Celebrating the Canticle of the Creatures 1225-2025

Francis of Assisi was almost completely blind by the time he composed the Canticle of the Creatures.Nevertheless, with the eyes of faith, and filled with gratitude, he contemplated the wonders of creation and perceived the presence of the Creator who gave them meaning. To him, all creatures, mirrors of the divine perfection, were brothers and sisters because they were the work and gift of the same Author. Together they constituted the chorus of creation, which contemplates, praises and thanks God the Creator, “the Great Almsgiver” who gives generously and with goodness (2 Celano 77, FF 665). The Canticle is the final expression and confession of the Poverello’s life. It summarizes his entire journey of conformation to Christ, the beloved Son. His faith in the fatherhood of God becomes a song of praise that proclaims the brotherhood and the beauty of all creatures. In fact, “In beautiful things he contuited Beauty itself and through the footprints impressed in things he followed his Beloved everywhere, out of them all making for himself a ladder through which he could climb up to lay hold of Him who is utterly desirable” (Major Legend 9: 1, FF 1162). 

Celebrating the Centenary of the Canticle of the Creaturesas a Franciscan Family leads us to a radical change in our relationship with creation: we shift from possessing creation to caring for our common home. In fact, each one of us must respond sincerely to these questions: How do I want to live out my relationship with other creatures? As a ruler who claims the right to do what he wants with them? As a consumer of resources who sees them as an opportunity to be taken advantage of? Or as a brother who pauses before creation, who admires its beauty and safeguards its existence? We are faced with an anthropological and ecological challenge that will determine our future, because it is linked to the future of our Mother and Sister Earth. We are called to face contemporary society and reintroduce “the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world” (Laudato si’ 11).

The current ecological crisis shows us that “the human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together” (Laudato si’ 48). This realization also allows us to understand that the human environment and the natural environment can, in the same way, protect and enhance each other. However, taking care of our common home without taking care of our interior home – our heart – will not work. We need conversion that is both ecological and integral at the same time, because “the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion” (Laudato si’ 217). In fact, the last verse of the Canticle reminds us that only those with open hearts, capable of disarming the mindset of hatred and revenge through forgiveness, can become instruments of reconciliation and harmony and offer a prophetic vision of fraternity, like Francis himself, who lived “in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself” (Laudato si’ 10).