A Publication of
THE CATHOLIC STUDY CIRCLE
FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
From The Ark - Number 190 - Spring 2002
Arundel’s Special Service
CSCAW held its first ever Special Service for Animal Creation, at Arundel (RC) Cathedral on Saturday 29 September, 2001, before a large congregation, including three local Mayors and an MP. Prayers were read by ministers of the Anglican and Baptist churches in Arundel, and the Administrator of the Cathedral led the service. Mervyn Bocking accompanied hymns (including Linda Bodicoat’s splendid one on the facing page) on the organ, and a harpist played during a quiet procession, when each person went up to place a small picture - symbolising an animal species - on the steps of the altar. Fr Fergus Kerr OP preached and Deborah Jones gave the following brief address:
We are nearly at the conclusion of our service here today; a service which has thanked God for his wonderful creation and sought his mercy for the harm we, as a species, have committed against the innocent objects of his creative love.
As a species we are indeed capable of very terrible evil, as the events earlier this month have shown - more evil than any species in the animal world. We have tasted of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; we know right and wrong. We know what is right and yet we do wrong. Animals do only that for which their instincts are programmed in the battle for survival, and they always maintain, if left to themselves, a balance and right-ordering in the inter-relations of nature.
And yet we alone who do evil give ourselves all sorts of excuses for doing so - politics, religion, pleasure, cheap food, advancement of science, and so on. Our main excuse in our treatment of the animal creation is the one that permits us to think of ourselves as the whole point and pinnacle of creation as if the whole panoply, the living kaleidoscope of the natural world exists purely and simply for our benefit. We have knocked God right out of the equation.
However, we have not been abandoned to an ever-downward spiral of evil, brutality, selfishness and despair. Through God’s gift of the Holy Spirit we have the power to reject the allure of sin. And it is sin to impose the power of the strong - for the strong’s benefit – onto the weak. It is sin to consider the other – be it person or animal – as an instrument, an unfeeling object to be used; it is sin to put one’s tastes and preferences before the real needs of others; it is sin to abuse the creation for which the rightful owner, the Creator, has given us responsibilty as stewards. So we now implore - upon us and all the members of Christian Churches everywhere - the power of the Holy Spirit to reject the false arguments of a selfish human-centredness, to guide us to make right decisions in our daily activities, to encourage us to bring an end to the terrible injustice daily done in our name to weak and vulnerable creatures. We call on Church leaders to preach the gospel of love for the whole of creation, and we respectfully request civic leaders to do all that is in their powers to enact just and kindly laws and regulations that protect and respect all that lives and feels.
So may all those of you here present who wish to declare your intention to be on the side of our fellow creatures in the animal world, to offer them kindness and compassion, stand now and say together the rite of commitment:
The Rite of Commitment
In the presence of the Lord,
and of all of you, my brothers and sisters,
I make this firm resolve
to help - and not to harm -
all living beings who feel pain and suffer distress.
I pledge my support, in so far as I am able,
to the relief of the sufferings of our fellow creatures.
And I commit myself to pray
for all the living beings that God has made.
Return to The Ark No. 190
For questions, comments and submissions, please contact:
Deborah Jones at The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare firstname.lastname@example.org
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