Where there is unconditional love, there is God

It turned out to be quite a humorous moment.

I was speaking with one of the holy deacons (The good that deacons do for the people of God is inestimable. But that’s another topic for another article).

In the course of the conversation, he asked: “How are you doing?” Thinking he was asking how my eyes were since the strokes in them, or how my general health was after the blood clots, I replied simply: “Oh, I’m going fine.” He continued: “I’m asking about that!” He pointed to the slash marks on my left wrist, only partially covered with bandages. Hurriedly, I replied: “Oh, I haven’t tried to kill myself. My cat did that for me!”

Many people are perplexed that I, who would never dream of killing myself, would allow my cat the freedom to try! As with trying to explain the mysterious apparitions of Fatima and Lourdes, I can only say the same thing of pets: “For those who believe no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible!”

I grew up with my dog, King. There’s a unique bonding between a boy and a dog. Cats were an acquired taste later in life. My cats don’t live with me. There’s just not enough space, and I’m away much too much to be fair to the cats. So they live in an apartment with my friend and their mother.

Last year in October, I recounted the story of the untimely death of our very young cat, Pharaoh. He was sweet, gentle and mannerly. He was a lamb. In December, during the first snowstorm, we adopted a similar looking black cat who was 8 months old at the time. Don’t let looks fool you. He’s a lion! Better still, he’s a bull in china shop – leaping, running, jumping, crashing into things, knocking over piles, harassing our older cat, Leia.

His foster mother was an art student at Towson. So she named all her cats after artists – Michelangelo, Raphael, etc. Our cat is named Botticelli! We shortened his name to Botts or Botters. But it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t respond to any name!

Since he lives in an upstairs apartment, one of his favorite occupations is going out into the hall way, and running up and down the stairs. There’s a glass storm door at the foot of the stairs and he spends hours staring out the door, or chasing down some poor, hapless bug or insect unlucky enough to get inside.

So, the “attempted murder” wasn’t really an attempt. Like any little boy, he doesn’t like to come in from playing. So I was carrying him up the stairs when suddenly he made a break for freedom! He was trying to claw out of my arms rather than into my arm! In a court of law, I would testify that his paw just “went off.” It was an accident.

All kinds of research indicate the power of pets. Pets lower blood pressure (as well as the blood supply), decrease loneliness, add years to life and on and on. Much of my life is spent ministering to people experiencing the “dark side” of life – illness, injury, loss of jobs, loss of life, anxiety, depression and on and on.

However, when I’m with my cats, I’m in an altered state. (When I say Mass I’m in an “Altar state”). Some people prefer a drink in a hand. I prefer a cat in the lap! Nothing on earth is as soothing as a cat’s purr. No moment more lovely than a cat luxuriating in prolonged petting.

Someone has wisely summed up the difference between dogs and cats: “Your dog looks at you and says – “She feeds me, she pets me, she loves me. She must be God!” Your cat looks at you and says: “She feeds me. She pets me. She loves me. I must be God!”

Dogs give unconditional love. Cats require it! But isn’t the giving and the receiving of unconditional love what life is meant to be all about? And where there is always love, there is, of course, always God!

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.