December 15.   Michelle asked her mom, “Please tell us that story about St Francis and the birds.”  Mom replied, “There’s more to the story than birds, as you will hear.”    

A story from The Little Flowers of St Francis.   Francis’ Preaching to the birds.  At one time Francis had asked Clare and Brother Silvester if he should spend his life in prayer or in preaching.   Having received the answer from God that he should preach he set out with Brother Masseo.   When he came to a town and began to preach he first told the swallows, who were calling out loudly, to keep silence and they obeyed. He preached with such fervour that many of the inhabitants of the town wished to follow him, but Francis would not let them leave their homes and daily lives.  He therefore founded the Secular Third Order for the salvation of everyone.  Leaving the town he came to a spot where he saw on some trees by the wayside a great multitude of birds.  Making his companions wait he went to preach to the birds on the ground; and those on the trees also came and listened. He said to them, “My little sisters, the birds, you owe much to God, your Creator and you should sing his praise at all times and in all places because he has given you the freedom to fly about. And though you neither spin nor sew he has given you twofold and threefold clothing for yourselves and your offspring. He has given you fountains and rivers to quench your thirst, mountains and valleys in which to take refuge and trees in which to build your nests.  Your Creator loves you much. Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude and study always to give praise to God.” The birds began to open their beaks, stretch their necks, spread their wings and reverently bow their heads to the ground. He made the sign of the cross and gave them leave to fly away. Then all those birds rose up into the air, singing most sweetly and they divided themselves into four companies. One company flew towards the east, one towards the west, one to the south and one to the north, signifying that St Francis, the bearer of the Cross of Christ, had made the sign of the cross over them. Renewed by St Francis they would carry the preaching of the Cross of Christ over all the world, and like them, the humble friars should possess nothing but should cast all the care of their lives on the providence of God. 

Scripture:   The sparrows don’t sow or reap and your Father feeds them. Matthew 10:29-31, Pope Francis:  When we see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship him in union with them.   LS87.  For reflection and sharing: Consider and share on the important role that bird families play in the whole ecosystem of creation.