Why Do I Have To Explain This?

How do I respond to something that happened inside a church that was so blasphemous, so obviously—I can’t believe I’m using this word—idiotic?

Especially since the people involved seem so nice, and their attitude towards “God’s creatures” is so warm and cuddly! Well, I will have to run the risk of upsetting nice people by simply telling the truth.

Here’s what happened. At St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Toronto, Donald Keith came forward for communion with his dog, Trapper, in tow. The priest, Marguerite Ray, gave communion to Keith. And then, in what she called a welcoming gesture, offered a communion wafer to Trapper. Trapper gladly accepted. The Toronto Star newspaper reports that the dog only sniffed at the communion wine, however.

Some of the parishioners were rightly outraged. Others don’t know what the fuss is about.

Neither, it seems, does the priest. Although she apologized for upsetting people, she defends what she did as an “act of reaching out” to Mr. Keith, who was a newcomer. After all, she said, “Jesus is a positive person. And Christianity is a positive religion.”

The dog’s owner was touched. Everywhere he goes, Trapper goes with him. Why? The dog, the paper reports, suffers from “separation anxiety.” Keith affirms that the dog took communion reverently—that the dog even bowed its head and prayed before receiving communion.

One congregant, Suzette Mafuna, said, “We’re all God’s creatures. . . If a dog goes into a church, he’s entitled to every service that’s offered, including spiritual nourishment.”

Well, Suzette, you are wrong. And I can’t believe that I have to explain why.

Folks, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He made all the creatures that live on earth, including mosquitoes, dogs, and dung beetles. He also made man, but he made man—alone among all creatures—in His image.

And the Son, the second person of the Trinity, in order to save those made in God’s image, took on human flesh, became one of us, went to the cross in our place for our sins, making us children of God.

So while all things that live and breathe are indeed God’s creatures, the dung beetle is not your brother.

Nor is Trapper. Dogs are wonderful creatures. They deserve our care. They bring joy and companionship to many people. But, as even Cesar Millan, the famous Dog Whisperer, reminds his viewers, dogs are not humans.

And while Christians disagree on communion—whether it is the actual body and blood of Christ, a bearer of Christ’s real presence, or a symbol of his ultimate sacrifice—we all agree that it is holy. And we ought not take what is holy and give it to the dogs.

That I even have to say this tells me that some Christians no longer understand the concept of the holy, the basic precept of our faith, nor do they understand man’s unique position in the cosmos as the bearer of God’s image and the object of His sacrificial love.

In other words, we no longer understand—or even believe—that humans are special. That’s scary.

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  • Joe DeVet

    The key word in this article is “Anglican.” Another key word is “Canada.” A third key word is “she” [priestess].

    My wife and I are privileged to be involved, albeit in a very small way, with the new Anglican Ordinariate announced not so long ago by the pope. The sort of outrage this article relates is all too common in that church, and is the reason the Ordinariate exists, as a welcoming response to the many Anglicans who appealed to the pope for a way into Rome, as it were, to escape the depredations within the Anglican Communion.

    But it is all too close to home. Canada is our next neighbor. The attitudes bespoken by this incident are held by many fellow-Catholics. It is urgent that we watch and pray for our own house, and pray for the many Anglicans who have been, and soon will be, welcomed into our house!

  • For Catholics (including Anglican Ordinariate members) this shouldn’t agitate us. We believe that communion is Holy when it’s consecrated and that can only happen with a validly ordained minister – Catholic or Orthodox male priest.

    In this case Trapper was simply given a host. Jesus wasn’t present there and therefore it wasn’t holy as Dr. Colson puts it.

  • I disagree. Although it was not the Body of Christ, it was percieved as at least symbolically so by the congregation. Those people who recieved it reverently were honoring Christ by doing so to the best of their understanding. That makes it holy — i.e. something set apart for the worship of God. I used to be a Protestant — you can’t say there is nothing to their communion, even though what it is is not what we and the Orthodox have.

  • plowshare

    Although Jesus undoubtedly meant it figuratively, I can’t help recalling His words, “Do not give to dogs what is holy, and do not cast your pearls before swine.”