Last night I was browsing through some online resources looking for prayers and I came across this:
Prayer of St. Basil of Caesarea
Deeper Sense of Fellowship With All Living Things
O God, grant us a deeper sense of fellowship with all living things,
our little brothers and sisters
to whom in common with us
you have given this earth as home.
We recall with regret that in the past
we have acted high-handedly and cruelly
in exercising our domain over them.
Thus, the voice of the earth
which should have risen to you in song
has turned into a groan of travail.
May we realize that all these creatures
also live for themselves and for you,
not for us alone.
They too love the goodness of life,
as we do, and serve you better
in their way than we do in ours.
Wow! Isn’t that beautiful? As a vegan, I was blown away by finding this. I had to know more about this St. Basil! A quick trip to his Wikipedia page didn’t reveal anything to do with the earth, animals, good stewardship, etc. like I was expecting, so I hit the blogosphere, and thank goodness I did.
As it turns out this prayer is rather astonishingly not St. Basil’s at all. In a nutshell, this prayer did not emerge until 1910 and came from a Baptist theologian, Walter Rauschenbusch. Through a series of bad referencing amongst authors, it somehow came to be accepted that this prayer was indeed from St. Basil. Intriguing, no?
Not to fret though, I have discovered an incredible blogger, Philip Johnson, who writes Animals Matter to God. He is the one who really delved into the St. Basil prayer in a seven-part series. I have also discovered the full prayer composed by Rauschenbusch and many of his other prayers, which I quite like.
In the meantime, I think I’ll be sticking with the prayer above as the full prayer is rather lengthy! Philip Johnson has also given me some book recommendations on the subject of theology and animals, so I will be delving into those this summer and sharing my thoughts.