A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May 15, 2014
Doing the Footwork for a Blessing of the Animals
Who remembers this past winter? January . . . February . . . March. Driving snow! Slippery ice! Whipping wind! Freezing cold! Polar Vortex! (Or should I say, vortices? I don’t know what the plural of “vortex” is.) How much winter could we take, anyway? My 80-something-year-old father-in-law, who grew up on a farm in Iowa and has lived all his life in the upper Midwest, said this past winter was the absolute worst in his memory. And that’s saying something.
Even though spring is here, and May is verdant with abundant flowers and plants popping out all over the place, I still hear people talking about the challenging winter we just came through. And—that’s why I would like to have a Blessing of the Animals at the church where I work, on the first Saturday in June. June 7th, from 10:00 am until noon, in the church parking lot.
St. Francis is the patron saint of ecology, animals and the environment. Pope John Paul II wrote in 1990 that St. Francis “offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation . . . . As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. . . . when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.” (“World Day of Peace 1990”. Vatican.va. Retrieved May 15, 2014) What a positive, affirming way to show our fellowship and friendship with animals, as well as the rest of creation.
I know that the Blessing of the Animals is usually associated with St. Francis of Assisi, and is usually timed to correspond with his feast day on October 4th. I am so glad for churches that celebrate our animal friends during the first week of October. However, I think that our animal friends have gone through this challenging winter, too! They might need some additional blessing. Accordingly, we printed up some flyers, and today I went to some local businesses to see whether we might be able to have these flyers posted in the windows or on community boards inside. Plus, I started to develop some positive, continuing relationships with store managers in the area. All good things!
So, I continued to do some footwork to get the Blessing of the Animals going today. It is a great chance to get together with people from the community and to make some new friends. (Both two-legged and four-legged!) I love animals, and I am so excited to be able to offer this simple, yet heartfelt opportunity to families and their animal friends. Dear God, be with me and the rest of St. Luke’s Church community as we prepare for this community Blessing of the Animals. Thanks, God!
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