From a priest…
Today on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi many parishes and schools will have a blessing of pets. We did ours this morning at our school and it went well. There were horses, a goat, many dogs and cats, turtles, lizards, fish and some other “creeping things.” It went very well and was reverent. I am seeing pictures of other parishes from around the country and I see a few of blessings of stuffed animals. I think that is rather stupid. Stuffed animals are not pets, I consider them toys. I think it diminishes the beauty of animals on the feast of St. Francis. Animals certainly do have a certain dignity because they are created by God and are considered “good.” What is your take on it? Do the blessings of teddy bears that I am seeing circulating cheapening the meaning of the blessing of animals and pets?? Or am too “rigid?”
Are you “too rigid”? Good question. Do you have a saturno?
The blessing of animals is a good practice. In times past, a much larger percentage of the population depended on their animals for work and for food. They needed their critters to be healthy. And, for the most part, they couldn’t afford to sentimentalize them. Puppies were cute, but dogs worked. Kittens were cute, but they killed rodents. Colt and calves… etc. Their cattle (domesticated animals) kept them alive. Of course they sought the Church’s blessings for them.
Today, however, it strikes me that more and more people have the notion that critters have immortal souls. And so there are places that might have a huge pet blessing day, and maybe put out information about rescuing animals, but perhaps not a parish pro-life initiative.
Teddy bears? It doesn’t harm anything or anyone to bless a little child’s stuffed animal. After all, demons can attach to things. And little ones form strong bonds that form them even later.
However, the difference in the way people are blessed and, on the other hand, the way that critters and stuffed animals are blessed, must be clear.
Let’s preach clearly about the differences between human beings, made in God’s imagine and likeness, and good, wonderful, amazing critters! When they are gone, they are gone. We, on the other hand, have immortal souls to attend to.