Tag Archive | St. Francis

About Gift-Giving

With due respect to St. Francis, who originated the Christmas crib,100_0359 for this blog I shall alter the final word in his famous quote, making it read: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use gifts.”

We are probably already thinking about holiday gifts to give and perhaps even how to wrap them. As we do this, let’s remember a few things that will help us select gifts that “preach the gospel”:

  • everything in creation has a sacred history dating back billions of years,
  • divine Love is living and acting in every bit of it, and
  • thoughtless consumption of Earth’s gifts endangers all of us who depend upon them for physical, psychological, and spiritual health.

Reflecting on our interconnected place in Earth’s story and the values of simplicity, love of nature, and sustainable living that are exemplified in the Gospel, we can move from a culture of Buy! Buy! Buy! to one of more thoughtful, gospel-based choices.

Some basic considerations:

handmade  soap bars with lavender flowers, shallow DOFAll gift-giving decisions inevitably affect God’s people and the rest of creation — for better or for worse. Here are some questions to consider when deciding what to give:

  • What resources are being consumed?
  • Who has made the product and in what working conditions?
  • Are endangered species or habitats threatened or benefited?
  • Does making or using this product add to climate change?
  • How does the store from which I buy treat its employees, and how does it care for the environment?

Suggestions for giving presents that “preach the gospel”: 

  • Give something previously used by you or another. Homemade-Christmas-Gifts-012“White elephant” gift exchanges can be great fun, and can be woven into group rituals that participants will joyfully anticipate each year. Thrift shops and thrift websites might have just what you’d like to give.
  • Give used books with an inscription of what the book meant to you and why you chose it for this recipient. These can be passed on repeatedly, gaining in meaning with each inscription. Alternately, purchase books from a local independent bookstore (if you are fortunate enough to have one). Magazine subscriptions to worth-while publications might also be appreciated.
  • HomemadeGifts_Labels Give something you’ve made: cookies, cards, clothes, scarves, art, poetry, music . . . . Or, you might buy things from friends or at craft fairs. Some parishes hold holiday sales that include work by local artists.
  • Give a gift of time. Especially older, handicapped, or very busy people imagesmight appreciate a service gift: a concert with an instrument you play well, an offer to help with a future party, a back rub, an offer to help with the computer, or a promise that the garbage will be regularly taken out! Perhaps a pack of “Just Ask” coupons. . . .
  • Give gifts to friends that also gift Earth: plants you have nurtured; organic, fair trade coffee, tea, or chocolate; glass water bottles that will replace plastic ones; CFL or LED light bulbs; art, music, videos that help others better appreciate divine life within creation; donations to Heifer International, Arbor Day Foundation, Rain Forest Rescue, or other organizations that help create sustainability and self-reliance. Items from Ten Thousand Villages won’t be cheap, but will assure you that people and planet have benefited from your purchase.
  • Give experiences: tickets to concerts, plays, classes, or other events the person would enjoy. If needed, include offer of transport.

Suggestions of what to avoid: 

(Note: These are ideals to work towards, not meant to incite guilt!)

  • PlasticBagInTreeByLauren Avoid buying — or putting products in — anything made of plastic! (Plastic particles form with other debris into large swirling glutinous accumulation zones that comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet’s ocean surface — roughly 25 percent of the entire earth!)
  • Avoid buying wrapping paper that came from non-sustainable sources. Stretch your creativity to find wrap/cloth and ribbon/string  that can be used again.
  • Avoid anything that will contribute to climate change by excessive fossil fuel use.

 Avoid anything that Anti-ivory trade demonstartion, London 13 Februarymight have come from endangered species or from trafficked laborers.

One More Thing

However you celebrate the Incarnation in the Christmas story, remember also to celebrate the indwelling of Divine Love from the very beginning of the Cosmos. Many books, both for children and adults, tell the Universe Story in a way that makes clear to believers that, as Thomas Berry has written, these “are two aspects of a single wisdom … integral parts of a single story.”

images-1Berry continues with insights relevant to our need to reduce consumerism and planet destruction: “What is happening in our times is not just another historical transition or simply another cultural change. The devastation of the planet that we are bringing about is negating some hundreds of millions, even billions, of years of past development on Earth …” What is happening now “is the most profound change that has taken place during the past five thousand years.”

How we give gifts this season will not only preach the gospel. It will contribute, positively or negatively, to that profound change.

Please add in Comments your suggestions for gospel-based gift-giving, and thanks!

May your holidays bring blessings to you and the entire world!

Prayer for Feast of St. Francis

If ever the example of St. Francis were needed, it is surely now
when violence is rampant, including among religious groups;
when the planet is in peril from climate change, extinctions, and resource depletion; and
when consumerism threatens to take over our lives and cause poverty for many.

St. Francis’ feast day is celebrated October 4th, though prayerful celebrations often take place before and after this date. For those who wish to use it, the following prayer is available on two sides by clicking here: St.Francis.2014.

Feast of Francis 2014: All Praise be Yours

“The Heavens Are Telling the Glory of God”

Call to prayer 100_0359

Leader: There came a man from Assisi, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, one most unlikely to shed his wealth and prestige and future comforts,
1: one thought a fool when he overturned society’s expectations and followed the path of Christ,
2: one whose life of simplicity, awareness, gratitude, and peace has made him a model for countless men and women over the centuries,
3: one named patron saint of animals and ecology,
4: one whose name was chosen by a Pope to show the relevance of his life and mission for today’s world.

All: May our time of prayer deepen in us Francis’ radical spirit.

Let us give thanks

Leader: Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures gives praise to the One to whom “all glory, honor and blessing” belong. All: We, too, praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

1. Francis prayed to God “Most High.” Let us be grateful to know that the Aramaic “heaven” means the light and sound shining through all creation and that God lives and acts within it all: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

images2. Francis praised God through “Brother Sun, who brings the day, and light You give us through him.” Let us be grateful for all we know about our star, its place in our solar system, its story dating back billions of years, its potential for replacing fossil fuel use: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

3. Francis praised God through “Sister Moon and stars in the heavens.” Let17-kepler3 us be grateful for knowing that our galaxy contains billions of stars, and is but one of billions of galaxies, and for the awe we feel when we look at the stars: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

4. Francis praised God through “Brothers Wind and Air, and fair and stormy, all weather’s moods by which You cherish all that You have made.” Let us never take for granted the gift of clean, fresh air, the use of wind for energy, and the people who strive to protect our atmosphere and increase use of renewable energy: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

water5. Francis praised God through “Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure.” Let us treasure our oceans, glaciers, rivers, lakes, and aquifers, without which our lives would not be possible: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

6. Francis praised God through “Brother Fire, … beautiful and gay, full of power and strength.” Let us be grateful for knowing that humans in ancient times gathered around the fire to share stories that gave meaning to life and bonded community, andfire-at-solstice for memories of times around campfires and fireplaces with family and friends: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

 8057332-earth-with-translucent-water-in-the-oceans-and-the-detailed-topography-of-the-continents7. Francis praised God for “Sister Earth, our mother, who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces various fruits and colored flowers and herbs.” Let us be conscious of our kinship with every creature with whom we share our beloved planet and for knowing that we are both interconnected with it and totally dependent upon it: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

8. Francis praised God for “those who grant pardon for love of You; through those who endure sickness and trial; … those who endure in peace” as did Jesus. Let us remember those, living and dead, who have modeled for us forgiving, non-violent lives and those who labor to reduce weapons of mass destruction and the funds wasted on them. [Pause to remember; mention people if you wish.]: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

Let us be mindful

St. Francis also praised God through Sister Death — the kind “no mortal can escape.” He could not have guessed that humans would cause the sickness and death of the very gifts we have just mentioned. Of the needs of Earth, Let us be mindful.

Mention any relevant concern that weighs on your heart, e.g., Of the animals and plants going extinct, Let us be mindful.

Quiet Prayer

Closing 

All: “Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks. Serve God with great humility.”

Exchange a blessing of peace and all good.