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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Can an animal be put down/ An appropriate prayer for Adoration

As a Catholic, is it right to put a pet down if it is suffering?  Or is it against the commandment “thou shall not kill?”

     When it comes to the sad and often difficult moments of seeing pets grow weak with years or become seriously ill, it is important to know that their
sufferings are not understood in the same manner that we can view our own human suffering in relation to Jesus.

     Though the experience of physical pain may be the same, what is quite different between human suffering and animals in pain is that animals cannot make a conscious decision to “offer up” their pain in the way that we are invited to do so in relationship to Jesus Christ, by whose acceptance of suffering and death we are redeemed.  Acknowledging that in God’s original creating work there was no pain and that pain and suffering are consequences of original sin, our human suffering has been made meaningful in Christ, who in his power over suffering and death transforms suffering from a meaningless experience to one that can affect benefit on ourselves or others – when it is consciously accepted and offered on the behalf of our own need for repentance or for another.  To put it very plainly, the sufferings that animals undergo have no redeeming quality – as they cannot offer it up.  In addition, as animals do not sin (as committing sin requires knowledge and free will, choosing to reject the good), their sufferings are incapable of being offered for the sake of repentance or forgiveness – as they have nothing for which to be forgiven.  Therefore, there really is no reason to allow an animal’s terminal sufferings to be prolonged.

     That said, while it is not permissible to destroy any of God’s creatures simply out of want to kill, there can be legitimate reasons (mindful that God has made us “stewards” of the planet) to put an animal to death, including when they are injured or ill to a point of no easy or immediate possibility of recovery – as can sometimes
happen with our pets.

 What is an appropriate prayer when kneeling as we enter and leave Adoration?

     Any number of prayers can be offered upon arrival and departure before the Blessed Sacrament, whether during Eucharistic Adoration when the Eucharist is in the monstrance on the altar, or even when you are simply making a visit to the Lord reposed in the tabernacle.  To recite prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and/or the Glory Be as you begin and end your prayer can always be fitting and fruitful.  However, in light of the question seeking to know an appropriate way to pray, might I also invite you to practice praying in a spontaneous and personal way, relating to Jesus in a way that is both humble while trusting that you can speak to Him as you would to any human person that you love.  That is, upon arriving and after kneeling down in your pew, to pray from your heart with words of praise and thanksgiving to Jesus for His presence in the Eucharist, thanking Him for the opportunity to come before Him in this time of prayer.  Likewise, when you are about to depart, to give thanks and praise to Jesus for the opportunity to have spent the time with Him,acknowledging in gratitude any particular ways you sensed our Lord working in your mind and heart during your prayer time.  Finally, it is also very fitting as you are about to depart to ask Jesus to bless you, protect you, and/or guide you as you go your way onto whatever happens to be coming next in your day.  Such personal prayer is both very appropriate and a very beautiful way to build up a sense of being in personal relationship with Jesus in all moments of our life. 



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