The Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi will take place today (Sunday) at 12:15 PM. Everyone is welcome to bring their pets (or other animals) to the parking lot next to Mercy Hall for the blessing. As Catholics, we ask God's blessing upon our animals as a way of thanking Him for them, acknowledging the special role they play in creation, and asking Him to protect them. I always enjoy seeing people and their pets at this brief ceremony.
The love that St. Francis of Assisi had for animals grew out of his love and respect for all of God's creation and creatures. St. Francis showed that love most especially by the way he treated all the people he met. He freely associated with the poor, and did what he could to alleviate their sufferings. He bathed, fed, and nursed lepers, putting his own health at risk. St. Francis believed that each human person was a child of God who deserved the respect, love, and protection of every other person.
It is fitting that we remember St. Francis on this Respect Life Sunday. On this day, the Church calls each of us to remember what St. Francis believed about human life: that it is a precious gift that should be cherished, respected, and cared for. From the cutest little baby to the most infirm person. From the unborn child in the womb, to the terminally ill. From our own friends and family, to immigrants and people around the globe.
There will be a Life Chain this afternoon on South Main Street at 2 PM. I hope you will consider standing along the sidewalk with us and praying for an increased respect for God's gift of human life around the world. (Confirmation students – this is a good way to do an Act of Charity – as I spoke about at the Confirmation meeting.)
Speaking of respect for human life, I was very pleased that so many people took time after Holy Mass last week to complete the post cards for the 20/20 Project. The name 20/20 was chosen to highlight the fact that evidence indicates that – by 20 weeks – an unborn baby is capable of feeling pain in the womb. Thus, it only makes sense to extend legal protection to that baby's life. Of course, we would ideally like to see our nation restore protection to all human life – from the very first moment of conception. Until that happens, things like the 20/20 Project attempt to protect as many unborn children as possible.
Next Sunday the Knights of Columbus will sponsor one of their great Roast Beef Dinners. I always enjoy these – both for the food and the company. Please support their efforts – and enjoy a great meal.
Please also say a prayer for me today – at least one Hail Mary. I certainly will be praying for you. Let's also pray for peace, for all those suffering from the recent earthquake and tsunami, and for the safety of all those in harm's way to protect us.
Have a great week!