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Today, October 4, is the feast day of Francis of Assisi. This past weekend, many churches celebrated the season by inviting animals to their regular services or holding special animal blessings at church or in the community.

This small selection of picture posts from Sunday comes from the Facebook feeds of: St Bart’s NYC; St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Fayetteville, AR; St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Silicon Valley, CA; Prince of Peace a Episcopal Church, Dallas, PA; St Alban’s Episcopal Church, Waco, TX; Grace Episcopal Church, Newton, MA; Christ Church, Shaker Heights, OH; Jon White, Rector of St Stephen’s, Beckley, WV and Managing Editor at the Episcopal Cafe; Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, OH; and Christ Church, Middletown, NJ.


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Paul Woodrum

Did you beat the bounds?

John Rabb

I appreciate the support of some of you, and think I may have given the impression that celebrating creation, which can include the blessing of animals (or any creature), is not a meaning theological or liturgical act. As a parish priest I always had a celebration of creation, with a petting zoo and blessing of whatever people brought, but did it as part of the celebration in Rogationtide. I used October 4th for reaching out to those most in need and most vulnerable.

+John Rabb

Susan Moritz

In his encyclical “On Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis has shown beautifully how it is St. Francis’s love of all creation that inspires us to reach out:
“Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. … His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. . . . If we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.”
(From the encyclical “On Care for Our Common Home,” quoted by Richard Rohr at

Thom Forde

Thank you Mr. Rabb, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! Blessing the animals seems to make sense in an agrarian society, but blessing pet goldfish has always struck me as too childish. It is so much better to honor Francis by spending time in a shelter or food bank – and a far better lesson for children.

JC Fisher

“blessing pet goldfish has always struck me as too childish”

Suffer the little children (with their pet goldfish) to come unto me…

I think blessing the koinonia of humans and their animal companions an *essentially joyful* enough liturgy, with or without the labeling as “Franciscan” as such. I believe we find our strength for service as we are nurtured by such joy. [And, by her wagging tail, newly blessed Coco agrees w/ me! ;-)]

Tim Lusk

I think someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. ????

Tucson, Az, USA

Marshall Scott

Colleague Editor, I think you mean Fayetteville, Arkansas (AR) instead of Fayetteville, Alaska (AK).

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