Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Monday, August 5, 2013

St. Francis of Assisi

Although I’m not Catholic, I’m a big fan of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment.  He believed that nature itself is the mirror of God.  All of us would do well to follow St. Francis’s example of caring for the creatures around us, human and animal.  Like Jesus, St. Francis advocated for the poor, marginalized, weak, and defenseless.

Churches sometimes have a Blessing of the Animals service, remembering St. Francis’s great love of animals and the environment.  My own church, Monticello Presbyterian Church, had a Blessing of the Animals several years ago as part of a weeklong focus on being good stewards of creation.  We gathered in the barn of one of our members, where cats, dogs, and horses received a blessing from our pastor.  Robert and I took all of our dogs that we had at the time, Cosmo, Mr.  Spock, and Shelly:

St. Francis Episcopal Church in Macon, Georgia holds an annual Blessing of the Animals on the first Sunday in October, on or near St. Francis’s feast day of October 4.  They welcome anyone to come, and I have attended several times.  The rector always asks each animal’s name so that he/she can bless the animal by name.  Of course, most of the animals are cats or dogs, but occasionally there is a bird, fish, or lizard.  Although I’ve usually just taken my dogs to the service, one year I took my chickens instead.  I generally don’t name my chickens because, unfortunately, they can become prey so easily.  Therefore, the rector blessed them as Chicky 1 and Chicky 2.

Canticle of the Sun
by St. Francis of Assisi

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!  All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.  No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and You give light through him.  And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!  Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens You have made them bright, precious, and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which You give Your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You brighten the night.  He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You; through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace, for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape.  Woe to those who die in mortal sin!  Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.  The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve Him with great humility.

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