By Bro. Michael Dimond and Bro. Peter Dimond
The following article is our personal opinion on this subject. If there is a decision by the Magisterium in the future on this issue, or one from the past we have overlooked, we subject ourselves to it. Based upon papal teachings that MHFM has researched, we are not aware of any magisterial teaching on whether any animals can go to heaven. It is our opinion that, at the very least, certain animals do go to Heaven.
In Apocalypse 19, we are given a vision of Heaven. Jesus Christ is seen on a horse and the armies of the Word of God follow Christ on horses.
Apocalypse 19:11-17- “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and with justice doth he judge and fight. And his eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many diadems, and he had a name written, which no man knoweth but himself. And he was clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood; and his name is called, THE WORD OF GOD. And the armies that are in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean…. And I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that did fly through the midst of heaven: Come, gather yourselves together to the great supper of God.”
The word translated as “Heaven” in many passages of the New Testament, including Apoc. 19:11, is from the Greek word ouranos. It can refer to the sky or the region in which God dwells. The context of this chapter, which speaks of God sitting on His throne (Apoc. 19:4), makes it clear that “Heaven” in this passage refers to the region in which God dwells. St. John describes the opening of God’s region, as Christ comes to Earth. Animals are said to be there, with Christ and His armies riding on horses.
One might assert that the horses on which Christ and His armies ride are simply symbolic. But would God give us a symbolic picture of animals in Heaven, if the very concept of animals in the next world is repugnant to the ultimate reality? Moreover, the supposition that these descriptions are purely symbolic is no more definitive than the position that they provide us with an actual picture of what will occur.
The early Church father St. Irenaeus (2nd century) seemed to believe that the description of Apoc. 19 constitutes an actual representation of the future reality.
St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV, Chap. 20, #11, A.D. 180: “And again, he says, speaking of this very same Lamb: And behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness does He judge and make war… And the armies of heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in pure white linen. And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword… And He has upon His vesture and upon His thigh a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:11-17). Thus does the Word of God always preserve the outlines, as it were, of things to come, and points out to men the various forms (species), as it were, of the dispensations of the Father, teaching us the things pertaining to God.”
The Lord Jesus Christ stated: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke 12:6)
Apocalypse 5:13: “And every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them: I heard all saying: To him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction, and honor, and glory, and power, for ever and ever.”
St. Francis Paola (1416-1507) was one of the greatest miracle workers in the history of the Catholic Church. He had a special interest in animals. He had a pet lamb and a pet fish. He raised his pet fish to life after it had been killed, cooked and smashed to pieces by another priest.
“Francis had a favorite trout that he called ‘Antonella.’ One day one of the priests, who provided religious services, saw the trout swimming about in his pool. To him it was just a delicious dish, so he caught it and took it home, tossing it into the frying pan. Francis missed ‘Antonella’ and realized what had happened. He asked one of his followers to go to the priest to get it back. The priest, annoyed by this great concern for a mere fish, threw the cooked trout on the ground, shattering it into several pieces. The hermit sent by Francis gathered up the broken pieces in his hands and brought them back to Francis. Francis placed the pieces back in the pool and, looking up to Heaven, praying, said: ‘Antonella, in the name of Charity, return to life.’ The trout immediately became whole and swam joyously around his pool as if nothing had happened. The friars and the workers who witnessed this miracle were deeply impressed at the saint’s amazing powers.”
St. Francis also raised his pet lamb, Martinello, from the dead after it had been eaten by workmen.
“Being in need of food, the workmen caught and slaughtered Francis’ pet lamb, Martinello, roasting it in their lime kiln. They were eating when the Saint approached them, looking for his lamb. They told him they had eaten it, having no other food. He asked what they had done with the fleece and the bones. They told him they had thrown them into the furnace. Francis walked over to the furnace, looked into the fire and called ‘Martinello, come out!’ The lamb jumped out, completely untouched, bleating happily on seeing his master.”
It’s noteworthy that St. Francis Paola called the animals by their names even after their lives had ended. He apparently believed they continued to exist after their deaths.
Blessed Martin De Porres (1579-1639) was a saintly brother of the Dominican Order. He was beatified in the 19th century. He also had a special interest in animals. After a dog had been uncharitably killed by its master, Martin raised the dog from the dead. He also spoke to the dog and instructed it not to return to its ungrateful master.
“The procurator of the convent had a dog that served him faithfully for eighteen years. But now, as the animal was old and loathsome, he ordered him to be cast out. However, the faithful beast always came back, looking for his master. Then orders were given that the dog be taken off some distance and killed. This was done, and Blessed Martin on discovering such ingratitude, as it seemed in his eyes, was moved to compassion and asked that the dead dog be carried to his cell. He then sought out the procurator and said to him: ‘My Father, why did you order them to kill that animal? Is that the reward you give him after he has served you for so many years?’ Then shutting himself up in the cell where the dead animal had been placed, Martin knelt for some time in prayer, begging God to restore life to the unfortunate animal if He so willed, and God did not turn a deaf ear to this humble petition. On the following day Martin’s brethren saw him leave his cell, accompanied by the faithful dog, alive and perfectly well. While feeding him in the kitchen, Martin was heard to utter these words of sober advice to the dog: ‘Now, be sure not to return to your ungrateful master’s service, for you have experienced only too clearly how little your long years of faithful service have been appreciated.’ It is said that the dog survived for many years, but that he always followed Martin’s warning, fleeing from his old master whenever he saw him approach.”
In another case, rats were causing problems for a man Blessed Martin had assisted. The problem increased to the point that rats began to invade the sacristy. Martin thought the problem could be solved without killing the rats, but the man decided to set traps. After a rat was caught in one of the traps, Martin urged that it not be destroyed. Instead, Martin spoke to the rat. He told the rat that he and his companions should leave the monastery and go to the garden. To the amazement of many, the rats obeyed.
“When Martin saw the little prisoner, his heart was touched and he would not permit its destruction. Instead, he gave him [the rat] his liberty, saying: ‘Go along, little brother, and tell your companions not to do any more harm. Tell your whole tribe to vacate this holy monastery and to go back into the garden, where I will bring you food each day.’ To the astonishment of all, the mice and rats came flocking out of the convent, finding a refuge in an old shed; and there Martin saw to it that they were provided with daily sustenance.”
The interactions of St. Francis of Assisi with animals are well-chronicled. One of the most famous stories concerns St. Francis and the wolf. A large wolf was terrifying the people of Gubbio. The wolf devoured people and animals. Despite warnings to avoid him, St. Francis decided to approach the wolf, as many watched from a distance.
“The wolf, seeing all this multitude, ran towards Saint Francis with his jaws wide open. As he approached, the saint, making the sign of the cross, cried out: “Come hither, brother wolf; I command thee, in the name of Christ, neither to harm me nor anybody else.” Marvelous to tell, no sooner had Saint Francis made the sign of the cross, than the terrible wolf, closing his jaws, stopped running, and coming up to Saint Francis, lay down at his feet as meekly as a lamb.
And the saint thus addressed him: “Brother wolf, thou hast done much evil in this land, destroying and killing the creatures of God without his permission; yea, not animals only hast thou destroyed, but thou hast even dared to devour men, made after the image of God; for which thing thou art worthy of being hanged like a robber and a murderer. All men cry out against thee, the dogs pursue thee, and all the inhabitants of this city are thy enemies; but I will make peace between them and thee, O brother wolf, if so be thou no more offend them, and they shall forgive thee all thy past offences, and neither men nor dogs shall pursue thee anymore.”
Having listened to these words, the wolf bowed his head, and, by the movements of his body, his tail, and his eyes, made signs that he agreed to what Saint Francis said.
On this Saint Francis added: “As thou art willing to make this peace, I promise thee that thou shalt be fed every day by the inhabitants of this land so long as thou shalt live among them; thou shalt no longer suffer hunger, as it is hunger which has made thee do so much evil; but if I obtain all this for thee, thou must promise, on thy side, never again to attack any animal or any human being; dost thou make this promise?” Then the wolf, bowing his head, made a sign that he consented.
Said Saint Francis again: “Brother wolf, wilt thou pledge thy faith that I may trust to this thy promise?” and putting out his hand he received the pledge of the wolf; for the latter lifted up his paw and placed it familiarly in the hand of Saint Francis, giving him thereby the only pledge which was in his power.
Then said Saint Francis, addressing him again: “Brother wolf, I command thee, in the name of Christ, to follow me immediately, without hesitation or doubting, that we may go together to ratify this peace which we have concluded in the name of God”; and the wolf, obeying him, walked by his side as meekly as a lamb, to the great astonishment of all the people.
Now, the news of this most wonderful miracle spreading quickly through the town, all the inhabitants, both men and women, small and great, young and old, flocked to the market-place to see Saint Francis and the wolf… Then all the people promised with one voice to feed the wolf to the end of his days… Then Saint Francis continued: “Brother wolf, as thou gavest me a pledge of this thy promise when we were outside the town, so now I will that thou renew it in the sight of all this people, and assure me that I have done well to promise in thy name”; and the wolf lifting up his paw placed it in the hand of Saint Francis.”
A mysterious dog also played a role in the life of St. John Bosco.
“God gave to Saint John Bosco a mysterious dog that became the protector of this great saint for much of his life. Where the dog came from and where it went was of no consequence to the saint; he genuinely accepted the friendship of the dog as part of divine providence.
Saint John Bosco did so much good saving the young boys of his time that I am sure it was the influence of the devil that riled up people against him, sometimes to the point that jealousy and hatred led men to try to kill the saint on more than one occasion. It was in response to that danger that a huge gray dog appeared one day when Saint John Bosco was being threatened by murderers. The dog, fearsome to behold, was described as a German shepherd standing three feet tall. Grigio, as he was named by Saint John Bosco, would always appear where trouble waited for the saint. When these ne’er-do-wells finally stopped trying to hurt Saint John Bosco, the dog disappeared. He appeared only one other time, when the saint was lost, to lead him safely to a Salesian home.”
St. Paul of the Cross (d. 1775) once rebuked a farmer who uttered blasphemies in frustration at his oxen. Upset by the admonition, the farmer pointed his gun at St. Paul. “More horrified at the blasphemies than he was at his present danger, the Saint held up the crucifix he always wore around his neck and announced fearlessly, ‘Since you will not respect this crucifix, these oxen will.’ As though they understood, the oxen immediately fell to their knees.” Afterwards the farmer repented.
In the life of St. Anthony of Padua (d. 1231) we read that many heretics resided at Rimini. “But they, not only consenting not to his holy words, but even, like hardened and obstinate sinners, refusing to hearken unto him, the Saint one day, by divine inspiration, went forth to the banks of the river close beside the sea; and, standing thus upon the shore betwixt sea and stream, he began to speak in the guise of a sermon in the name of God unto the fishes. ‘Hear the word of God, ye fishes of the sea and of the stream, since heretics and infidels are loathe to listen to it.’ And having uttered these words, suddenly there came toward him so great a multitude of fishes – great, small, and middle-sized – as had never been seen in that sea or in that stream… all turned their heads out of the water, and all turned attentively toward the face of Anthony.”
In the life of St. Anthony of Padua, we also learn that an Albigensian heretic challenged Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. As a test, the two men agreed to allow the heretic’s mule to choose between its typical food and the Eucharist. The mule was deprived of food for three days. After three days, in the presence of a great crowd, the heretic attempted to feed the mule oats and hay, while St. Anthony held the consecrated Host before the animal. The mule ignored the food, and fell to its knees before the Blessed Sacrament. As a result, the unbelievers were thrown into great confusion and some of them were converted.
Consider the following story from the Old Testament Book of Numbers, Chapter 22:21-35:
“Balaam arose in the morning, and saddling his ass went with them. And God was angry. And an angel of the Lord stood in the way against Balaam, who sat on the ass, and had two servants with him. The ass seeing the angel standing in the way, with a drawn sword, turned herself out of the way, and went into the field. And when Balaam beat her, and had a mind to bring her again to the way, the angel stood in a narrow place between two walls, wherewith the vineyards were enclosed. And the ass seeing him, thrust herself close to the wall, and bruised the foot of the rider. But he beat her again: And nevertheless the angel going on to a narrow place, where there was no way to turn aside either to the right hand or to the left, stood to meet him. And when the ass saw the angel standing, she fell under the feet of the rider: who being angry beat her sides more vehemently with a staff. And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said: What have I done to thee? Why strikest thou me, lo, now this third time? Balaam answered: Because thou hast deserved it, and hast served me ill: I would I had a sword that I might kill thee. The ass said: Am not I thy beast, on which thou hast been always accustomed to ride until this present day? Tell me if I ever did the like thing to thee. But he said: Never. Forthwith the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel standing in the way with a drawn sword, and he worshipped him falling flat on the ground. And the angel said to him: Why beatest thou thy ass these three times? I am come to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse, and contrary to me: And unless the ass had turned out of the way, giving place to me who stood against thee, I had slain thee, and she should have lived. Balaam said: I have sinned, not knowing that thou didst stand against me: and now if it displease thee that I go, I will return. The angel said: Go with these men, and see thou speak no other thing than what I shall command thee. He went therefore with the princes.”
This passage tells us that an animal could see an angel and was given the ability to speak. When the angel finally appeared to Balaam, he rebuked him for beating the animal. The angel also said that he almost killed Balaam and spared the animal. Balaam had to have his eyes opened in order to see the angel, but the animal did not.
It was based on the reasoning of St. Thomas Aquinas that many Catholics came to think that animals do not possess souls that exist after their deaths. While St. Thomas’ views are always worthy of consideration, they are not infallible or definitive. In some cases, his views have been rejected by the Magisterium. His views on the soul itself have, in some instances, been proven false. St. Thomas taught that the human embryo proceeded through three stages of soul. He believed that the embryo began with the vegetative soul (anima vegetabilis , which he believed plants possess), then proceeded to the sensitive soul (anima sensitiva, which he believed animals possess), and, after 40 or 80 days, God infused the rational or intellectual soul (anima intellectiva, the human soul).
As the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia article on “Soul” explains:
“St. Thomas’s doctrine is … In the first stage of embryonic development, the vital principle has merely vegetative powers; then a sensitive soul comes into being, educed from the evolving potencies of the organism — later yet, this is replaced by the perfect rational soul, which is essentially immaterial and so postulates a special creative act. Many modern theologians have abandoned this last point of St. Thomas’s teaching, and maintain that a fully rational soul is infused into the embryo at the first moment of its existence.”
In other words, those who claim to adhere to St. Thomas’ view on animation and ensoulment must believe that an embryo begins with a plant soul; it is then replaced by an animal soul, which in turn is replaced by the infusion of the human (rational) soul 40 or 80 days after the initial formation of the embryo. St. Thomas also taught that the soul of Mary did incur the stain of original sin – an idea contradicted by later infallible teaching on the Immaculate Conception.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. III, Q. 27, A. 2, Reply to Objection 2: “If the soul of the Blessed Virgin had never incurred the stain of original sin, this would be derogatory to the dignity of Christ, by reason of His being the universal Saviour of all. Consequently after Christ, who, as the universal Saviour of all, needed not to be saved, the purity of the Blessed Virgin holds the highest place.”
As an aside, while we’ve mentioned St. Thomas’ erroneous view on the Immaculate Conception in the past (and this quote in particular), it’s remarkable that many in the traditional movement, including prominent individuals and priests, after being presented with this evidence still wrongly and dishonestly insist that St. Thomas did not contradict the Immaculate Conception! To put it simply, St. Thomas’ views on the soul are not infallible.
While we are definitely not asserting that animals possess rational or intellectual souls – these are unique to human beings, who alone are created in the image of God – we do not agree with the assertion that they cannot exist after death or that the life principle (or soul) of animals is nothing more than a sensitive and instinctive life force. We believe there is something more there, at least with some animals.
Anyone who has been around certain animals knows that certain animals demonstrate individuality, an ability to learn and reason, and even personalities. Two animals of the same species will have different proclivities and interests. Their mode of operation is not completely instinctive or based purely on sensory response and reaction. For example, some cats are very curious, while others are not. Some dogs like a certain activity, while others do not. St. Gregory Nazianzen said the following about animals.
St. Gregory Nazianzen, Second Theological Oration (Oration 28), #’s 23-26, A.D. 381: “Shall I reckon up for you the differences of the other animals, both from us and from each other – differences of nature, and of production, and of region, and of temper, and as it were of social life? How is it that some are gregarious and others solitary, some herbivorous and others carnivorous, some fierce and others tame, some fond of man and domesticated, others untamable and free? And some we might call bordering on reason and power of learning, while others are altogether destitute of reason… some strong, others weak, some apt at self-defense, others timid and crafty… some attached to one spot, some amphibious; some delight in beauty and others are unadorned… Is this not the clearest proof of the majestic working of God?”
In the original paradise (prior to the fall of Adam and Eve), God created the whales, the birds, and every moving creature on earth and in the sea. Having placed animals of all kinds in the original, uncursed and sinless paradise, “God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:25).
Before Adam and Eve’s capitulation to the serpent brought sin and death into the world, God brought all beasts of the Earth and the fowls of the air to Adam so that he could name them.
Genesis 2:19- “And the Lord God having formed out of the ground all the beasts of the earth, and all the fowls of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: for whatsoever Adam called any living creature the same is its name.”
When God destroyed the Earth at the time of Noah, all things “wherein there is the breath of life” died (Gen. 7:22). The same word for the souls or breath of life of animals is used to describe the soul of man, even though man’s soul is very different from that of animals.
The flood of Noah’s day is described by St. Peter as the end of the original world: “And [God] spared not the original world” (2 Peter 2:5). Yet, when God warned Noah about what he must do to successfully transition from the original world, through the flood, to the new, God also told him to bring animals into the Ark.
Genesis 7:1-5- “And the Lord said to him: Go in thou and all thy house into the ark: for thee I have seen just before me in this generation. Of all clean beasts take seven and seven, the male and the female. But of the beasts that are unclean two and two, the male and the female. Of the fowls also of the air seven and seven, the male and the female: that seed may be saved upon the face of the whole earth. For yet a while, and after seven days, I will rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will destroy every substance that I have made, from the face of the earth. And Noe did all things which the Lord had commanded him… And of beasts clean and unclean, and of fowls, and of every thing that moveth upon the earth, two and two went in to Noe into the ark, male and female, as the Lord had commanded Noe. And after the seven days were passed, the waters of the flood overflowed the earth.”
God wanted the animals from “the original world” to be present in the next world, and He commanded Noah to go to extraordinary lengths to make it happen.
After the flood, God established His covenant with Noah and with all the animals/creatures on Earth.
Genesis 9:11-17- “I will establish my covenant with you, and all flesh shall be no more destroyed with the waters of a flood, neither shall there be from henceforth a flood to waste the earth. And God said: This is the sign of the covenant which I give between me and you, and to every living soul that is with you, for perpetual generations. I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me, and between the earth. And when I shall cover the sky with clouds, my bow shall appear in the clouds: And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that beareth flesh: and there shall no more be waters of a flood to destroy all flesh.
And the bow shall be in the clouds, and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant, that was made between God and every living soul of all flesh which is upon the earth. And God said to Noe: This shall be the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh upon the earth.”
The Haydock commentary on Genesis 9:10 acknowledges that God made His covenant also with the animals.
God created animals for the original, spiritually pristine Earth. Is it unthinkable that He would have animals in the new Heaven and the new Earth at the end of time? In fact, the Apocalypse clearly portrays the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as the restoration of the original paradise on Earth.
The first Earth featured the “the tree of life… in the midst of paradise” (Genesis 2:9). The Apocalypse repeatedly tells us that Christ will restore the tree of life.
Apocalypse 22:2- “In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
Doesn’t it seem consistent that as there were animals of various kinds in the original paradise, there will be animals in the new paradise – in the new Heaven and new Earth? In this regard we should consider a prophecy of Isaiah.
Isaiah 65 contains a prophecy about the new Heaven and the new Earth. While a similar prophecy made in Isaiah chapter 11:1-9 finds fulfillment in the coming of Christ and the establishment of the New Covenant Church, the passage in Isaiah 65 seems to have application to the end of time, the Second Coming of Christ and the Apocalypse. Numerous early Church fathers applied Isaiah 65 to the end of time, including St. Justin Martyr.
The prophecy of Isaiah 65 is relevant to this topic because it says that in the new Heaven and new Earth, “the wolves and the lambs feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent [shall eat] earth as bread. They shall not hurt or maltreat each other on the holy mountain…”
Here are the comments of St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165) on the prophecy of Isaiah 65.
St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chap. 81, 2nd century:
CHAPTER LXXXI — HE ENDEAVOURS TO PROVE THIS OPINION FROM ISAIAH AND THE APOCALYPSE.
“For Isaiah spake thus concerning this space of a thousand years: ‘For there shall be the new heaven and the new earth… For according to the days of the tree of life shall be the days of my people… Then shall the wolves and the lambs feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent [shall eat] earth as bread. They shall not hurt or maltreat each other on the holy mountain, i saith the Lord.’ Now we have understood that the expression used among these words, ‘According to the days of the tree [of life] shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound’ obscurely predicts a thousand years… And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place.’”
We are told that in the new Heaven and the New Earth, the lion, the ox and other animals will live in harmony. Some might argue that this is a metaphor for how Christ’s elect will be comprised of people with different temperaments. Individuals of all types will have found conversion and peace with their incorporation into Christ. However, that is not certain. This passage could speak to the actual working of the future Heaven and Earth. The statement in Isaiah 65:19, that there will be no more “weeping” or “crying” in the new Heaven and Earth, closely parallels Apocalypse 21:4:
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.”
This strongly suggests that the prophecy of Isaiah 65, concerning the lion, ox, etc. has application to the new Heaven and the new Earth at the end of time. Other than the dogmas of divine revelation, which tell us how humans are to get to Heaven and which humans will be excluded, we know very little about what Heaven actually is or will be like.
1 Cor. 2:9- “But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.”
In fact, in the original paradise, animals did not kill or eat each other. In God’s original design, the herbs and the trees which bear seed were the food or “meat” of both man and land creatures (Gen. 1:29-30). It was only after the sin of Adam, the changes in the Earth that resulted from the flood, the introduction of various seasons, and the consequent reduction of the tree and herb supply at various times of the year, that animals became carnivores. There is a fascinating lecture on this point by a professor of zoology. He explains that creatures we typically consider hunters and carnivores were not so from the beginning. He shows how their natural equipment is perfectly consistent with this conclusion and an original design as vegetarians.
Therefore, if animals lived in peaceful harmony in the original paradise, it would make sense that they would do so in the new Heaven and the new Earth. The words of Isaiah, which foretell such a situation, would thus be consistent with a more literal understanding of the prophecy. But even if one grants that the description in Isaiah 65 is a symbol or a metaphor, one must ask once again why God would provide us with a symbol of animals in the new Heaven and new Earth if the concept is repugnant to reality.
Of course it needs to be affirmed that the worship of animals is an abominable heresy that plagued people in the Old Testament and still exists among some today. Animals are not God, and they are different from human beings. They do not possess rational souls. However, they have the special form of existence which God gave them; and it’s simply remarkable to consider the amazing abilities and characteristics they continually display. These abilities clearly disprove the assertion that animals are simply beings that function only on instinct and sensory response.
For example, there is an amazing YouTube video called, Hero Dog Tries to Help Wounded Dog – Chile. It has been viewed almost two million times. In an attempt to cross a busy highway, a dog was hit by a car and left helpless in the midst of heavy oncoming traffic. A second dog some distance away spotted him. The second dog decided to venture into heavy traffic and save the wounded one. The second dog evaded oncoming cars, grabbed the wounded dog with its teeth and paws, and pulled it inch by inch to safety on the side of the road. The wounded dog survived. The footage is simply incredible. Stories of this type could be multiplied many times.
There is a fascinating three-part video series called Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution. This video series, which we sell on our online store, is an astounding documentary about the full capabilities of God’s creatures.
“There are animals that save human beings; animals that manifest extraordinary courage; animals that exhibit an uncanny ability to show emotion, and even to cry, animals that can communicate, some with hierarchical methods and some with sign language; animals that know when a tornado or an earthquake is coming; animals that can smell cancer, drugs, termites…”
“John and Michele Helfrich of Justin, Texas, had a bovine longhorn calf named Beanie that watched John repair a water line that had sprung a leak. To repair the pipe he first had to dig a trench on both sides of the pipe. The heifer stood beside him the entire day, observing his actions. Then, to his amazement, when he started filling the trench back in, she would stand beside him and push the dirt in. Finally, he jumped in the trench, and when he did, Beanie jumped in with him and started stomping the dirt down. When he got back out to shove more dirt in, she would get out and push the dirt with her head.”
“A young girl was abducted by a stranger in a van, driven about twelve miles away, and held captive in the van on a deserted road. It was later learned that the van did not stop once while traveling from the point of abduction to the deserted road twelve miles away.
Several hours after the abduction, the local authorities gave their bloodhound a piece of the child’s clothing for reference and put the dog on the trail. It took several more hours, but the dog led police on foot down the same twelve miles of highway transited by the van, off the same exit ramp, and down the same deserted road. The bloodhound led them right to the van and the victim was rescued unharmed.”
“Mrs. Jensen stayed with the mare and her foal all day long. That evening, the baby horse simply stopped breathing. At that instant, the Jensen’s five other horses, which had over the past few hours gathered themselves as close to the barn as possible, reared up on their hind legs and gave several piercing screams. They could not have seen the foal because it was in the barn when it died – yet they knew. It was an experience Mrs. Jensen will never forget and, in this earthly life, she will never fully understand.”
“A farmer in Australia who suffered serious head injuries after being struck by a falling tree branch was rescued by a partially blind kangaroo who was hailed as a hero. Lulu the kangaroo banged on the door of the family’s home in Morwell, Gippsland in southeast Australia after discovering the farmer lying unconscious in a field.”
By playing music from a harp, animals have seen dramatic health benefits. One music therapist decided to find out how other creatures might respond to music. “She decided to conduct an experiment at a small dairy farm in Sidney, Indiana, where forty-two Holsteins [cows] who had never been exposed to music were treated to measured doses of Classical, Hard Rock, and Country & Western over a thirteen-day period. The results suggested that cows are a sophisticated audience. Milk production rose almost six percent when classical music was being aired (Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in C Major) but fell by the same amount when the stereo played the rock band Kiss.”
A Personal Story
We would like to share a personal story. For many years the monastery had a small dog. Around 2003 or 2004, the dog was suffering from old age and had cataracts in her eye. She was very weak and almost blind. The dog was clearly near the end of its life. We decided that it was best to have the dog put to sleep (something that’s morally permissible with animals but not with humans). On the very day we reached the decision, that the dog would sadly have to be put to sleep, we discovered that the dog was spending her time in the monastery’s chapel, on the floor, in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The chapel is accessible from one of the rooms. Prior to that day, the dog never slept at length in the chapel. We do not believe it’s an accident or merely a coincidence that, just before the dog’s life had ended, something drew her into the presence of the One who created her. In fact, when she was picked up to be taken away for the last time of her life, she was picked up from the chapel floor. Something motivated her, in her weakest hour and when she was near her end, to enter the presence of God.
Equally interesting is the fact that the same thing occurred with one of our cats. We currently have two cats. In the Spring of 2008, one of our cats became extremely ill with a stomach infection and would not stop vomiting for an extended period of time. We thought it was probable that the cat would die. As the cat was suffering and in clearly the worst hours of its life, the cat spent almost all day sleeping on the floor of the chapel, just as the dog had years before. When healthy, the cat would very rarely wander into the chapel for short periods of time; but the cat would not sleep there at length, and it certainly would not spend most or all of the day in the chapel. Yet, when it was about to die, the cat spent basically the entire day in the chapel, right near the Blessed Sacrament, for a period of several days. We do not believe it was an accident that in its extreme sickness, the cat entered into the presence of God. Thank God, the cat eventually recovered and is in excellent health today.
In closing, the message of the Gospel and God’s redemption is for human beings, not animals. All animals are innocent. God decided to be born around innocent animals instead of human beings. Animals were required in the Old Testament for a sacrifice covering sin because they are sinless creatures, as well as to destroy the Israelites’ evil propensity to worship animals.
It is our opinion that at least some animals continue to exist after their lives on Earth, as part of God’s design.
Job 12:10- “[The Lord] In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”
Hosea 2:18- “And in that day I will make a covenant with them, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the air, and with the creeping things of the earth: and I will destroy the bow, and the sword, and war out of the land: and I will make them sleep secure.”
Colossians 1:17- “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Proverbs 12:10- “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 14-15- “All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven… I have learned that all the works which God hath made, continue forever: we cannot add anything, nor take away from those things which God hath made that he may be feared. That which hath been made, the same continueth: the things that shall be, have already been: and God restoreth that which is past.”
© Copyright 2012: Most Holy Family Monastery.
 St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV, Chap. 20, #11, A.D. 180.
 Simi & Segreti, St. Francis of Paola, Rockford, IL: Tan Books, 1977, p. 26.
 Simi & Segreti, St. Francis of Paola, p. 26.
 J.C. Kearns, O.P., The Life of Blessed Martin De Porres, New York, NY: P.J. Kennedy & Sons, 1937, pp. 113-114.
 J.C. Kearns, O.P., The Life of Blessed Martin De Porres, p. 111.
 The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapter XXI.
 Susi Pittman, Animals in Heaven?, Bloomington, IN: IUniverse, 2009, pp. 79-80.
 Joan Carroll Cruz, Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of the Saints, Tan Books, 1997, p. 480.
 Charles Warren Stoddard, St. Anthony – The Wonder Worker of Padua, Tan Books, 1971, pp. 61-62.
 Joan Carroll Cruz, Eucharistic Miracles, Tan Books, 1987, p. 207.
 Catholic Encyclopedia, “Soul,” 1907.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. III, Q. 27, A. 2, Reply to Objection 2.
 St. Gregory Nazienzen, Second Theological Oration (Oration 28), #’s 23-26, A.D. 381.
 St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chap. 81, 2nd century.
 Walter J. Veith, The Genesis Conflict – Creation to Restoration, Amazing Discoveries, Blaine, WA (DVD).
 Susi Pittman, Animals in Heaven?, p. 5.
 Mary Buddenmeyer-Porter, Animals, Immortal Beings, Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2005, p. 36.
 Gary Kurz, Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates, New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2008, p. 98.
 Mary Buddenmeyer-Porter, Will I See Fido in Heaven?, Manchester, MO: Eden Publications, LLC, 2006, p. 23.
 Niki Behrikis Shanahan, The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss is Heaven’s Gain, Tyngsborough, MA: Pete Publishing, 2007, p. 29.
 Susi Pittman, Animals in Heaven?, p. 5.
 Gary Kowalski, The Souls of Animals?, Novato, CA: New World Library, 1999,p. 56.