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Animals to receive multitude of blessings

For all the days they greet us at the door, they sleep on ourstomachs, they lick tears off our faces or stare lovingly at usacross the Alpo as we eat our prime rib, the Episcopal Church ofthe Redeemer is celebrating a day this weekend especially for thepets.

Father Gene Bennett said not only parishioners, but members ofthe general public will be welcome to bring their pets to beblessed Sunday afternoon in the annual Blessing of the Animals.

“It’s basically in celebration of His life and love for animals,it’s a recognition that we all have a unique connection with ouranimals, our furry, spidery or scaly friends,” Bennett said. “Wecelebrate their lives amongst us and giving thanks for them. Theblessing largely is giving thanks for pets and animals in ourcare.”

The day of blessing is based on the feast of St. Francis ofAssisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Every yeararound Oct. 4, churches of all denominations have some kind ofrecognition for pets and the role they play in the lives of theirpeople.

Bennett said the question of whether or not pets have immortalsouls is sometimes brought up at this time of year, but that whilenobody knows for sure, it’s safe to guess there’s a good reason tobless them.

“Some people take exception to us blessing the animals becausethey believe the animals have no soul, but I tell them I bless mysteaks and Brussels sprouts,” Bennett said. “I know in some waysthey can love with unconditional love much better than humans, theyseem naturally to give and accept unconditionally. On that basisalone, I go with blessing them.”

In addition, he said, the Greek word for soul is “psyche,” whichhe said translates to “that which makes us uniquely ourselves.”

“A dog or a cat or any pet, they all have a unique persona, andthat does just fine for me as for a soul,” he said.

And there are so many ways that animals bless their people,Bennett said, it’s worth returning the favor.

“We already know that in nursing homes they are a great asset,we also know they seem to sniff out and know when there is somekind of malignancy or disease,” he said, adding that the help andhealing that a pet can bring to a home often adds a balance toit.

The Brookhaven Animal Rescue League will bring some of theirpets for adoption to be blessed, Bennett said. He said he may evenhave someone bring his cocker spaniel, Millie.

The ceremony will be held on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the fountainbeside the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.