By Margo Hearne–“Blessing animals is an ancient tradition” Archdeacon Peter Hamel explained to the congregation of cats, dogs and humans at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Masset last Sunday. ‘It goes as far back as the 7th Century when Cuthbert, the Bishop of Lindisfarne, in northern England, stood in the waves and had birds feed from his hand. Francis of Assisi also blessed the animals and all creation.’
Seven dogs and three cats were fairly relaxed about it all, and when the archdeacon asked for a little history of the humans in their care, the animals were mute, however each human gave a little history of how the animals came to be in their care. Many were foundlings, abandoned or discarded or thought to be too ill to survive. All are now beloved companions.
“These small creatures here this morning remind us that the earth has been given into our hands,” said Archdeacon Hamel, as he blessed each one in turn. “Animals have been made our companions to remind us that in caring for them we might learn to love and care for all creatures. It affirms the sadly ignored truth that God endows us with the privilege and responsibility of being caregivers of creation”. The dogs must have known, for none of them bit him though one or two whined excitedly.
Albert Schweitzer’s Prayer for Animals was read, “for our friends the animal who are suffering; who are overworked, underfed and cruelly treated, for all wistful creatures in captivity that beat their wings against bars, for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put to death. For those that treat animals that they have a heart of compassion, gentle hands and kindly words”.
Dog and cat treats were eaten later as humans had coffee and delicious cake.
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