Theo was a bit nervous at first. We had him in his pet carrier, with some hay and water and a half a carrot. I didn't really want to bring him to the blessing of the animals, given that he is dinner for all the carnivores that were going to be there. But the kids were so excited about it I decided it was worth the minor trauma to the rabbit and we brought him. I was also manuevering a deep dish baker filled with caramel apple pecan bread pudding, which was my contribution to breakfast.
The place was a zoo. Dogs and cats and one hampster and one bunny. During the service, a dog would pipe up and suddenly a whole chorus of howls filled the cavernous space of Grace's Nave. After the lessons and Gospel readings, we all came to the front of the church with our pets and the priests laid hands on them and blessed them with long healthy lives and God's love for always. Theo seemed like a new bunny afterwards.
My friend Adrienne came with her dog Trotter and sat in the box with us. Theo didn't mind at all because Trotter is a very gentle guy.
The service was only interrupted once, when Fr. Rich, in the middle of preparing for the Eucharist, stopped everything because a horse (with a cop riding him) was standing at the door of the church. Fr. Rich blessed him from afar and the kids and I snuck out to feed him carrots while the host and wine were being transformed.
Yes, it was kind of a carnival atmosphere. I can imagine that some would be put off by such hilarity in a church. But I was beaming from ear to ear the whole morning. It was a wonderful thing to see all these serious (and sometimes even stiff) congregants fawning over their pets. It was a side of people you don't see every day in church.
And there was a pet pot-luck at coffee hour, with apples and carrots for the herbivores, and liver snaps for the carnivores.
I know it is a few days late, but here is the prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred . . . let me sow love
Where there is injury . . . pardon
Where there is doubt . . . faith
Where there is despair . . .hope
Where there is darkness . . . light
Where there is sadness . . .joy
grant that i may not so much seek
To be consoled . . .as to console
To be understood . . .as to understand,
To be loved . . . as to love
For it is in giving . . .that we receive,
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
It is in dying . . .that we are born to eternal life