This week, many churches in US held the unique 'pet blessing' ceremony as part of their annual rituals. It was touching to note how 500 churches taught the children, their parents and other disciples who attended, the values of compassion and about the importance of animals in human lives in a religious, biblical way. One of them was at Saint Aloysius that celebrated the Feast Day of Saint Francis with the school's annual Blessing of Animals on Monday. St Francis of Assissi is the patron saint of animals.
"We believe that, following the example of St. Francis, honoring and loving animals is a reflection of how we thank God for all good gifts in creation, and that the love we receive from them as our loyal pets is some of the most unconditional love we receive in our lifetimes and a true reflection of God's love for us," St. Alban's Episcopal Church rector Margaret Waters said. "All pets will receive a signed certificate of blessing, but we make no guarantees of improved behaviour."(statesman.com)
This ritual came as a pleasant surprise to me, considering the umpteen number of cases where religion is used as an excuse to conduct merciless animal sacrifices. People torturing and killing animals in an inhumane way for the sake of their religion, say that they do it to satisfy God. So does killing God's creatures, a way of satisfying God?
The above news item reflected another way of satisfying God and spreading the message of peace and harmony. By caring for the animals and demonstrating that to others in a joyous environment.
Both the types of rituals had a common objective of working for the greater good. But the means to achieve it differed. But at the end of the day, the means is important as that is influences the way in which you impact the society, positively or negatively. By blessing the animals and caring for them, the churches were ensuring that a positive message was delivered to society,that of peaceful co-existence between animals and human beings.