WHY SAINT FRANCIS LOVES THE
BIRDS MOST OF ALL
St. Francis of Assisi loved all the birds and animals of the world. They were his special charges. Daily he would sit in the garden and the birds would perch on his shoulders, the squirrels would cuddle on his lap. The rabbits and foxes and the animals of the forest would sit at his feet. All the animals adored him. St. Francis was especially fond of a small bird who would sit in his window and wake him in the morning with his sweet song. In the evening the little bird would again sit in the window and his sweet song would lull St. Francis to sleep.
Each day St. Francis would save the crumbs from his breakfast for his good friend, the little bird. The little bird would accomany St. Francis on his daily chores and would cheer him up with a song when St. Francis seemed sad. The little bird would sing with joy when St. Francis smiled.
One day the little bird went to the window to wake his friend with a song, only to find that St. Francis was not there. Puzzled, the little bird asked of the squirrels, "Where is our good friend?" The squirrels did not know. The little bird asked of the rabbits, "Where is our good friend?" The rabbits did not know. Then the little bird asked the wisest of creatures, the
owl, "Where is our good friend?" The owl looked sadly at the little bird and said "He has gone to join his father." The little bird smiled and said, "Then I shall go and join him also!" The owl told the little bird, "No my little friend. St. Francis has gone to Heaven. Only humans can go to Heaven. You must stay here on the earth with us."
The little bird drooped his wings and began to cry, so sad to think that he would never see his friend again. Suddenly, he lifted his head and dried his tears. "There must be some way that I can get to Heaven too!!", he said. "Tell me," he asked the wise owl, "Where is Heaven?" "Oh, little bird," said the owl, "it is so far up in the sky that you could never reach it with your tiny wings!" "I can do it!", whispered the little bird to himself. "I
MUST do it!"
The little bird gathered all his energy together and flew up into the sky. Higher and higher he flew. He went up above the clouds and still he flew on. Higher and higher until he had no strength in his wings. With a sob he said, "If I cannot be with my friend, I will just die!" With that he folded his wings and started plummeting to the ground. He closed his eyes in resignation, ready to give up his life. Suddenly, a bright light shone down from above and lit upon the little bird. A puff of wind lifted the little bird up. He opened his eyes and saw far, far above him, the face of his dear friend. The little bird rejoiced and with renewed vigor he started flying again. Higher and higher until he reached the hand of his friend, St. Francis. The two rejoiced in their reunion with one another. "Owl told me that birds cannot go to Heaven", the little bird said. "Your devotion to me has earned your right to join me here in my Father's Home", St. Francis said. "From now on, all the birds and animals of the world will have a place here in Heaven with us."
And to this day, whenever a little bird who loves his owner dies, whenever a dog or cat or other pet looses his grip on this world, St. Francis of Assisi reaches down from above and lifts the little one up to Heaven, there to await the arrival of his dear friend.
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