Your Commentaries

Hi Susi,

I read your article titled Spiritual Intimacy and Our Pets. I especially liked the point you made about the skepticism of some authorities regarding such intimacy because of our tendency to cast human characteristics onto our pets.

Anthropomorphism has been used for thousands of years in pictures and sculptures of Art. This projection of human characteristics showed that we had some kind of kindred spirit with God’s other creatures and beings. I thought I was brought here to care for our pet and give her love. Now I am of a new opinion.

I think my pet was brought to us to teach us and all who would take notice. Our pets are helping us obtain those most important qualities we will need on our path to heaven.

What has your pet taught today?

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain”.

~ Rodney Jones, Artist
Windermere, Florida

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I read Father Ron’s book and it just blew me away. One of the most spiritual books I have ever read. To me it was a prayer book.

Father recommended your site for his column and I see you have written a book about pets in heaven. We have always had cats (since I was a boy and now I’m 60!) and have lost some wonderful companions over the years. I’ve tried to find some info about pets in heaven, but found nothing.

A close friend of mine said he had a vivid dream about his mother when she passed and his deceased dog was with her and was very excited to see him there!

I was unloading the trunk of my car about a month ago and a cat jumped into the trunk! She was so thin. I just had to feed her. We took her to the vet and found out that she has FIV. My wife and I researched the virus and found out that thousands of these cats live normal lives. We have soft paws on our current cat, Tinker, so we put soft paws on Dixie and made her part of the family. Tinker is not aggressive and with the nails covered I feel that they won’t hurt each other. I don’t know how long Dixie will live, but she has a home with us until then!

Funny thing is… ever since I took her in I’ve been thinking that it was the right thing to do because we are called to be stewards of animals! And then Father Ron sends me to your site. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence. She jumped in my trunk. Coincidence? Even the Vet didn’t believe that. She said Dixie knew exactly what she was doing!

I just felt like sharing my thoughts with you at 1:30 AM Gettysburg, PA time! Please let me know where I can buy your new book about pets in heaven when it comes out in October.

God bless!
John Gross
Gettysburg, PA

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A Friendly Reminder

If you want to see a face light up, simply ask a person about their friendships. Some will boast about a friend they have been fortunate enough to know for years. Some have just recently struck up a promising friendship. While others, recall only memories. As Catholics we have a common bond. God loves us so much that He has blessed us with more friends than we can count. We can call on them at any time. They do not play favorites, and they will never let us down. Have you guessed who? The saints!

When I was a child attending Catholic school, my friend and I traded holy cards with beautiful pictures of the saints, like boys trading baseball and football cards. I remember being filled with pride when I made a worthy trade. I was a pretty good strategist when it came to acquiring as many holy cards of St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. Therese of Lisieux and especially Our Lady, who is the Queen of all the saints. When my friend or I purchased a new card, we would meticulously cover it with a clear wrap for protection. It was a great pastime. I delighted in collecting the holy cards, and reading about the lives of the saints. It would be wonderful if children still collected holy cards!

The saint’s lives are like a roadmap to heaven for us to follow. Display their pictures for inspiration, and know that they are only a prayer away. It is comforting to know that we have so many friends in “high places.”

~ Linda Martin
St. Johns, Florida

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In “Tear in the Desert,” Fr. Camarda chronicles his progressive discovery of what it means to be a chaplain attached to Bravo Surgical Company, which, in his words, “is a hospital I the center of Iraq in the town of Al Fallujah, filled with hatred, insurrectionists, people, and Marines” In doing so, Camarda records the various trials and tribulations that made this Iraqi assignment so challenging and harrowing, but always rewarding. Rewarding in that it made him more truthful to himself about his own faith and stamina to endure what Marines had to endure in combat every day. “Seeing the vulnerability of the human body and the resilience [in others],” he notes in a letter, “I recognize my own internal sin and weakness. I find myself more tolerant of the annoying habits of others, and Marines have a number of them.”

But Camarda learns from his war experiences and at times finds himself in Iraq at a far greater depth of faith than when he was at home in Florida. Indeed, his faith, along with the faith of those around him, enables him to find his way to every Marine’s heart, whether alive, wounded or dying. His accounts of ministering to others are particularly moving, especially when he feels he is in the punishment of a war so lethally unconventional and merciless as to make him numb or dead to a part of himself. “Part of me was killed in action without a trace,” he says when recalling Edward Iwan dying on an operating table beside him. When treating two people who tried to plant a bomb that was intended to kill Marines, his emotions swing from anger and disgust to Mercy, as if in an attempt to learn more from the sight of suffering than the perils of war and butchery.

Through the diary, what judgments Camarda does not want to make about war are forced upon him by the war itself and its aftermath. As he records his thoughts, we see how he is always seeking and doing good deeds for others but doesn’t always think good thoughts performing them. These thoughts he records along with his struggles to be a good chaplain and a faithful Catholic priest. Throughout the chronicle, he falls back into God, as it were, hoping the teachings and example of Jesus will not be trampled upon by the magnitude of disaster and carnage that Marines in combat face every day to safeguard our country and establish a lasting peace.

By the end of the book one can feel Chaplain Camarda’s grief and pain over the loss of those Marines with whom he came in close contact. At this point he is free of self-concern and self-regard as if those Marines far exceeded his personal feelings and what the war justified. His faith wants their sacrifice and decency to survive and have meaning. They had the will and courage to give all for their country, yet they also wanted to live and be with their families, grow old with them. How tough a hide did Fr. Camarda have? Was it invulnerable to the horrors and sufferings around him? The ending of the book suggests that it was not tough enough to avoid the overwhelming pain of loss he felt, especially for those sufferers and family members whom the Marines left behind. He is still grieving.

Lawrence E. McInnis, USMC
3rd RECON BN

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