A Spiritual Perspective
“All creatures have the same source as we have. Like us, they derive the life of thought, love, and will from the Creator. Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them; but to stop there is a complete misapprehension of the intentions of Providence. We have a higher mission. God wishes that we should succour them whenever they require it.”
I always wonder at the basic lack of concern for animals I have observed in most religions, but there have been many spiritual leaders who have spoken up for our animal brethren.
John Wesley, the eighteenth-century founder of Methodism, wrote the following:
“I believe in my heart that faith in Jesus Christ can and will lead us beyond an exclusive concern for the well-being of other human beings to the broader concern for the well-being of the birds in our backyards, the fish in our rivers, and every living creature on the face of the earth.”
So often I hear people of faith claiming that “God made the animals for us to use” and I am dumbfounded.
How can a God of love endorse the torture and killing of His creation at man’s whim?
Wouldn’t the law of love demand that we work endlessly to extend our compassion to include all sentient beings and treat others the way we ourselves would want to be treated?
If we don’t need meat or dairy to survive, how can we continue to allow the mistreatment and slaughter of animals merely because we like the taste of animal products or we’d be too inconvenienced to change?
I’ve always believed in a loving God, and if God is indeed love, then there is no malice in Him, only mercy and compassion.
At worldpeacediet.com, Dr. Will Tuttle, author of the best-selling book, “The World Peace Diet”, presents this quote from the seventh-century Christian mystic Saint Isaac the Syrian:
“What is a charitable heart? It is a heart which is burning with love for the whole creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts . . . for all creatures. He who has such a heart cannot see or call to mind a creature without his eyes being filled with tears by reason of the immense compassion which seizes his heart; a heart which is softened and can no longer bear to see or learn from others of any suffering, even the smallest pain being inflicted upon a creature. That is why such a man never ceases to pray for the animals . . . moved by the infinite pity which reigns in the hearts of those who are becoming united with God.”
When the heart is moved by a spiritual love for all creation, is it not the very love of God coming through us?
The Reverend Andrew Linzey sums it up well:
“Animals are God’s creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God’s sight. … Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God’s absolute identification with the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering.”
“It cannot be stressed enough that the picture of God exclusively concerned with human salvation and indifferent to the suffering of the non-human creation has become a source of moral despair. If Christians today care so little for animals, it is because the God they seem to believe in cares even less. For myself, I believe that if God is good and just and holy, it must follow that there will be redemption for each and every creature that suffers. Nothing less than that would make God a truly just God.”
St. Francis of Assisi saw himself as a caretaker of all of God’s creations, no matter how “lowly” and knew that all creation came from the same source.
God Our Heavenly Father,
You created the world
to serve humanity’s needs
and to lead them to You.
By our own fault
we have lost the beautiful relationship
which we once had with all your creation.
Help us to see
that by restoring our relationship with You
we will also restore it
with all Your creation.
Give us the grace
to see all animals as gifts from You
and to treat them with respect
for they are Your creation.
We pray for all animals
who are suffering as a result of our neglect.
May the order You originally established
be once again restored to the whole world
through the intercession of the Glorious Virgin Mary,
the prayers of Saint Francis
and the merits of Your Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ
Who lives and reigns with You
now and forever. Amen.
A God of love calls us to see what the great spiritual mystics and teachers saw: all creation is to be respected and treated with mercy.