Posed as ever on the cutting edge of the politically correct and theologically dubious, the Episcopal Church–U.S.A. will soon consider adopting a Burial Service for Beloved Animals, in which the following two Collects appear:
At the burial of a farm animal
Most gracious, good Lord, we are the people of your pasture and the sheep of your hand: We thank you for placing among us the beasts of the field and allowing us to care for them, and to receive from them food and clothing to meet our necessities. We grieve this day the death of A., and we return to you a creature of your own making, one who served as an effective sign of the generosity of your love for us; through Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
At the death of a wild animal
Almighty God, who make the beasts of the wild move in beauty and show forth the glory of your Name: We grieve the death of this creature, in whose living and dying the power of your Spirit was made manifest. We reverence the loss of that which was never ours to claim but only to behold with wonder; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A former Vatican official known for his prowess with a deer rifle commented on the latter: “I have my own prayer at the death of a wild animal. It begins, ‘Bless, O Lord, and these thy gifts . . .’” Another priest, seeing this, said “There’s plenty of room for all of God’s creatures . . . next to the mashed potatoes.” To which Former Vatican Official replied, “Don’t forget the gravy.”
I've actually re-thought the prayers for pets thing. Not only did the little kids not let a Wednesday go by without requesting prayers for their sick pets, but having a domesticated animal really is a blessing, hearkening back to our days in the Garden, and looking forward to the day when the child will play with the cobra. So not only are they gifts and harbingers of the redemption, but God cares for what we care about, rightly understood.
Now the prayer for wild animals...I agree with the priests.
Matthew Scully's excellent book, DOMINION: The power of man, the suffering of animals, and the call to mercy (St. Martin's Press, 2002).
I wish this were the worst thing we could point to. Seems like at worst it goes over the line by over doing it for the benefit of the soft hearted among us.
We do a Blessing of the Pets every year on St. Francis' Day in my parish. Father has even said prayers at the death of a beloved pet for parishioners. Why is this so "out there" (well, perhaps the second prayer is a bit much)? Episcopalians, like many Protestants, do/believe more bizarre things than this worthy of a blog or two!
They think pets are important enough to be blessed, but they'll look the other way from unwanted children in the womb.
Check out most "progressive" Episcopalian websites; you will find much more information on Mr. Tibblesworth the cat or poodle than you will about children. Animals have become substitute children for middle/upper middle class white members of the Mainline Protestant churches, especially those from cultures where being vegan is considered a higher spiritual state and hunting is something only "First Peoples" (somehow good) and and red state Fundiegelicals (always evil) do.
What about "unbeloved animals"? Don't rats and roaches and centipedes get a "Requiem" too? Aren't they "creatures of God"?
We need a good collect praying that these prayers would be e as a joke. Something like:
Lord, you give emotion, laughter, and sarcasm for the enjoyment and entertainment of your creatures. Grant, we pray, that the aforementioned prayers for animals would rest in the realm of these, your gifts, rather than the true desires of you people. Etc.
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