On the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi we hold the peculiar and delightful ritual of blessing the animals. That usually means a collection of pets – dogs, cats, rodents – but it occasionally involves other beasts as well. We remember Francis’ love of God and his belief that we can encounter the love of God in creation, including the beasts of the field, and we bless our pets.
Many, if not most of us, have pets in our lives, and I believe that they are a blessing and that these pets actually promote healthy spiritual growth. You see, most of the pets we choose to keep depend on us and form bonds of affection or loyalty with us. (I read an article recently that said my cat doesn’t love me, but I think it was wrong. If what my cat is doing isn’t love, it is such a good imitation that I don’t care.) What is important about pets from a spiritual perspective is that they give us practice in loving. We love and care for our pets even when they cannot love and care for us in return. When we love a dog or a cat (and let’s not get into the dogs vs. cats debate here) or even a bird, we experience love ourselves because it is in giving love that we experience love.
So bring your dogs, your cats, your strange critters, and we will bless them at our worship on Sunday, October 4th, at both the 8:00AM and 10:00AM services. I have invited my daughter to bring her 16-week old Golden Retriever puppy, but I honestly don’t know how that little ball of fur and enthusiasm could sit through the service!
Please be very careful to keep your pets leashed or crated as appropriate. We want the space to be safe for everyone, beast or human. We expect some noise and behaviors, and that is all part of the fun, but let’s keep the animals safe.
Yours in Christ,