Saint Fido?

 

 

 

Pope Francis did not say the words about the animals going to heaven; but Pope Paul perhaps did. I though I would add a reflection or two.

Firstly, it is clear that pets cannot be saved, or damned. Only a soul (I mean of a human; animals don’t have “souls”, merely an animal spirit) can be saved, or damned. The resurrection of the bodies certainly does not extend to the resurrection of the carcasses of animals. It would be absurd to believe anything of the sort.

Still, it does not seem credible to me that Paradise will be deprived of plants and animals. The Old Testament mentions a state in which animals live in peace with each other, in a kind of modified version of their earthly relatives: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

Clearly, the Garden of Eden ( that is: the original plan) was physical all right; the plants therein contained did not enjoy the beatific vision, but they were certainly there. The resurrection of the body itself does not necessarily imply, but it certainly indicates an environment fit for these bodies, made in such a way that the body has a natural function, a purpose in harmony with its environment.

Then there is the matter of the souls living in paradise. Such souls cannot, as they are in heaven, have desires contrary to God’s will. Their will is perfectly aligned with the Will of their Creator. At the same time, it seems difficult to think that these souls would not have any legitimate desire of them (and we have just said these are the only desires they would be able to have) gladly fulfilled. Whilst I have never been there and so I cannot report on the matter, it seems to this limited intelligence that either the desire for animals, trees, lakes, sunsets, or bumblebees is not legitimate, or it would be readily fulfilled as necessary part of a beatitude that can have no lack, that can leave no desires unfulfilled.

Certainly, the happiness of heaven consists of the Beatific Vision. But one wonders why this beatific vision would exclude any other ever so subordinate or secondary desire; and if this is so – and mind: it might well be so – why Isaiah would have been inspired by the Lord to something so wildly allegoric as to deny the very substance of the so inspired words.

It seems to me obvious, therefore, that animals don’t “go” to heaven or hell, in the same way as trees don’t; but at the same time, I consider it indisputable that we are told heaven will have animals living in a perfectly peaceful, perfectly harmonious environment and, by logical extension, a physical environment that is in keeping with what would make – and no matter how trivial, and how less important than the beatific vision – this environment complete, and a soul in heaven perfectly happy. And if God can put plants in the garden of eden, creating them from an ideal pattern that is not the one of deceased plants on earth; and wolves and leopards that are an enhanced version of the earthly ones, but not any one of them; so it is well thinkable that he might recreate your favourite puppy  (say: without the infection and disease risk) in heaven, and the like.

But again, I don’t know, because I wasn’t there. And again, this does not mean that an animal is saved or redeemed, or else – necessarily – damned. It can’t be! An animal has no soul, therefore it cannot choose between good and evil, therefore it cannot be rewarded or punished for them.

Pope Paul’s talk, if it ever existed, would be dangerous because it would lead the brainless, emoting masses to believe that “pets go to heaven”, which is in contradiction with the entire edifice of Redemption. It would lead to a stupid parody of Christianity, well exemplified in the scenes of “A Fish Called Wanda” about the “dog funerals”, (” miserere Dominus, canis mortuus est!”…).

But we do not know that either. In the latest weeks, the US press has uncritically published every piece of rubbish from false rapes to young thugs depicted as “gentle giants”, and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised it this of Paul VI turned out to be a complete invention, too…

There’s no “Saint Fido” in heaven. It is good to say it even to distraught children. Because if you don’t, you put them on the way to a dangerous new age religion that is not recognisable as Christianity anymore.

M

 

 

Posted on December 14, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. What comes to my mind is that God created nature and the animals fist, then Adam, and in the Garden of Paradise Adam was not completely content ; he was lonely so God created Eve. Scripture tells us that you cannot keep your marriage partner in Heaven; marriage ends with death, so if you can’t keep your wife, can you keep your dog?! Since the dog has no immortal soul, he would need to be created again in heaven by God, and the dog would die again since the dog would need an immortal soul so as to live forever, but if the dog had an immortal soul, he would not be a dog.

    It seems that in the last 20 years or so there has been increasing interest in a physical heavenly paradise similar to the Garden of Eden, whereas before that time emphasis was placed on the absolutely sublime and totally fulfilling spiritual enjoyment of God in heaven which precluded all desire for anything earthly, including sex with the wife you had on Earth, because people would “live like angels”.

    • ah, but whilst you would not have the “wife”, you would have the person. Not as wife, but as soul. The totally fulfilling spiritual enjoyment of God in heaven does not, however, precludes the fact that, say, said former husband and wives would live like brother and sister in heaven, thus indicating a net of interpersonal relationship that is certainly a reflex of the beatific vision, but is not the beatific vision itself. It also makes the words of Isaiah look strange in my eyes, unless we attribute to them an allegoric value of much robustness.

      M

      An

  2. Animals do not have spirits. A spirit subsists without matter, as do the angels. They do however have souls, which are the forms of living bodies. When they die, the soul is destroyed. Humans alone have rational souls, which are also eternal, because they have intellectual or spiritual operations. Human souls can therefore subsist without their bodies.

    • Ah, I think it’s a matter of definition. I have read the contrary one: “immortal” is the adjective that pertains to souls, “spirit” is the noun that denotes conscious function in humans and animals. I am Italian and I have always translated “anima” with soul, and “spirito” with spirit. In German is, the way I see it, pretty much the same, with “Seele” referring to the immortal one, and “Geist” referring to “spirit” (also in a figurative manner: “Melissengeist”). At least this is the way I have used these words, though it seems that there is a certain interchangeability. But it seems we agree on the matter itself.
      M

    • @ Mundabor

      I understand that you are upholding the truth here, and “anima” is indeed “soul”. But the Church understands by “soul” the form of an animate body, and has used it as such, as when it defined infallibly that the intellectual soul is the form of the human body. Aquinas speaks of angels as “spiritual substances” and “separate substances” (as in separate from matter), but acknowledges that animals have souls, just not intellectual ones. One can indeed call the human soul “spiritual,” because it can subsist without matter after death, and it is capable of intellectual and spiritual operations. But an animal is incapable of either. If it is in some sense self-aware, that “consciousness” is not rational, but purely sensitive, which means that it involves matter in its very operation. To call it a spirit is to sow serious confusion in the minds of your Catholic readers.

      I guess my point is that you have adopted a terminology foreign to the Church and to scholastic philosophy, one derived from early modern philosophy. I know that you care deeply about language, so I am hopeful that you will see my point and adopt the more traditional terminology, which is not compromised by modern equivocations.

    • Thanks, Jeffrey.
      Point duly taken.
      M

  3. We have no idea if animals have immortal spirits or not. The Church has never taught officially on the matter. All we know is that they do not have fallen, human souls.

    There is clearly nothing that prevents God from restoring them to new life in paradise, e.g., “Behold, I make all things new.”

    • I disagree on this.

      That the soul (or spirit) of the animals is not immortal is obvious. The Gospel never talks of salvation, eternal life for animals, nor is this any part of Christian tradition. Not is there anywhere any mention that the animal world will be transposed into the heavenly one. It is, on the contrary, clear that the immortality of the human soul is the direct result of the human soul being intimately linked to God by a very special destiny and purpose.

      “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John:6:40). No mention of Fido here.

      The restoring (the remaking) is obviously different, as to God nothing is impossible.

      M

  4. In English in theology classes , and following St. Thomas Aquinas the human being is said to have a mortal soul and the person an immortal soul. “Spirit ” is used to denote a being without a body, an angel or devil ( a good spirit or bad spirit) , or the Holy Spirit.

  5. We have no idea if animals have immortal spirits. None. The Church has never taught on the matter. Nor did Jesus. There’s nothing preventing God, obviously, from restoring our animals to us, e.g., “Behold, I make all things new.”

    What we know is: 1) they do not have fallen, human souls in need of salvation, and 2) we do not need to be concerned about their eternal destiny, but ours.

  6. Correction to last e-mail: it should read ..”following St. Thomas the animal is said to have a mortal soul ( soul is the life principle )and the human, an immortal soul.

  7. Dogs in Paradise

    Nothing that spills out of the mouth of Pope Francis is « par hasard » (accidental).

    In Germany – the most Progressive country of all times (see Martin Luther and all what followed) – there has been a recent official radio broadcast (I can’t find which one but I think it was in the Land of Hessen) with a fellow who advocated for the screwing of dogs.

    So I’m sure that we will come up to official marriages with dogs, etc., because, hey, « they can go to Heaven » = man-like, sofore screwable. And man descending to the state of an animal which has no sense of the Divine.

    Rhizotomos
    Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat !

  8. Mr. M, I’ve heard it said that nothing that God creates is ever truly lost. When he finally brings about the “New Heavens and the New Earth”, perhaps he may bring back everything, including all ancient plants and animals, maybe even the Dinosaurs. This could be part of what St. Paul means when he says: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

  9. Mundabor, sorry for the double post; was collecting my thoughts.

    This is probably the first and only time I have a differing view. Having truly loved my labrador, I wrestled with this question a lot theologically. The last thing that animal did before he was put to sleep was raise his head to kiss me. It was so “human” that I just have a hard time believing that their fate is oblivion.

    I won’t be surprised if I’m wrong, but I have to hope that good God really has no problem with restoring our beloved animals to us.

    • You can certainly hope so. I am not saying it will not be so. But honestly, it’s difficult to base theology on your dog.

      To God, nothing is impossible. But we must accept the idea that paradise will be a place of god-willed perfection in the way God has decided to have it. Which might be without dogs.

      M

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