Francis, who bore Christ’s wounds, is often depicted with birds. It has reminded many, that, a bird in flight resembles the form of Jesus on the Cross. As a bird can fly, and soar, and take a place in heaven, so can we. Nearly eight centuries ago, while, traveling between Cannara and Bevagna, villages near Assisi, Francis encountered birds in the trees. He sermonised unto them, an application of a part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount:
My little sisters, the birds, much bounden are ye unto God, your Creator, and always in every place ought ye to praise Him, for that He hath given you liberty to fly about everywhere, and hath also given you double and triple raiment; moreover He preserved your seed in the ark of Noe, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are ye beholden to Him for the element of the air which He hath appointed for you; beyond all this, ye sow not, neither do you reap; and God feedeth you, and giveth you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because ye know not how to spin or sow, God clotheth you, you and your children; wherefore your Creator loveth you much, seeing that He hath bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore, my little sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praises unto God. — FrancisTo-day, there was a missa cantata at Immaculate Conception, Cleveland, O., and there followed a blessing of animals. It is not often, when, animals are invited to church, but to-day the hounds appeared, while a few waited outside along with kitties. Next to the church there were buckeye trees, where, a squirrel was dislodging nuts. Certainly he, and, any, arboreal companions would be included in the blessing. A collection was taken up for an animal aid charity, Lucky Paws Animal Rescue, www.luckypawsrescue.org.
Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. — Matthew vi. 25-28.
Traditionally, Franciscans are associated with this, but it is not restricted to them. There are church sanctions and rituals for such blessings in many lands.
According to the providence of the Creator, many animals have a certain role to play in human existence by helping with work or providing food and clothing. Thus when the occasion arises, for example, the feast of some saint, the custom of invoking God's blessing on animals may be continued. — United StatesThis recognition of our fellow creatures, and Saint Francis, has crossed some denominational bounds. There are some places in this land, where, it may be easier to find a protestant celebration than a catholic one. In the last few years, there has been a gradual recognition, and longing, for that which was lost, as after effects of the protestant rebellion. Francis is helping to bring us together and closer still.