All Creatures Great and Small

pet blessing

Pet blessings.  Have you ever seen one?  Have you ever participated in one, perhaps bringing your own dog or cat to be the object of such a blessing?

Each year in the Episcopal Church, at least in this part of the Episcopal Church, meaning in south Texas, numerous beloved pets are blessed by clergy in honor of St. Francis.  Yes, St. Francis of Assisi, who was known to preach to birds and call various creatures of God’s creation his brothers and sisters.  I got to participate in the active part of this activitiy–I was a blesser–for the first time ever.  And it was, for lack of a better term, a zoo.

The church where I serve has a school.  There are 340 students.  On Monday, we offered a pet blessing to the entire school community first thing in the morning.  This means that not only every student and teacher made their collective way to the front lawn at 8:00 a. m., and not only parents (and sometimes siblings and grandparents and even some family friends) gathered there too, but there were also more than a hundred dogs, cats, guinea pigs, guppies, and bunnies present, wagging their tails, purring, mewing, barking, sometimes hissing, some even sleeping, awaiting excitedly, fearfully, or apathetically some sort of blessing.  And if that weren’t enough, the pre-Kers brought their favorite stuffed animal friends to get in on the action.  The above photo captures the scene well.

I have to say, however, at first I was skeptical.  What in the world, I wondered?  There is no service for this in the Episcopal prayer book, nor in its supplements.  The whole thing seemed a little hokey to me.  Besides, this was technically my day off.  I didn’t want to be here, getting dog slobber on my clericals, cat dander up my nose, and guinea pig poop on my shoes.  C’mon!

And at one point, admittedly, when a group of boys from the middle school presented their obviously hastily decorated pet rocks to me, I thought, yep, we’re cheapening the Gospel.  Especially when one boy waited through the line a second time and said, “My pet Clarence didn’t get enough blessings the first time around.”  I’ll bless you, I thought, all the way to the principal’s office!

But, middle school boys notwithstanding, overall it was an absolute blast.  Especially when the pre-K-4 teacher beckoned me over to her class, to bless their animals.  Most of them were of the stuffed variety, true enough.  But each was certainly special, a friend to the owner.  But perhaps the coolest moment of all was blessing the class pet, a hedgehog!  I’d never seen one of these up close before, let alone touched one.  Its name was Archie.

So, despite the slobber, dander, and poop, or maybe in some strange way because of it, the pets were blessed, the pet owners were blessed, and in turn I too was blessed.

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2 Responses to “All Creatures Great and Small”

  1. Love that you did this, Tim!!

  2. Glad you experienced that. It is always an adventure.

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