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Blessing of the Animals: All Saints Style

This year the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi (October 4) actually fell on a Sunday — a Sunday with much-needed rain predicted. So we prepared for the annual Blessing of the Animals with a tent over the lawn and umbrellas at the ready. It did indeed rain — cats & dogs with a hamster, rat and turtle thrown in for good measure.

This video clip from Pasadena Now does a great job of capturing the energy and the joy:

Here’s how the reporter described the day:

“May God bless you and keep you, and fill you with happiness, obedience and health for all the days of your wagging life,” said Susan Russell as she blessed the furry animals that came out to All Saints Episcopal Church near Pasadena’s City Hall Sunday morning for their annual pet blessing.

Catholic, Episcopalian and other Christian denominations hold animal blessings on or near Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Not all friends were furry though. George, a thirty-year-old turtle, was carried to church in a Converse box by his owner, Keenan Williams. But he came out of the box, and received a blessing, a pat on the head, and an amen, just like all the other animals.

As for Panda the hamster, he came in his cage and stayed in his cage, bobbing up and down throughout the ceremony.

Luke, a eight-year-old dog who usually “channels happiness and enthusiasm,” according to his owner Ann Heil, remained serene and peaceful today, as he lay on the ground under a tree, watching everyone from afar.

This Sunday morning’s skies opened with rain and sunless clouds. Russell thought this would keep the animals away, but it didn’t. Plenty of the community’s animal friends were present to receive their blessing and just as the “blessing stations” opened, a few rays of sun lit up the sky.

It is important, however, to recall the reason why we bless animals on Saint Francis Day, pointed out Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints. Bacon is the owner of three cats, and in the past, he has owned dogs, birds, and hamsters. “And for one night, a snake,” added Bacon, “before I said, ‘no more.’”

As Bacon’s words were transmitted to the church’s front yard on televisions with large speakers hanging nearby, the animals sat, for the most part patiently, on their owner’s laps, by their sides, or in cages. Mary Stafford tightly hugged her Snoopy and baby Snoopy, stuffed animal pets.

According to Bacon, “the reason we bless animals on Saint Francis Day is we believe that animals are our fellow creatures. They are our siblings in the cosmic family. They have the divine presence in them. They are divine. They are saints.”

And finally, here’s a link to Ed’s sermon and to the flickr page with a great assortment of photos from a great day — with thanks to ALL who worked to make it a true celebration of “all creatures, great and small.”

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