Michelle Martin

Bless you

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

What’s cuter than a pet blessing ceremony?

Every year, parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago host services where people can come with their pets and have their pets receive a special blessing. The services, usually near the beginning of October in honor of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, probably best known for being the patron saint of animals.

The services also are usually held outdoors, for obvious reasons, with people gathering near church steps or in parking lots or parish gardens holding onto leashes, pet carriers, even bird cages and sometimes fishbowls.

All pets deserve to be blessed, not least for the blessings they bring their owners. Such blessings can range from exercise and increase social interactions, for those of us who walk dogs every day; to a calming and friendly presence at home; to a sense of a being needed or just plain entertainment. For many of us, they teach patience, if only by the need to develop some when they behave like the animals they are.

What’s more, they are part of God’s creation, and as such, they are good, according to Genesis. God loves them as much — more, maybe — than we do.

So why have I never taken Elly, our current dog, to a pet blessing? Who doesn’t like seeing dogs get a little sprinkle of holy water and a prayer invoked over them?

Elly, that’s who.

First, the actual sprinkling with holy water would be a no-go for her. She doesn’t like to get wet. She only gets a bath when there at least two adults home, so one can hold her still while the other washes and rinses. She detours as far as the leash will allow around any sprinkler we happen to encounter on our walks. If it starts to rain when we are out of sight of home, she turns and gives a judgmental side-eye to whichever of us had the extremely bad idea of going outside just then.

Add to that, she’s loves people, but she’s not great with other dogs. When we adopted her, she would bark and pull whenever we passed a four-legged potential friend. Now, she just looks to us for a treat for refraining from such uncivilized behavior. But if another dog barks and pulls on its leash towards her? All bets are off.

To be clear, she’s never bitten another dog or been in fight. But she is overbearing and obnoxious.

So this year, once again, we are avoiding pet blessings, at least the formal, organized kind. Instead, we’ll go for our regular walk, and I’ll say a little prayer for her, and a little prayer of gratitude that she’s in my life.

And I’ll make a point of enjoying all the pet blessing photos that I see.


  • family life
  • pets