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04/14/2014

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This is the kind of post that makes me think, "Maclin is a dem fine writer, a dem fine writer."

Many thanks. That's good to hear. I will not read anything into the original context of "dem fine." :-)

I haven't done many long posts recently. Actually I thought this one was too long, but as someone or other said, I didn't have time to make it shorter.

Sorry to hear about this. Our two cats are indoor cats, something most vets really recommend these days; indoor cats can have double or even triple the lifespan of outdoor ones.

They're also our first cats, so we haven't been through the "death of a beloved pet" thing yet. (The fish were not beloved, and the cricket the children raised when they were little was more of a science project, though they were a bit sad when it died.) So I won't offer facile words when I haven't experienced what you're going through.

I do think you've got the right sort of idea about pets, though. My take on it is that God loves them enough to give them personalities and unique natures, and while understanding that they aren't made for immortality we can still trust that He knows what He's doing with them. Not a sparrow falls, and all that.

Thanks. It's not all that big a deal, but I felt an odd need to write it down. I'm surprised you haven't gone through the pet-death deal with your children. Maybe your cats will live long enough that the children will be old enough to understand it a little better.

I'm sure that's true about indoor and outdoor cats, but we had two mostly-outside cats who live 20 and 22 years. I really thought I had written about the longer-lived of the two here when she died, 6 or 7 years ago now I think, but I sure can't find it. We're now down to one cat, very much an inside cat, who is Milo's opposite in pretty much every way.

"God loves them enough to give them personalities"--I was thinking about that this morning--they aren't persons, but they have personalities.

we have a serious responsibility for these small creatures who come under our care

Yes, I agree with you there.

' But there are a lot of things in creation of which we can have only the vaguest inklings.'

I am beginning to have only vague inklings of vague inklings about creation. Modern science is not threatening my faith but expanding it into infinity.

I do know that small children think it the most natural assumption that their deceased pets have a continued individual existence, and who am I to say they don't? The bit about rational souls and irrational souls that we ( ' we ' being Catholics of a certain vintage) were raised with is just one human template, based upon one particular cultural understanding. It ain't Divine Revelation.

It may well be true, but it isn't the whole story. I'd give it more credit than being *only* a particular cultural understanding. But at best it can only be a starting point.

I've been reading your apophatic musings over at CetT, and agree to a great extent.

I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of things that are not divinely revealed, but for all intents and purposes treated as such by Catholics and other Christians. And it seems to me that the magisterium sometimes 'canonizes' things based on 'natural law', ie, reason examining the created order, which is really beyond its competence (think Galileo). As we acquire better tools to explore creation, our conclusions can change.

If animals have rational (spiritual) souls, then it is always wrong to kill innocent animals.

The cattle of the world endorse your view. Or at least they would if they had rational souls.

Daniel, you sound like me talking about the social teachings.:-) I guess I more or less agree with that. I'm not especially attached to the Thomistic vocabulary for discussing these things, in part because I've never actually read Thomas except bits here and there, but I do think the magisterium is right in its distinction between human and animal.

Science is, in some areas, still very much attacking faith. Not so much in the realm of the cosmic as in the realm of the human. The impulse to essentially deny the existence of the human is very active and thinks it has gained a lot of ground, though I don't think it really has.

I think I read in a child's catechism once that animals have souls, but are mortal.

The idea I really liked was CS Lewis' (I think). He thought that pets (as opposed to animals in general) were taken up into human life and would therefore be with us in heaven, just as we are taken up into divine life.

And I loved The Phantom Toll Booth! Also, Milo is a good name.

He certainly doesn't look very friendly in that photo, but it's hard not to feel sad at his decline in old age. It would certainly have been a good undertaking for you in retirement to be able to civilise him again, so that must be a disappointment for you.

Belloc on what I like to call "scientism."

http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/belloc2-7.htm

"Science cannot be opposed to truth, for it is no less than a part of truth itself, as discovered in a particular sphere. But those who practice physical science may have a corporate spirit which is warped, opposed to true philosophy and therefore to beauty and to goodness. That is exactly what has happened in the development of physical science and of the so-called "scientific" criticism of documents during the last two centuries. The misfortune has happened because the advance in scientific method came after the break-up of Europe and of our common religion. The Process is now reaching its climax in an effort to persuade men against the belief in a beneficent conscious omnipotent Creator, the moral sense and the freedom of the will."

When you say end of the year, do you mean school year, or calendar year? :-(

A great and typically prescient quote from Belloc, Louise. That last bit of the Process he refers to has gone even further now, to an assertion that there is no such thing as a self: that your belief that you exist as a conscious entity is an illusion which is the product of physical forces. It's quite mad, but it's a popular idea among some scientists.

I like C.S. Lewis's idea, too, and have often fallen back on it, but I like the idea of an Angel of All Dogs (Cats, Horses, whatever) even more.

Very sad news, and I've always felt bad that SOMEONE ended up dumping him on your doorstep over a decade ago now, but I do know that he had a much, much, much more interesting and happy life than he would have if he had just sat around in an apartment his whole life, like he did for the first couple of years. Who knows what kinds of things he saw and did out there in the swamp. I'm sure he knew that whole area a lot better than any of us ever will, and I spent a lot of time out there myself back in the day.

I like that image of him sitting on the beach looking out over the water before the end. Sounds like something he would do. Makes me think of the end of the Lord of the Rings after Sam comes home from seeing everyone off at the Grey Havens. "'Well, I'm back,' he said."

Oh, we didn't mind, and more than that, I liked the idea of giving him a less cooped-up mode of living. I'm quite sure he had a more interesting life here than, as you say, in an apartment, even though it took its toll on him.

I like that image a lot, too, and it does have a Grey Havens ending sort of feel: he was the one embarking, and I was the one returning. I wish I'd taken a picture of him in that pose.

I agree about the Process having gone further.

And I also like the idea of an Angel of all cats etc.

Anyway, condolences on the loss of Milo.

Thanks. It's not all that big a deal, but I do miss him. And wish I'd taken better care of him. Though it's certainly possible that whatever was wrong with him was never curable--an earlier diagnosis might have just meant an earlier euthanasia recommendation.

Well, not as big a deal as the loss of a family member, or good friend, but still a loss. I was sad when my dog, Goldie, died.

Gosh, I just realised that's 20 years ago.

I’ve lost many pet cats over my lifetime; the first when I was about nine years old. I really haven’t forgotten any of them.

A few months ago my grandson’s cat disappeared, probably hit by a car. I feel sad every time I walk up the path to my daughter’s house because I still expect the cat to pop out of the bushes to greet me the way she always did.

This is a lovely piece you’ve written, Mac.

Thank you. It's funny, I sat down and was just going to write a few paragraphs, but it sorta grew.

When I go to the front door first thing in the morning or late at night, Milo's usual feeding times, I keep expecting to see him glaring in through the glass.

Robert Gotcher is right about your writing. Without wanting to sound dismissive, not much else would get me through a blog post of that length about a cat dying, without even noticing that I was reading a long blog post about a cat.

Well said, Paul :)

Thank you very much, both of you. I have to admit I wouldn't necessarily read a post called "My Kitty Died", either.

It's very good writing, but I couldn't bear to read most of it - it reminded me of my cat dying in November. I kind of skimmed.

I know that was really hard on you. sorry this is the first lengthy post you see after Lent. I think you had the kind of attachment that I didn't to Milo, and I was still sad. Good to hear from you again. Happy Easter! I just got back from the vigil.

TypePad is having problems again. Been down most of the day.

sorry, it was kind of a self centred way to respond to it! It was just, I opened up Light on Dark Water, a few hours after the Vigil, and it was a post about a cat dying ... :) :(

Sorry! I could observe that if you hadn't given up the net for Lent you might have seen that post almost a week ago when it was more appropriate. But it would surely be wrong of me to say something that might tempt you to give up that worthy discipline (one I've never been able to adopt for myself). :-;

Also, the post is really in the end hopeful about the deaths of our pets. You could just read the next-to-last paragraph.

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