Monday, September 26, 2016
St. Francis and the Blessing of Animals
It is a tradition in the Catholic Church to have "The Blessing of the Animals" so on October 4, 2016 our church, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church, will participate in this beautiful ceremony at noon.
It's very informal. Just bring your pets, dogs, cats, horses, sheep, goats, etc. to the area in front of the church a little before noon and Fr. Innocent will officiate. Here is a sample of how it goes:
All make the sign of the cross. The leader begins: Wonderful are all God's works. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
All respond: Now and for ever.
The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the blessing: The animals of God's creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea. They share in the ways of human beings. They have a part in our lives. Francis of Assisi recognized this when he called the animals, wild and tame, his brothers and sisters. Remembering Francis' love for these brothers and sisters of ours, we invoke God's blessing on these animals, and we thank God for letting us share the earth with all the creatures.
Then the Scripture is read:
Listen to the words of the book of Genesis:
[In the beginning,] God said, "Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky." And so it happened: God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying, "Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth." Evening came and morning followed-the fifth day.
Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds." And so it happened: God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was. (Genesis 1:20-25)
(Alternate reading such as Isaiah 11:6-10.)
The reader concludes: This is the Word of the Lord.
All respond: Thanks be to God.
After a time of silence, those present offer prayer of intercession for their animals and for all creatures. After the Lord's Prayer, the leader invites all to hold or place their hands on their animals in blessing:
O God, you have done all things wisely; in your goodness you have made us in your image and given us care over other living things.
Reach out with your right hand and grant that these animals may serve our needs and that your bounty in the resources of this life may move us to seek more confidently the goal of eternal life.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
All make the sign of the cross as the leader concludes:
May God, who created the animals of this earth as a help to us, continue to protect and sustain us with the grace his blessing brings, now and for ever. R. Amen.
The blessing may conclude with a song such as "The Old Hundreth" (Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow), "All Creatures of Our God and King."
Prayer Source: Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers by Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, NCCB/USCC, 1989