Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Priest and his Pet Dogs at Mass - Common Sense from a Canon Lawyer

Ed Peters of In Light of the Law picked up on the story of Fr. Louis Scurti who brings his two dogs with him every where, including Mass. It's in a post on his blog entitled, "canine canons". Now, as I pointed out in the original post, this has nothing to do with dogs who assist the physically impaired. It has nothing to do with blessings as St. Francis did. Rather, it is simply about bringing two bigs dogs into church for Mass.

I had to ponder this a little more since I posted yesterday. Why did this disturb me so much? Well, in less than 5 minutes of meditative prayer, I finally figured it out.....

Worship is something in which we should strive to give our total being to God, and God alone. In an era of cellphones, "Blackberries", and multi-tasking lives, our already distracted selves are more easily distracted than ever. Mass is one opportunity for quiet.....IF our pastors and priests minimize or eliminate anything which could divert our attention from Him to themselves, or to anything/anyone else during the Mass.

Fr. Scurti goes on to explain why he brings them to Mass:

If there's a spiritual core to his dogs' presence during the liturgy, it's about making people feel included and at home in the church, he said.

How the people feel is not relevant. That is the whole problem today. That is why so many people don't come on a regular basis in the first place: They have a mistaken idea that "I only need to bother with Mass when it makes 'me' feel good". Nevermind going and giving God his due every week regardless of how we feel. Priests should be challenging us in this regard, not feeding our desires to be constantly entertained and "made to feel welcome". Teach us to come for God's sake, not ours. There's only one word for that kind of worship which puts God first and 'self' second: True!

Dogs in a Church during Mass do not lift our minds to God, but to His creatures. I love dogs and have had two of them. I have 2 aquariums. The animals I've had in my possession are indeed a blessing and a joy. I am always grateful to God for their presence. But, there is a place and time to enjoy them: Mass is not one of them.

BTW - in case you are interested, that is "Jaws" - a 1-inch White Cloud Mountain Minnow in my 20 gallon long. He's soon going to be 4 years old, and is one of 3 remaining from an original school of six.