A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals
Selections From The Ark Number 202 - Spring 2006
Wantage, Oxfordshire: St John Vianney Church
Two free-range chickens, Phyllis and Pepper – held safely in the arms of their young owners, Josie Harrison aged nine and her six-year-old brother Charlie – joined in the hymn singing at the October 2nd service (see from cover & opp. p.16). Over 100 people of all ages with their animals packed into the church for the annual service, giving thanks to God for his Creation and to pray for responsible stewardship throughout the world.
Pollyanne, the rescued donkey from the nearby Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary, led the procession of assorted animals – dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, hamsters, support dogs for the physically handicapped – all to be blessed by the parish priest. Canon Peter Turbitt was joined by Sr Rosemary from the nearby Anglican Convent of St Mary the Virgin who gave the address. During it Sr Rosemary had to pause to thank the more vocal members of the animal congregation for their obvious support and applause. Bidding prayers were led by young members of the parish and a report read of the shelter given by a Catholic church in New Orleans to victims of the Hurricane Katrina and their animals. The American priest was quoted as saying ‘Our altar has never been adorned more beautifully than it is with these people and their animals seeking the sanctuary of God.’
Said Canon Peter ‘Since we started holding these services over 14 years ago, it has been encouraging to see how many people come along with their animals to a Christian service to give thanks for the blessings of Creation. We have people from every denomination and also people who do not usually go to any church – but find comfort and a sense of fellowship and purpose in joining with us. They are brought to the presence of God through their animals.’
Park Gate, Hampshire: St. Margaret Mary Church
The Service was a happy informal occasion, attended by about thirty people and a variety of animals, mostly dogs who sat sedately along the aisles of the church. Our parish priest, Fr Boyle welcomed them all as he processed to the altar. In spite of a very heavy schedule he seemed so relaxed and glad to see them all that everyone was put at their ease. Our service was a modified version of the ASWA service which we had used a couple of years ago. This had worked well and time constraints discouraged us from any major changes. However we did add one of the gems from the service which was sent to us by the Blue Cross. It was from Hildegard of Bingen and is as follows: ‘God is Life … All living creatures are, so to speak, sparks from the radiation of God’s brilliance, and these sparks emerge from God like rays of the sun.’ The collection was for this charity, the Blue Cross, who had produced such an excellent service. Refreshments were available afterwards, including mini dog-biscuits for the dogs (only with their human’s consent) and water was also available to them.
Cardiff: St Peter’s
This year, some African land snails joined the dozen or so dogs, some hamsters, including dwarf hamsters in a taped-up box – see inside back cover – and a lone cat. Fr David drew attention to the altar end of the church where [depicted in the windows] flowers, birds and animals are celebrated, as well as the cross of Jesus Christ, the saints and all the Christian Mysteries – because ours is one integrated faith of heaven and earth. There is nothing secular because all is of God, except the human civilisation that turns away from God. The flowers, birds and animals speak to us of God, as does Scripture. So today we rejoice in the multiple life that God has spread across the universe – of which we know so little – and yet even the little that we do know we find fascinating, intriguing, encouraging consoling and revealing of God’s splendour and magnificence.
Arundel, West Sussex: The Catholic Cathedral
The service on 8th October was well attended and the cathedral was awash with wagging tails and small pets in baskets. It was so good to see more children with their pets – this is so very important, as I’m sure readers will know. The service seemed to have a glow – a special glow of love and compassion – man and beast united in prayer and song.
Arundel clergy were: Reverend Tim, from St Nicholas Anglican church, Pastor Tout, the Baptist minister who gave the address (following), and our new Dean, Fr Tim Madely, who gave the welcome and opening prayer. My thanks also go to Gloria Macari, our singer, and Tina Feast, our reader – and to all who came to the service. The cathedral choir were at their best. (They are soon to release a new CD, and I shall be one of the first to buy it!) Proceeds from the service went to the RSPCA shelter at Patcham, near Brighton.
The address given by Paster Phillip Tout:
It never ceases to surprise me that our children and grandchildren still receive as a toy replicas of Noah’s Ark or books about that Bible event. Some people claim not to believe that the Flood ever took place. Yet in addition to the Bible there are flood traditions in many parts of the world. This year the media has brought into our living rooms evidence of the destructive power of natural forces, but the history of mankind evidences a cataclysmic event well beyond anything we have experienced, or can understand. ...
If I were to ask for your individual views on the world, many would, I suspect, say that you get on better with animals than with human beings, and that it is humans who cause all the problems. Scripture would not disagree with you. Earlier we read part of Genesis 6. Did you notice God’s view? ‘The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain.’ Man’s sin, for that is the Bible’s word for our disobedience, could be tolerated no longer. Sadly, man’s wickedness affected the rest of earth’s creatures as well. However, the Lord found a man who was an exception, for verse 8 says ‘Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.’ Here was a man who was different. ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God.’ Not a bad epitaph that! What will be said about you and me?
Where do your pets go at holiday time? To kennels or to a trusted friend? For someone to trust us is an honour and a privilege. The Lord trusted Noah with the entail of creation. If Noah got his animal care wrong, that was it! Well, he didn’t, and as a result, you have the comfort and care of your pet today. St Peter the fisherman knew a good deal about the sea and its creatures, and from his letters, at the back of the Bible, we know that Flood had a fascination for him. He uses it to speak of another cataclysmic world event which has yet to take place – the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. But there has already been another cataclysmic event, and that is the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).
In Genesis 6 there is a covenant, a promise. God makes his new covenant relationship with us through the Lord Jesus Christ by his death on the cross. As Noah rescued the animals, so the Lord Jesus offers rescue to us. The old creation found safety and security in the Ark. For those who believe, there is eternal safety and security in the Lord Jesus. But we have to bring ourselves to him to secure it. The animals responded in Noah’s time, and lived. So, don’t rationalise the Lord Jesus out of your life. The ancients did that with the Ark, and we know what happened to them. Learn from the ancient Bible story and understand that it needs a modern ending in your life today.
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