Prayer for the Blessing of Animals
(kindly provided by the Monks of New Skete Monastery)
Let us pray to the Lord.
O our master, Lord and God, in ancient times you blessed the flocks of the patriarch Jacob, and when you took flesh and entered this world as a small and vulnerable infant, you were sheltered in the manger with these very creatures of yours.
O loving Saviour, after you taught us how to pray to your heavenly father, you used the birds of the air as a reminder of his all embracing providence, for everything that breathes is the work of your hands and acknowledges, each in its own way, the presence of your all holy and life-giving Spirit.
As we gather together this day to ask you to bless these various animals, let us see in them the goodness and beauty with which you endow all your creatures. By the example of our venerable fathers Paul and Anthony of the desert, Francis of Assisi, Seraphim of Sarov and Sergius of Radonezh, teach us never to abuse them or to take them for granted, rather let them open our hearts to your divine love so that, together with every living being, we may all sing your praises, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; now and forever, and unto ages of ages.
from the Canticle of the Three Youths
All you works of the Lord, bless the Lord! For him the highest glory, praise that never ends!
Let the earth bless the Lord! For him the highest glory, praise that never ends!
For all things growing within the earth, bless the Lord! For him the highest glory, praise that never ends!
Watersprings, bless the Lord! Seas and river, bless the Lord! Dolphins and everything that moves in the deep, bless the Lord! For him the highest glory, praise that never ends!
Birds of heaven, bless the Lord! Wild beasts - and tame ones, too - bless the Lord! For him the highest glory, praise that never ends!
Be bless'd, O Lord, throughout the vast and firm expanse of heaven! Be praised in song! Be glorified above all else, forevermore!
(sung as the animals are bought forward for the blessing)
Attributed to St. Basil the Great are two beautiful prayers for
The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.
O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us.
We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song has been a groan of travail.
May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours. (5) (5A)
For those, O Lord, the humble beasts, that bear with us the burden and heat of day, and offer their guileless lives for the well-being of mankind; and for the wild creatures, whom Thou hast made wise, strong, and beautiful, we supplicate for them Thy great tenderness of heart, for Thou hast promised to save both man and beast, and great is Thy loving kindness, O Master, Saviour of the world. (5)
Proverbs 12:10 LXX
"A righteous man has pity for the lives of his cattle; but the bowels of the ungodly are unmerciful."
St. Tikon of Zadonsk says:
"Have compassion on also your cattle, which God gave you to serve you." (3)
St. John Chrysostom says:
"..surely we ought to show kindness and gentleness to animals for many reasons, and chiefly because they are of the same origin as ourselves." (He is referring to the word and will of God.)
Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-6 LXX - Part of this is the reading (Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-3) for January 1 in the Church service books:
"God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word, and ordained man through thy wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creature which thou hast made, and order the world according to equity and righteousness, and execute judgment with an upright heart: give me wisdom, that sitteth by thy throne, and reject me not from among thy children: for I thy servant and son of thy handmaid am a feeble person, and of a short time, and too young for the understanding of judgment and laws. For though a man be never so perfect among the children of men, yet if thy wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded." (2)
St. Maximos the Confessor:
Man is not a being isolated from the rest of creation; by his very nature he is bound up with the whole of the universe... In his way to union with God, man in no way leaves creatures aside, but gathers together in his love the whole cosmos disordered by sin, that it may be transfigured by grace. (6)
Bishop Kallistos Ware says:
Made in the divine image, microcosm and mediator, man is priest and king of the creation. Consciously and with deliberate purpose, he can do two things that the animals can only do unconsciously and instinctively. First, man is able to bless and praise God for the world. Man is best defined not as a 'logical' animal but as a 'eucharistic' animal. He does not merely live in the world, think about it and use it, but he is capable of seeing God's gift, as a sacrament of God's presence and a means of communion with him. So he is able to offer the world back to God in thanksgiving: 'Thine own from thine own we offer to thee, in all and for all' (The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom).
Secondly, besides blessing and praising God for the world, man is also able to reshape the world; and so to endue it with fresh meaning. Man is not just a logical and eucharistic animal, but he is also a creative animal: the fact that man is in God's image means that man is a creator after the image of God the Creator. This creative role he fufils, not by brute force, but through the clarity of his spiritual vision; his vocation is not to dominate and exploit nature, but to transfigure and hallow it. (14)
From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
(after the consecration of the Divine Gifts):
"Furthermore we offer unto thee this our reasonable worship on behalf of the whole universe, of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, (etc)... (7)
Sometimes the word "world" is used instead of universe. It means the same thing - all of the creation (cosmos). The word creation is two words in the Greek: cosmos - all of the created universe, and oikoumene - the inhabited earth, implying people. It is misunderstood in the narrower sense all too often. (See next two quotes.)
1. God so loved the world (all of the created universe) that he gave his only begotten Son...
2. And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." (sometimes this is translated as "all of creation") (Mark 16:15)
Orthodox Study Bible note on Mark 16:15: The Resurrection launches the Church toward her world mission. All nations are to be His disciples and to bear witness to His Resurrection... Further, every creature, the entire cosmos, is affected by it. (1)
St. John of Kronstadt
Do not breathe malice, vengence, and murder even towards animals, lest your own soul should be given up to death by the spiritual enemy breathing wickedness in you even toward dumb animals, and lest you should become accustomed to breathe malice and vengence against men also. Remember, that animals are called to life by God's mercy that they may enjoy their existence as much as they can during their short life. "The Lord is good to all."(Ps. cxlv.9) Do not beat them if they are unreasonable, or if they play tricks, or if any of your property is damaged by them. "Blessed is the man who is merciful to his beast." (15)
Nikitas Stithatos - On the Practice of the Virtues
#14...and you will be shut out from love because you minister solely to yourself and do not succor your fellow beings when they are in need. Like some polymorphic monster..., you will be the implacable enemy of God, man and the animals. (11)
Orthodox Prayer for & with our Fellow Creatures
Speak a word to me, Father.