The title of this blog is also the title of a children’s edition of a book, distributed by Franciscan Media, I wrote recently dealing with the question of whether we will see our pets again in the next life. In my experience, children are more ready than most adults to accept the hints and clues we find in the Bible or in the life of St. Francis of Assisi. And I think these clues encourage our children to believe that someday they will see their pets again in heaven.
A Clue from the Garden of Eden
Children can easily understand, for example, that there were lots of animals and birds that were happy with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden—before our first parents ate that forbidden fruit. Now, if these animals were happy with God in that original paradise, why would they not also be happy with him in the paradise that is yet to come?
The Story of Noah and the Ark
When children hear the story of Noah and the ark, they clearly understand that God wanted to save not only human beings in the ark, but the animals as well. God told Noah to bring not only his family into the ark, but a male and female of every non-human creature as well. In this way, God very carefully made sure that all animals would also be saved—and that these animals would not become extinct.
St. Francis and His Canticle of the Creatures
We can also tell our children that St. Francis wanted all the earth’s creatures to praise God—not simply the human beings. In his canticle, he called the various creatures “brothers” and “sisters,” indicating that we are all members of one big family. In this very condensed version of the song, Francis proclaims:
All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,
And first my lord, Brother Sun, who brings the day. . . .
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars. . . .
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air. . . .
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
so useful, lowly, precious and pure.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten up the night.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother
who. . .produces various fruits and colored flowers. . . .
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
And serve him with great humility.
Would it not seem strange if this Canticle, which invites our brother and sister creatures to praise God with us in this life, should not also invite the same creatures to praise God with us in heaven? Don’t you think St. Francis of Assisi would also want his Canticle to be sung loud and clear in heaven also?
Happily, there are many other clues in the Bible and in the life of St. Francis. And these clues give our children sparks of hope that they will someday see their pets in heaven!
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