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July 17, 2008

Prayers for All Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

It was the death of her beloved 11-year-old cat Charis, which led the to first write a burial liturgy "to commemorate her life and mourn her death."

An ordained Anglican priest, Bubbers began to write more prayers to help others through their grief. She also wrote prayers about appreciating animals in happier times. Her efforts led to the book Pet Prayers (Creation House, 2005), one of the many resources now available on prayers for animals. 

Blessings from St. Francis

Praying for animals is not a new or unusual phenomenon: animals have been acknowledged as a blessing of God's creation through the ages. In the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi devoted his life to God through his vow of poverty, administering to the poor and sick, and through his praise of all of creation. Today, St. Francis is well known as the patron saint of animals and the environment. The Feast of St. Francis, in early October, is often celebrated as an occasion for animal blessings.

(If you are interested in having your pet or other animal blessed, check local congregations to see if they hold blessing ceremonies. AmericanCatholic.org maintains a good database of U.S. churches and local groups that conduct animal blessings each year.)

The following section lists a number of animal prayer resources:

Books for Children

Nechama Liss-Levinson,Ph.D., psychologist and author, and the Rev. Molly Phinney Baskette, senior minister of First Congregational Church of Somerville, United Church of Christ in Massachusetts, are co-authors of Remembering My Pet: A Kid's Own Spiritual Workbook for When a Pet Dies (SkyLight Paths, 2007). Through the book, the authors encourage children (ages 7-13) to express their feelings over the loss of a beloved pet, through writing, drawing, reading and creative exercises. The exercises are designed to be comforting and supportive for children grieving the loss of their pet.

Carol J. Adams is the author of GOD LISTENS (The Pilgrim Press, 2005), a book series of prayers for children (and adults) who love animals. She is also the author of Prayers for Animals (Continuum, 2004). The four-book GOD LISTENS series includes: God Listens When You're Sad: Prayers When Your Animal Friend is Sick or Dies; God Listens to Your Love: Prayers for Living with Animal Friends; God Listens When You're Afraid: Prayers for When Animals Scare You; and God Listens to Your Care: Prayers for All the Animals of the World.

Prayer Circles and Other Blessings

Judy Carman, author of Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken's Soul (Lantern Books, 2003) is co-coordinator for Circle of Compassion: Prayer Circle for Animals. The Prayer Circle for Animals (PCA) is a non-denominational group who are devoted to "using action and the power of prayer" to help end animal suffering. The web site offers a list of prayers including seven "prayer a day" devotionals for a week's worth of prayers for animals.

Blessing the Animals: Prayers and Ceremonies to Celebrate God's Creatures, Wild and Tame by Lynn L. Caruso (SkyLight Paths, 2006) features a collection of "blessings, prayers and meditations about the creatures, wild and tame, that inhabit our world. These moving contributions about all types of animals...are drawn from many faith traditions, including Native American, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist."

Animals in The Bible and Other Texts

The HSUS Animals & Religion booklet series includes The Bible's Teachings on Protecting Animals and Nature by Lewis Regenstein. Regenstein, president of the Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature, examines scripture and discusses: God's Love for Nature, Human-Stewardship Responsibilities, Religion and Protection of Animals, and more. See the entire HSUS Faith Outreach booklet series.

Animals are often referenced among the more than 1,000 verses and passages related to the Earth in The Green Bible (HarperOne, 2008). The Book also contains essays contributed by Brian McLaren, Matthew Sleeth, N.T. Wright, Desmond Tutu and others, and includes a detailed index and personal study guide.

More resources, including The Gospel According to the Earth and The Green Bible Devotional,  are included in The 2010 St. Francis Day in a Box!

Many religions have official statements or historical and contemporary references on animals. See the profiles of the largest denominations in the United States in The HSUS' Religious Statements on Animals.  See more Faith Outreach resources.

Is there a publication or website you want to suggest we include in our prayers for animals resources? Email faith@humanesociety.org.

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