BamBam is Gone


Eight years ago I wrote a piece called Fear the Lord in which BamBam, our then 10 year old shih-tzu, had a starring role. At that time I wrote of him and his sister Pebbles, in part:

I imagine one day that a visit to the vet will not end in just another treat for them.

Today was that day. BamBam died peacefully this afternoon at his veterinarian’s office. I am heartbroken. It was really, really hard to take him there but it was time. In the last year or so his quality of life has steadily declined. The dog that was with us since we moved into our current home when our daughter was 8 (now 26, married, moved away, pursuing a Ph.D.) is gone. We treasured his younger and very mischievous personality. I could tell so many stories of his antics! He played an important part in our family life. One of his special contributions was when any of us were sick in bed – BamBam could be counted on to lay quietly with us for days.

As a Catholic, I struggled with his death in several additional ways. First, understanding who or what is being lost? As dear as BamBam has been to us and as attached as we were, he was an animal. One of God’s very special creatures to be sure, but not a person. Like all loving pet owners, we interacted with him many times every day, took good care of him and considered him as a member of our extended family. Although we projected onto him human-like attributes, it is important for me to remember he did not have the rationality nor dignity of a person.

The second issue is euthanasia. For people, this is absolutely out of the question. When I allowed myself to reflect on BamBam like a person (shih-tzu are relatively small dogs, so I often referred to him and his sister as “little people”), the thought of euthanizing him was repugnant. Were he a person, however, he would (justly so) be receiving a good amount of end-of-life medical care at this point. That is not appropriate for a pet. It is appropriate, as best as we are able, to treat him humanely. For animals (unlike people) euthanasia sometimes becomes the most humane, most unselfish option.

The third issue I reflect on is attachment. There are many things I am attached to on my earthly pilgrimage, but none more than God. After God comes family, friends, all other people, then pets and all other things. My attachment to BamBam was alright in its place, yet the world is a little emptier without him. Like people, I have found every dog I ever had to be unique.

My fourth and final issue is “where is he now”? He is simply gone. He had an animal soul, not a rational human soul. He did not face judgment because he ended here and could not actually sin. He was not made in the image and likeness of God, was not beloved as God’s children are, is not an heir to the Father’s kingdom, is not a beneficiary of the Son’s sacrifice – so for BamBam, life ends here. Of the four last things, only death may apply.

My prayers are of thanks for the gift of BamBam to us, but not for his soul. That is gone, along with his place in God’s creation. While he has not “passed on” and is not “resting in peace” – he is not suffering, will be fondly remembered and will be missed. Anything more than that is entrusted to God’s providence. Goodbye my very special, little buddy.

Our last Lent?

Our Last Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday.

We “do” this every year at the beginning of the season of Lent. It is a tradition and marker. Green gives way to purple, fish frys blosom, Stations of the Cross are observed, we will go to confession, Easter Sunday is in the distance. Today, don’t focus on all of that. Today, focus on the Big Picture™.

When you go to church today, look at the lines of people waiting to receive ashes. They are from every culture, rich and poor, young and old. Not all will be with us next year. For some, while they don’t know it yet, this is their last Ash Wednesday. I wonder how many truly understand that possibility. Most are probably in reasonably good health and believe it likely that their earthly pilmgramage has at least a few more years. I hope so, but have been to enough funerals to know how wrong that can be.

Consider too, this could be your last Ash Wednesday. If by God’s grace it isn’t, then know for certain that some future one will be. Today we should reflect on that.

Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.



Have you been to a Catholic funeral? Like every funeral there are the deceased’s friends and loved ones who feel the pain of their loss. There is the final goodbye and some closure that will never be enough. They will be missed and the world feels somehow less with them no longer in it.

All certainly true, but that must NOT be the primary focus of their funeral. Nor is it remotely correct to canonize the person as a saint (“they are in heaven now,” “they are with the Lord,” or the wrong on several levels “they are an angel now”). That is for God to judge. In fact, if we assert that the person is in heaven then we deny any need to do what we actually can and should do: pray for them. Pray that they died in God’s friendship in final perseverance. Pray that they will soon be at true peace with Him.

We do this in the context of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The most sublime prayer we can offer to God, in the presence of His Son on the altar of sacrifice before us. We are joined by all the angels and saints in offering worship and thanksgiving to our most merciful judge.

Fr. Mike Schmitz just posted this piece on The Real Purpose of Funerals:

Here is the outstanding homily (begins around the 2:25 mark) by Fr. Paul Scalia given at his dad’s funeral Mass:

Finally, funeral homilies are also an opportunity to reach people who have fallen away or who are otherwise not fully embracing their faith (or may never have had it). The end of one such homily given by Msgr. Charles Pope is an excellent example:

A Reminder

When you are done celebrating or protesting, remember this:

Hope Obama

Hope Trump Hope Jesus

Test Day

Tuesday is YOUR big test. As a Catholic or other Christian, will you pass?

Thou shall not kill.

One candidate has pledged to do everything in her power to promote and further entrench abortion. It is a top priority for her and if elected, she will be able to do great harm. Through her Supreme Court appointments the damage will last far, far beyond her presidency.

She can not do it without your help.

Life is a top priority for God Almighty. Will you be in obedience to His will when called before His throne to account for your vote?

Test Day

NBC Meet the Press