A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals
Selections From The Ark Number 199 - Spring 2005
Ecumenical service, Westminster
The annual ecumenical service for animals was held on 2nd October last year in Westminster Abbey’s church, St Margaret’s. It was conducted by the Priest Vicar, Revd Peter Cowell, and the Rt Revd John Austin Baker, who also gave the address (see p. 17), after which the 400-strong congregation signalled their support by a round of spontaneous applause. Two other Anglican bishops, Rt Revd Richard Llewellin and Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS, also took part. Readers were Revd Hugh Broadbent of ASWA, Ann Widdecombe MP of CCA, and Revd David Sox of QCA. Fr Michael Seed SA of Westminster Cathedral led prayers while a lone bell tolled the seconds to symbolise the number of animals dying in laboratories around the world.
Mr Mark Jepson from Animal Christian Concern played a delightful solo rendition of ‘Gabriels Oboe’ from The Mission and vocal soloist Bene’t Coldstream sang a piece from Handel’s Messiah.
Extracts from the service are as follows:
On the service sheet:
There is something so very dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have neither weapons of offence or defence, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it.
Cardinal Newman (1801–1890)
Where the love of God is verily perfected … a tenderness towards all creatures will be experienced and a care felt that we do not lessen that sweetness of life … that the great Creator intends for them under our Government … To say that we love God and at the same time exercise cruelty towards the least creature is a contradiction in itself.
John Woolman (1720–1772)
The Bidding Prayer
St Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome that the whole creation groans with eager longing for God’s redemption. In our own time, the suffering of God’s other creatures bears heavily upon us, but it is a load we need not bear alone. We gather together today to bring our burden to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of life and death, of the present and the future. Let us share before God our anguish in the face of suffering, our despair in the face of cruelty, and our helplessness in the face of death. In this service let us acknowledge especially the suffering of those thousands of animals which die in our laboratories every year to satisfy our vanity, curiosity and greed; of those enduring experiments of no relevance to their own welfare; of those suffering pain and torment from diseases deliberately introduced into their bodies; and of those which never taste the freedom of the outside world from the moment they are born to the time that they die. And let us pray that through God’s transforming power in the lives of us his human children, his animal creation may be delivered from such misery and pain.
(After a moment of silence)
O God of the desolate and despairing, whose Son Jesus Christ was forced to carry the instrument of his own death, the cross that became for us the source of life and healing: grant that, through the pain we bear, your Spirit may create for us, and for the animals we pray for, a fount of life and a spring of hope; through the same Jesus Christ who died for us, yet is alive and reigns with you and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Let us pray that we may know light and hope in Jesus Christ:
All: Father, hallowed be your name.
On our farms and in our homes,
All: Father, your kingdom come.
By our exercising a humble dominion,
All: Father, your will be done.
For the millions of animals and birds,
All: give us today our daily bread.
Because we have broken your commandments,
All: forgive us our sins.
If any people have mocked, maligned or hurt us in the work we have sought to do for animals:
All: we forgive those who sin against us.
When successes lull us into complacency,
All: lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
All: For the kingdom, the power,
Then all stood for an act of commitment:
All: Loving God, Creator and Redeemer,
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