The Rev. Ruth Morrison blesses two of the 31 dogs, one cat and one goat who took part in Sunday's Blessing of the Animals.
Remembering our pets
Our church’s annual Blessing of the Animals took a new approach on Oct. 5, reflecting on our beloved pets who have died, as well as those who bring us so much joy every day.
Honoring the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Rev. Ruth Morrison talked about what it must be like for pets in Heaven and thought it perhaps would be somewhat like Sunday’s gathering in the Outdoor Chapel of 31 dogs, one cat, one goat, three mechanical fish and their owners.
The source of The Rev. Morrison’s thoughts about pets in Heaven came from Revelation 5:11-14:
“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
“And every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
And the four beasts said, Amen.”
And with that scripture reading, Ruth said, I do believe there are pets in heaven.
Before the actual blessing of animals at the special service, The Rev. Morrison asked everyone to fill out slips of paper with the names, and perhaps memories, of pets who are now likely in Heaven.
The slips of paper were then collected in a basket and placed on the new stone altar at the front of the Outdoor Chapel. Those pet memorials will be buried in the Outdoor Chapel, near the new stone altar, to be remembered at future blessings.
The annual blessing, which has taken place on the first Sunday of October since 2005, had many repeat participants, but also some dogs who were taking part for the first time. One of the oldest participants, who also took part in the 2005 blessing, was Moses who belongs to Jaymie Chamberlin and family. Moses will be 16 next week.
Moses arrives at the Animal Blessing in his own wheeled carrier.
When it came time for his blessing, and a treat afterward, Moses was full of energy in Jaymie Chamberlin's arms.
For the second year in a row, Jim Tammaro’s goat, Sugar, took part in the blessing. Some of the dogs appeared to have a difficult time relating to the non-canine, but Jim’s goat was very gracious with sharing the attention.
Nittany the cat was a first-time participant in the blessing, though he was content to remain securely inside his carrier.
Nittany receiving his blessing.
The Animal Blessing also included hymn singing, prayers, and other scripture readings relating to animals, such as Genesis 2:18:
“And then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the humans should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground, the Lord God formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the air, and brought them to the human to see what he would call them, and whatever the human called every living creature, that was its name.
Cayden Royall and Shirkey Maxwell-Royall read scripture passages during the blessing.
Throughout the blessings, Jasper Fontana helped the Rev. Morrison by giving each dog a treat, or two, or three . . .
When the blessings ended, many of the owners and their dogs walked off onto the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust trails behind the Outdoor Chapel. completing what had been a perfect afternoon for man and companions.
Matt Braun and Piper after the blessing.
For more images of the 2014 Animal Blessing, click here:
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