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St. Francis Day - Blessing of Pets Liturgy
October 4th or a Day When Convenient

     Each year on or near the Feast Day of St. Francis,
     which falls on October 4th,  there are requests for a
     liturgy of blessing for animals.   The Rev. Robert P.
     Morrison of the Episcopal Parish of St. James in
     Lincoln City, Oregon responded to these requests in
     1998 by posting a liturgy to those subscribed to
     "Propertalk" (see our "RCL List Servers" page).  With
     the Rev. Morrison's permission we have adapted and
     edited that service for presentation here.

"Blessing of Pets" contained in "Blessings for God's People: A
Book of Blessings for All Occasions" compiled (from a variety of
sources) by The Rev. Thomas G. Simons, and published in 1983 by
Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 46556 as adapted by Rev.
Robert P Morrison, St James Episcopal Church, Lincoln, OR.  
Hymn selection, editing and presentation by Rev. Richard J. 
Fairchild, St. Andrew's United Church, Golden, BC.

Children, if present, can be invited to read the Lessons and the

A brief homily can follow upon the reading of the Lessons.  Let the
mood of the animals be a guide to length.  Something appropriately 
Franciscan and short might be ventured.  After all the animals are
not going to be impressed by even the most eloquent of preachers.
The two hymns chosen here are, of course, by St. Francis.
You may wish to have some form of meal at the Church afterwards
for the humans.  Beforehand, you might go to local pet stores
whose owners, usually, are more than happy to give "sample" packs
of dog, cat and bird food, so the animals get treats also.  (Give
them verbal credit as you pass out the treats at the end of the

The usual turnout is dogs, cats, birds and rats, but we've had
fish (No, I don't touch the fish, just the water!) gerbils,
snakes, lizards, and from time to time, stuffed teddy bears.  And
I bless (with the sign of the cross) both animal and owner.  I've
been pleased to have two Jewish members of the community attend
the past two years with their dogs (two St. Bernards and a couple
of spaniels) and I use the Aaronic blessing with them.

The local newspaper sometimes comes to take pictures.

                      THE BLESSING OF PETS

Leader    Bless the Lord, all you his creatures,
All       And forget not all his benefits.
Leader    Let us pray.  Most high, omnipotent good Lord, grant
          your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of
          this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis,
          we may for love of you delight in your whole creation
          with perfectness of joy.  O God, you have made us and
          all living things. You are even more wonderful than
          what you have made. We thank you for giving us these
          pets who bring us joy.  As you take care of us, so also
          we ask your help    that we might take care of those
          who trust us to look after them.  By doing this, we
          share in your own love for all creation. We ask this in
          Jesus' name. 
All       Amen.

HYMN:     "All Creatures of Our God and King" 

     (NRSV)  And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living
     creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild
     animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. {25} God
     made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the
     cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the
     ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. {26}
     Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image,
     according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over
     the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over
     the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and
     over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." {27}
     So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God
     he created them; male and female he created them. {28} God
     blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and
     multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have
     dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the
     air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."
     {29} God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding
     seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree
     with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. {30}
     And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the
     air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything
     that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant
     for food." And it was so. {31} God saw everything that he
     had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was
     evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Reader    This is The Word of the Lord.
All       Thanks be to God.

     (NRSV)  You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they
     flow between the hills, {11} giving drink to every wild
     animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. {12} By the
     streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they
     sing among the branches. {13} From your lofty abode you
     water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit
     of your work. {14} You cause the grass to grow for the
     cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food
     from the earth, {15} and wine to gladden the human heart,
     oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the
     human heart. {16} The trees of the LORD are watered
     abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. {17} In
     them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in
     the fir trees. {18} The high mountains are for the wild
     goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys. {19} You have
     made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time
     for setting. {20} You make darkness, and it is night, when
     all the animals of the forest come creeping out. {21} The
     young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from
     God. {22} When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in
     their dens. {23} People go out to their work and to their
     labour until the evening. {24} O LORD, how manifold are your
     works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full
     of your creatures. {25} Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
     creeping things innumerable are there, living things both
     small and great.

Reader    This is The Word of the Lord.
All       Thanks be to God.

     (NRSV)  "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
     what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your
     body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and
     the body more than clothing? {26} Look at the birds of the
     air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and
     yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more
     value than they? {27} And can any of you by worrying add a
     single hour to your span of life? {28} And why do you worry
     about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they
     grow; they neither toil nor spin, {29} yet I tell you, even
     Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
     {30} But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is
     alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he
     not much more clothe you--you of little faith? {31}
     Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What
     will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' {32} For it is the
     Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your
     heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. {33}
     But strive first for the kingdom of God and his
     righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as

Leader    This is the gospel of our Lord
All       Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Bob writes concerning his usual practice for this service:  
"I usually just 'wing it' talking about the way in which 
we're all inter-related in creation and how we share a common 
responsibility for the well-being of one another. I know I've referred 
to the way that animals bring comfort, reduced blood pressure, etc., 
to those who are sick."

Leader    Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts
          so freely bestowed upon us....  for the beauty and
          wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea;
All       We thank you, Lord.
Leader    For the richness of the mountains, plains and rivers; 
All       We thank you, Lord. 
Leader    For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women; 
All       We thank you, Lord. 
Leader    For all creatures that breathe, and move, and have
All       We thank you, Lord. 
Leader    For the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers
          and trees; 
All       We thank you, Lord. 
Leader    For the trust you have shown in giving into our care
          these, our pets;
All       We thank you, Lord.
Leader    That each pet here may be treasured with care; 
All       We pray to you, Lord. 
Leader    That we may love and honour all your works, O God; 
All       We pray to you, Lord. 
Leader    That we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment
          of your abundant creation;
All       To the honour and glory of your name, now and forever,
          we pray to you, Lord.

    "N.(name of animal, i.e. "Smokey", not cat/dog) may you be 
	blessed in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the 
	Holy Spirit. May you and N. (the name of the "owner") enjoy 
	life together and find joy with the God who created you."

 alternate form - useful for those of other faith traditions

    "N., may you be blessed in the Name of God who created you, and may
	you and N. (the owner) enjoy life together with our God."

All       Most high, almighty Lord, our Creator, yours are the
          praise, the glory, the honour and all blessings!  To
          you alone do all things belong.  Be praised for giving
          us the animals, birds and fish which fill your world. 
          May we think of you and thank you when we play with and
          care for our pets.  Be praised for making us so happy
          to have our pets and to have them to play with.  We ask
          you, Lord, that we may be good to our pets always, so
          that they may be happy also.  Help us always to take
          care of them so that they will be healthy.  O God, your
          world is wonderful.  May we all come into your even
          greater world of the kingdom of heaven where we shall
          see even more wonderful things and where we shall live
          and love for ever.  This we ask to your eternal praise,
          and to our blessing. Amen.

HYMN      Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

copyright - Rev. Robert Morrison and Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1998 - 2006
         please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.
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