On October 4, people all over the world are celebrating the feast day of the Patron Saint of Animals, Saint Francis of Assisi. It’s customary that in remembrance of St. Francis’ love for all creatures, animals are led to churches for a special ceremony called the “Blessing of the Animals”. Every year, millions of animals are blessed in a ceremony that touches the hearts of those in attendance.

It is a nice ceremony, assuming that the animals in attendance are not terrified by their unfamiliar surroundings. The ceremony also raises a larger concern. In a society of animal lovers, how are the vast majority of animals treated?

St. Francis loved all of God’s creatures and followed His example of kindness, mercy, compassion and love for all creation. However, there is nothing loving or compassionate about factory farms and slaughterhouses, where billions of animals live miserable lives and die a violent, bloody death. St. Francis would be appalled by the degree of suffering that we inflict on animals to indulge our acquired taste for their flesh.

We have a choice. When we sit down to eat, we can add to the level of violence, misery and death in the world; or we can respect God’s original plan of a vegetarian diet. Additionally, a plant-based or ovo-lactarian diet is good for our health and spares animals unimaginable suffering and violence. Remember: God’s mercy extends to all of God’s creatures.

Animal Blessings

For All Animals

Blessed are you, Lord God,
maker of all living creatures.
On the fifth and sixth days of creation,
you called forth fish in the sea,
birds in the air and animals on the land.
You inspired St. Francis to call all animals
his brothers and sisters.
We ask you to bless this animal.
By the power of your love,
enable [him or her] to live according to your plan.
May we always praise you
for all your beauty in creation.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures. Amen.

For a Sick Animal

Heavenly Father,
you created all things for your glory
and made us stewards of this creature.
If it is your will, restore [him or her] to health and strength.
Blessed are you, Lord God,
and holy is your name forever and ever. Amen.