ANIMAL RITES

THE VAULTED CEILINGS OF THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE IN NEW YORK CITY RANG WITH THE SURGING NOTES OF HUNDREDS OF VOICES SINGING PRAISES TO GOD—ALONG WITH THE BARKING OF DOGS, DOZENS OF THEM WOOFING IN RANDOM SYNCOPATION, SOME HAPPILY HOWLING FROM THE FRONT ROWS.

It was one of the first days of autumn in New York, a fine October morning, and at the corner of 111th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, hundreds of people—many with their pets—gathered for the annual Feast of St. Francis and the Blessing of the Animals in this venerable Episcopalian cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. As the service began, dancers floated by in white skirts, ran down the aisles and up to the flower-decked altar area, in glorious celebration of all of God's creation.

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FORGIVE and move FORWARD
November 15, 2004
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