By Bruce Flath
Both two-footed and four-footed creatures were present at the annual blessing of the animals at Mission of the Atonement (MOTA) on Sunday morning, October 9, 2011. Amidst a few barks and a sprinkling of rain, Lutheran Pastor Laurie Larson Caesar and Roman Catholic Lay Leader Kathleen Truman led the congregation in pronouncing the blessing in honor of St. Francis of Assisi whose feast day was October 4.
Pet owners brought two cats and several dogs. The cats looked remarkably calm while many of the dogs romped excitedly. One of the dogs, named Ahjhi, had originally come from a Buddhist temple but seemed perfectly comfortable in front of a Christian church. One very young parishioner brought his Scooby Doo stuffed animal.
Among the animals receiving the blessing were several not physically present or visible. These included some pet fish, a rat, and a pigeon. One parishioner mentioned the bacteria found on his body as his pets.
Pastor Larson Caesar said that MOTA had been blessing animals for about seven years. Asked whether this was a longstanding Lutheran tradition, she said, "no, but we're excited about reviving a tradition that the common Church shared for 1500 years."
At the end of each blessing pronounced by Truman, the congregation said, "May all creation be blessed." Fr. Neil Moore, the Roman Catholic pastor at MOTA, was also present. When told that some people don't think that animals ought to be blessed because they don't have souls, Fr. Moore explained that whatever theologians may argue over the kind of souls pets may possess, they are still part of God's creation and ought to be blessed.
Mission of the Atonement is a community of Roman Catholics and Lutherans worshiping together but retaining their separate traditions. For more information, call the office at 503 646-1344 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.