This weekend I had the pleasure of accompanying the Sisters I live with (Clara, Cordy and Loretta) to their convent or Mother House in Little Falls. They were celebrating The Feast Day of Saint Francis – he died on October 3rd, so they have a solemn service and drama where the nuns act out his final hours, with all his Brothers and beloved followers gathered around him. It was beautiful, really. It reminded me of how early Roman thespians wouldn’t allow women to act onstage, so men were always dressing in drag to play them in character. The Sisters were a bit more sincere in comparison.

The interesting thing is, Saint Francis of Assisi died on Oct. 4th, just forty years and a day after he was born. They celebrate that day by honoring him in special Masses and meals, songs and dramas, and especially the blessing of the animals, as Francis is the patron saint of animals and ecology. It’s done all over the world and I was able to be a part of a small one in Little Falls. Basically, people in the community bring their beloved pets and animals together, and we thank God for the blessing they are as domestic companions, the immense comfort they bring and the friendship and unconditional affection they show us. Then a Franciscan or whatever minister or presiding person asks God to bless the animals with good health and flourishing relationships with the persons that own them. At our gathering, there were pups of every shape and size, plus one kitteh. But in other parts of the country and world, the community is a lot more mosaic and even exotic. Check out these lil’ guys!

Piglet in Manila, Phillipines

Those were just a few of my faves.

What a neat experience, and the whole community comes out for this annual event, Catholic, Protestant and agnostics alike.  Everyone gathers for a kind of communal exultation about how much we love our pets and how grateful we are for them.  Francis saw God’s Creation – human and animal, plant and rock, sun and water – as his brother and sister.  You might be familiar with the phrase ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’, a Franciscan term.  It’s beautiful how this tradition has continued the same, always with joyful sentiment, throughout the centuries.  Lovely.

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