Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blessing the Animals

Each year we have a service of Blessing of the animals near the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Aside from a neat thing to do what is the purpose of holding a service of Blessing of Animals?

At first glance it might seem a futile thing to do.  Do the animals understand what is happening?  Do the animals need blessing?  I think that we Bless the animals mostly for our own sake.  Very often the animals being blessed are beloved pets.  They have been brought to the service by their masters because their masters love the pets deeply and feel moved when the pets are blessed.  Pets become members of our families and we as pet owners want the best for them.

I have blessed animals that are other than pets, that is, farm animals.  Farm animals do not usually have quite the emotional ties to the owner.  They do have an economic tie, however.  The owner has a life investment in the animals of their farm.  These are important animals and their welfare is important to the welfare of the farmer and the farmer's family.  God's blessings on agriculture has long been something that has been sought.  It is a motivation that goes to the early origins of religion.

At a service of Blessing of Animals I have even been asked to pray for a pet's healing!  A very fine looking dog was brought before me and the owner asked not only for a blessing, but for healing.  The dog had terminal cancer.  I am sure that the healing was for the distraught owner.

I think there is a greater need for Blessing that we express in this once-a-year service and that is we seek to remind ourselves of our closeness to nature.  We bless God's creatures, but in so doing we recognize our need for them and our need for our environment.  We were given dominion over the earth and that implies that we were also given responsibility for that earth.  Our pets and farm animals do more than belong to us, they are our companions in this life.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that we may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen