Author Topic: Praying for Dead Pets  (Read 14027 times)

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Offline Marc1152

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Praying for Dead Pets
« on: July 04, 2008, 10:57:52 AM »
I have a friend who was upset when a Catholic coworker said he prays the Roseray once a month for his dog who passed away last year. She is certain that she was taught when she was in confirmation school that animals do not have souls, so she thinks it is worthless/hypocritical to pray for them.

What is the Orthodox teaching about the souls of animals?

Is it proper to pray for them after death?

Is the Orthodox and Roman Catholic teachings the same?
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2008, 11:05:00 AM »
1) Animals do not have immortal souls. They have lower souls, but no nous. They most likely cease to exist at death.

2) No it is not proper to pray for them at their death. They most likely do not exist anymore. Even if they do, they do not have free will, so they won't be judged.

3) Yes the RC and Orthodox teaching are the same.

One is free to speculate on if God allows animals to exist in Heaven with us and maybe he reconstitutes our special friends. But there is no argument one can make either way because salvation and the Gospel is about us, not animals, so one can't form definitive statements or opinions about their fate.
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2008, 11:33:36 AM »
there is no argument one can make either way because salvation and the Gospel is about us, not animals, so one can't form definitive statements or opinions about their fate.

Father, bless! Isn't it true though that Christ saves the entire universe, not just us humans?
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2008, 11:47:48 AM »
Father, bless! Isn't it true though that Christ saves the entire universe, not just us humans?

All creation is renewed, yes. The mechanics of salvation is only detailed for humans though, and what "renewed" means is open for debate. Whether God restores and renews plants, bacteria, amoebas, etc., I don't know, and I don't think that the Gospel and the Church address that beyond a general statement that Christ restores the fallen universe. If some father spoke about it, I'd be happy to know more, but to my knowledge, they didn't address the point.  The Church does teach definitively though that only humans have immortal, rational souls (i.e. the nous, etc).

I certainly hope my dog is there but I don't feel qualified to speculate.



^My dog Daisy.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2008, 11:49:11 AM by Fr. Anastasios »
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Offline Orual

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2008, 05:32:42 PM »
I can't pretend to offer a justification out of Tradition, but I believe animals have their own kind of soul and way of being saved that is beyond our knowledge, and yes I do pray for my dead pets.  I don't judge those who believe otherwise, but stating definitively that animals can't possibly have souls strikes me as a placing of a limitation on the boundless Holy Spirit.  Nobody else has to pray for beasties just because I pray that the Lord will have mercy on the companions, furry and otherwise, that I have loved and lost.

I think that your friend needs to leave her co-worker alone - whether they can be effective or not, how can they harm anyone?  I'm a little skeptical about his logic circuits myself (considering the RC rationale for praying for the dead of the human species, is he praying for the dog to get out of Dog Purgatory?) but someone else's prayers said in their own free time don't strike me as something to get all riled about.
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Offline theistgal

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2008, 06:19:43 PM »
I'm kind of sympathetic to people who pray for their pets though.  Last year about this time, I found out that my cat Charlie had died.  He'd been missing for 3 days and when we found him (dead under the neighbor's fence), I did pray that he didn't suffer too much.  The fact that he'd already been dead for quite a while didn't stop me from wanting to pray for him.  :'(

Maybe that kind of "retroactive prayer" would be OK - after all, God is outside of time, right?  So who knows, maybe there's some way He can apply our prayers today to a situation yesterday.

I don't really know.  But ... anyone who's ever lost a beloved pet knows how difficult it can be.  I don't think God would be too angry at someone for that kind of prayer.  He puts up with a lot worse stuff from all us "chief sinners".  ;)

P.S. link to Charlie's last photo: http://bp3.blogger.com/_ZL5S1NmptWs/RmQzQxFyW5I/AAAAAAAAAAg/tLxkZFVUBpQ/s1600-h/charlie+last+photo.jpg
« Last Edit: July 04, 2008, 06:22:45 PM by theistgal »
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Offline LBK

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2008, 06:40:51 PM »
Am I posting? Or is it Schroedinger's Cat?

Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2008, 08:09:08 PM »
Beautiful dog, Fr. Anastasios!

Theistgal, Charlie certainly was a lovely cat!

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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2008, 08:11:59 PM »
Various saints have had concern for animals (i.e. the desert father who plucked the thorn out of the lion cub's hand, etc.) Praying for and blessing animals in this life is normal.  I would just think the idea of praying for an animal after it has died is superfluous--even if God decides to reconstitute our furry friends, they don't have free will, thus they don't have a personal fall, thus they can't be saved or damned based on any action and they can't get out of it based on any of our prayers.  I don't really have a problem with the idea of praying that God would allow animals to be with us in Heaven though.
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2008, 08:12:13 PM »
Beautiful dog, Fr. Anastasios!

Theistgal, Charlie certainly was a lovely cat!



Thanks!
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Offline theistgal

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2008, 03:02:07 PM »
Thanks - yes, my Charlie was a special little guy.

and once again, when I prayed for him it wasn't really in the sense of "please let Charlie go to heaven" but more of a "please God, don't let him have suffered" - i.e. praying that the end of his life was painless.  What happens after that I'm content to leave up to God. 8)
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2008, 05:54:56 PM »
Thanks - yes, my Charlie was a special little guy.

and once again, when I prayed for him it wasn't really in the sense of "please let Charlie go to heaven" but more of a "please God, don't let him have suffered" - i.e. praying that the end of his life was painless.  What happens after that I'm content to leave up to God. 8)

That seems reasonable to me.
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2008, 06:37:27 PM »
All creation is renewed, yes. The mechanics of salvation is only detailed for humans though, and what "renewed" means is open for debate. Whether God restores and renews plants, bacteria, amoebas, etc., I don't know, and I don't think that the Gospel and the Church address that beyond a general statement that Christ restores the fallen universe. If some father spoke about it, I'd be happy to know more, but to my knowledge, they didn't address the point.  The Church does teach definitively though that only humans have immortal, rational souls (i.e. the nous, etc).

I certainly hope my dog is there but I don't feel qualified to speculate.


Thank you, Father. Actually, the "mechanics" of our human salvation is not detailed, too - there is no detailed explanation, for example, just what is this "spiritual, uncorruptible, glorified" body. I know that Origen was condemned for teaching that this body will be "transparent" and "spherical," i.e., will have no materiality or human forms. But then, just what SHALL it be, there is no telling. Christ ascended into Heaven bodily, but whether He has a particular limited location in space right now, our theology seems simply to refuse to answer. So maybe it's not such a heresy, after all, to assume that somehow we will be restored (God knows the details of "how"), and maybe our beloved pets will be restored as well.
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Offline BrotherAidan

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2008, 12:12:28 AM »
I haven't read all the posts, but C.S. Lewis had the view that, just as we participate in the life of God and are deified, pets participate in the life of their human owners and are thereby "humanized" in some lower sense.

There is an essay regarding this that my friend has told me about and I need to read. The same thought is found in That Hideous Strength. The good animals become humanized while the bad humans become animalistic.

It's a theologouma (likely mispelled) but I ascribe to the idea and certainly pray from time to time (not monthly or anything like that; I just mention it from time to time) that my pets will be re-created in the new heaven and earth.

Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2008, 01:01:44 AM »
It's a theologouma (likely mispelled) but I ascribe to the idea and certainly pray from time to time (not monthly or anything like that; I just mention it from time to time) that my pets will be re-created in the new heaven and earth.

Yes, this is the hope that I have. Certainly, every time I see a photo of a beloved pet who has died or there is a comment by a family member about them, I am reminded to say a prayer that we will meet again and spend eternity together. Probably, the only real doubt I have is to whether or not I make it to that happy state!
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Offline Ebor

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2008, 01:17:52 AM »
I wonder if somehow the person finds some comfort in remembering his dead pet and the prayer brings things together for him. 

Charlie was a fine handsome cat.  Beautiful coat and great character in his face.

I surely do miss our old cats Jonnie and Tigger.  I didn't know until the day Jonnie had to be put to sleep that cats could have strokes.   :'(

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Offline Simayan

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2008, 04:51:40 PM »
P.S. link to Charlie's last photo: http://bp3.blogger.com/_ZL5S1NmptWs/RmQzQxFyW5I/AAAAAAAAAAg/tLxkZFVUBpQ/s1600-h/charlie+last+photo.jpg

What a wonderful cat! Looks like he had some Maine Coon in him too.

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Offline Marc1152

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2008, 08:42:42 PM »
Thank you all. This has helped a great deal. Let me summarize:

Holy Tradition teaches that pets have a lower soul
( without nous) and may just cease to exist at death. However, this is not directly based on scripture in so far as scripture only deals with the salvation of the Human Race.
Therefore, there is a gray area or two.

We don't pray for animals to receive God's mercy after death as they are innocent creatures and are not judged. But it is reasonable to pray that a beloved pet may be renewed at the end of time and dwell with us in the Lords Kingdom when it is establish and the dead are raised.

Is that about right do you think?
Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm

Offline Simayan

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2008, 09:42:01 PM »
Thank you all. This has helped a great deal. Let me summarize:

Holy Tradition teaches that pets have a lower soul
( without nous) and may just cease to exist at death. However, this is not directly based on scripture in so far as scripture only deals with the salvation of the Human Race.
Therefore, there is a gray area or two.

We don't pray for animals to receive God's mercy after death as they are innocent creatures and are not judged. But it is reasonable to pray that a beloved pet may be renewed at the end of time and dwell with us in the Lords Kingdom when it is establish and the dead are raised.

Is that about right do you think?

Yup. A heaven without my pets isn't a place I want to be.  ;)
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Offline stashko

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2008, 09:54:13 PM »
Would it Be wrong of me to include my Beautiful dog lily that past memory eternal in a parastos for my Parent's and sister....Do i have to tell the priest that Lily... isn't human or keep silent...????SmileyCentral.com" border="0
« Last Edit: July 06, 2008, 09:54:35 PM by stashko »
ГОСПОДЕ ГОСПОДЕ ,ПОГЛЕДАЈ СА НЕБА ,ДОЂИ И ПОСЕТИ ТВОЈ ВИНОГРАД ТВОЈА ДЕСНИЦА ПОСАДИЛА АМИН АМИН.

Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2008, 09:59:26 PM »
Thank you all. This has helped a great deal. Let me summarize:

Holy Tradition teaches that pets have a lower soul
( without nous) and may just cease to exist at death. However, this is not directly based on scripture in so far as scripture only deals with the salvation of the Human Race.
Therefore, there is a gray area or two.

We don't pray for animals to receive God's mercy after death as they are innocent creatures and are not judged. But it is reasonable to pray that a beloved pet may be renewed at the end of time and dwell with us in the Lords Kingdom when it is establish and the dead are raised.

Is that about right do you think?

Yes, this sounds about right to me, and well put. And, as you say, it is a grey area.
I believe in One God, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian Orthodox Christian (1900-1975)

Offline Orual

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2008, 11:06:58 PM »
Would it Be wrong of me to include my Beautiful dog lily that past memory eternal in a parastos for my Parent's and sister....Do i have to tell the priest that Lily... isn't human or keep silent...????SmileyCentral.com" border="0

Your priest may very well be willing to pray for your animal, but I don't think your priest would appreciate being misled.
He spoke it as kindly and heartily as could be; as if a man dashed a gallon of cold water in your broth and never doubted you'd like it all the better. 

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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2008, 11:13:16 PM »
Would it Be wrong of me to include my Beautiful dog lily that past memory eternal in a parastos for my Parent's and sister....Do i have to tell the priest that Lily... isn't human or keep silent...????SmileyCentral.com" border="0

Your dog doesn't have any sins to be forgiven.
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Offline stashko

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2008, 11:18:43 PM »
Your dog doesn't have any sins to be forgiven.


Father Bless ...your Right that is for the forgivness of sin's ,,i forgot that a parastos is for that purpose of forgivness of sin ,,im such a dummy...sorry.....SmileyCentral.com" border="0
ГОСПОДЕ ГОСПОДЕ ,ПОГЛЕДАЈ СА НЕБА ,ДОЂИ И ПОСЕТИ ТВОЈ ВИНОГРАД ТВОЈА ДЕСНИЦА ПОСАДИЛА АМИН АМИН.

Offline Anastasios

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2008, 11:19:35 PM »

Father Bless ...your Right that is for the forgivness of sin's ,,i forgot that a parastos is for that purpose of forgivness of sin ,,im such a dummy...sorry.....SmileyCentral.com" border="0

You're not a dummy...you just love your dog. That is understandable.
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Offline Psalti Boy

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #25 on: July 16, 2008, 01:51:33 AM »
So . . . what about the blessing of the animals???

Offline theistgal

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Re: Praying for Dead Pets
« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2008, 11:04:26 AM »
So . . . what about the blessing of the animals???

It doesn't have any bearing one way or the other on whether they have immortal souls.  Cars get blessed too, but I don't expect to see my '68 VW Bug in heaven (although ... hmm ... maybe ...  ;))
"Sometimes, you just gotta say, 'OK, I still have nine live, two-headed animals' and move on.'' (owner of Coney Island freak show, upon learning he'd been outbid on a 5-legged puppy)