I first came across the book Animal Rites: Liturgies of Animal Care as a Holy Hermits Online community member. It was recommended to me earlier this year by The Rev’d Jamee Callard, the Holy Hermits Online priest, because our community is setting up a Companion Animal Ministry. I purchased a copy online and really liked it. The book contains a vigil for all suffering creatures, a liturgy for animal blessings and memorial services for pets.
One burial service, which goes for about nine pages, especially struck me. The service is subdivided into various sections, enabling people taking the service to omit or adapt parts at will. Here is an excerpt from a favourite prayer of mine from the chapter, ‘A Liturgy for Animal Burial’:
“Let us be awestruck
at your creation
and daily sing your praises.
Enable us to rejoice
that we are alive
among so many miracles
of your grace.
Especially, we pray,
create within us
a spirit of gratitude
for the life of (Name)
who lived among us
and gave us freely of his/her love.” (p.112)
The author, Andrew Linzey, is an Anglican priest and founder and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, as well as a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford. In Animal Rites, he states that:
“There are at least two good reasons why we should mark the death of animals. The first is theological. The God who creates is also the God who redeems – not just human beings but the entire creation…The second reason is pastoral. Anyone who has shared his or her life with a companion animal will know the terrible sense of loss occasioned by its death.” (pp. 108-109)
I think there is an increasing need for structured services in this specialised area. I also think we need more resources in this area – this book shows what can be done for our pets. As a licensed Liturgical Assistant for Holy Hermits Online, I see how this book is helping to shape our forthcoming Companion Animal Ministry.
I have recommended this book to people who are interested in companion animal ministry. I have also recommended the book to a friend whose dog sadly disappeared in the recent floods.
Linzey, A. 2015. Animal Rites: Liturgies of Animal Care. Wipf and Stock Publishers: Oregon.
Editor’s note: If you would like to share with other readers what faith-related book, including those with theological, spiritual, ministry, Church history or justice themes, you have given away (or referred) the most and why, please email the Editor, Michelle McDonald, and she will let you know what is needed.Jump to next article