Blessing of the Animals (Pasadena)
Birds of a feather flock together. Author and animal expert, Diana L. Guerrero joined congregates and guests at the First Annual Blessing of the Animals in Pasadena, California. Blessing of the Animal events have been celebrated since the 13th century. Animal expert Diana L. Guerrero comments on the Blessing of the Animals and provides tips for successful services in her book, Blessing of the Animals: A Guide to Prayers & Ceremonies Celebrating Pets & Other Animals.
Blessing of the Animals at the Church of Truth
This weekend congregates entering church and other spiritual centers will really be birds and animals. It may look like a pet show, but critters are gathering together to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. "Holy Cow" takes on a whole new meaning during events celebrating the annual Blessing of the Animals.
Processions of animals and their guardians will enter spiritual centers around the nation to honor the memory of St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226 AD) on October 4th, the feast day of St Francis.
Diana L. Guerrero, author of What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality: Inspiring Lessons of Wild & Tame Creatures (ISBN 1893361845) and Blessing of the Animals: A Guide to Prayers & Ceremonies Celebrating Pet & Other Creatures (ISBN 140272977) has officiated over several such events. She said, "The origin of the Blessing of the Animals celebrations in California might go back to the founding of Los Angeles but Olvera Street has been celebrating the event since the 1930's."
St. Francis believed that all Gods creations reveal something about the nature of God and His love. Saint Francis was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on 16 July 1228, but not just Catholics celebrate the event.
Guerrero said, "All faith ceremonies and other gatherings celebrate this day."
St. Francis is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment (ecology). He was the founder of the Franciscan Order and the celebrations reach across the nation from San Francisco to New York.
At the pet blessing at Church of Truth in Pasadena, three ministers blessed the animals individually. Each conducted a simple ceremony and blessed live animals, deceased animals, and even the pictures of animals who could not attend.
The serene setting of The Church of Truth in Pasadena featured arbors, shade trees and unique foliage. The spiritual center has been in the same location for 80 years so the garden is an older style--filled with grace and elegance.
The attractive surroundings encouraged visitors to mill around and most joined Guerrero at her table for relaxed discussions and autographing as they waited for blessings, or shortly following their pet blessing.
Shadow and Happy were two large dogs who did not want to leave their minister and they stayed for ages before meandering home.
"Everyone lingered. The animals loved the attention and cooperated to receive the blessings. Most were dogs, but also attendees included a winged critter, a slithering creature--plus a baby opossum." Guerrero said.
The pets left wearing new fancy bandanas and carrying new toys, compliments of the Church of Truth ministers.
Pet blessings and animal blessings are done a variety of ways. In some churches a special service is held with animals allowed inside. Other spiritual centers conduct services outside or in special "blessing areas."
"Not every event is a peaceable kingdom." Guerrero continued, "Sometimes animals are restless, but most cooperate. Perhaps we need to give them a list of commandments: Thou shall come when called, Thou shall behave in public..."
For a more harmonious Blessing of the Animals, Guerrero suggests:
- Invite friendly and well-behaved animals.
- Nervous, aggressive, or unavailable creatures can be represented via photos, stuffed animals, drawings, or statues.
- Insist animals be under control and restrained by appropriate devices (leashes, etc.) or carriers.
- Ask that all animals have identification in the event of an escape.
- Communion treats should be given to owner to dispense.
- Conduct a general animal blessing and then offer to bless pets individually.
- Provide a "pet free" service to those with allergies or fears prior to the animal event.
- Designate pet toileting areas with appropriate cleanup products.
- Provide a small memento of the event to all creatures.
- Provide shaded areas.
- Conduct blessings at specific spots.
- Keep species separate.
- Provide alternative activities for attendees while they wait.
Blessing of the Animals Popular Biblical Scriptures:
Genesis 9 (multiple references) "I will make a covenant with you and with all living creatures."
Job 12: 7-10
"Ask the birds, ask the beasts and they will teach you."
"The righteous man regards the life of his beast."
Prayer For Animals;
God Our Heavenly Father, You created the world to serve humanity's needs and to lead them to You. By our own fault we have lost the beautiful relationship which we once had with all your creation. Help us to see that by restoring our relationship with You we will also restore it with all Your creation. Give us the grace to see all animals as gifts from You and to treat them with respect for they are Your creation. We pray for all animals who are suffering as a result of our neglect. May the order You originally established be once again restored to the whole world through the intercession of the Glorious Virgin Mary, the prayers of St. Francis and the merits of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with You now and forever. Amen.
Saint Francis of Assisi
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