Wednesday, October 3, 2007

St. Francis and the Animals

Here's something fun. If you've got a pet, bring it to church this Sunday.

Well, bring it to our church (St. James', 4526 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, New York). Or at least check with yours to see if they're having the BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS.

The What of the What? you ask. The Blessing of the Animals.

If you're unfamiliar with this tradition, it's a fun way to celebrate the life and ministry of perhaps one of our wackiest and most profound saints. Wacky may not be the word you'd choose for a great saint, but a lot of folks thought St. Francis had lost a few marbles. After all, this is a man who walked away from a wealthy family with nothing – not even the clothes on his back. When he renounced his parents' way of life – in front of the bishop – he walked away singing hymns and completely naked.

He was also known to preach to the animals – ergo the traditional blessings. One story has him reconciling a killer wolf with the terrified people of Gubio. Another has him preaching to a flock of birds who listened respectfully.

Of course, his biggest contribution to his day was his endless care for the poor – giving everything he earned or begged to the care of those who had nothing. He is a role model for us all in that regard, though we may not need to go to his extremes.

If you want to hear more about a guy totally devoted to Christ, come to church this Sunday. Bring your dog or cat – or chicken or goat or horse (I've seen them all). You'd be amazed at how well they behave.

By the way if you want to come to our Blessing, it's this Sunday, October 7, at 10 AM. Weather permitting, we hold it in our beautiful meditation garden. See you there!