Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Saint Francis of Assisi and the Blessing of Animals

I am a Cradle Catholic otherwise known as someone who was born into the faith and raised within the Catholic teachings. One of my most fondest memories as a child was the Blessing of the Animals. It was always so exciting to have the parish bring all their pets out to the church. Goldfish, ferrets, snakes, spiders, cats, dogs and so much more! The priest would say a beautiful blessing near the statue of Saint Francis and would end would the main event... sprinkling the animals with holy water for their blessing. 

Saint Francis is the patron of animals and a very popular saint. There are some great stories attributed to Saint Francis. First of all, he was born into a wealthy family and was known for being a great fighter on the battlefield. His father was angry at Saint Francis because he returned home before entering into battle after he had a vision that he was to return home to fulfill God's plan for him. There are famous stories about Saint Francis and his intercession with the and the Wolf of Gubbio, rebuilding the church of San Damiano and even stories that he had received the Stigmata.

Today is that special day we celebrate our pets and animal friends! It is the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi and I was disappointed to learn our parish would not be able to host a Blessing of the Animals today so we decided to do one at home. 

As you can see we have three cats and the inclusion of holy water made the boys giggle because as everyone knows... cats HATE water. We have had Lemon since she was a baby and we recently got Shadow and Cloudy for free at a pet store because they were old and the store was told they must be adopted together. They are our sweet little fur babies and we love them all. We found a cute little Blessing online that we used. It was short and sweet and the whole family had a blast... except the cats. After our blessing, they took off running in all directions and I am sure they will be in hiding for the rest of the night. 

In addition to completing a Blessing of the Animals there are some other great ways to celebrate this feast day. We decided to watch The Knight of Assisi: The Story of Saint Francis. It is a great cartoon that illustrates some of the important milestones in Saint Francis's journey to sainthood. It even mentions the prayer that Saint Francis is most known for and I have included it at the bottom of this post. 

There are also several different meals that would be fun to make in honor of Saint Francis. There is some debate whether Saint Francis was vegetarian or vegan but he was neither. He speaks about eating meat for celebrations, especially during the Nativity of Jesus:

“I would like that on Christmas even the walls could eat meat.”

I brought this fact up just to broaden your options to celebrate this special day. I came across a neat idea to make a Tomato Basil Chicken for dinner. You use Grape tomatoes to make them look like lady bugs! Cute idea right? Well I really need to go grocery shopping this week still so I had to use what I had available for dinner. We decided on Turkey Burgers!

I have also seen some cute snack and dessert ideas utilizing animal crackers or teddy grams. We decided to not only treat ourselves but to spoil our fur babies with a new scratching post covered in catnip and a special dinner of soft food. Hopefully the treats will help them forgive us for sprinkling holy water on them earlier in the evening. I hope that you and your families have a great time celebrating the feast of Saint Francis!

Saint Francis Prayer:

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.

O, Divine Master, 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 again to eternal life.

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

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