Prayer for the Animals

 

This prayer is attributed to St.Basil, Bishop of Ceasarea, who died January 1,  379.  He is honored by both the Orthodox and Catholic Church as one of the greatest saints.

O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us.

 

   We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of travail. 

   May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life even as we do, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours.

For those, O Lord, the humble beasts, that bear with us the burden and heat of the day, and offer their guileless lives for the well-being of mankind; and for the wild creatures, whom Thou hast made wise, strong, and beautiful, we supplicate for them Thy great tenderness of heart, for Thou hast promised to save both man and beast and great is Thy loving kindness, O Master, Savior of the world.

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About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
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4 Responses to Prayer for the Animals

  1. Annette Rf says:

    Thank you, so much, for posting this! I had first seen a part of it elsewhere online, but now I see the fuller version. I cry everytime I read this; I have been active in animal welfare for over 25 years, and recently have become active in helping rescue pet rats from abuse, being used as snake food, and experimentation. Although I am Jewish, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior partly as a result of an experience with two of my pet rats. After that, strangely I became drawn to the Orthodox Church (I say “strange” because few Americans even know what it is!)…and now I learn that the earliest Fathers of the Church (St Basil, St John Chrysostom) were true lovers of animals, and were most likely vegetarians too, based on other writings of theirs I have seen. God works in mysterious ways, as my late mother always said!

    • reinkat says:

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. I, too, cried when I first read this prayer. I had no idea that it even existed until perhaps a year ago.
      I also am very drawn to the Orthodox Church, and love the express care for animals and creation that I find there. All of Christianity shares the teachings and wisdom of the Desert Fathers. Monks and nuns today are very often vegetarians.
      I’ve been way too sentimental to be involved in animal rescue work, I just couldn’t bear it. I am grateful to you, and all who are strong enough to respond to this calling. Thank you for the good work that you do.

  2. Hi there. I am a theologian who is very concerned about animals and that they be understood in Christian contexts theologically and ethically. I love the prayer you refer to. However, and here I am a wet blanket, the prayer does not come from St. Basil nor from the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox churches. Lots of books and websites keep circulating the prayer and tagging it to St. Basil. The truth is that the prayer was written by the liberal social-gospel Baptist theologian Walter Rauschenbusch and published in 1910. I have investigated the matter in painstaking detail and demonstrate that a literary “hoax” has been inadvertently created and sustained by many well-meaning Christians (and some non-Christian people who are advocates for humane and ethical treatment of animals). I have written a 7-part series of blog-posts about St Basil’s animal prayers. If you feel up to it, you might care to look at what I have documented. The first post in the 7-part series is located at http://animalsmattertogod.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/st-basils-animal-prayers-are-a-hoax-part-one/
    Blessings

    • reinkat says:

      Thanks for this information. It remains a beautiful prayer to me, very meaningful. I suppose that as prayer it doesn’t matter where it originated, but I appreciate the correct background and knowing the true source. I did look at and enjoy your post, and will continue to read this series.

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