by Corinne Wnek
Among the many ‘titles’ bestowed on me by family members over the years, are “Best Italian Cook” and “World’s Greatest Mom”. I know this last one is true because I have a tee shirt to prove it. When I taught dance a few years ago, I was given a trophy that said “Outstanding Performer and Choreographer”. Now this one meant a lot to me because someone other than a family member gave it to me! Family members will lie to you because they love you, but not other people.
But the title I am most proud of is the one I gave myself, “World’s Greatest Dog Lover’. When I was three years old I had a stuffed animal, a dog with big floppy ears named “Fluffy”. That dog was a constant companion to me and he comforted me when the nightlight was turned off. I kept Fluffy around for many years until our family finally got a real, live dog. Of course no dog could replace Fluffy, but Pierre took his best shot.
Pierre was a French poodle that my father brought home to us one day. This was the beginning of my love for with dogs. For days we would try out different names on this dog until we could settle on just the right one. One day someone called out, “Pierre”, and he barked back at us. We thought it was a sign he liked the name! Since then, we’ve had a dozen or so more dogs in my family.
So it’s no surprise that many of us also want to address the spiritual needs of our pets. You didn’t know they had spiritual needs? Tell that to the hoards of birds, cats, dogs, gerbils and ferrets that will assemble this week in front of churches for the annual Blessing of Animals. This event has grown over the years and is usually held on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. This saint believed that all of nature, human and otherwise, is connected and worthy of love. I asked my cairn terrier, Ozzy about this and he says Francis is right.
The blessing of animals has been done at many of the most esteemed churches in the country. A priest or minister recites some prayers for the animals or may read from the writings of St. Francis. Holy water is then sprinkled over the animals, invoking God’s blessing for them. This is the most exciting part of the ceremony because I keep hoping that after they are blessed, my little guys will no longer have the desire to tear up my shoes.
Note: There will be a Blessing of Animals on Friday, October 4 at 6:30 PM in front of St. Mary’s Church on Central Avenue in Rahway.
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