Ask Father Hardon
Vol. 5 - #3, May / June 1999
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Q. Is it correct to say that pets do
not go to Heaven after death because animals do not have immortal souls? Are
religious medals for pets wrong? Do they lead to misunderstanding about animals,
souls, and Heaven? I.R., Michigan
A. Pets, as pets, do not go to Heaven. But animals and such like beings
may be said to be brought to Heaven because, after the last day, they can
serve as part of the joys of Heaven. In other words, animals and such like
creatures may be said to be brought to Heaven to serve as part of our Heavenly
joys. Clearly, we do not need pets to provide happiness in Heaven. But pets
and such like creatures will be brought to Heaven to become part of our creaturely
happiness in the Heavenly kingdom. Consequently, we may say that animals and
such like creatures may be brought to Heaven by God to enable us to enjoy
them as part of our creaturely happiness in Heavenly beatitude. Absolutely
speaking, medals and such like religious articles may be part of Heavenly
beatitude. Certainly, they do not serve the same purpose as other creatures
do in Heaven. However, while they do not serve the purpose which medals do
on earth, they may nevertheless be part of Gods mysterious providence in
our Heavenly beatitude.
Religious medals for pets are not wrong.
The whole question is whether an object, like a religious medal, is used for
an appropriate purpose. There is nothing per se wrong with having a religious
object on an animal. Clearly, a religious object is not necessary for animals.
But there is nothing inherently wrong with having a religious object on or
near an irrational being.
Certainly a religious medal attached to or associated
with an irrational animal can be misunderstood. We cannot say that a religious
object helps an animal because somehow the animal is spiritually inspired
by the religious object. But there is nothing wrong with having a religious
object on or near an animal. The benefit would always come through the mind
of some intelligent being who is inspired by the religious object.
Q. What is the difference between
the human soul and spirit? S.L., Minnesota
A. A human soul is a spirit. Why? Because every human
soul is a spiritual being since it is composed of a substance which is not
material. However, a human soul must be in the friendship of God in order
to be truly spiritual, not only in its nature, but in its purpose.
Q. Is it good to place
the tabernacle in a room adjoining the main church instead of in a central
place of honor in the sanctuary? A priest told us that it is an ancient tradition
for the tabernacle to be located in a chapel separate from the main body of
the church; St. Peters in Rome does not have a tabernacle in the center of
the church. J.M.S., California
A. The widespread desacrilization
of tabernacles has practically changed their purpose. From the earliest days
of the Church, a tabernacle contained the Real Presence of Christ. As such,
a tabernacle was where the living Christ was reserved. Already in the sixteenth
century, there were something like one hundred definitions of a tabernacle.
What the denial of the Real Presence did was to deprive a tabernacle of its
inherent sacredness. A tabernacle always was the place where the living Jesus
Christ was believed to be Present in the fullness of His divinity, no doubt
hidden behind His sacred humanity. As faith in the Real Presence either disappeared
or became obscured, tabernacles lost their inherent sacredness. The following
statement may seem incredible. But for many still professed Catholics, there
is no Real Presence of the living Christ on earth. Given this fact, the very
meaning of tabernacle has disappeared from the minds of millions of once professed
Vol. 5 - #3, May / June 1999, p. 50
Copyright © 1999 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission