Saturday of the Fourteenth week in Ordinary Time
"Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge..."
Thomas of Celano (c.1190-c.1260), biographer of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
The First Life of Saint Francis, §58 (trans. Franciscan Institute of St Bonaventure University, alt.)
"Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge... So do not be afraid"
Having come to a place very near to where there was a large flock of birds, blessed Francis noticed that they were waiting for him. He gave them his usual greeting and, as the birds did not take to flight as was their custom, told them they were to listen to the word of God and humbly begged them to listen carefully.
Amongst other things, he said to them: “My brother birds, you should greatly praise your Creator and love him always. He clothed you with feathers and gave you wings for flying and everything you need to live on. Among all God’s creatures you have the most grace. He gave you the freedom of the air and its purity. You neither sow nor reap. He nevertheless gives you food and shelter without your least care” (Mt 6,26). At these words, as both the saint and his companions testified, the birds expressed their joy a great deal in their own way. They stretched their necks, spread their wings, opened their beaks and looked at him attentively. He went to them, going to and fro among them, touching their heads and their bodies with his tunic. They did not leave the place until, having made the sign of the cross, he blessed them and gave them permission. Then he went on his way with his companions and, rejoicing, gave thanks to God who is thus acknowledged and venerated by all his creatures.
Francis was not simple minded, but he had the grace of simplicity and thus began to accuse himself of negligence because he had not preached to the birds before, seeing that these creatures listened so respectfully to the word of God. From that day on, he carefully exhorted birds, beasts, and even inanimate creatures to praise and love the Creator.
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