by Bob Lovelace
Various kinds of religions offer congregants and those at large opportunities to participate in "a blessing of animals" ceremony. This often comes in October in celebration of the so-called "saint" of Catholicism – St. Francis of Assisi. Myth has it that he preached to the birds rather than to man as Christ directed (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). The Bible doesn't record "bird" preaching and "bird" believing and "bird" baptism for the remission of "bird" sins! Paul's warning that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds done in the body, whether good or bad, concerns "man" not the animals (II Corinthians 5:10).
While emotionally thrilling, if you can be misled into believing that you can pray to dead animals then you need to ask yourself what else you might be gullibly led into. It is only man who was made in the image of God at the beginning (Genesis 1:26-27). Solomon said, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" (Ecclesiastes 3:21). Both man and beast are "mortal" i.e. they die physically. The destiny of man's spirit is to return to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Philippians 1:23). How many are simply not willing to see the difference in the eternal spirit of man, and that along with his accountability and judgment after death? What kind of person would mislead one into thinking that they can pray to dead animals?
Other Scriptural Points:
- Living members of the church at Philippi were called "saints" in the first-century church (read Philippians 1:1). The New Testament knows nothing of the elaborate process that Catholicism practices in making one a so-called "Saint" and then honoring them!
- Human myths and traditions when practiced and believed as one's religion make void the commands of God (read Matthew 15:3-8; Colossians 2:8; I Timothy 1:3-4, 6:4).
- Titles such as Rabbi, Father, Master, Reverend, etc. are man's credentials given by the human institutions men build that bestow them. They simply have no place in Christ's church — read Matthew 23:8-10.
A respondent has stated the following concerning this article:
"My name is _________ and I'm looking at your advertisement in today's Sun, where, uh, I guess someone there feels, uh, that you have a legitimate reason to put down the beliefs of another religion. All that I can say to you is shame, shame, shame on you! You need to find out what it really means to be a Christian, to love everyone not just people in your faith. I happen to respect St. Francis of Assis's teachings, and maybe you should really begin to look closely at them before you judge and put down somebody else's faith. If you have any questions you can call me back at _________. Have a beautiful God-filled day!"
Allow me to explain some background for the article itself.
As customary this time of the year, on Saturday, October 4, 2008, a full-page appeared in our local newspaper concerning Yuma churches celebrating St. Francis' blessing of the animals. Perhaps your community does likewise during the month of October. The article stated that St. Francis, being the patron saint of animals and ecology, is honored by Christians everywhere. That certainly is not true of the church that Christ built! Going on it stated that the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is celebrated on Oct. 4 by the blessing of animals. Among those specifically stated as celebrating here in Yuma was St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and for their ceremony, it was announced that "...all present could offer prayers to the animal friends who have died. Each person may name that pet." Phew! Find that in the New Testament concerning Christians' prayers in the first century will ya'? Then send it to me in a hurry for I must have missed it in my studies of the prayers of the first century Christians. That's all "we" ask of you if you disagree and think that true Christians were taught to pray to dead animals. Going on — along with the suggested prayers they said they'd be passing a doggie bowl and a grain basket for contributions to be donated to the good of animals. Although emotionally thrilling the New Testament knows nothing of such as a work of the church.
But there's more — the so-called Reverend, the rector, said "I believe that when God wanted to tell us what unconditional love is, he gave us dogs. When he wanted us to know humility, he gave us cats." Concerned reader, I have a scripture God gave telling "how" He "demonstrated" His love. Hear this: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:8-9).
In the newspaper, as regards the St. Francis of Assisi Church it said that mass will precede the ceremonies to bless the animals and that the blessing honors St. Francis of Assisi who experienced all of God's creation as sacred. One of their members was quoted as saying that St. Francis preached to the birds and animals. They invited the public and said that games would be there for the children as well a potluck lunch.
A third church, the Yuma Center for Spiritual Living, was to have their blessing at a park where owners could take their pets on mini-parade. Their so-called Reverend said the blessing is a ritual "where we recognize the loving presence and infinite power within the spirit of the animal." Their human philosophy was in part: "We set aside this time to remember that animals are a spiritually perfect expression of the One, in a unique form." I have Scripture God gave us that tells me who is the express image of the Father in Heaven. As the Hebrew writer explained that God speaks to mankind through His Son, Jesus Christ, he said: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Hebrews 1:1-4).
I don't really think that "animals" make much of a comparison, do you? Whether the respondent read the newspaper article I do not know.