View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Animals in Heaven?

At the library the other day I caught sight of a title: Will I See My Dog in Heaven? by Father Jack Wintz, OFM (Franciscan, of course!).

Still mourning the loss of my beloved Maggie (her tail wags when I write her name), and even my wife's cat, Scooter (don't tell him, he was always too full of himself already), I checked it out.

Now I know all the teachings about man (generic) having an immortal souls while animals' souls are not immortal, so they don't share in eternal life. But still ...

The book provides a more positive, hopeful response to that question asked by many a child and animal lover. (Yeah, I know he writes for that St. Anthony Messenger of ill-favor among some folks. As for me, I subscribe and look forward to it!)

One point he does make:

In the Mass, Eucharistic Prayer IV contains.

Father, in your mercy grant also to us, your children, to enter into our heavenly inheritance in the company of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and your apostles and saints. Then, in your kingdom, freed from the corruption of sin and death, we shall sing your glory with every creature through Christ our Lord, through whom you give us everything that is good.

Wait a minute. It says that when we get to heaven, we will join that heavenly choir and sing WITH EVERY CREATURE.

So ... does that mean that I can sing with Maggie, and the beloved dog of my youth, Duke?

"Allel -OOOOOOOOOOOO -ia!"

And will Tiger, Itsy, Mathom, Seamus, Hannah, Mittens and Scooter be purring along in harmony?

I'll let the theologians debate the meaning of that prayer, the nature of animal souls, and whether animals are indeed present in the great beyond.

As for me, I hope when I step into that light Maggie and Duke will be standing there to help greet me, their tails wagging joyfully.


Blogger Clare said...

You forgot Molly!

Forgoing any theological discussions, I like to think that they'll all be there waiting for us. If heaven is true happiness after a well-lived life, then for many, like us, it would only make sense to have our pets waiting for us. My happiest times involve a purring cat on my lap, usually accompanied by a good book.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Molly will be there for Nancy.

Duke and Maggie were my beasties.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Eileen Loveman said...

My daughter was traumatized by a nun in 6th grade when she asked for prayers for a deceased beloved cat. It had been run over in the street and was quite gruesome. The nun's response? "Cats don't have souls, so we will not pray for it." And she was a relatively young Sister of MERCY. I've never forgotten that and neither has my daughter, who is now 26 years old. Sorry for the rant.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Sorry that happened. Sisters and Priests are human too, and I think if you ask most they will admit aht they responded int eh worng ways many times in their ministry, and that they learned and grew lioke the rest of us.

I know when I have sometimes said and written things I wish I could take back.

In the book I mentioned Fr. Wintz had the story of a wise priest who was asked a guestion like that by a child, and his response was, "Yes, you will see your dog in heaven - if that is what it takes to make you happy." No long theological response; he met the child where he was at.

My advice is, pray for that sister, and forgive her. And give your daughter a hug!

5:29 PM  
Blogger William said...

Those who have their doubts about God's plans for animals should check out this website.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Eileen Loveman said...

Will do! Thanks!

9:40 AM  
Blogger Genjlcgettys said...

In my studies, it's always been understood that "creatures" refers, not to every insect and animal. It refers, instead, to Cherubim, Seraphim, etc . . . Angels are not human, but rather "other creatures."

However, John Paul II had very interesting thoughts on the matter. He said that, primarily, once in heaven, one will not have need of pets, money, cars, houses, etc . . . All our needs will be fulfilled by God. But, since God finds all Creation to be good, He may will any part of it to be in heaven. This means that, while pets may not be necessary in heaven, they may very well be there.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've jogged one of the funniest memories of instructing 4th graders in religious ed: the day of that question. It seemed I'd given a good enough answer about how our pets loved us which is part of God's goodness and how we loved them, and how I was sure Jesus loved animals and God loves all His creatures and said something along the lines of, "We'll be so happy to see God and Mother Mary and our loved ones.. but I have a feeling that if you want to see your dog, you will!" However, serious little Brian was a thinker: "But will he know me when I get to Heaven?" Huh? "I might be an old man by then.." I got sucked into all his variables --"But I'm going to get taller.." "My voice is going to change.." "I may end up wearing glasses.. "What if he thinks I'm a stranger?" Then the other kids jumped on board. Not one of them was traumatized, but their teacher came close to quitting that day-- I apparently was not prepared for the toughest question!

9:23 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Great story, poor Servant. I smiled as a read if - having logged 15 years as a teacher (in regular classrooms) myself.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

I actually just finished reading Susi Pittman's latest book titled, "Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!" which tends to lean more towards the fact that animals do go to heaven-This book has an outstanding scriptural base, using catholic theology- a very uplifting book.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Thank you, Becky. I'll have to look for that book.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

12:20 PM  

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