I was once having a casual chat with a priest. Somehow, we got on the subject of animals and Heaven. This led him to say, “Now, there might be animals in heaven, but it won’t be Fluffy.” My heart sank.
At the time, I had an older beagle named Charlie. He was my best friend, and I could not imagine spending eternity without him. However, I also knew that I was not free to make up beliefs, so in that moment, I made up my mind. I vowed not to hope that Charlie and I would be reunited after death. To me, it was what a good Catholic would do.
Fast forward to last week. I am praying at home, and I think about Charlie. By this time, it had been around a year and a half since I said my final goodbyes to my best friend. My mind drifted to what that priest had said, but something in me made me go, “Wait, is that what the Church actually teaches?” So, I leaned over and grabbed my copy of the Catechism. I flipped to the section on animals (Paragraphs 2415 – 2418), and lo and behold, there was nothing about whether or not we would be reunited with our animal friends after death.
What does the church teach?
I have read several online articles that make the argument that our pets will not be in Heaven, but none of the articles I read quote any official teaching of the Church. Not one references the Catechism or other official Church documents. There are a few articles that open the possibility of our pets being in heaven, but there is nothing official that says we will be reunited with our pets. So, what the Church teaches about animals and heaven is nothing. We don’t know if we will see our pets in heaven.
But, what about heavenly happiness?
In an Ascension Presents video, Fr. Michael Schmitz says that, if you need your pet to be happy in heaven, you are not ready for heaven. Harsh words, but probably true. I say “probably” because Fr. Mike does not reference any official Church documents or papal proclamations; however, the logic holds up.
The nature of heaven
I am not a theologian, but what I have come to believe about heaven is this: it is better than I imagine—in fact, it is better than I could possibly imagine. Our human brains cannot fathom what heaven truly is. Think of the most awesome experience you have ever had. Heaven is better than that. In short, there is nothing better than heaven.
Will I be reunited to Charlie?
I don’t know if I will be reunited with Charlie in heaven. I would love it if I were, but I do not know for sure. Even if I am reunited with Charlie after death, I know that heaven is better than I imagine. The hole that Charlie’s death created in my life will be filled with God, not Charlie or another dog. I wish I could say without a doubt that I will be reunited with Charlie, but I cannot. However, I am open to the possibility that there could be a reunion after death. To close my mind to that possibility is to put limits on God. Our Heavenly Father can do anything. To say he cannot reunite us with our pets is to say he is not all-powerful. God is all-powerful, and if he wills it, I will be reunited with Charlie. But, I don’t know what his will is in this matter. I hope I get to heaven and find out because, again, heaven is so much better than I imagine.
Featured Image: Property of Alex R. Hey, author.