My friend Gale shared this with me last week on October 4th. I wanted to share this week so everyone could enjoy. We extend blessing to all our animals and friends.
There are thousands of saints in the Catholic faith. Some we know well, most we don’t. October 4th was the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. This is one of the saints that most Catholics know and know well. We see many statues of this monk with animals gathered around him. St. Francis lived from 1181 to 1226 AD. He is the patron saint of animals and the environment.
Francis preached the Christian doctrine that the world was created good and beautiful by God but suffers a need for redemption because of human sin. He believed that all creatures should praise God (a common theme in the Psalms) and the people have a duty to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God’s creation and as creatures ourselves. (From Wikipedia) So on this feast day, many Catholics, as well as some Christians, will take their pets to church to be blessed. The minister will pray a short prayer and sprinkle holy water on the animals.
I have taken my Newman the Cat yearly to be blessed. Newman needs blessed because he has a bit of an attitude. He is the type of cat that knocks over a glass just because. He will jump up on the table, where he is not permitted, just to get attention. We have watched him lay under the Christmas tree for hours and then when no one is watching him, will begin batting down ornaments with the speed of boxer punching a bag. One year he got on the fire place mantel and knocked down the baby Jesus from the Nativity set. It wasn’t until after Christmas when I found the little baby under my sofa. He has even jumped up on my dresser to bat at the crucifix on my wall. Some have suggested he may be possessed. For this reason, he needs a blessing.
Pope Francis, who chose his name because of the good works St Francis did with the poor, wrote in Laudato Si’ that animals will join humans in the kingdom of heaven. I love that thought. When my uncle passed last year, my cousin also had his very old dog put to sleep the day after and put her ashes in my uncle’s coffin. I like to think as my uncle was approaching the pearly gates, he heard his sweet Beagle barking and running to catch up with him.
And so today, we take our pets to be blessed and yet they really are the ones blessing us and teaching us every day. They give us their unconditional love, show us their sense of adventure, and demonstrate a faith and trust that we can rely on each other always. Someday, God willing, we can all be reunited with our beloved pets that have passed. Although, I am not sure I want to see the multiple gold fish who may have had that customary “burial at sea.” But not to worry, I am sure Newman will think they are just new toys for him to play with.
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