The primary purpose of the Elm Grove Sanctuary Trust is to offer support, encouragement and hope to all people, irrespective of race or creed, and especially when they are in need, based upon a deep compassion for all life and respecting the beauty and awe of our natural world.
The human anguish that surrounds us all daily in the ongoing challenge of living is reason alone to be prepared to stand beside our brothers and sisters and for this reason we reach out to all people in their times of trial. We especially seek to support our indigenous people of this land due to their needs which are a direct result of the history of European invasion of their lands and the inhumane treatment that has followed from that time until today.
Our planet is facing serious results of what we as human consumers are creating and a purpose for our Trust is to draw attention to the ways in which we can live more simply and responsibly. Members of the Trust are a group of people who share these ideals and seek to promote them.
The age of nations has passed. Now, unless we wish to perish we
must shake off our old prejudices and build the earth. ...The more
scientifically I regard the world, the less I can see any biological
future for it except the active consciousness of its unity. Life cannot
hence-forth advance on our planet ...except by breaking down the
partitions which still divide human activity and entrusting itself
unhesitatingly to faith in the future. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 'The Spirit of the Earth'
A Franciscan Spirituality - the founders of the Elm Grove Sanctuary Trust and also The Community of the Little Followers of St. Francis, Br. Edwin Thomas lfsf, and Sr. Laurel Clare lfsf, along with other Life Professed members - Sr. Anne Christina lfsf & Sr. Mona Jeshua lfsf (now living in the United Kingdom) and several other members of the Trust and the Community follow a Franciscan ethos for their lives. LIfe Professed members take vows of Obedience to God, Simplicity of Lifestyle, and Fidelity within marriage. These vows are adaptations upon Obedience, Poverty and Celibacy found within traditional religious communities and better apply to those who are professed members with a marriage partner and living in our wider world.
The Community was the first ecumenical Franciscan community in Australia and was founded on Easter Sunday, 1991. Members now live out in the wider world seeking to serve and live by example within the spirit of St Francis of Assisi.
St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) lived lightly on the earth expressing the desire not to be a burden to the Earth or to others. He and his brothers chose a nomadic life in which they celebrated the natural world with a sense of joy, wonder and gratitude for all of life and the gifts that it bestowed upon them.
Francis saw in every creature, and every aspect of nature, the presence of the divine and sought to praise it and to care for it. He sought a kinship and fellowship with all of nature and did not seek to dominate or to control the natural world.
His Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon allows us to view his deep insight into the heart of all creation – animate and inanimate – something unique for his times and still somewhat rare within formal Western religious expression even today. Francis's language more closely expresses the spirituality of India, China or the indigenous peoples than the European tradition of his day. He has much to teach us today regarding our obsession with accumulated wealth to the detriment of the poor and to our lack of care for our earth through human induced climate change.
Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honour and blessing.
To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy
To pronounce your name.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,
And first my Lord Brother Sun,
Who brings the day; and light you give to us through him.
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, most high, he bears the likeness.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;
In the heavens you have made them, bright and precious and fair.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers wind and air,
And fair and stormy, all the weather's moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful he is, how gay! Full of power and strength.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, my mother
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits and coloured flowers and herbs.
“The story of the universe begins for each human being as soon as we look with wonder, awe and curiosity at the world around us. As we begin to learn about the story from the scientists, the universe reveals itself to us in surprising ways. If we fix our eyes on the nearest mountain, or better still gaze into the heavens on a starry night, we might be inclined to think that the world, at least the physical world, is permanent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Teilhard in the Phenomenon of Man, echoing modern scientific probings into the origins of the universe, tells us that the primary feature of the story is one of change and transformation. True, the time-scale for the transformations is enormous and the space immense. The figures involved are often beyond what our human sense of time and space can comprehend, but still they tell us that we live in an evolving universe. The challenge of our times is to understand how this insight can chart our course in today's world.”
from - The Story of the Universe, Sean McDonagh
To Care for the Earth – a call for a new theology