, of the
wondrous state in which the Lord God has placed you, for He created
and formed you to the image of His beloved Son -and (yet) all the
creatures under heaven, each according to its nature, SERVE, KNOW,
AND OBEY THEIR CREATOR BETTER THAN YOU" (Sadly, this admonition
has basically fallen on deaf ears.)

And, of course, we have St. Francis to thank for the Christmas
creche. And he doesn't forget the importance of the animals when he
said: "And on Christmas Eve, out of reverence for the Son of God,
whom on that night the Virgin Mary placed in a manger beween the ox
and the ass, anyone having an ox or an ass is to feed it a generous
portion of choice fodder. And on Christmas Day, the rich are to
give the poor the finest food in abundance." (Notice how beautifully
St. Francis remembers BOTH the animals and humans. Certainly that
shows a well balanced approach which we unfortunately generally lack.)

And I loved St. Francis for removing worms from a busy road and placing
them on the roadside so they would not be crushed under human traffic.
I don't know if I learned this practice from him or not, but I too
remove any worms I find on the sidewalk who might be crushed by
thoughtless passerbys. One priest remarked one time in a sermon that
as as a boy he loved to squish worms after a rain. I was horrified
at his lack of compassion.

Among reflections re St. Francis: "...his love of creatures was not
simply the offspring of a soft sentimental disposition. It arose from
that deep and abiding sense of the presence of God. To him all are from
one Father and all are real kin...hence, his deep sense of personal
responsibility towards fellow creatures: the loving friend of all God's
creatures."

On the subject of mercy, Francis notes that a lack of mercy towards
animals leads to a lack of mercy towards men. And St. Bonaventure, a
noted scholar and theologian who joined the Franciscan order in 1243
echos St. Francis when he taught that all creatures come from God and
RETURN TO HIM, and that the light of God shines through His different
creatures in different ways:

"...For every creature is by its nature a kind of effigy and likeness
of the eternal Wisdom. Therefore, open you eyes, alert the ears of
your spirit, open your lips and apply your heart so that in all creatures
you may see, hear, praise, love and worship, glorify and honor your God."
(To that- I say Amen.)

St. Francis was certainly a very special saint. I am so glad that he
followed his own drummer and taught the world that animals come from God
and thus deserve kind and compassionate treatment. Sadly, looking at the
world at large - looking at how our farm animals are treated in CAFOs and
lab animals in research, it seems that his wonderful lessons on compassion
have fallen on deaf ears.

But thank God, we do find people of compassion the world over trying to
make the lives of animals better. Dear St. Francis, please help them
and the animals you so loved.