Almost nowhere in the common prayers and
liturgies of the Christian church used for the past two millennia do we
find prayers for nonhuman creatures. We discovered this when reading Animal Rites: Liturgies of Animal Care (Pilgrim Press,
2001) by Andrew Linzey. An Anglican priest, Linzey holds the world’s
first post in theology and animal welfare at Oxford [England]
October, which includes the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, is a good month to rectify this omission. Francis saw all of creation as a reflection of God’s love and thus deserving of reverence. He called the animals his brothers and sisters, and he was known to have once given his warm lodgings to a donkey. Many paintings of Francis show him with birds sitting on his outstretched arms or a cat sleeping in his lap.
Appropriately, one of the few times when congregations do pray for animals is during “Blessings of the Animals” services held around Oct. 4, Francis’ Feast Day. But we think this isn’t enough.
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