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Church of England: prayers of thanksgiving for cows

Church of England: prayers of thanksgiving for cows

The Telegraph reports on a new Church of England liturgy that gives thanks for cows:

The unusual liturgy was devised by the Rev Shirley Small, a curate from Shropshire, in response to a request from a dairy farmer in her congregation for a blessing for his new milking parlour.

Mrs Small, of St George’s parish, Pontesbury, held an informal service celebrating the importance of the dairy herd to the rural economy.

It included a prayer with special words of thanksgiving for “the working cows, the dry cows and for the bulls and calves”.

The wording also gave thanks for the “machines and the expertise that has gone in to producing this new equipment which takes some of the toil out of the labour” and left a space to name all the people working at the farm.

The service format has now been published by the Church’s national rural office for use across the country.

Full liturgy is here.

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Bill Dilworth

Bill G: I think it’s funny that up here in RI even the Congregationalists (whose ancestors surely didn’t look with favor on either saints or blessing anything) have a St Francis Blessing of the Animals.

Bill Ghrist

I suspect that our parish (St. Andrew’s, Pittsburgh) is by no means the only one that holds a blessing of the animals on or around the feast day of St. Francis (in a joint celebration with St. Andrew Lutheran).

Clint Davis

The Zoroastrians have been including their domestic animals in their prayers for thousands of years now, and the Gatha traditionally considered the oldest and first of Zarathustra’s divine songs is from the Cow’s perspective, wondering why all this pillaging and plundering is going on, and asks how can it be stopped. The Cow not only represents the domestic space but also the whole creation. Chew on that cud, y’all.

Sara Miles

Or, as the extensive prayers for everything from childbirth to space travel in the Manual for Priests, published first in 1944 by the Episcopal monks of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, then revised in 1978, explain: our prayers are offered in order to “bear witness to the sovereignty of God: that he rules over the whole of life from birth to death, and that no concern of his children can be unimportant in his sight; there is no area of life from which God is shut out.”

Bill Dilworth

This reminded me of a passage from Bishop Kallistos Ware’s _The Orthodox Church_:

“The Orthodox Church also employs a great number of minor blessings, and these, too, are of a sacramental nature: blessings of corn, wine, and oil; of fruits, fields, and homes; of any object or element. These lesser blessings and services are often very practical and prosaic: there are prayers for blessing a car or a railway engine, or for clearing a place of vermin (‘The popular religion of Eastern Europe is liturgical and ritualistic, but not wholly otherworldly. A religion that continues to propagate new forms for cursing caterpillars and for removing dead rats from the bottoms of wells can hardly be dismissed as pure mysticism’ (G. Every, The Byzantine Patriarchate, first edition, p. 198)) Between the wider and the narrower sense of the term ‘sacrament’ there is no rigid division: the whole Christian life must be seen as a unity, as a single mystery or one great sacrament, whose different aspects are expressed in a great variety of acts, some performed but once in a man’s life, others perhaps daily.”

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