A Lesson on Saint Francis of Assisi

READ A BOOK
The Circle of Days by Reeve Lindbergh; Illustrated by Cathie Felstead.
This delightful picture book is a great way to celebrate the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi on October 4. With simple words and beautiful illustrations Saint Francis’ prayer of praise to God for all of creation comes alive for children. After sharing the book, gather your pets for a blessing just for them. What fun! 

Lindbergh, Reeve, et al. The Circle of Days. Candlewick Press, 2002.

You can find this book at your local library, independent book seller, OR purchase it from….

 

MAKE A FAITH CONNECTION

  1. In the first sentence of the book, “The Lord,” means God.
    • What are we offering to God?
    • How do our days make a circle?
  2. In the whole book we are offering praise to God.
    • For what does the author praise God?
  3. These words were written by Saint Francis of Assisi who lived about 800 years ago. Saint Francis is called a saint because we believe he is in heaven. Everyone in heaven is a saint. We believe Saint Francis is in heaven because he was very holy while he lived on earth. He tried to do what God wanted him to do even when it was hard.
  4. One thing to know about Saint Francis is that he gave up all the money that belonged to him. He wanted to spend his life telling others about God and his God’s Son, Jesus. He believed that following God’s will was more important than money.
  5. Saint Francis loved God so much that he wanted to give God praise for all of the good things in life. Saint Francis loved nature and he knew that nature – all the animals, plants, and everything alive, was a gift from God. Science tells us how these things came to be. Through faith we know that all these things exist because God wills them to be.
    1. Why do you think Saint Francis called the sun, brother sun, or the moon our sister? (Saint Francis knew that they were created by God just like we are.)
  6. People are different than animals and plants, though. People are special because we can know God. People were made in God’s image and likeness. In the Bible, God said that people are supposed to take care of nature. It is important for people to…
      • be thankful for all God’s beautiful gifts of nature
      • use the natural world carefully, without taking more than we need
      • care for creation in every way we can.
  7. Animals, both wild and tame, are God’s special creations.
        • What animals do you see in the book?
        • What animals do you see every day?
        • What are some ways that we take care of the animals around us every day?

HAVE SOME FUN
Blessing for Your Pets
Materials: pet(s) or stuffed animals, treats for your live pets, treats for the children and attendees, a copy of the prayer for anyone in your family old enough to read; a Saint Francis coloring page printed from one of the websites linked below.

  1. Gather all the members of your family and your pets or stuffed animals.
  2. Pray the Pet Blessing together. A parent or older child may read the pet blessing. All children can make the Sign of the Cross at the beginning and at the end of the prayer. They can also lay their hand on the top of each pet’s head at the words of blessing.
  3. Give your pets a treat and enjoy a treat yourself.

Pet Blessing:
All: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (Make the Sign of the Cross.)
Leader:
You are blessed, God.
You are Lord of all creation.
Because of You, there are fish in the sea
and birds in the air
and animals that walk the earth.
Because You love us, we live in this beautiful world
filled with all of your good gifts.
We praise you for all of creation,
and we promise to take care of it.
We praise you for the gift of the special animal(s) we love.
Thank you for the joy they (he/she) bring(s) to our home.
We ask you to bless these (this) pet(s).
(Lay your hand on the head of each pet.)
Help us to care for them every day with love and kindness.
We ask this
All: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (make the Sign of the Cross).
Amen.

Notes:

  • It’s a tradition in many parishes and Catholic organizations to do a pet blessing on or near October 4 in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Perhaps your family can participate in one of those events. Or you can do this pet blessing in your home (or classroom).
  • If you don’t have any live pets in your home, you can do this blessing with stuffed animals. The point is clear –animals, both wild and tame, are a blessing and a gift given by God. They give us joy and companionship and we give them care.
  • Classroom teachers or catechists: It is harder to arrange a pet blessing in these circumstances but not at all impossible. You can choose to ask your students to bring in a picture of their pets. Any student that does not have a pet can bring in a special stuffed animal. You can then do the blessing yourself as noted, or you can ask a priest or deacon to come to your class to do the blessing. Perhaps you can convince your principal or DRE to plan a pet blessing for the whole organization!

SHARE A PRAYER
Dear Lord,
You are so good!
You made all the beautiful things in the world.
You made the sun and the moon and the stars.
You made the wind and air,
the whales and fire
and the earth we live on.
You made the people I love
and all people everywhere.
I praise you for creation.
I praise you for every day
and all the
circle of my days.
Amen.

EXPLORE SOME MORE
Thoughts
Did you know that our current pope, Francis, chose his name after Saint Francis of Assisi?  In this modern age of materialism and damage to our environment, the ministry of Pope Francis is guided by this beloved saint who became an icon of simplicity and following the will of God.  

Saint Francis of Assisi lived in Italy from 1182-1226 CE. There is a good but brief summary of his life on the title page of the book. Saint Francis is often portrayed as a sappy, nature lover who wandered around talking to animals. Actually, in his younger life he was a wealthy partier who dreamed of becoming a knight. But God was having none of it and repeatedly let Francis know that his true calling was to “rebuild” the Church by embracing poverty and preaching of God’s goodness to others. Renouncing the wealth of his family and the expectations of society, Francis struck out to follow the will of God and by 1221 had hundreds of “Franciscan” brothers and had established friaries (monasteries that held communities of Franciscans) all over Europe. The Canticle of the Sun, the hymn of praise this book was based on, is one of Saint Francis’ most beloved writings.

Word Every Catholic Should Know
saint – Everyone in heaven is a saint. We are all called to be saints. Some people were so holy on earth that the Church has given them the special word Saint before their name. That means we believe they are in heaven and that they can pray for us in a special way.

Relevant Scripture 
Psalm 104, especially verses 1-2 and 24-25

 Extra Resources
Saint Francis of Assisi coloring page: http://www.thecatholickid.com/saint-francis-coloring-page/

(I’ve also pinned some on our Pinterest page.)

Saint Francis of Assisi information sheet: https://www.catholic.org/saints/fun_facts_arch.php?saint=50

Saint Francis of Assisi medals for animals: https://www.catholiccompany.com/saint-francis-pet-tag-i123490/  

A great little video showing a priest blessing the pets of a parish: https://youtu.be/KTZ3CYekWC4

Another book for children on the life of Saint Francis:

Kennedy, Robert Francis, and Dennis Nolan. Saint Francis of Assisi: a Life of Joy. Hyperion Books for Children, 2005.

TALK-IT-UP (Use this question to spark family conversation this week, perhaps in the car or over dinner.)
How can you show God your appreciation for the gifts of creation today?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *