The Rev. Cindy Howard, left, blesses the cats of Ashlyn and Aubrey Nall.

Blessing of the animals

Published 12:21am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

There were big dogs, little dogs, pictures of dogs, three cats, and blessings all ‘round Sunday afternoon when St. Mary’s Episcopal Church celebrated the blessing of the animals in commemoration of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

The service, held in the garden of St. Mary’s, is an annual event. Following a short service, the Rev. Cindy Howard blessed each animal, saying, “may you be blessed in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May you and (the name of the owner) enjoy life together and find joy with the God who created you.”

St. Francis lived around 1100, Howard said. He was born to wealthy parents and enjoyed that wealth for a time. Later, he sold everything he had and gave money to the poor, choosing to live simply and in harmony with all living creatures.

He founded the men’s Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of St. Francis. He is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment.

“St. Francis said, ‘Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary,’ ” Howard said. “We preach best when we use few words, but instead let our lives show the message.”

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