I have never been very successful trying to understand the pain in this world. Yes, I try to understand what Pope John Paul II said in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Dolorus and in his Letter to the Sick at the National Cancer Institute. This is not easy going. I’m not as concerned about my own salvation as I am about those who suffer, animals and human.
We were on our way to Texas for my mother-in-law’s funeral. My cellphone rang. A call from the animal hospital where I was boarding my cat, Sonny. There was a lump on his hip. Should they take a sample and send it to the lab? “Why, yes,” I said, “of course.” I didn’t even ask about the expense. Animal or not, Sonny was my friend and I would take care of him like any friend.
Next day a call from the veterinarian, the cells looked funny to her and the lab. Although they could not be positive they were cancerous, she thought it would be best to remove the tumor. I did not hesitate to say yes. Damn the cost. I had already lost one dear feline friend and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake with Sonny by not getting him care.
The tumor was successfully removed, and I was grateful. It was an aggressive, malignant sarcoma. But a month later he fell ill. Even though he was in the house, we could not find him for hours. When we did, I could see how sick he was. I had watched my other feline friend die an agonizing death, perhaps because I did not get him the medical care he needed, and if given a second chance I would not let that happen again. It was an awful night. Sick as Sonny was, he came to the bed to say good night in his way, as he often did. I too was sick, sick at heart. I could never understand why animals had to suffer. Oh sure, I’ve read that they do not comprehend pain as we do, but the fact of the matter is they do feel pain. And they are innocent. They are without sin. Yet they suffer for our sins.
I too was suffering, full of anguish and worry, and it made me reflect upon suffering and pain once again. It was always easier to understand my own suffering than it was the suffering of others. The worst of suffering was never physical pain, but the suffering of anguish and worry and loss. Of watching and trying to comprehend the incomprehensible suffering we see all about us. I think it was Percy Bysshe Shelley who once said he was like a nerve “over which the else unfelt oppressions of this earth do creep.” Yes, I was feeling pain and anguish for Sonny, perhaps comprehending life without him coming to our bed at night. But what I was thinking went a lot deeper than that.
The Catholic Church teaches a couple of things in relation to animals. First, we should not spend money on them that should as a priority go to relieve human misery. Well, that wasn’t going to stop me from taking him to the animal hospital and letting them put him on an IV and anti-biotics. That’s what I did and once again I didn’t ask about the expense. Sonny was a better friend to me than many people had been. Perhaps the message to me in this was that I should also give more money to human causes.
The Church also teaches that while it’s OK to love animals, we should not direct the affection toward them that are due to human beings. Well, of course not, but that did not prevent my empathizing with his suffering or my anguish at the thought of losing him. He had done nothing to deserve his suffering, much less death at a relatively young age. Was I wrong to pray for him? If God knows when a sparrow falls from the sky, surely He knew that Sonny was sick as well.
After a night in the hospital, Sonny fully recovered. Prayers answered? I don’t even think about that. I’m just grateful to have his friendship back. But that’s only the lead-in to why I came to write this post. My daughter-in-law has been posting and sharing entries from a Facebook site “Saving Treyden.” Treyden is a baby. He is very sick. His parents are going through a hell no one deserves. Until this time, I had thought very little about these posts. To be honest, I still have not read them in great detail because I simply cannot bear it. See, Treyden being a baby, he too is innocent.
Being a parent and a grandparent of an infant grandson, I simply cannot comprehend the agony his parents are going through. I don’t need to read their posts to pray for them and for Treyden. It’s all we can do to pray into the darkness of this fallen world and pour some light into it. It’s all I can do. That, and ask anyone else who reads this to pray for Treyden and his suffering parents. They all need the strength that only God can give.
Please take an extra moment today and pray for them. God Bless You.