Susi Pittman offers various scriptural and traditional Catholic explanations of the post mortem status of animals in our Judeo-Christian understanding of heaven. There are many questions about the faith we do not always understand. In her book, Animals in Heaven,
While the subject of pet afterlife is in most cases an irrelevant topic with most believers, it does have some merit to discuss and understand. In the traditions of Genesis, animals were created by God to provide mankind with assistance and nourishment as well as companionship in the primordial perfect world as illustrated by the various schools of Genesisâ€™ development.
As a Catholic, the issue of animal incorporation into the Kingdom of God is not often a subject with which one spends a lot of time. However, the author Susi Pittman has done true due diligence in her scriptural research and traditional understanding of our relationship with all of Creation, especially animals. Animals of all types share the cosmological world we call Earth and have existed with mankind from the dawn of creation. Our historical poetry personifies animals, even the Psalms of the O)ld Testament call attention to animals of all types as works of God that are reflective of his creative abilities in nature.
It is logical to assume then that animals will share in the afterlife with us if they have shared the earthly existence with mankind since its inception. However, one should not always assume logical conclusions when we are dealing with the plan of God, during and post earthly existence. The books author has done remarkable research into the development of our association with animals. They indeed are a critical part of human history. However, this author has some issue with believing they will inherit eternal life with us as well.
To start, the magnificence of Godâ€™s creation indeed is a mystery that is incomprehensible. However, God created mankind in his image and likeness. Additionally, man was infused with a rational mind and a soul. Those two factors clearly set him aside from the animal kingdom. My point then is this: Is it really necessary to include animals in the heavenly afterlife? I do not think it is necessary.
Animals in Heaven provides remarkable examples of interaction between animals and mankind. It specifically mentions the particular talent of St. Francis in interacting with animals, especially birds. However, one should look on theological understanding of our relationship with animals as one that exists as co-creatures and co-inhabitants of Planet Earth. Any other semblance of a deeper capacity of spiritual, intellectual and eternal integration should be considered as accidental.
Animals indeed share our planet; they assist human lives and provide companionship and even sustenance but any other requirements of sharing eternal life with us and God is really not important to Catholic believers. The afterlife hopefully will offer a transformation of our human existence that is beyond our comprehension. To include animals in the same plan of eschatology is simply an anthropomorphic quality to animals they lack by their intrinsic nature.
The work by Susi Pittman provides great points for consideration. Namely, how we as faithful believers need to acknowledge the mystery of all life around us, human and animal. We should live in a harmony and balance with all creatures of our planet, simply because, they are all Godâ€™s creatures, not because they might have a rational ability or a comprehension of human spiritual aspirations and goals.
Beautifully written book that celebrates Godâ€™s glory through His creation. The imagery and references to animals throughout history are commendable, however not a serious subject necessary for the fulfillment of salvation history.