New York Post columnist Cindy Adams is kicking off the 2015 holiday season with the Fifth Annual Blessing of the Animals on Sunday, December 13 at 2 p.m. at Christ Church United Methodist, located at 520 Park Avenue and 60th Street in New York City.
One of the joys of pets is the eager dedication they bring to living in the moment. We know how easily a dog’s excitement can turn a welcome home greeting into four hours of chew toy anarchy. It can be so enthralling that we rarely – if ever – “paws” to consider the history of the human-animal bond. But the history is deep and can refresh our understanding of just how precious pets are, just how blessed we are to have them.
In the early cultures of Egypt and Rome, for example, animals like dogs and cats were often held in the highest regard. In some cases, they were seen as divine gifts (perhaps we are spelling “dog” backwards?). Entire belief systems (e.g. Animism) took root partly in the conviction that animals have souls, and so they deserve as much validation and respect as humans.
We think of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, who sought communion with animals, which he viewed as brothers and sisters. One St. Francis story involves a wolf, feared by the townspeople. Out of respect for it, St. Francis forged a connection with the wolf to assuage the townspeople’s fears. He then blessed the wolf, as a sort of covenant between the townspeople and what they viewed as the wild.
This tradition of blessing animals is alive today. Cindy Adams holds an annual “Blessing of the Animals” to revere the special space pets occupy in our hearts, and not just on our floors. During the public event, animal lovers and their pets form a processional, which culminates in a blessing given at the altar by a reverend and a rabbi.
Many early cultures went to great lengths to acknowledge the sacredness of animals. But it is important to bless our pets today, as we are blessed in having them. It is not merely our pets’ ability to help us cherish the moment that renders them so dear, but their innate sense of companionship and comfort. They remind us that we have a responsibility to love without question. Whether asleep at our side or wagging mud across our kitchen walls, pets always contribute to the warmth and merriment that keep our spirits high.
RIP – Dog Bless Lucky up in Heaven
Reservations are not required. Seating on a first come, first serviced basis.
December 13, 2015 at 2 p.m.
Christ Church at 524 Park Avenue at 60th Street in New York City