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.)
Bring the dogs. It’s high time we restore animal sacrifice.
I’m ashamed to say this is my alma mater. Fr. Scurti’s a decent priest and I’m surprised to read this!
I don’t have a problem if they dress appropriately. So many people come to Mass as if it were a Rave.
I have no problems with animals at church, provided it’s the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.
C’mon, where’s your Franciscan spirit? Francis preached to the wolf of Gubbio right?
Anyway, its time we had a fully canine inclusive theology. Is it a co-incidence that ‘God’ is an anagram of ‘dog’? Don’t our pooches reveal many divine characteristics? Faithfulness? warm hearted welcome? fondness for chasing sheep? a wet nose?
When they welcome us at the door are they not reminders (albeit furry ones) of the welcome the Father gives the prodigal son? Do we not all need to learn the lessons of canine charity? Can we not find, if we look hard enough, just a bit of spirituality in a can of Alpo?
Nuff. Don’t forget the one about the dyslexic atheist who didn’t believe in his dog.
Well St. Francis doesn’t apply since he was a deacon. Though if we are going to talk about priest’s dogs then of course there is St. John Bosco’s dog Grigio. Now that was a priest’s dog. Not wimpy at all and wouldn’t let himleave home if there was danger outside and protected him in other circumstances. Could even materalize when he needed him. Besides supernatural dog’s don’t leave supernatural messes to clean up.
There aren’t any pet pooches in the Bible are there? I think the only references to dogs in the Scriptures are all derogotory. The Jews considered them vermin.
Maybe that would put the kibosh on my attempts at a new canine theology.
Maybe at a Cat-olic I should try feline theology…we could do a nice line in eschatology?
The reason that the Old Testament has negative references to dogs is because they were always fighting the Caninetes in the land of Canine (at least that is what my Cat-echism says).
And of course who can forget Canine Able.
I heard that it was a dyslexic agnostic that suffered from insomnia. He would lay awake at night wondering if there was a dog.
Then there’s the one my seven year old loves;
Doctor, doctor, I keep thinking I’m a dog.
Well, lie down on the couch and we’ll talk about it.
I’m not allowed on the couch.
aniamals dont belong in the church, except at some churches when they have special outdoor masseson st. francis’s feast day, were pets are warmly welcome.
Did St. Francis ever have a dog on the altar? If I’m not mistaken he never was a priest. In my parish the priest will bless animals on the feast of St. Francis but it is done outdoors. My priest has an ancient dog he clearly loves, but he would never have him in the church during Mass, certainly not on the altar.
I’ve actually seen this done before. A former pastor used to leave the side door of the church open, and the dogs would come in from the rectory backyard and curl up in front of the altar like flowers.
Then there’s a lady who goes to daily Mass in another parish. She brings her dog up to Communion in a big purse, unless her husband is with her, in which case he carries it up to Communion.
Actually I just don’t like little dogs as much. Now, if it was a St. Bernard!
Well, we don’t see too many dogs hanging around churches here Down Under (and even fewer dog collars).
Some lucky parishes get dogs in chruch all the time: the Domini Canes…
I know a priest who hears Confession with his two dogs sitting at his feet. It’s not a problem though — they’ve been sworn to secrecy. They also come in handy for those who are reluctant to confess all their serious sins.
At Mass here in Rome this past Sunday, I was in line behind a woman who took communion on the tongue because her arms were full with a fluffy, t-shirted little dog. I admit that at the time I was more offended by the t-shirt…
At one parish my wife and I belonged to, a stray cat adopted the parish as its home. One summer morning, it sauntered down the aisle during Mass walked up onto the altar area, dropped a mouse into a basket that was used for leaving prayer intentions and laid down in front of the altar and watched the congregation for the rest of the Mass. After that, the cat was given a home in the rectory. I guess its prayers were answered.
Having recently adopted a dog from the pound, I have become quite fond of my canine companion – a positive side-effect is the fact that he takes me for a walk every evening when I might otherwise neglect exercise! Since I got him on the feast of Pope St. Pius X, I have named him “Pio.” Nevertheless, Pio does not go into church at all – not during Mass, not after Mass, not in the middle of the day. He does not go into the Sanctuary, he does not go into the nave, he does not even go into the sacristy!
I would say we are best to exclude the dogs from church (excepting disabled-assist dogs). Dogs are NOT human, they do not possess an immortal soul, they are NOT children.
I beg to differ about that, who are we to say a dog, a sweet patient innocent dog, does NOT have an immortal soul? Can you honestly saw the likes of Saddam Hussein or Charles Manson or that ******* who starved Terri Schiavo to death are more worthy than this most pure-hearted of friends?
I don’t know about any of you, but between the story and the puns in the comments box, my left eye is starting to twitch!
Oh please don’t start me on the ‘dogs have an immortal soul’ rant! If dogs get to go to heaven then so does every rat, porcupine, rhinocerous, snake….that ever lived. Just because they didn’t have a cute name and eat from a bowl in your kitchen they should be excluded from immortality? Every squirrel, every fish, every….every single animal ever? Oh…it’s all on my blog…
It reminds me of an old joke�
An elderly parishioner approaches her parish priest one day and asks if he can say a funeral Mass for her recently deceased dog.
The priest looks at her with bemusement and says; �Mrs Smith, the Catholic Church is not in the habit of performing funerals for animals. There is no way your dog will be given a Mass in this church.�
The elderly lady looks at the priest and says; �oh well, I guess I�ll have to go with the protestant church down the road, it�s not Catholic, but at least they�re only going to charge me $17,000 to perform the funeral.�
The priest looks at the old lady with a delighted smile and says; �ohh, Mrs Smith, you never mentioned that your dog was a Catholic!�
I’d be willing to bet that Fr. Louis Scurti would come unhinged if unfamiliar men and women walked in and set themselves up on the floor of the sanctuary during Mass.
Dogs don’t belong there either.
Bishops, priests, deacons, altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of communion– yes.
Others, including dogs, no.
I can’t remember where he says it, but doesn’t C.S.Lewis speculate that the essence (not soul) of a loved pet may remain with a person in the afterlife ? The emphasis is on the person, of course, not on the animal.
I always thought that was one of C.S. Lewis’ wackier ideas. Since the human’s companionship elevated the pet, the pet could “come along” in and through his master.
One time I was walking my dog past the monastery on the hill and this Assemblies of God preacher who I ran into several times was there. My dog, Reggie, let out a big ole sneeze, so I said “bless you.” Boy, did I get an earful from the preacher. He enumerated, based on the Book of Revelation, exactly what was and was not in heaven.
Except–for Romans 8, in which apparently the revelation of the Sons of God (us) elevates the entire creation into some manner of immortality.
So maybe Lewis isn’t wacky after all. (It’s just that some of his expressions seem right down the street to me, and others seem stuck in a stone house in the Old Country, smoking a pipe and reminiscing about King Arthur.)
You’ve never read Thomas Aquinas, I’m assuming. Or Aristotle. Both knew the difference between a soul belonging to a human and that of an animal or plant.
Just to be clear, according to the preacher, Reggie would not go to heaven.
BTW, I wonder if having a soul will be the crucial thing on the Last Day–the day of the Resurrection of the Body. Will all bodies rise? (I take it back if that’s a heretical thought.)
A couple of parishes including Anglican in our area do a blessing of the pets service on St. Francis’ Feast day. However – NOT around the altar and not at Eucharist.
There is no doggie communion either – Roman Catholic or Anglican.
All that said – I do think one of the greatest blessings God has bestowed upon us during this life in a broken world is the devotion of pets and the joy they bring their owners, not to mention the tremendous teaching opportunities they bring to children, of care, responsibility, and the cycle of life and death. Please forgive that run-on sentence!
The face on that dear old woman with the dog on her lap is priceless. She looks like she is thinking of having the dog in a stew later on!
The only time I’ve seen animals inside the church were in a film of a special Mass in Mexico. Songbirds (a white canary-like species)are brought into the church in tall cages and are blessed before Mass. I can’t remember whose feastday it is, however. It was featured on “The Buried Mirror” TV series.
But I noticed that the parishioners did not bother with the birds at all during Mass – did not look at them, adjust the cages, etc.
Somehow,I can’t imagine Jesus MINDING a dog, as long as it’s a peaceful dog. There was that stable, you see…ah—just a thought that went beyond rules, regulations and common sense. Things would be zoo-ish if everybody had a right to bring a dog, I guess.
When I was in college,(secular school, BTW) Sunday Mass was celebrated on campus, in one of the auditoriums. A huge black Standard Poodle, which belonged to one of the professors in the building, would hang around , trying to cadge doughnuts from people at the little gathering after Mass. Unfortunately for him, his owner had a cardboard sign attached to his collar. “Hi ! My name is Balzac. Please do not feed me, as I will eat too much and then get sick. ”
Balzac actually came to Mass a few times, but I think he was just over-anxious to try for doughnuts ! When he did come into the auditorium, he was firmly escorted out by a student.
BTW, there is a pet dog in Scripture – in the Book of Tobit.
Oh yeah, the dog in Tobit. That just shows that I’m a convert from Evangelical religion. We still can’t quite get it into our heads that the Book of Tobit is actually part of Sacred Scripture…
For us it’s kind of like you memorized the fifty states and their capitals in fifth grade, then when you’re forty a great authority tells you that three of the Canadian provinces are also states, and you’d better start including them. You accept it, because you know that person knows his stuff, but somehow you still feel deep down that those provinces really are Canadian…
I’ve got to keep trying.
I wouldn’t go too much into what ancient Semitic cultures thought of dogs. They also regarded swine abhorrent and the last time I looked a lot of Westerners like their pork.
I would never subject my dog to the stress of having to deal with a bunch of strangers at Mass i any largee public function. It’s certainly not a place I’d take him. And for the rest of you dogbashers, do a little research into the heroic service guide dogs, police/military dogs, and the dogs that visit nurshing homes and get elderly people to smile when other human beings can’t, dogs that have risked their own lives alerting people in the home that there was a fire, etc. etc.
As far as I’m concerned they’re a gift from God. As to their “souls” ? I’m with C.S. Lewis. We may just seem them in the hereafter.
Comments are closed.