Many churches in the United States celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment. It is a popular day for pets to be “blessed”. In Unity we understand “the act of blessing” to be “seeing the full truth and reality” of a person, animal, object, or circumstance. It is to acknowledge with a grateful heart the full value and meaning “the blessed” has for us and the world.
You should choose a place for this Pet Blessing in which your pet feels secure. For example, a place in your home or outdoor space that your pet likes. If
you go to a park or other setting make sure it is a place your pet is familiar with and enjoys. Prepare a special treat or activity for the end of the Pet Blessing. Or you might get your pet a meal in a very special container; such as, a crystal or china bowl—but no container that would make your pet uncomfortable.
You can use any or all of the following prayers and statements of blessing; or change the wording or write your own!
Begin by holding this prayer in silence or if other humans are present you can read it aloud softly.
As we begin let us call to our minds and hearts
All animals created by God and Mother Nature,
Not only those domesticated by humans but all
Creatures of the wild.
Pause briefly and continue with the following prayer silently or aloud.
“A Prayer for Animals and Their Caregivers”
(paraphrased by Stacey from Albert Schweitzer)
Hear our humble prayer, O God,
For our friends, the animals,
Especially for those who are suffering;
For animals that are overworked,
Underfed, and cruelly treated;
For all the wistful creatures in captivity,
That beat their wings against bars;
For any that are hunted or lost or deserted,
Or frightened or hungry;
For all that must be put to death.
We pray for them all
To know your mercy and care,
And for those who deal with them,
We ask a heart of compassion
And gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us, ourselves,
To be true friends to animals
And so to share
Your blessings, You, the Merciful One,
You, the Creator of All.
Read aloud and ask each human present to silently agree to this dedication:
A Dedication by all who care for pets, domesticated animals, and the wild animals: (by James Stacey)
I now dedicate myself anew to the care of my pet, any domesticated animals under my management, and even the creatures of the wild. I recognize their importance and value within God’s Creation. All creatures great and small have their ordained place in this world—even those whose presence may frighten, annoy, or seem to interfere in my work or home.
The power and purpose of blessing: (by James Stacey)
To bless is our ability to gratefully acknowledge and see the full value of any human, animal, plant or thing in this world. We may be aware of the “purpose” that something serves for our needs. However, to bless is to expand our vision beyond necessity or service and see the goodness and glory of a creation in itself. In other words, to see it with spiritual eyes that see as God sees. In the creation story recorded in the Hebrew scriptures, in the Book of Genesis……God created and then pronounced all of Creation to be “Good,” which in the root of our language means “of God.” Therefore, our God set the example for us “to bless and to declare good,” to see the inherent worth of all creatures and not just how the creatures meet our needs.
A Prayer for my Pet: (paraphrased by James Stacey from an anonymous source)
In your infinite wisdom, Almighty God, when you created the universe You blessed us with all living creatures. We especially thank You for giving us our pets who are our friends and companions and bring us so much joy. Their presence very often helps us get through trying times. Kindly bless my pet. May my pet continue giving me joy and remind me of Your almighty power of life that has brought all Creation into manifestation. I dedicate my continuing care of this dear animal to its well-being, health, and companionship. I give thanks for the entire animal kingdom that is willing to live this earthly life side-by-side with human beings. We need you and we love you.
You can bless the animals present in this ceremony with water which is the symbol of life. Wet your hands and gently caress the animal face or head. You can do as much as you want and as much as your pet is comfortable with; caressing the animals back, belly, tail, and feet.
(You can use the following blessing or create your own):
It is my privilege and duty to acknowledge your great value to this world and to me (to us…to our family) by anointing you with Creation’s essential element of water—an element that has been made holy by our understanding of its divine, creative power to sustain life in this world. May your presence in this world always be honored. AMEN.