Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Inordinate Love of Dogs and Cats

If you want to set off a debate amongst Catholics without referring to the "pelvic issues", try talking about whether dogs go to heaven.

Fr. Chris has a few thoughts on the inordinate love of pets that drives the "dogs go to heaven" meme:

What I have witnessed in people who call pets their children is a desire to create a fantasy that numbs the very real pain of loneliness that comes natural to them. Those who love their pets inordinately will actually say, (and I have witnessed it first hand) that if their pets are not in heaven, they do not want to go there. They have traded in God for a pet. But what they loved in their Pet is already in God, infinitely, and thus fail to realize that the pet is an even smaller foretaste, but still nonetheless a foretaste of God’s good nature.
Whether or not pets are in heaven, along with their tapeworms, it should be a trivial question if our hunger is rightly ordered.
Today we confuse the affection that exists in animals for love, they lift dogs and cats, therefore to the dignity of the human person. Please: don’t buy into the notion that the Church hasn’t dogmatically claimed whether or not animals have the same type of soul as humans. The practice of the Church to baptize only human beings speaks for itself, and not once has any theological statement claimed that Christ died for the sins of Pepper, my deceased childhood dog. People want to believe their pets love them, because they are too burdened by the fact that their non-existent spouse doesn’t love them, because he or she doesn’t exist. The illusion of love in a pet makes the pain go away. But it’s an illusion. And one that I have witnessed will be defended at the cost of ostracizing a priest on Facebook. Feeling that hunger is really what makes us good Christians if we allow it to become zeal for God.
Love your pets, but love them not as a human being: love them as a very small picture of what God is like infinitely. Love humans even more, but again, don’t love them as you would Love God. Don’t make pets or humans into an idol: make God your object of worship.