Yes, a sad story: my old cat, Nyche, has had to be put down. She has appeared from time to time on these pages so some of you will know that she, and her erstwhile brother, have been with us for many years. She has been unwell for a while and, apparently unable to eat. ‘Nothing’, the Vet said, was obviously wrong. But when I realised that she was having difficulties in walking, I knew the time had come. She spent her last day, half asleep, in my study — a favourite place for her. Thankfully, my daughter, very upset, and her husband (who knew Nyche well), took her for her last journey.
Now, she is buried at the end of the garden (like her brother) and well covered with bricks to hold off the foxes. And I find myself praying. Is that odd? We are all used to visiting the graves of our relations and friends. But a cat?
Of course we are thankful to the Almighty for our pets, but at first sight, praying for them seems odd. Yet as I look at Genesis (King James) I find: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth : after his kind: and it was so.”
But of course we have no real idea of the afterlife — unless you can tell me. We know the purpose of Purgatory, but we don’t know what it will be like. The best view I can get is from Catherine of Genoa who apparently visited. She said that holy souls were only too happy to be in Purgatory, having at last realised their need for cleansing before they would be ready for the beatific vision.
And what about the end of the world? Do we meet our happy relations and friends? I look forward to meeting Charles de la Bedoyere — who was ADC to Napoleon at Waterloo, and was shot by a firing squad. A simple, but typical, error of his allowed the Brits to win the battle, thus starting modern Europe. His popular description at the time was “si beau et si sauvage”. No one has said that of me, worse luck! Yes, I think we should pray in thanks for all creation — and particularly those elements who are close to us. Mind you, I find it difficult to favour the ants who crawl in lines across the kitchen sink. What should I do about them?
Quentin writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/11/praying-for-my-cat/ ) :
// Now, she is buried at the end of the garden (like her brother) and well covered with bricks to hold off the foxes. And I find myself praying. Is that odd? We are all used to visiting the graves of our relations and friends. But a cat? //
I suppose it’s personal. For me, the answer is yes, of course. Mattie and Tigger and Friskie, rest in peace and happiness with God. God, please care for Charlie now and always.
Funnily enough my son’s Labrador had to be put down yesterday but they took her to the vets for the event. Naturally my son and daughter in law and my two grandchildren were very very upset.
The thought that came to me (in answer to your question which is yes) was how much more their very very great love of their pet is vastly and hugely excelled by how much our Lord love us all – if we deserve it or not!
I will pray for the two pets now!
Thanks for sharing your thought.
Absolutely no offense intended toward anyone here, but I deplore the locution “We had to put our pet down”. No, we decided to have the vet kill him, and the vet had no problem with that.
I seem to remember a story from the Curé of Ars, An elderly lady, who was fond of her dog, heard in a sermon that animals do not have souls and thus don’t go to heaven. She asked the Curé in confession if this was true as she was deeply unhappy at the thought of being seperated for eternity from her beloved pet. The Curé assured her that, in heaven, she would have everything she wanted.
The greatest gift we have from God is creaturehood and it is wonderful to know that we share it with other kind.
Our primitive thinking in terms of degree and category has provided us with a wonderful foundation for so much great science. But we can also confuse the construct with reality placing ourselves first or best or most important.
Numbers are hypotheses. They don’t exist outside the mind.
It is truly wonderful to hear that you include your companion of so many years in your prayers, Quentin – I am sorry for such a sad loss that you have to bear.
I want to say a big thank you, and to those who have provided shelter, nourishment and comfort for so many of God’s little ones in their lives. Well done, good and faithful servant!
Maybe it was that photo of “earth rising” in 1968, when we became the first humans to see our own planet in its magnificence? Was that the moment when our consciousness shifted into a sense of our global connection? Our earth interrelatedness? Our connection with all things as one.
Our age, with its movements towards conservation and environmental awareness, does seem to be one that has brought a deep sense of connectedness with everything.
Ours is the global village where we share sustenance, growing, living and dying with everykind, including human kind.
And best of all it is the place of our encounter with God Incarnate, in our Brother Jesus.
How far back and how long ago are the molecules we all share and how amazing is our faith that every single one of them, and us will be transformed into a new creation, one day.
I still feel sadness at the loss of the pets that I have had and commend them all to God every day in prayer, certain of our Father not forgetting any one of them, sparrows and all – magnificent creatures.
I am grateful too that Nyche, on occasions, made her way into our conversations and could be the source of many of your conjectures and our musings.
Many happy visits of peace and comfort will await you at the bottom of the garden!
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor’d mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way;
Yet simple nature to his hope has giv’n,
Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler Heav’n,
Some safer world in depth of woods embraced,
Some happier island in the wat’ry waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.
To be, contents his natural desire;
He asks no Angel’s wings, no Seraph’s fire;
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.
I’ve always found this poem moving. The tone is not condescending; the poet empathizes with the Indian, and contrasts his view of eternity favourably with the conventional European one.
I like that, John. I don’t think I’d read it before.
Perhaps animals aren’t capable of the beatific vision; but, as used to be believed of babies who died before baptism, they are in a place of natural happiness.
“Everything you have ever loved, you will meet again in Heaven”. That may be a paraphrase of the Cure d’Ars as quoted above by Milligan P. And as regards the ants, Quentin: When my eldest child (now 47) was aged about 3, he and I were out in the garden on flying-ant day, watching the ants climbing the outside wall of the house and taking off into the air. I told him the big ants with wings were “mummy ants”. We watched one particular mummy ant going up the wall, nearly to the top, where she spread her wings – and flew straight into a spider’s web, and the spider ran out and got her. Son burst into tears (with hindsight, it was a bad idea of mine to refer to her as a “mummy ant”). Had I known about the Cure d’Ars I could have reassured him that they would meet again.
I haven’t prayed for pets that much but I have, for some unaccountable reason, begun to bless the trees of the forest where I go walking! Perhaps I’ve watched Lord of the Rings once too often!
You made reference to your ancestor Charles de la Bédoyère. I came across an online article (2011) by Stephen de la Bédoyère on both Charles and Marshal Ney which quoted from Byron’s ode:
‘We do not curse thee, Waterloo!
Though freedom’s blood thy plains bedew …’
The poet goes on to say of the same blood:
‘It soars and mingles in the air,
With that of lost LABEDOYERE,
With that of him [Ney] whose honour’d grave
Contains the bravest of the brave.’
From what I’ve read, Charles d.l.B was as brave as Michel Ney but more intelligent and level-headed. Although an aristocrat, he did not forswear his allegiance to Napoleon (as Ney did) and his execution was even less justified. Like Ney, he insisted on giving orders to the firing squad so that no Frenchman would have his death on his conscience.
I know he conveyed the message to d’Erlon to divert his corps from Quatre Bras to Ligny, but the order would have come from the emperor, surely? I’m not aware of the extent that he influenced the Battle of Waterloo. There is a biography of him by Marcel Doher published in French in 1963, now out of print. You will no doubt have a copy in your library.
The Duke of Wellington, then and later, was accused of not doing enough to prevent the executions. He was still justifying his actions in 1849, three years before his death. The reality probably was that he couldn’t be bothered.
Your reference is to my brother, Stephen. So I can check some points with him. As I understood the d’Erlon’s diversion, La Bedoyere simply made an incorrect instruction (typical family). Yes, I have Doher.