Our Lady's Promise Apostolate Blog


Do Dogs Go To Heaven?

April 25, 2017

Humans have kept animals around for centuries. At first it was for hunting purposes, pest control, and general working tasks. It did not take long, however, for animals to start being bred and kept as companions. According to a 2015–2016 American Pet Products Association (APPA) survey, around 79.7 million households in America are home to a pet. It is clear animals hold a special place in our hearts. So when they die, as with our loved ones of the human variety, of course we want to know what becomes of them. Where do they fit into the world God has created? 

Pope Pius IX is among the first of the popes to fully address the issue of animals going to heaven, though not favorably. He said that heaven is a place reserved for those with souls and a conscience, which animals don’t have. He is even reported to have opposed the founding of an animal anticruelty society in Rome in the 19th century “on the ground that to grant permission would imply that human beings have duties to the lower creatures,” says Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher who writes about animal rights. 

Since Pius IX, however, popes have had differing views on the condition and treatment of animals. Pope Paul VI is reported to have consoled a boy whose pet dog had died, saying, “One day we will see our pets in the eternity of Christ.” (In 2015, through a series of journalistic mishaps, that quote was falsely attributed to Pope Francis.)

In a 1990 papal audience, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that “the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren.” He added that animals are the “fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect” and that they are “as near to God as men are.” Though Pope John Paul II never made any claims about heaven, he enforces the idea that all animals are God’s creation. 

In a 2002 interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, discussed his love of animals and echoed an idea found in Genesis and restated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Animals are indeed God’s creation and therefore should be respected. He condemned factory farming, saying the commodification of animals is a sign that something is broken in the relationship between the creator and creation.

Pope Francis, whose papal name refers to the saint who famously welcomed animals as fellow creatures of God, prays in his encyclical on the environment, “Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards [God’s] infinite light.” 

While we may never find out in this life whether our beloved pets will end up in heaven, it is certain that animals are our fellow creatures of God. As such, the love and dignity we show them is one way we can heed Pope Francis’ call to care for creation.

This article appears in the June 2016 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 81, No. 6, page 49).

 

The Fasting Rule of the Orthodox Catholic Byzantine Church

January 15, 2017
The Church's traditional teaching on fasting is not widely known or followed in our day. For those Orthodox Christians who are seeking to keep a more disciplined fast, the following information may be helpful.

Though the rules may appear quite strict to those who have not seen them before, they were developed with all of the faithful, not only monks, in mind. (Monks do not eat meat, so rules regarding the eating of meat cannot have been written with them in mind. Similarly rules reg...


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Simple Rule of Prayer

January 15, 2017

The holy Apostle Paul has told each of us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Most of us know that we are far from achieving this goal: to pray without ceasing, we must first at least pray frequently; and to pray frequently most of us must first pray regularly — according to some rule.

The Church gives us many helpful rules of prayer. Most prayer books include useful sets of morning and evening prayers, prayers at mealtimes, and so on.

The following short rule is som...


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10-Tips-for-Better-New-Year's-Resolutions

January 2, 2017

1. Be honest. Know yourself. What is your strongest virtue? What is your worst vice? Therefore, tailor your resolution so it strengthens your good side and fights your bad one. A one-size fits all resolution is useless.

2. Be specific. Don't use generalities. They don't work. For example, if you need to be more humble, just saying "I am going to be more humble," is useless. You need to zero in on one situation where you need to practice humility and resolve to improve in that one s...


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Byzantine Catholic Rule of Prayer

December 19, 2016

One of the most common questions we receive at byzcath.org is from those seeking to start and keep a daily rule of prayer. Since a prayer life is something that can really only be undertaken and kept under the guidance of one’s spiritual father (or mother) we are always hesitant about making suggestions along these lines. Always we respond that the individual should contact his spiritual father for guidance. All too often, however, the inquirer responds with...
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Catholic Teaching on Marriage and Communion is Unambiguous

December 14, 2016

The Church teaching that the divorced and civilly remarried may not receive Holy Communion remains unchanged.

I have received, from many of God’s faithful, requests for advice on how to understand the growing storm in the Church on the subject of marriage — and in particular on the subject of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. There are theologians and canonists who are better able to speak to the details and to the possible scenarios ...


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In the Midst of Much Blood, God Extended a Rose – A Meditation on Guadalupe and Mother Mary

December 14, 2016


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I’d like to reflect this evening on the first reading from today’s Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away...


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Why Do So Many Miss Experiencing Jesus in Our Parishes and How Can We Change This?

November 12, 2016

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We were blessed this past weekend to have Sherry Weddell, author of Forming Intentional Disciples, visit the Archdiocese of Washington and speak to priests and lay leaders. Her work is a great blessing to the Church in calling us back to “job one,” which is to make disciples. In Catholic parishes evangelization is too often relegated to committees or tossed into the “we’ll get to that next year” file. Weddell’s mission is to c...


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Who Is Your Real Enemy and What Are His Tactics?

November 12, 2016


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In the aftermath of the recent election, our country and our parishes are divided. Some people are hurt and angry while others are jubilant and hopeful. But although we often square off in opposing corners and stare fearfully at each other, we should remember our common enemy, the Devil. There’s a saying that warring brothers reconcile when there’s a maniac at the door; and the Devil is surely a maniacal and cunning opponent.

One of the key elements in any battle is un...


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How to Give God Perfect Thanks

October 12, 2016

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One of the great human inadequacies is our inability to give proper and adequate thanks to God. Perhaps the biggest problem is that we don’t even realize the vast majority of what He does for us; it is hidden from our eyes.

A further problem is that in our fallen condition we seem to be wired to magnify our problems and minimize or discount the enormous blessings of each moment. God sustains every fiber of our being and every atom of creation. God’s blessings are countle...


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Pax et Bonum!


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