Today in 1226 St. Francis of Assisi died. We know and venerate him for his service life of poverty and his love of animals. Many congregations, in honor of St. Francis, will hold blessings of animals today or this coming weekend.
Our two cats are real homebodies and aren’t much interested in leaving for a blessing of the animals. Like the cats we’ve had before, Percy and Jazz provide much love, joy and comfort. Their unconditional love is there on good days and bad. Their antics make us laugh. I’ll be the first to admit we are devoted to these creatures of God. We’re not alone.
Today nearly 73 million homes in the United States (or 62% of all households) own either a dog or cat, and nine in ten pet owners consider their pet a member of the family. Estimated spending on pets in the U.S. for 2012 will reach nearly $53 billion dollars.
At the same time, 14.5% of U.S. households struggle to put food on the table. That’s nearly 49 million Americans, including 16.2 million children. More than one in five children is at risk of hunger.
When we, collectively, pamper our pets and our children go hungry, our life is out of balance. It wasn’t an either/or situation for St. Francis, and it shouldn’t be for us. St. Francis cared for all of creation. We should love and care for humans and animals alike. That’s the legacy of St. Francis I’ll honor on his feast day this year.
Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director, often receives writing help from Percy (above, right) and Jazz (above, left).