September 30, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Honor God through responsible animal care

“Serenity sits upon my windowsill and preens her feline fur until sweet sleep descends, then she curls and blends into her private dreams.”

Years ago, I wrote the above in a poem titled “Peace.” The poem refers to one of two homeless female cats our family has hosted, Windy and Mimi. Of the three males we also rescued, two—Ziggy and Domino—are still with us. (Kat Stevens died years ago.) “Peace” was written about Mimi-cat, but applies to all the felines for whom I have cared.

Sharing their names here emphasizes how much they are a part of the family. I suspect the majority of The Criterion readers understand the close bond between humans and animals—no matter what pet companion one might have.

When God created Eden, he placed our forefather-and-mother in charge of all that was created. However, since God is love and we are made in the image and likeness of God, it behooves us to treat not only fellow human beings with respect and love, but all creatures coming into our lives. This is part of the inherited mandate from God.

I believe children reared in homes where this respect is taught become responsible adults in so many practical and humane ways. Such creatures come into our lives for various reasons: comfort and companionship as well as for human use. Their lives sustain our bodies and our souls in countless ways, including as a food source.

Many vegetarians abhor the thought of using animals for food, but it is one of their primary purposes. I learned this as a city girl visiting country cousins, and I accepted these new experiences as normal. I was told such animals were well cared for and butchering was done in a humane way.

As an adult, I am learning otherwise. Just as I soon realized domestic-type animals are not always cared for well, I have repeatedly found through the media that many food-supply animals can be even more cruelly raised. I have a copy of the July 18 Newsweek magazine in which “The Last Word” column by George W. Will is titled “What We Owe What We Eat.” This tells how animal abuse is, indeed, prevalent in many meat-producing businesses.

My eldest daughter, Donna, who converted to Judaism, has told me repeatedly that kosher food is the most healthy. Why? Because Jewish law and tradition orders responsible stewardship and the best treatment of animals—even at the moment of death. My own research has proved this correct. (For starters, see

Ponder these things as we approach the Oct. 4 feast of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order and beloved patron saint of animals and the environment.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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