Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Blessing of the Animals

Here's my friend Deb with Emily, her bearded dragon lizard, at the Blessing of the Animals last Sunday. Only five people from our parish came (attendance at morning services had been sparse, too), but we had over twenty people total, and far more animals than that. We'd put an announcement in the paper, and the people who came told me how grateful they were for the service. One man had clipped the notice from the paper and saved it for weeks!

Our church courtyard was a mass of barking, wagging, joyous chaos. I didn't get pictures of all the animals, and many of the ones I did take didn't come out well, but here's another unusual critter: Myrtle the Turtle, one of the turtle tribe proudly maintained by our friends Ned and Janet. I also took a funny video of Myrtle, which I'll post shortly.

Another out-of-the-ordinary critter was this lovely parrot; her person brought another bird as well, along with a dog. None of our parish clergy were available to do the blessing, but the Rev. Jim Edwards, a priest at another parish, kindly stepped in. He did a great job. I was following along behind him, giving out St. Francis collar medals, and he really took time to admire and compliment each animal. He maintained a steady sense of the sacred in the midst of pandemonium, which is what good priests do!

Of course, we also had less unusual animals, like Ned and Janet's sweet, beloved Arnie. (Gary and I catsit for Ned and Janet sometimes, and they return the favor, so we know each other's felines well!)

I've always read that people and their pets grow to look alike, and the maxim's charmingly borne out in this photo. What wonderful hair, all around! I wouldn't mind looking like any of our cats, so I hope the principle's true!

As promised, a representative from the Nevada Humane Society, a terrific woman named Adrienne, attended the service; she brought two volunteers and two adoptable dogs wearing these cute vests, and also a very sweet kitten of whom, unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures. I took a video of the baby kitty, and I'm not sure how well that turned out, either, but I'll try posting it a little later. Anyhow, the Humane Society rep and volunteers really seemed to enjoy the event. We'd collected $125 in donations for them at church; a number of people wanted to give me money "for your church" to thank us for the service, but I asked them to give the money to the Humane Society, instead.

The HS folks especially loved the St. Francis medals, and promised that when they took the dogs and the kitten back to the shelter, the medals would be pinned next to their cages. "I bet they'll be the next animals to be adopted," Adrienne told me. And sure enough, a few hours after the service, she called me to report jubilantly that Chloe, one of the dogs, had been adopted by a family as soon as they got back to the shelter. Hurrah for the Humane Society! And thanks be to God for Chloe's new family!

I loved the service, as I always do. Throughout the event, I was smiling so much my face hurt; I'm rarely happier than when I'm around animals and their people. At one point, I commented to a church friend who'd brought his two dogs, "This is so much fun!"

He laughed and said, "And it's so you!"

It's so lots of us, apparently. I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did!


  1. Even though I now count myself as one of those "Losing (or lost) my Religion", I really enjoy your posts/blog (reading mostly via Grand Rounds). Back, before I lost my religion, when I was active in a church, one of my favorite Sundays was the Blessing of the Animals day. When I had my dog, I took her for the few years before I discontinued my active participation. I found it to be an important acknowledgment of the role(s) animal companions play in the lives of humans.

  2. Wonderful pictures of the day, Susan! My boys and I went to ours at about 4:00 and they were 2 of the 3 cats in attendance. Seems our congregation is filled with dogs but I've seen more cats there in the past. We weren't as set up for pets in carry cases this time. I hope that changes for next year. There was one turtle. We wondered if it was a terrapin.


  3. Thats so cool...wonder if the minister at my church would go for it? (Probably, given the menagerie his family has and the fact that they do backyard Anglican (Episcopalian) funerals for their pets when they pass on).


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