Q: Dear Dan, I was telling a friend of mine the other day that I really prefer dogs to people. He told me that I needed to pray about this and that he thought it was a serious issue for me spiritually. His response really has me baffled. Still, since Lent has me a bit introspective, I thought I would take his challenge seriously. What do you think? Is this just a silly conversation that I am taking too seriously?
A: Dear Friend, just thinking about your conversation made me smile. In a strange twist of providence, I just happened to have read a lenten meditation written by a 19th century Jesuit priest. Before I offer his response, I must publicly affirm that I do believe dogs will be in heaven. Here’s what Fr. Gallwey has to say:
“Some profess to have much love for our Lord, but a strong dislike for men. We hear them say that dogs and horses are much more loveable than Christians. Against such thoughts we must have ready the words of St. John who so well understood all about love: ‘He that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God Whom he seeth not?’ (1 John iv) The love of God and love for men must both come down from heaven; and the ordinary rule is, that it is by loving men that we grow in love for God.
Again, some who profess to love our Lord are very kind to one priest, to one church, to one nun, or to a very small select party of lay people, but cold and indifferent, if not harsh, to those outside of this narrow pale. One whose heart is becoming more like the heart of our Savior will, on the contrary, say: ‘I am partner (O Lord) with all them that fear Thee and keep Thy commandments.’ (Psalm cxviii) St. Paul’s heart became much like to our Lord’s; he therefore could weep with all who wept, and rejoice with those in joy. ‘Who is weak that I am not weak? Who is scandalized that I am not on fire?’ (2 Cor xi)”
He then offers this prayer:
Make us, loving Heart of Jesus, love Thee, and for Thy sake all whom Thou lovest. Grant us some share of Thy true and wide-reaching love, that we may be able to say humbly and in all simplicity, ‘All thy friends, O Lord, are my friends.’
May you find a love for your humans that far surpasses your love for your dogs, and thereby, may you find a deeper love for God, and then find your home in heaven with all of them.