The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Bless all the animals

Caring for pets, we live out God's call

"May God bless and keep you this day and always,” the pastor said to the puppy squirming in the teenager’s arms. And then to the family cat cowering in her carrier, the stuffed animal in the arms of a 2-year-old and all the other waiting critters during one of the blessing-of-the-animals services that are an increasingly popular time of celebration (and orchestrated chaos) in many congregations.

Most often they’re held in early October near the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the 12th-century patron saint of animals. Some people find the services cute, mostly for the kids. For others, the blessings acknowledge as sacred the deep bond they feel with their animal companions.

Numbers tell that millions of Americans share their homes with animals. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reports 63 percent of U.S. households have at least one animal and thatowners spend billions annually on food, vet care, toys, habitats and other paraphernalia.

More and more of those pet owners bring their animals to blessing services every year—animals that bring daily blessings to their lives. God also asks us to be a blessing in theirs.

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