Lakewood, N.J. -- Nine dogs, four cats, a stuffed unicorn and a pink stuffed pony all received the blessing of St, Francis during a rite yesterday at All Saints Espiscopal Church marking the feast day of the patron saint of animals.
The Rev. Richard C. Wrede administered the blessing to the menagerie assembled at the Route 9 church, where he is pastor.
Some owner sought a little extra help with the healing of pets. Others brought their animals, real and imaginary, to keep them in good spirits.
Lorna Drexler, 5, and her 9-year old brother Maxwell, came to the parish to bless their best friends. Maxwell's dog Onya sat well behaved for his blessing.
"Uni and Pluto," Lorna told Wrede so he could bless her stuffed unicorn and pony.Only cats and dogs came this year, but "in past years we have had hamsters, iguanas and birds," Wrede said.
My daughter, who is a professional trumpeter, was recently hired to play for for a special Catholic service for the blessing of the animals. (Catholics are always hiring musicians to make their "show" better -- they don't care if they are atheists as long as they play well!) Now, before my xian lurkers feel compelled to "educate" me as to why animals are blessed, I know that this custom is conducted in "remembrance of St. Francis Assisi's love for all creatures and that whole explanation.
My daughter told me that people lined up with their cats, dogs, birds, pot-belly pigs and even fish and a hermit crab. Even more bizarre, children brought stuffed toy animals and characters like pink unicorns to receive a blessing, and their wish was granted by the priest who waved his magic wand of holy water over the real and fake pets! A whole service with oogie-boogie ritual, incense, prayers and special music all for animals -- living or inanimate. (I asked her if she was tempted to throw in a few bars of the theme from Dr. Doolittle! ) While the intention is a good one, it strikes me quite bizarre that humans wish to impose their religious superstitions on their pets and other animals.
By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan."
(This is the most absurd thing I have seen or heard in awhile.)