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On October 31st, a number of years ago, I was traveling by train from Milwaukee, WI to Detroit, MI. I had settled into a comfortable seat and was reading a novel. About half-way across Michigan I began to hear giggles and some minor shouts of surprise behind me. Before I could even turn around, suddenly beside me appeared a teenager dressed in a Halloween costume – a black coat and a monster mask in the shape of a pig’s face. I too was startled until I recalled that it was Halloween, and gladly took the piece of wrapped candy that was held out to me on a platter. As I settled back, nibbling on the candy, I recalled reading one version on how Halloween came about.
At the time when St. Francis of Assisi lived (1182-1226) one of the most feared human beings was a person who had the disease of leprosy. Because no one knew how the disease was caught there was a great fear that it came through human contact. So, lepers were isolated in special buildings called leprosariums, away from the cities and villages, and cared for by various religious groups.
St. Francis of Assisi was known for his love of animals, so it is fitting that on his feast day of October 4th pets are brought to church for a special prayer service of blessing on them. Pets are our companions and friends, and our prayer of thanksgiving for them acknowledges that they play an important role in our lives.
St. Francis of Assisi had a reverence for the Scriptures which formed his unique view of how the Son of God chose to be poor and humble. It also taught him what God wanted to do with him.