There is said to be a Seminole belief that after death, we will meet all the animals we ever dealt with, and they will be the ones to judge us.
It’s a sobering notion for some, but for those of us who adored our deceased dogs and hope more than anything to meet up with them again, it sustains us. Perhaps it’s not a theologically sound concept, but a good many theologians actually think it is. The book, Who Says Animals Go To Heaven?” is a collection of prominent Christian leaders’ who have beliefs in life after death for animals.
This week, many of us will attend the Blessing of the Animals held on October 4th at certain churches. While many denominations now observe the popular – and poignant celebration – the uniquely Franciscan tradition started almost 800 years ago with St. Francis of Assisi. It was he who first introduced the idea that human beings are only one of a myriad of creations of God, and all are blessed in God’s “eyes.” The feast day of St. Francis (the day he died) is on October 4, and the Blessing of the Animal services are usually scheduled for the Sunday closest to that day.
At Franciscan churches, a friar with brown robe and white cord often welcomes each animal with a special prayer that can go 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 Saint 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.”
As the prayer is offered, the pet is gently sprinkled with holy water, and if you’ve ever witnessed this ceremony, you probably came away touched by the dignity with which most animals receive the sacramental spritz (okay, cats, not so much).
We looked for a “one-stop-shopping” site that would allow one to enter a zip code to learn where a Blessing of the Animals is occuring in their town, but didn’t have much luck. However, if you enter, “Blessing of the animals 2020 (your city)” in a search engine, you’ll get results.
Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information