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Friar’s E-Spirations: Mother’s Day: 2012

I have heard it said that the pay phones around the U.S. are never busier than on Mother’s Day. And in way, it seems like that’s what God wanted when he gave Moses the Fourth Commandment: Honor your father and mother. And rightly so.

I Googled “mother” and “motherhood” and found 2,500,000 hits. And, of course, there are tens of thousands more books related to other aspects being a mom. Surely one of the wonders of motherhood is that bond that develops during pregnancy and after birth. I read an article a while back. A doctor mentioned that, when a mother gives birth, there really isn’t a complete or total separation. Cells from the newborn infant remain in the mother’s body for some time. What effect they have on the new mother, I don’t know. But there is a closeness that only a mother can know.

Moms Are Healers

Do you remember this advertisement on TV some years ago: there was a bench along a corridor, and there sat three children and their dad. They all looked sick and needy. A short way down the corridor, a door was open and the wife and mother was leaning out with a thermometer in her hand. On the door the notice read: “Doctor Mom.” As she smiled sympathetically and looked at her little brood, she said, “Next.”

I think we would all testify to the healing skills of our moms. It was like magic, only better: it was real. Mom’s kiss on a scraped knee or a bruised heart had true healing powers. We know a mother’s saliva has great power too. When we were small, she would take out her little handkerchief, wrap it around her index finger, wet it with her tongue and clean our whole face in no time. We just had to stand patiently and let her clean away. Finally—and this would be amazing—it is has been said that, in some cases, a mother’s saliva is so powerful it can remove the rust off a ten-year-old car fender.

How Blessed We Are

Some of you may have had this experience when, as a child, you suffered from a cold. My mom would put me to bed at night in my flannel pajamas. She would take her favorite salve and lather my chest and neck and nose with Vicks VapoRub. She would place a flannel cloth, heated in the oven, and put it on top of my Vicks-covered chest, button my pajama top up tight, kiss me good night, and whisper, “Sleep tight, my love.” I was floating in VapoRub fumes all night long, and somehow it worked. In fact, even now, when I smell Vicks, I’m transported to the feelings of a little four-year-old boy.

Think about your own moms. What miracles did you experience from her hands? How blessed we are! Bless them, Lord.

Dear Friar Jack: Logically, how can we say there will be pets in heaven just to appease those who love their cats and dogs, or any other pet for that matter? I have always been taught that only people have souls and go to heaven. These animals do not have souls, correct? If cats and dogs can go to heaven, that means we will all have to share heaven with bears and snakes and elephants and what not. Makes a great story for children, yet I am having a difficult time, as a senior citizen, accepting the fact that all these critters and creepy, crawling things will be there also. If our job is to praise God once we reach heaven, why would anyone need their pets? Millie

A: Dear Millie: You are not the first one to ask this question. Other Catholics raise the same objection. I try to offer good answers to your question in this book and in my other three (Paraclete Press) books for adults (on the same topic). I can only say that many Catholics today believe that there is good evidence in the Bible, in our Christian tradition, and in the life of St. Francis of Assisi that there will be animals in heaven. I hope you at least see this as the beginning of an answer. Peace and blessings! Friar Jack

Dear Friar Jack: Yes, I know in my heart that I will see all my pets again in heaven. They bring us such unconditional love and companionship. As a Secular Franciscan, the stories of Sts. Francis and Clare, as well as their love of God’s creatures, give us hope and great peace. Dee

Dear Friar Jack: Thank you so much for the E-spiration, “Will I See My Pet in Heaven?” After reading one of your previous newsletters on this, it gave me great hope that I will see my longtime companion, my dog Cisco, in heaven. I feel that God intentionally gave me the opportunity to have this awesome dog in my life. I don’t even see him as a pet, but rather as a family member. He has been with me through difficult times in my life. My most dreaded day will be when he is gone.

I know that when the time comes—when I pass away—he will be among the people I love who will meet me in heaven. What a beautiful thought! Thank you so much for the beautiful article. Your columns inspire me to be a better Catholic. Ruth

A: Dear Dee and Ruth: Your comments provide us with examples of people, presumably Catholic or Christian, who believe they will see their beloved pets in heaven. I have received many emails like yours over the years, indicating the great love many people have for their pets and whom they long to see in heaven. In time, may God lessen the grief that many feel for their lost pets! And for all the readers around the world of Friar Jack’s E-spirations, may God grant you peace and all good things! Friar Jack