On the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (4th October) Father David Adams opened the doors of Our Lady of Mercy and St Joseph church Lymington, to members and their pets from our community. There were gerbil’s, guinea pigs, birds, cats, rabbits, and dogs, as well as photographs of animals who could not be present, all of them eager for the blessing they would receive at the Animals’ service.
It was a service of immense joy for the whole community, from school children and their families to more senior members of our community. As we listened to Mary Dunn reading from the Book of Genesis about the Creation ‘. let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind cattle and creeping things and while animals of the earth of every kind…’ we all heard that ‘…God saw that it was good.’
The humans sang ‘All things bright and beautiful’ with great gusto, accompanied by a very vocal Labrador! Scott, a year 6 pupil from Our Lady and Saint Joseph Catholic primary school, thanked God for our pets and for the love and support they give us. For their unconditional love and forgiveness, which taught us about the love and forgiveness of the Lord. He asked for forgiveness for the times we have neglected our pets, for being too busy to play with them, and for the times we have not loved them as they have loved us.
Mason, another year 6 pupil from the school, asked for forgiveness from the animals of the world for polluting their waters and spoiling their environment. Mary gave us time to remember those pets who had died. A quiet, solemn moment when even the pets were quiet.
After another happy singing of ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’ Father David asked everyone present to stretch out their hands over their pets for a joint blessing as they journey as companions through life together.
Finally, he moved among the animals, chatting with the owners, blessing each pet individually as he went.
What a wonderful way to experience the joy and love of God’s creation on this feast day of St. Francis.