Hey guys! So much fun stuff is in the works around here. We are adding a whole new dimension to Catholic All Year memberships. Different levels include: a colorful daily medallion calendar featuring fun feast day symbols, saint and feast day summaries, five posters each month including inspirational prayers and quotes, redesigned monthly prayer books, tried and true liturgically appropriate recipes from my personal collection, bonuses like books and calendars mailed to you, and NOW . . . a CAY monthly hymn book featuring liturgically appropriate hymns with lyrics, melody, and some background on the history of the song. CAY assistant extraordinaire Grace and I are collaborating on these monthly hymns. In case you’re not familiar with the hymn, on each feast day, Grace will share a sing-along video with lyrics on her YouTube channel. At the bottom of this post you'll find a free download of a sample hymn for Michaelmas on September 29! Find out more about CAY Memberships here.
And now, for . . .
In the latest CAY Liturgical Living Video, we’re talking about bird feeders 🐦, nativity scenes 🌟, and the blessing of animals 🙏 💦 🐶 🐱 . What do they all have in common? 🤷♀️ It’s St. Francis 😇.
Watch the video here, and/or keep reading for more details plus a 25% off code for this month's recommended books and printable PDF versions of "The Canticle of the Sun" and the St. Francis food tags you see in the video.
If you’re walking around a Catholic neighborhood, what are you going to see in the front yards? Statues of Mary, and St. Francis bird feeders, right? But why?
Well, because St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most well known saints in history, to people and birds alike. He was born in Assisi, Italy in the 12th century, to wealthy Catholic parents. After time as a soldier, he renounced his life of luxury for a life of prayer and service to the poor. While praying at an old country chapel in San Damiano, he heard the icon of Christ crucified speak to him saying, “Francis, Francis, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins."
He spent the next few years rebuilding ruined churches in the area (including the Portiuncula Chapel which we talked about in a previous video). Eventually he gained some followers, and received permission from the Pope to begin his order of brothers. This was followed by an order of sisters, under the supervision of his friend, noblewoman St. Clare of Assisi. Francis never became a priest, but his love of poverty and his joyful preaching converted people everywhere he went.
St. Francis had a great love for all of God’s creatures, and was known to practice his preaching by giving talks to the birds. It’s said he was so compelling that they would fly down from the trees and perch on his shoulders to be able to hear him better. So that’s where all the Catholic bird feeders come from!
Hoping to inspire people with the beauty and humility of the first Christmas, St. Francis created the first ever nativity scene, complete with living animals! People liked the idea and now at Christmastime, you’ll find a nativity in almost every Catholic home . . . but they’re mostly of the non-live variety.
Another story says that there was a wolf terrorizing the Italian town of Gubbio. Francis agreed to speak to him, and brokered a peace between the town and the wolf. In exchange for being given food, the wolf agreed to leave the town’s flocks and children alone.
St. Francis wrote a beautiful song of prayer called "The Canticle of the Sun," in which he praises God through all of God’s creation. It is believed to be the first piece of literature written down in the Italian language. According to tradition, the first time it was sung in its entirety was by Francis and two of his original companions, on Francis' deathbed.
So, because of St. Francis’ love for animals, there is a long history of celebrating a blessing of animals on his feast day. This is offered at many parishes. It’s also appropriate for the head of the household to bless the family’s animals at home. You can find the prayers in the USCCB's Book of Blessings or Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, in my Catholic All Year Prayer Companion or Catholic All October monthly booklet, or online here.
We like to split the difference and invite a priest friend and some neighbors over for a backyard blessing of animals. This can happen ANYTIME, but sometime around the feast of St. Francis on October 4 is especially appropriate.
If you know me, you know I enjoy making complicated meals for feast days. But the feast of St. Francis is a good example of the fact that, even for me, entertaining for saints’ days doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Corn “dogs”, “ants” on a log, “bear” claws, and various animal-shaped cookies and crackers are all good ways to celebrate God’s creation through snacks!
As always, thank you to our video sponsor (and the publisher of my books), Ignatius Press. You can find out more about liturgical living in the home and Catholic traditions like the Blessing of Animals in The Catholic All Year Compendium and find the text of the blessing as well as "the Canticle of the Sun" and so much more in The Catholic All Year Prayer Companion. Our featured Ignatius Press books this month are both favorites around here and they’re both about St. Francis!
Get 25% off Brother Francis of Assisi and the whole Loupio series at Ignatius.com through November 2021 with the code CAY1021
Brother Francis of Assisi is a classic book by beloved children’s author Tomie de Paola. It’s now back in print thanks to Ignatius Press! It’s got great illustrations and a detailed story of the life of St. Francis and his friend St. Clare. It’s great as a read-aloud for younger kids over a few nights, or for middle grade kids to read alone.
Also this month we are featuring the Loupio books. I’ve mentioned these in other videos, but they’re back because volume six is now available! These are fun comic book-style illustrated books for middle grade kids about the adventures of young Loupio and his friends Brother Francis and the Gubbio wolf. You can get 25% off all the books in the Loupio series and Brother Francis of Assisi all month long from Ignatius.com using the discount code on the screen and in the description below.
As promised at the top, here's a free sample of the new CAY hymns. Check out Grace's lyric video here.