Blessing the Animals – Litanies and other resources

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220) from Wikimedia Commons.

This coming weekend is the traditional time to bless our animals at church. This Sunday we get to take our Bonnie inside to receive the blessing.

This began as a Catholic celebration associated with St Francis of Assisi, but has become extremely popular for people of many traditions in the last few years. We are discovering more and more the benefits of pets in our lives and society so blessing them at church, in the synagogue or even in our animal oriented institutions, is not just a fun thing to do it is acknowledging their importance to both us and God.

Last year I wrote this post: God bless the animals which reflects on that and highlights some of the organizations that work with animals. I also mentioned the annual blessing of the animals at Woodland park zoo here in Seattle. In 2011, in my post A Blessing for the Animals I highlighted the work of Episcopal Relief and Development and their free resource from which the liturgy I posted was drawn.

Here are some other good resources I have found for litanies on blessing animals.

Letallcreationpraise.org lists several sermons and litany for blessing the animals

St Francis Blessing Liturgy by Rev. Robert Morrison and Rev. Richard J. Fairchild

Meet me at the corner has a good introduction to blessing of the animals for kids.

Ritualwell.org has a beautiful Jewish animal blessing 

Even the humane society has published an animal blessing

And from one of my favourite comedy shows of all time –

If you have time make sure to watch this episode from The Vicar of Dibley where she blesses the animals.

 

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A Prayer by Teresa of Avilia

This beautiful prayer was posted on Light for the Journey by Micha Jazz this morning – enjoy

Santa Teresa de Avila, pintura vidrio en Convento de Santa Teresa. From from the Wikimedia Commons.

Monday is here and so an appropriate prayer for the week from St Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite reformer and nurturer of St John of the Cross.

I am Thine, and born for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Sov’reign Lord upon Thy throne,
Endless Wisdom, One and Whole,
Goodness that does feed my soul,
Good and great, One God alone:
Vile Thou seest me, yet Thine own,
As I sing my love for Thee.
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Thine I am, for Thou didst make me;
Thine, for Thou alone didst save me;
Thine–Thou couldst endure to have me;
For Thine own didst deign to take me.
Never once didst Thou forsake me.
Ruined were I but for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

What, O good and loving Lord,
Wilt Thou have this creature do?
This Thy slave, a sinner too,
Waiting till she hears Thy word?
With Thy will in close accord,
Sweetest Love, I come to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Take, O Lord, my loving heart:
See, I yield it to Thee whole,
With my body, life and soul
And my nature’s every part.
Sweetest Spouse, my Life Thou art;
I have given myself to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Let me live, or let me die;
Give me sickness, give me health;
Give me poverty or wealth;
Let me strive or peaceful lie.
Weakness give or strength supply–
I accept it all of Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Fame or shame I may be given;
Chasten me or make me glad;
Comfort me or make me sad;
Send me hell or grant me Heaven.
Sun, with veil forever riven,
I have yielded all to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Teach me, if Thou wilt, to pray;
If Thou wilt not, make me dry.
Give me love abundantly
Or unfruitful let me stay.
Sov’reign Master, I obey.
Peace I find not save with Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Give, I pray Thee, wisdom true,
Or remove it all from me;
Plenteous years I fain would see;
Years of drought and leanness too.
Days of light and darkness through,
Send me where Thou’d’st have me be:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

If in ease Thou’lt have me lie,
I accept it for Thy love;
If my constancy Thou’lt prove,
May I suffer till I die.
Tell me, sweetest Love, I cry,
How and when to die for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Waste or fruitful land be mine,
Tabor’s joy or Calvary’s Cross.
Job be I, with pain and loss,
John, and on Thy breast recline.
Sterile stock or fruitful vine,
As Thou will’st it, may I be:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Joseph, captive once in chains,
Rule in Egypt over all.
David, held in cruel thrall,
Soon a crown and kingdom gains.
Jonah suffers direst pains;
Then is cast up from the sea:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Let me speak or hold my peace,
Rich or barren as Thou wilt;
Let the Law proclaim my guilt
Or the Gospel give release.
Let me joys or pains increase.
All my life I live in Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

I am Thine, and born for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
http://spiritualsynergy.blogspot.co.uk/

Scratch Liturgy

Creativity here we come

No this is not about getting rid of liturgy – this a very creative idea from my friends Chrissie and Gerard Kelly at Bless in France is about a collaborative effort in creating liturgy

scratch a collaborative liturgy with your friends or small group…

1. Write a communal refrain to speak out together. For example,

‘this is our story. this is our song. praising our Saviour. all the day long’

2. Come up with a one-line framework for people to ‘scratch’ around. For example,

‘Because He is (something), I am (something)’

3. On a flip chart or live projection write out numbers 1 to 5 followed by the communal refrain. Followed by numbers 6 to 10 and the refrain again and so on.

4. Invite participants to take it in turn ‘scratching’ a one-line prayer using your framework

5. Read the scratch liturgy aloud together

Example scratch liturgies can be found here and here.

Beyond These Shores by Iona

I was sent the lyrics to this song after my mother died and found this version on youtube this morning that I have been listening to and meditating on. I thought that some of you would enjoy it too.

The Holy Ordinary by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Today’s post is by Kimberlee Conway Ireton, author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year and a newly released memoir, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis, from which this post it excerpted.

Figleaf2

Fig_leaf

Bee_and_Strawberries

Clover_and_bee
It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon: quiet, and I’m alone. Only I’m not alone—there are two babies doing the rumba on my bladder. I sit on the sofa, my journal open on my lap, and stare out the window. I feel restless, like I ought to be doing something, but my body won’t let me. I just got winded climbing the stairs from the basement—and that was after I’d napped for an hour.

So I got out my journal, thinking that I would write, but I’m so tired I can’t even think what to say to the page. My life feels bereft of things to write about, other than the babies and how tired they’re making me and how sad I feel that my novel is lying in the basement collecting dust. And honestly? I’m tired of writing about that day after day after day.

Last week, when I met with my spiritual director, she asked me where God’s been meeting me lately. I told her, “I feel like jotting down the grace notes is helpful, like it’s a good, important discipline for me. It helps me to not be so anxious, which is huge, but—”

I shrugged “—I wonder if it’s really enough? I mean, a lot of the time, these things I’m writing down don’t feel like grace. They feel like they could happen to anyone, you know? Which doesn’t mean it’s not grace. I know it is. But—” I shrugged again “—it just doesn’t feel like it, so I don’t feel particularly grateful for them. And I certainly don’t feel joyful, the way all those verses say you should: rejoice in the Lord always and all that. I mostly just feel tired.”

I paused for a moment. I wanted to say, “And I feel angry that because of these babies, I’m not able to write as much as I’d like.” I wanted to say, “I feel like this whole year of trying to find an agent for my novel was wasted.” But after my conversation with Laura on Holy Saturday, when she so flippantly dismissed my need to write, I hadn’t wanted to talk about that with anyone.

“And I feel—” I searched for a safer word than angry “—disappointed. And discouraged. I’m having a hard time letting go of my writing dreams, you know? And I feel like it shouldn’t be this hard, like I should just buck up and deal.”

Margie’s voice was gentle when she spoke. “Kimberlee,” she said, “you’re pregnant. With twins. Of course you’re tired. And it’s always hard to give up a dream. Don’t be too hard on yourself.” She looked out the window a second. “And you know, N.T. Wright often translates the word rejoice as celebrate. Celebrate in the Lord always. Maybe that distinction will help you.”

I gave her my best I’m-tracking-with-you look, but really, I wasn’t tracking. She waited for me to say something, so I had to say, “I’m sorry. I don’t understand what the difference is.”

“Oh, I don’t know that there’s much of a difference in what the words mean. I just think that joy sounds to our postmodern ears like an emotion, something you feel, whereas celebration is something you do. And since you can’t change how or what you feel—it’s not like you can force yourself to feel joy—it might be better to focus on what you do, on how you’re actually living, rather than what you’re feeling or not feeling.”

“So,” she continued, “how do you celebrate? How do you recognize the holiness in the ordinary?” She smiled. “Or maybe just how do you see God in the midst of your tiredness and disappointment?”

As I sit here on the sofa and stare out the window at the spirea, I ponder Margie’s questions. A bee buzzes around the tip of a spirea branch and lights on the top leaf. I know this is just a season, and a relatively short one—but I’m still frustrated by my lack of energy. I’m frustrated that given this blessed hour of silence and aloneness, all I can do is sit on the sofa and stare at a bee on a leaf.

I want to cry. It’s so frustrating to feel so stuck, so exhausted, so mentally enervated. But really, crying is too much effort. So I watch the bee. It buzzes down to a lower leaf. At least, I assume it’s buzzing. I can’t actually hear it.

Come tomorrow, I’ll have eleven weeks till I’m full-term. And eleven weeks after that to get my sea legs on this crazy voyage of parenting twins. And eleven more weeks after that before I’m able to get enough sleep to think clearly and have energy for anything other than feeding and changing these babies and loving on Jack and Jane. That’s 33 weeks—the better part of a year. It feels like an eternity from this side, but it’s not.

The bee flies away, disappearing among the fig leaves.

Still, it’s hard to be patient, to look ahead and see that it’ll be many months before I have energy and brain cells to write the way I’m used to writing. But I can keep railing against it, or I can practice patience and take good notes and pay attention and not be in a hurry. And even in this agony of waiting, I can attend to the present moment and live in it, grateful for its gifts of bees and spirea branches.

From somewhere in the fig tree, I hear a bird. I pick up my jounal and write down the bee and the birdsong. I don’t know what they mean, but they’re graces, little gifts of beauty, and I’m taking notes.

This post is an edited excerpt from Kimberlee’s new memoir,
Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis

Looking for Harvest Prayers – Try these

Carrying wheat to church

Lots of people are looking for resources for harvest festivals and worship services. Here are some I have found recently that might be of use.

1. I have just discovered this excellent list of harvest resources from Christian Concern for One World and thought that some of you might be interested. The organization is based in the UK so the resources all come from there but It gives some great suggestions for us to consider no matter where in the world we are.

2. Lord’s Prayer has some good resources from both Catholic and Anglican traditions as well as some prayers and craft suggestions for children.

3. My friend John Birch at Faith and Worship has this resource list as well as this great Harvest Thanksgiving liturgy. 

4. This resource is from 2007 but I still think it has great relevance

Or perhaps you might like to use this beautiful prayer of Gerald Manley Hopkins

SUMMER ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
Majestic—as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet!
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

Holy Is the Day by Carolyn Weber – A Book Review

almost didn’t open Carolyn Weber’s new book Holy is the Day: Living in the Gift of the Present. When my copy arrived from InterVarsity Press it almost went on the I don’t think so pile. Fortunately it didn’t. And in fact I am posting this a couple of hours later than I intended because I could not put the book down. This is a delightful and in many ways challenging book.

I thought this was just the story of a young mum grappling with the unexpected gift of twins, but it isn’t. She writes as a woman emotionally and physically drained by a career in academia, writing a first book and raising three young children. She is the epitome of a person – male or female –  who wanted to “do it all” then learned the need to take time to put it down, to live in the moment and discover the wonder of God’s grace.

Each day is holy when we trace various ways of understanding the ‘present’ in relation to god’s grace in our lives, for when we are really with God we are reminded that he is with us always,” writes Carolyn. “Through looking at the everyday questions of our lives – ranging from kitchen to the crucible, the classroom to the emergency room, whether we are faced with professional upheaval or personal reflection – how do we se God’s handiwork in our lives?”

This book includes some profound hidden gems that kept me reading even when I should have turned to other things:

Giving God your all rarely has to do with actual money. Looking at the parable of the poor widow who gave her last coins to the offering I considered what it is to give God everything, to truly give him significant pieces of yourself until you have given him your all. To give so much that all that is left is to be with him. I think of how the world measures the depth of our giving by what we hand over, but Jesus measures it by what we hold on to (44)

Challenging words that I take time to ponder and hopefully respond to in my own still moments of prayer and surrender.

Trauma prepares us for resurrection (60)

So often we question heartache, pain and suffering, running away from trauma or even denying it. Yet physical trauma often uncovers hidden emotional trauma, events from our past that we have buried and thought dead. Now they emerge in God’s resurrection light. Such a profound and inspiring thought.

I love the poignant stories Carolyn shares and the ways in which she invites us to share the joy and despair of her life. This is a wonderful book for anyone who truly wants to learn how to live more consistently in the presence of God.