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St. Francis, Animals and the Environment

Dr. D'Ambrosio - Holy Land Pilgrimage

 

Dr. Marcellino D'AmbrosioSt. Francis, Animals and the Environment

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio 

 

 

St. Francis of AssisiYou often see a garden statue of him with a bird on his shoulder.  Yes, St. Francis of Assisi did have a special relationship with animals.  He preached to the birds, pacified a wolf, and put together an animal cast for what is regarded as the very first live nativity scene.

 

But he had no interest in “the environment.”  No feeling for it whatsoever.

 

Instead, he was in love with creation.  And that’s because he was in love with the Creator, who he regarded not as some cosmic force or distant, detached monarch, but as “Father.”  He so much loved God his Father that he had great affection for anything related to God – the sacraments, the Church, its very imperfect ministers, broken down country chapels, and all of God’s marvelous works of art – human beings first and foremost, but also the animals and even the inanimate objects that adorn the heavens and the earth.

 

The fondness for and kinship St. Francis felt with “brother son and sister moon” was truly a gift.  But it is gift that we all receive when we receive the Holy Spirit since it is one of the seven gifts mentioned in Isaiah 11:2-3.  At least this is how St. Thomas Aquinas and many after him explained this beautiful, supernatural gift of piety.  The natural virtue of piety was extolled by the Greeks and Romans – a love of those who gave you life, first and foremost your parents and after them, your fatherland.  This entailed also a respect and affection for all that is connected with your parents and dear to them as well– your grandparents, uncles and aunts, and in the case of your country, its flag, its national anthem, its history and its heros.  The term for piety towards one’s country is “patriotism” which actually has at its root, the term “pater” or “father.”

 

Assisi - The Heights of AssisiSt. Francis loved his home town of Assisi.  But his deeper patriotism was for the Kingdom of God.  His affection for the Kingdom included respect and reverence for all the King’s creatures and subjects, whether they be great or small.

 

Now, this does not mean that Francis saw all creatures as his equals, as some animal rights advocates today seem to do.  One animal rights philosopher, Peter Singer, goes so far as to teach that adult whales and chimpanzees are actually superior to human fetuses and infants in both dignity and value.  He would save the whales but allow both abortion and infanticide.

 

St. Francis would be appalled at such a concept.  Biblical person that he was, he understood that woman and man are God’s supreme masterpieces, made in His image and likeness, unlike the animals.  Human beings are given dominion over the rest of creation in Genesis 2 not to exploit however, but to cultivate, care for, and perfect.  God entrusts Adam and Eve not with “the environment,” but with “the Garden” – a place of beauty in which we are made to walk with God.

 

Saint FrancisSo St. Francis loves the birds, but also presses them into the service of the gospel.  He saves the wolf of Gubbio from the wrath of angry townspeople, but rebukes it for its ferocity and calls men and wolf to live everafter in harmony.  And the animals of the nativity scene?  They are companions of the infant who is the Word made flesh.

 

So the authentic biblical and Catholic approach to “the environment” is not to see it coldly and scientifically as “the environment.”  But rather, in the fashion of St. Francis, to approach it as the expression of the Father’s beauty, as the gift of the Father’s love, as an icon, a window to the new creation.  Reckless exploitation would never fit with such a vision.  But neither would some secular environmentalism.

 

 

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Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For more information on his resources and his pilgrimages to Italy and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

 

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Personal Prayer: Pathway to Joy

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Personal Pray: Pathway to Joy, Catholic Faith, 30 day money back guarenteeEveryone knows that personal prayer is important. You can't expect to deepen a relationship with God talking with Him only once a week! But how, in the midst of the busy, noisy life we all lead, can we develop a pattern of daily prayer that really works? And if we are successful in carving out some moments for prayer, what do we do? How should we spend that time in way that would be most fruitful?

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio has taught spiritual theology academically, but, more importantly, he's had plenty of practice applying that tradition to everyday life. With a family of seven, a business, and a non-profit corporation to run, he knows the challenges that a busy, active life can pose to the Christian who wants to pray. In this talk, he lays down principles and gives practical suggestions on how busy laypeople can develop a prayer life that leads to joy and personal transformation.

CD - $8.95


 

The Seven Deadly Sins - 3 CD Set

 The Seven Deadly Sins, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

What are the Seven Deadly Sins? There are books written about them and movies made about them, but what are they?
From about the fifth century, Christian spiritual writers identified seven patterns of sin that, if not broken, would lead to spiritual death. In this fascinating series by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, we learn the destructive, addictive dynamics of these seven vices and how they infiltrate, and ultimately take over people's lives. Most importantly, we find out how to get free of the chains forged by these sins and the necessary qualities to cultivate to make us immune to them in the future.


Beyond the Birds and the Bees
 Beyond the Birds and the Bees "The Talk." It's one of the most daunting prospects parents face. Communicating the richness of Catholic teaching on sexuality in a faithful and effective way can be an overwhelming responsibility. But does it have to be so?

In this thoroughly revised version of Beyond the Birds and the Bees, Greg and Lisa Popcak empower you with the tools needed to move well beyond "the Talk" by offering a comprehensive guide to raising sexually whole and holy children. Using the riches of Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body, the Popcaks help you safely navigate your children from infancy through the teenage years and beyond.


Building Our House on Rock: The Sermon On The Mount
 Building Our House on Rock: The Sermon On The Mount Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount ends with the parable of the builders on rock or sand. Doing what Jesus asks results in building a life that endures; not doing it results in disaster. The choice is ours, and it’s a scary one. How can we read these words so that we can know what Jesus meant and do it?


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