In his prayer Canticle of the Sun, he make many references like Brother Fire, Sister Death,and Sister Mother Earth. Can we, as Catholics use these terms and phrases? I want to feel more connected with nature and I’m going to begin studying his life. Also, how would one accurately describe Sister Mother Earth? We have our maternal mothers and Our Lady but wouldn’t the Earth just be called Mother Earth as all things were created from the Earth?
I have no clue if this is true or not so someone feel free to correct me because I have been wondering about these things myself. I kind of look at Mary as the Mother of my spiritual and eternal self because she gave birth to Jesus. However I see why we refer to the Earth as Mother Earth because wasn’t the first man created from the Earth by God? I have often though about why St. Francis referred to the sun, moon, earth as brother, sister, mother, etc… I can only think of one thing. I too like to feel closer to God through nature so I like to think that we can refer to various things in nature like this because God created them all so in that sense I guess that everyting is our brother or sister. St. Francis even called his illnesses “sister” and he even referred to his state of being poor as “Lady Poverty”
Some might say, since the miracle of The Incarnation, when from Mary’s womb was born the Son of God, and all Beloved Disciples from that point onwards - made certain by Christ’s words when dying upon the Cross - that Our Lady is the Mother of Vocations; so too then, is Mary’s spiritual womb the new Africa: where the soil is rich and nutrient-filled, and the seeds of faith grow into life abundant, from Christ making ‘All Things New’.
I perceive St. Francis’ prayer as recognizing all things come from the Creator, and reflect His goodness.
These phrases and terms should be just fine for a Catholic to use. The reality of it is they are only phrases which mean very little in themselves. That means it has more to do with what you feel the terms and phrases mean. It is important to remember that God is above all and created all things; so do not raise fire, death or earth to His level.
Also, I do not think that it is possible to accurately describe Sister Mother Earth. I think it is important to note that the words “brother” “sister” and “mother” describe a relationship. In most modern cultures these describe a distinct relationship. However, this is not always the case; for example when Jesus said “brother” he did not mean the distinct blood relation that is typically thought of today.
Maybe St. Francis could have been using these terms in the same way the first Creation Story in the OT speaks of the ‘relationship’ between God and His created beings and the ‘relationship’ God would like them to develop with their environment and other creatures - a relationship that comes with the responsibility to ‘take care of’ and to treat and love the living things in existence given to us in our world as if they are our sisters and brothers - which would be to treat all of life with a kind of praise to God, as one might sing a hymn or an ode to Him, about His wonderful creation! At least this way we keep the understanding away from pagan ideas to do with Mother Nature?!
St. Francis is a poet…it’s as simple as that.