By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez
One thing I enjoyed growing up as a Catholic was the stories of saints. I had a little book as a child with the stories of different saints, and I used to read comic books about them. One saint I liked was St. Francis of Assisi, because he could, as the story goes, talk to birds.
Now, THAT was a miracle to my little eyes. Someone the birds would fly down to and talk to? But then, with years comes wisdom and I know that wild birds can be made friends with people, can be trained. Pigeons can be kept as pets and join pigeon races. Parakeets when domesticated go on your finger. Leave bread on your front lawn at a certain time every day and the birds will politely stand around your fence waiting as you drop the bread everywhere.
Catching wild birds is another thing. I had a maid who was quite good at that. One time she caught five wild birds when she was on a roll. So it was probably no miracle, and saints being made saints hundreds of years after they died, makes it quite likely the story evolved and no one was alive to challenge it.
The idea of blessing pets was at first sacrilegious to me. As a child I had a much loved pusakal (stray cat) that died. We buried it on an empty lot next door and I asked my uncle, a priest (who later became Archbishop of Lipa) to bless the pet’s grave. He told me that that is something one just doesn’t do. At that time man was placed higher than pets, you see.
But now pets are being reviewed as part of God’s creation and scholars are wondering what spiritual role they may play in the life of man. The focus is still man, but then all of creation is subject to God, the creator. Personally, I think God gave us pets so we could feel a closer link even to wild animals and to the rest of our earthly home.