Blessing of Pets

Posted by Censor Librorum on Oct 5, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I missed it, but yesterday was the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

To me, it is probably the most endearing of all the Catholic holidays we celebrate. After all, people who have pets think of them as members of the family. They comfort us, keep us company, make us laugh, and, most importantly, love us unconditionally (dogs, at least!).

We mourn their passing as strongly as any relative. (In many cases probably a lot more.) For months after our Labrador, Cutie, passed away, I still waited to hear her gallop to apartment door every night when I got home from work. Who doesn’t love being greeted with such an affectionate exuberance! (I’ve missed you!!) All wagging tail and wet kisses.

So every year children and adults bring their animals to be blessed. It is usually a wonderful motley crew: all kinds of dogs, cats, hamsters, parrots and parakeets, gerbils, guinea pigs, and geckos (an ideal New York City pet-good for roaches).

We also got the unusual. Someone once brought a wounded toad they found on their street. Someone else brought their boa constrictor. A boy came with his pet tarantula. A toddler brought his teddy bear. The best was a praying mantis-very appropriate for a Catholic event.

When I was about 10 or so I came home weeping from catechism class because the nun told me dogs would not go to heaven because they didn’t have souls. I remember I told my mother that if my dog, Winston, couldn’t go, I wouldn’t go either.

Taking dogma and trying to adapt it to logic(!), it would be impossible for heaven to be total bliss if there were no pets there (especially my dog.) I confess I haven’t moved along much in the following decades.

Some Catholic theologians and pastoral staff are trying to address this question by saying all of Creation has a place in heaven. I continue to believe the love and spiritual bonds we have with our pets will be with us…always.

The Blessing of Pets usually goes like this:

“Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”

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