Friday, August 10, 2012

A Prayer for Cleo and Casper

God and the Animals

Cleo kitty, our beloved Cleopatra Ptolemy Bresnahan, Empress of all Catgypt, as named by #1 son David, is now no longer with us, and our hearts are saddened. I ask your prayers for her and us and all the animals and those who love them.

Just yesterday at the Good Shepherd Learning Center we had another sadness. Casper the Class rabbit died and the children brought their tears to story time where I was asked to help them understand. I, of course, remembered how I felt when my dog Major died when I was a boy so it became important for me to tell the children stories that would help their hearts.

To do that, I remembered those stories that help my own heart. There is, of course, the wonderful story of creation where God created "the swarms of living creatures; the birds that fly above and all those that move upon the earth and all the the fish in the sea" ~Genesis 1

I told them of the time God saved Noah and the animals, and what a very important place the animals play in God's salvation plan. ~Genesis, Chapters 6-8

And then I told them that at the time of the Savior's birth, the animals gathered at the Manger to help keep the baby and the Holy Family warm.

One of the little girls in the class of children had a few tears in her eyes and asked if we could pray for Casper. I told her that there is a very special prayer for Casper and asked the children to repeat it after me. They closed their eyes, folded their hands and repeated after me as follows.

We thank you Jesus for all those we love in our families and among our friends. We especially thank you for the animals that gladden our hearts; our cats and dogs and for our friend Casper who has given us so much happiness.
Give him a home with the Angels we pray. As you loved the animals at the creation, as you saved them in the ark, as they kept you warm in the manger, so now enfold all those we love with the love that never ends in the power of Jesus Christ we pray.
We sang "All things Bright and Beautiful" of course, and with that I comforted the children and my own heart.
I did not know that it would be just the very next day that this very same prayer would come to my lips for Cleo. But it did. I am grateful for her 19 years among us. She was a wonderful hunter. She proudly laid her trophys at the doorstep of rectories where we lived in Methuen, Massachusetts and Saint Albans, West Virginia. There was one unforgettable day when she brought a chipmunk home to play with inside. The ensuing commotion was impressive! And then when we lived in Salem and in Lynn Massachusetts, she retired from her labors and now here in Douglassville, Pennsylvania, she is gathered to her ancestors. 
For me it is yet another timely achievement that my church (The Episcopal Church) has developed rites and liturgies for the care of the Animals. Contrary to the rather dismissive and uncharitable way in which Jay Akasie characterized the work of the Episcopal Church in his scathing attack on us in the Wall Street Journal, I love the animals. I love Cleo. I love Casper. And I believe that the One who created them, saved them, and enjoyed their warmth at His birth, loves them too.
Fr. Paul


MistySue said...

I am very sorry for your deep loss of Cleo and Casper. How wonderful however that you were able to give both the love and quality of life that very few animals have.
That is a beautiful prayer, one that I'm sure reaches God's ears quickly.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Thank you Misty Sue. I am grateful beyond words that I remembered those precious stories from Scripture. I think they comforted the children. I know they comforted me. And the prayer was then merely a summary of those stories. And yes, I am certain God hears them.

The Blog Fodder said...

A wonderful post. having lost a number of pets over the years, I am glad that people like yourself believe they are worth praying over. thank you.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Thanks Blog Fodder. I was in West Virginia some years ago and a police dog was killed in the line of duty. The Baptist chaplain felt odd about doing the service but the police knew I'd be only too glad to bury the dog. After all, we had the soup kitchen, the food pantry and the homeless shelter. Surely I'd do a service for the dog. I did, using a similar theological approach as I have enumerated above. It was much appreciated.

Christine said...

Thank you for your prayer. You have added to my recognition of Heavenly Father's love for all his creation with your words. Especially -

.."she is gathered to her ancestors."

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Thanks Christine, the phrase "gathered to his/her ancestors is actually not original with me but a biblical one: see Genesis 35:29, Numbers 20:24, 2 Kings 22:20. I was grateful to share the story of God's for the animals as I did; remembering the creation, the salvation of the animals at the time of Noah, and of course the animals gathered around Jesus at the time of his birth. The children responded so well to the story, as did I. I find that if it touches my heart, it will likely touch the hearts of others. Blessings with you,
Fr Paul

Judy Embriani said...

What a wonderful, touching story and prayer. Their beauty brought tears to my eyes. Our animals and pets bring such joy to all of us who love them. So sorry for your loss of Cleo and Casper.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Thank you Judy. Knowing that this post has touched your heart so bring tremendous comfort.
Peace to you,
Fr. Paul