I gather that the Blessing of the Animals is a tradition that started with the Catholic Church (presumably inspired by St. Francis of Assisi) but now is ubiquitous. In fact, today the animals are going to be blessed at the Rockefeller Chapel (a nondenominational outfit) at the University of Chicago. Here’s an announcement of the event that I found hilarious. Whoever put this together had a sense of humor.
Note that the haloed cat is “Modo”, a genuine moggie who is listed as chapel staff at the organization’s website:
Now I hate to be the skunk in the woodpile here, but really, although this is lighthearted and stuff, what is it supposed to convey? If it’s a joke, then it’s a joke at the expense of religion. But I think that, to some extent, it’s not a joke. Why would people schlep their cats, dogs, and hamsters to the church where, I understand preachers often lay hands on them for the blessing. Is there some implication that blessed animals will have a better fate? And how is that supposed to work, given that, at least for Catholics, animals don’t have souls and can’t go to heaven. Or do liberal churches now think that we’ll be reunited with Mittens in the hereafter?
I doubt I’ll go to the blessing, because my delight at seeing lots of cats would be tempered by the ludicrousness of the whole idea (plus the sight of d*gs getting blessed!). And if you think that I’m being too curmudgeonly, consider that there is also a Blessing of the Backpacks at the University of Chicago. Backpacks, of course, don’t have souls. Perhaps this is simply a way of wishing the students “good luck,” but then why drag in God and the trappings of religion to do that? If they’re not serious about such blessings having an effect, why confer them? Does it not make a mockery of the whole ritual of “blessing”?