Here is a story you can’t let go by without commenting.
A saying in canon law runs thus: "There’s no law against it till somebody does it." Well, somebody’s doing a new "it", so maybe it’s time for a new law.
Per the New Jersey Herald News and the Te Deum Blogspot, Fr. Louis Scurti, a campus minister at William Paterson University in New Jersey, "brings his two dogs everywhere [oh?] and that includes Sunday Mass." His pair of pooches set themselves up in the sanctuary during Mass, "making people feel included" [huh?] and providing a "symbol of domesticity" [double huh?]. Although the apparently untethered canines "have been known to growl" at late-comers, Fr. Scurti assures us that his dogs "don’t remove the sacredness of the liturgy at all."
The dictates of common sense are hard to put into words. If one has to explain to a pastor why his mutts don’t belong in Mass, one goes into the effort with the uneasy feeling that such words might be wasted on, well, someone who needs that kind of thing explained in the first place. But most folks can tell the difference between a liturgy and a living room, and many Catholics are out of patience with priests (granted, in shrinking numbers) who still treat the Mass as their personal property.
So, I guess we need a new law: No animals in the sanctuary, ever, and no animals (except certified assistance dogs) in a church. There, now I won’t be tempted to bring variously my two dogs, four parakeets, a cockatiel, salamander, newt, corn snake, or rabbit to church, and my fellow worshippers will just have to seek elsewhere for "the sense of calm and peace" I experience around my pets. Though I still think observing common sense would save us all a lot of trouble.
There are other considerations also. You don’t want a mess at Mass and the only accidents should be the philosophical term accident used to describe the appearance of the Eucharist after concecration Now a conscience-sniffing dog trained at a Padre Pio obedience school might be useful at times. Though they would have to be trained to differentiate between public and private sinners. The dogs howling when many modern hymns are sung could be a problem, that is if you could tell. Ushers with dogs that growl when you only throw in a dollar during the offertory could be beneficial. Attack dogs trained to only go after liturgical dancers would be useful in some parishes or ones that start to froth if you pick up a tambourine.
If you had to choose a breed of dog allowed at Mass what would it be? Sacred bloodhound? Papal Bulldog? Hound of Heaven would be nice, except for all the chasing. Would a Dalmatian wear a dalmatic. Priests with French Poodles (especially ones with clothes) should already be weeded out prior to seminary admission. Would their animals have to go to pet seminary? Sure obedience training would be required. In fact I can think of some priests that could also take a refresher in obedience training. None of these are good options, after all Jesus didn’t tell Peter "Tend my sheepdogs." Of course a post like this has to make a reference to our German shepherd Pope Benedict XVI.
Though as silly as it is for the priest to bring his two dogs to Mass
Who let the dogs out?
At least it isn’t the monthly doggie communion at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale where Rover is given a doggie snack in the communion line.
All Saints invites area dog owners and their faithful companions to enjoy the wide open spaces and park-like setting provided by our grassy parking areas. (All we ask is that any "gifts" the dog may choose to leave are properly disposed of.)