Bless this pet

by Jim on 21 January 2008

Dog in sunglasses

This past Thursday was a special day for pet owners in Mexico.  And a number of other Catholic countries.  It was the feast day of Saint Anthony the Abbot.

Anthony lived in the 3rd and 4th centuries after Christ.  He is remembered for cutting himself off from all civilization and living in the desert with only animals as his friends.  Now he is considered a patron saint of animals (and a few other things, such as basket weavers and grave diggers).

Anyway, on the 17th of January pets galore are brought to certain churches to be blessed (not just in Mexico – services are on the rise in other countries, such as the USA).  Birds, cats, turtles, horses and chickens all come to the churches to be sprinkled with holy water.  Then the priest reads a special prayer of blessing.

Pet owners hope for a long life, and perhaps better behaviour if Fido is a bit mischievous.  Some claim that faithful annual attendance is the reason for the ripe old age of their beloved animal.

I’m curious.  What do you think about this?  Would you take your pet to church to be blessed?  Would you like to have a service like this at your church?

(via: Reuters)

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan January 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

I remember when I was around 9 or 10, I prayed that God would forgive my cat of her sins, so that she could go to heaven. I wasn’t sure if it was worth anything, but I thought I should give it a shot, just in case.

Personally, I’m at a bit of a juncture as far as animals and life/death goes. I was raised in the city, where the only death you see is the occasional bird that smashed into a window, and squished earthworms on the cement after the rain.
But, I haven’t lived in the city for some time, and I’m dating a girl who grew up on a farm. I’ve been there a couple times now, and the view of animal death is very, very different. It really is a part of life there. (Sometimes, if a calf dies, and there is another cow with twins who can’t feed both of her calves, Mr. Penner will skin the dead calf and put the hide on one of the twins to trick the other cow to accept the calf as her own. You just don’t see that in the city very often…)

So, having my pet(s) blessed by a priest. I think I would struggle with the idea. Not that there is a problem with asking for the blessing, but aren’t there better things to do?

There is a British agency that is collecting money to save dogs from Afgahistan. They collect a couple thousand Pounds in donations, and then rescue a dog to be brought over to London to live a better life.
All the while, people are dying. Does that seem right to you?

I really loved my aforementioned cat. And then one day she died. I was deeply moved by this. She was my first pet. It was around mid-afternoon when I started to feel better. Yes, it was sad, but I had come to terms with it and survived. It wasn’t the end of the world.

I guess I don’t fully understand having something “blessed” by a priest. Like, if it’s some kind of magic that makes something better, then it’s a bit more clear. Get your chicken blessed with holy water, and it produces more eggs. Nice. Personally, I would just pray a blessing myself in that case, but whatever.

If I had a cat today (and boy, I wish I did) I would tell God how thankful I am to have this creature in my life. I would want to enjoy those days for as long as I could, and I would pray that we would be spared hardship. But, I wouldn’t package her up in a cat-carrier and bring her to church with me. Cats don’t like water, holy or otherwise…

Jim January 25, 2008 at 9:25 am

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I certainly think that the lives of animals have value, and that it’s important to be kind to animals (these are biblical ideas with, by the way, huge implications in the modern world).

But what does the Bible say about sprinkling holy water on our pets? In this area, I think the evidence is less convincing…

Grandma C. March 31, 2008 at 2:48 pm

I think I agree with Alan on many of his points. And with you, Jim. I am very, very fond of animals and have grieved sometimes for a long time after losing a pet. But they are just animals and should never be given a place equal to human beings. Some animal rights folks seem to even put them above people in value at times.

I hate to hear of or see animals being mistreated, but what about all the unborn babies that are aborted for the sake of convenience or poverty or other such reasons?

Enough said!

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