St. Francis’s Blessing of the Animals

There is a beautiful tradition I observe every year on October 4th, with our household pets. It is a holy day in the Roman Catholic church — The Feast of St. Francis. Though I may not always get over to church for the formal ceremony, I do a “Pet Blessing” for each of our cats, and even sprinkle holy water on them (though they don’t like it!). St. Francis of Assisi is my patron saint, as I am a wildlife conservationist and promote a vegan lifestyle, which does not exploit animals for food or clothing. I love that Pope Francis models himself after the “poor man of Assisi” with his kindness, compassion, and humble manner. I highly recommend the following book written by the Holy Father, for anyone who loves God’s creations and desires to protect them, and preserve the sanctity of Mother Nature:

In addition, and in keeping with the Patron Saint of animals, ecology, nature and our ecosystem, here’s the statement from Pope Francis on “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” issued September 1st this year:

I’ve compiled some relevant images to share on this special day, in celebration of our fellow beings! Click on any image to learn more.

Spending more time in the natural world, away from technology, is incredibly healing and restorative. Praying Nature with St. Francis of Assisi shows us the way:

And here is the “Blessing of the Animals” for at-home observance with your beloved pets:

God of all creation, at the beginning of time you gave us beautiful creatures of the earth as our fellow beings. And in your wisdom, these animals, like all good things from you, became more than that. They became our friends and companions. Loving St. Francis considered animals of all species his brothers and sisters. We ask you, therefore, to bless them in the natural world, and our own beloved ___pet name(s)___, that they may have a long and joyful life. Keep them safe when we cannot be with them, protect them from sickness and harm and heal their wounds. And bless us too, their human companions, with your Holy Spirit that we may care for our pets well, and be wise, gentle stewards of every one of your creatures and the earth, Mother to all life.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus, who is Lord of all forever and ever. Amen.

For a radiantly beautiful and inspiring picture of St. Francis blessing eight dogs, birds and other creatures:

Have a blessed day, with your special friends!

Francis Friday: Welcoming the Pope!

Pope Francis is visiting the United States for the first time! I could hardly believe my ears when I tuned in to the 5:00 news (which I seldom watch, as most news is negative) on Tuesday, to discover that His Holiness had just stepped off the plane a few hours before in Washington, D.C. What an auspicious occasion for President Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters to meet and greet the Pope! One cardinal on the plane joked about trading his “zucchetto” with the Pope’s, and I had no idea what he meant. So I looked up that word on Wikipedia, and found out it’s the skull cap worn by high officials in the Roman Catholic Church. Apparently, Pope Francis had a difficult time keeping his zucchetto on, as it was very windy and it kept blowing off. 🙂 Cardinals wear a scarlet red zucchetto, and the white is exclusively reserved for the Bishop of Rome (other name for Pope).

From Wikipedia: The zucchetto originated as the Greek pilos and is related to the beret (which itself was originally a large zucchetto). It was adopted circa the Early Middle Ages, if not earlier, to keep clerics’ heads warm. Its name derives from its resemblance to half a pumpkin. Its appearance is almost identical to the Jewish kippah (yarmulke), though its significance is quite different.[4][5]

I think it’s great that Pope Francis is referred to as “The People’s Pope”, and reminds me of Princess Diana (Queen of People’s Hearts). His approval rating in our country is close to 90% and he’s venturing into areas of discussion and debate that most Popes have never considered before. Pope Francis is humble, modest, charming, merciful and accessible, which the public loves! Although I’m not a Roman Catholic, I am certainly grateful for what Pope Francis represents, which is the Unconditional Love of Christ, mercy, forgiveness and charity. His generosity is clearly evident in his behavior toward the “common people”.

Pope Francis even embraced a handicapped man who had a disfigured face. This picture brings tears to my eyes, as an example of genuine compassion. Reminds me of Princess Diana and her volunteer work with lepers in the hospital:

Our Pope is living up to the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, as he’s stated that He’s very proud to be named after this compassionate saint, who loved ALL of God’s creatures, and was a champion of the poor and destitute. The Pope is building bridges and healing wounds on a grand scale, such as the work he’s been doing in Cuba.

I’m very encouraged by Pope Francis’s “Encyclical Letter”. What a tremendous Wake Up Call about despoiling the environment and exploitation/abuse of wildlife, careless disregard of the sacredness of biodiversity. Hunting God’s creatures to extinction is an abomination and a SIN against Nature, when we should consider them our Spiritual Brothers and Sisters. That belief comes across very strongly in Pope Francis’s Chapter IV and pays tribute to St. Francis with Verse 87 which is the Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis’s heartwarming hymn to God’s Creations.

And here’s Pope Francis’s stance on Animal Protection:

Even the Pope’s dietary regimen is influenced by his respect for animals, and his repulsion for  industrialized factory farming, which is the prime contributor of Greenhouse Gases – the cause of global warming. He is essentially a Vegetarian, and eats mostly organically grown produce, following a simple Jesuit tradition.

Here’s the latest itinerary for the Pontiff’s travels:

I only wish that Pope Francis would come to the west coast, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area. After all, like the Pope himself, the city was named after Saint Francis of Assisi!

What are your views on the Pope’s historic visit?  I would love to hear your thoughts. 🙂