Prayers for pawsPublished 7:42pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Tuesday evening’s weather was “paw-fect” for Trinity Episcopal Church’s annual Blessing of the Animals.
While the weather forecast predicted the possibility of rain, the storm clouds stayed away as more than a dozen pet owners took their furry friends to the church to receive a special blessing. The Rev. Mark McDonald celebrated the ceremony and gave the blessing to the pets, and also gave them a treat afterwards.
The blessing of the animals is a tradition that coincides with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, who is considered the patron saint of animals.
McDonald opened the service with a prayer, thanking the Lord for offering animals as companions and friends for mankind.
“O God, you have made us and all living things,” he said. “We thank you for giving us these pets who bring us joy. As you take care of us, so also we ask your help that we might take care of those who trust us to look after them. By doing this, we share in your own love for all creation.”
McDonald read from Genesis 1:24-31, a Bible passage that describes when the Lord created the animals of the earth on the sixth day of creation. It also describes how the Lord created mankind on that same day, and gave mankind dominion over the animals, and the responsibility to care for them.
Just before giving the blessing, McDonald read a solemn prayer of thanks, which stated:
“Most high, almighty Lord, our Creator, yours are the praise, the glory, the honor and all blessings! To you alone do all things belong. Be praised for giving us the animals, birds and fish, which fill your world.
“May we think of you and thank you when we play with and care for our pets. We ask you, Lord, that we may be good to our pets always, so that they may be happy also. Help us to take care of them so that they will be healthy.
“O God, your world is wonderful. May we all come into your even greater world of the kingdom of heaven where we shall see even more wonderful things and where we shall live and love forever.
“This we ask to your eternal praise, and to our blessing. Amen.”
It was believed that St. Francis of Assisi had a special kinship with animals. There are stories of the birds stopping to listen to his preaching, and that he had the ability to keep a wolf from attacking an Italian village. As a result, St. Francis is often illustrated with a bird in his hand, or animals at his side.