Celebrate the Blessing of the Animals this weekend in Leesburg!

The following piece was adapted from Dr. Michael Strickland’s current article in the Purcellville Gazette, in honor of “blessing of the animals” day this weekend.  The Loudoun County community will celebrate this event on Saturday October 3, 2015 at St. James Episcopal Church in Leesburg.  The Rev. Mark Feather and The Rev. Kate Bryant will proclaim God’s blessing on all of God’s creatures, both great and small, in the church’s parking lot off of North Street NW (between King and Wirt).  All animals are welcome, however, the church asks that all dogs be leashed (no Flexi leads) and that cats or other small mammals/birds/reptiles be caged for their safety.  All two-legged, four-legged or non-legged animals, regardless of their faith tradition, are invited to participate.  For more information, visit the church’s website or  download a copy of the event flyer here.

(Featured picture, Getty Images)

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The month of October is special for our beloved animal companions. The importance of animals in our lives is highlighted by Saint Francis Day on October 4th. It is a traditional day in Christian religion for “blessing of the animals.”

St. Francis developed the Franciscan Order on April 16, 1210. He devoted his life to caring for the poor and needy, and he said that it was “Mankind’s duty to praise God for his Creation and to protect and enjoy nature and animals as both the stewards of God’s Creation and as creatures ourselves.”

Our society has elevated animals as members of our families. Over the last 50 years, people have recognized that animal companions have emotions, feel pain, and provide stability and constancy in our lives. Our pets enrich our lives in the good and bad times. They always make us smile as they become the center of attention. As many of us know, losing a pet and their associated balance and devotion shakes us to the core of our souls.

Pets are good for our quality of life. They reduce our stress and encourage touch, conversation, and laughter. Through their unconditional, nonjudgmental affection, pets reduce depression and improve our physical and emotional health, leading to increased happiness.

New medical research is showing that pets (1) Boost infant immunity to infections (2) Help with mental health disorders by affecting brain chemistry (3) Lower blood pressure through touch and relaxation.

Animal companions encourage exercise, protect us, and encourage conversations with other people around common interests. Elderly people live longer with a pet because a pet’s loyalty boosts their self-esteem and provides a sense of comfort.

Finally, pets in a family teach us how to be good friends because their devotion can be stronger than most people are to each other.

Saint Francis protected the poor and needy and enjoyed God’s Creation and all living creatures. He encouraged mankind to take responsibility for the balance of nature so that everything stays healthy and integrated to provide a welcoming environment for future generations.  Proverbs 12:10 states that “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals…”. We are to prevent suffering and represent God’s care in this world. God would never be cruel, selfish, or wasteful.

Let us make Saint Francis Patron Saint Day the beginning of our increased animal appreciation and spend a little more time each day relating to our loved ones both animal and family!

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