The National Catholic Review

 

 

Theologian Denis Edwards in his inspiring book, Breath of Life: A Theology of the Creator Spirit, retrieves and develops the truth of God’s love for creation.  He quotes St. Basil’s insights into the symphony of creation in which God the Artist embraces and delights in each creature-- fish, birds, animals, flowers, even the little sea urchin. 

This is good, but not too surprising news for the faithful who love their dogs.   When we lose our beloved companions the heartbreaking sorrow can be assuaged by the belief that this is not the end.  In the last century C.S. Lewis explained that a beloved dog can be taken up into its owner’s humanity in the way that humans are taken up into Christ’s resurrected humanity.  Lewis wrote before the advent of ecological. feminist and evolutionary theologians who put more stress on the independent value of creation, but he did appreciate animal life.    

I don’t think I paid much attention until my eyes were opened by the loving bond with our beautiful sweet spaniel, Sunshine. What affection, what forgiveness, what enjoyment of the present moment!  I’d never expected to have a dog (allergic child at home) and I certainly never understood the blessings of love and joy that a dog can bring its humans.   

I could never replace Sunny so this is a once and only love story. I answer people who nag me about a new dog that I am by nature monogamous:  one man, one dog.   But I also tell friends that can theologically receive it, (no pearls before swine) that I expect to see Sunny again.  I’m sure I am not the first believer to discover this truth.                 

Comments

Thomas Muench | 6/22/2012 - 1:26pm
i take solace in thinking of my two border collies, Maggie and Geordie, herding sheep in Heaven. Also, is it true that border collie Heaven is sheep Hell?
Cody Serra | 6/22/2012 - 12:22pm
Sweet and emotional article.  I have my Pucho, my poodle, for almost 19 years. He was my best friend and my family, during a difficult period of my life. To be responsible for him made me feel needed when I didn't, and he was the God's given gift to keep me out of dispair with his lively and loving personality.

Friends without dogs couldn't understand my mourning when I had to send him the dog's Heaven. As a Jesuit told me in my youth, you will meet those you loved there, even your pets.
I look forward to play with again, Pucho. 
MICHAEL WINTERS | 6/25/2012 - 9:02am
When my beloved dog Samantha died, I call a priest friend, troubled by the question of eternity and beasts. My priest friend had known Samantha, had patted her hair and experienced her licks on his hand. He said to me, "No creature so filled with love can simply cease to exist." I will leave the theological fine-tuning to others - that was all I needed to hear.

I should add that after six months of depression every time I walked into my then-empty home, I got a black lab, Bernie, from one rescue and a border collie, Clemetine, from another. Five years later, my St. Bernard, Ambrose, joined the pack. I encourage you, Sidney, not to think of your bond with Sunshine as a one time thing, like a marriage. Dogs are more like episcopal appointments: after a small one, get a bigger one, and then a still larger one. Actually, dogs are not like epsicopal appointments because the only ambition that matters to my beasts is getting a second Milk Bone. But, I will say that the emptiness I felt in those six months after Samantha died were hellish and life is much better since my new pack arrived. Next round, I intend to get an entire litter of St. Bernards.

MSW
Cody Serra | 6/22/2012 - 12:21pm
Sweet and emotional article.  I have my Pucho, my poodle, for almost 19 years. He was my best friend and my family, during a difficult period of my life. To be responsible for him made me feel needed when I didn't, and he was the God's given gift to keep me out of dispair with his lively and loving personality.

Friends without dogs couldn't understand my mourning when I had to send him the dog's Heaven. As a Jesuit told me in my youth, you will meet those you loved there, even your pets.
I look forward to play with again, Pucho. 
Patricia Bergeron | 6/25/2012 - 8:05am
I would refer everyone to Cynthia Rylant's wonderful children's picture book, ''Dog Heaven.'' It's a beautiful book for anyone, young or old, who has ever lost a beloved pet. (P.S. Rylant wrote a companion book, ''Cat Heaven,'' too.)
Ronnie Richards | 6/22/2012 - 5:59am
A very well written article and is emotional too. We at home have a Dog named Tuffy and We love him a lot. copart auction
Mary Wood | 6/22/2012 - 11:14am
 I was taught, and still believe, that if we want anything when we "get to heaven" we will be given it.  So I reckon I'll be reunited with Snooty, a Sealyham wrenched from me by my Mother 72 years ago!
Lauren Murphy | 6/21/2012 - 12:15pm
Thank you for this reflection. One of our family dogs has to be put to sleep this week. He's fifteen years old and has been a faithful, joyful, delightful presence. I no longer live at home and will miss seeing his cute nose and wagging tail the next time I travel that way. So these days I'm snuggling my cat a little closer and thinking of Java's soft fur and happy grin.

It is amazing how these animals enter our hearts and don't let go. I too believe we'll meet these little bundles of fur again. That gives me hope.
Mary Wood | 6/22/2012 - 11:14am
 I was taught, and still believe, that if we want anything when we "get to heaven" we will be given it.  So I reckon I'll be reunited with Snooty, a Sealyham wrenched from me by my Mother 72 years ago!