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June 10, 2003     397 Words

A Friar Gives 10 Reasons Why Our Beloved Pets Will Be Awaiting Our Arrival In Heaven

CINCINNATI—For many animal lovers, both young and old, the relationships that we forge with our pets are among the purest, most enduring associations we make in our lives. Losing a dearly loved animal can be as traumatic as losing a human member of the family, which raises the question: When we die, will we be reunited with our long-lost pets in the sweet hereafter?

In the July issue of St. Anthony Messenger, Contributing Editor Father Jack Wintz, a Franciscan friar, tackles that difficult question and offers 10 good reasons for believing that the whole family of creation is included in God's divine plan. In his article "Will I See My Little Doggy in Heaven?" Father Jack illustrates that God's love and affinity extend to all creatures great and small. After June 20, the article can also be found at: AmericanCatholic.org.

Father Jack gives compelling evidence of God's affection for animals by revisiting the story of creation in the Book of Genesis, as well as the stories of Noah and the Ark, and Jonah. These stories "suggest to me that it is not God's plan to save humankind apart from the other creatures," Father Jack writes. "We are all in the same boat, so to speak."

Father Jack also uses the example of St. Francis, patron of animals. In the saint's "Canticles of the Creatures," Francis gives the titles "Brother" and "Sister" to the various creatures "as if to emphasize all the more his heartwarming insight that we all form one family of creation under one loving Creator in heaven." St. Francis, whose love for the earth and its furry inhabitants are among his most endearing qualities, strongly believed that all creatures were worthy of God's love.

Father Jack also draws evidence from the Book of Revelation, the Catholic liturgy and our Christian belief in the Resurrection as good indicators that heaven does not adopt a "no animals allowed" policy. But a simple yet profound question posed by the author makes perhaps the greatest argument of all: "How many of us are truly satisfied with a vision of heaven that does not include the whole family of creation?"

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