People of faith expressed their gratitude for the pets in their lives and with remembrance ceremonies at animal blessing services this fall throughout the D.C. area.
The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Northeast held its annual pet blessing on Sept. 29. The monastery holds the service to honor St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. The feast day is celebrated on Oct. 4. Father James Gardner, director of special projects, said that neighbors and the community look forward to the annual event.
“I always read the fifth and sixth days of creation from Genesis and try to disabuse people of the idea that God had gotten a better idea,” Gardner said, referring to scripture that says God created animals on the fifth day and humans on the sixth. “Good for us, of course, that God didn’t call it quits.”
He also said that humans can learn much from their pets, including loyalty and forgiveness.
Before he came to D.C., some the more memorable animals he blessed included an albino boa and a Great Dane, which reared up on its hind legs and knocked him over.
On Oct. 6, Unity of Washington, DC, along with Strategies That Strengthen Families and Communities, Inc., held its sixth annual “Reiki Blessing in the Park” service for adults, children, animal companions and pets at Meridian Hill Park in Northwest by the park’s St. Joan of Arc statue.
Reiki is an ancient hands-on healing practice which was rediscovered in Japan in the 19th century. It is a safe, non-intrusive healing energy that stimulates the body’s natural healing ability and based on the premise that a universal life energy is present in living things. When the energy is blocked, disease and discomfort can occur.
Unity’s Reiki ministry led the service and animal communicators were present to facilitate communication between pets and humans. The Washington National Cathedral held its animal blessing service on Oct. 7. Rev. Rose Duncan, who led the service, said the most unique pets she blessed were a hedgehog, a rat and a snake.
At previous services, dogs, cats, horses, ferrets and guinea pigs have all assembled at the Cathedral to receive blessings.