The first week of October usually marks a day for the blessing of pets. In some places, there is a procession of animals—from dogs and cats to hamsters and even horses—being led to churches for the special ceremony.
This event is in honor of St. Francis of Assisi—the saint who strongly advocated for the love of all of God’s creations. His feast day falls on October 4, around the time that pet blessings are held. (Read: Checklist: 5 Things Responsible Pet Owners Focus On)
So why do we need pet blessings?
Pets are a blessing to us as we are to them. Studies show that caring for pets has made children more cooperative and sharing, bolstered their self-esteem, and buffered them from loneliness. In short, pets play an important role in a child’s emotional, physical, and spiritual development. (Read: Play Ideas Perfect for Your Pet’s Personality)
Moreover, the Bible affirms that God designed animals to play a pivotal role in His creation and in our lives. In the Book of Genesis, it is said that God created all of the creatures of the Earth, He blessed them and declared that they were good. He then created man and woman “in His image” and gave them authority over all of creation.
Can we bless our pets by ourselves?
With the ongoing pandemic and the restrictions on mass gatherings, pet blessing events that usually happen around this time of the year have been cancelled. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot bless your pets yourself!
According to the Catechism of the Catholic church, “every baptized person is called to be a ‘blessing,” and to bless. Therefore, lay people may preside at certain blessings. (Read: 5 Prayers of Blessing for Beloved Pets and Animals)
A blessing includes a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign—may it be laying of the hands, sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water.
Here’s a prayer you can use when you bless your pets:
“Blessed are you, Lord God,
Maker of all living creatures.
On the fifth and sixth days of creation,
you called forth fish in the sea,
birds in the air and animals on the land.
You inspired St. Francis to call all animals
his brothers and sisters.
We ask you to bless these animals gathered about us.
By the power of your love,
enable these creatures—our sisters and brothers—to
live according to you plan.
May we always praise you for your beauty in creation.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”