Going a million miles an hour with church activities and in the community at large as we are about to begin the Sacred Triduum at the end of Holy Week, this post is a bit of a hodge-podge. Sorry about that. I hope it makes some sense.
With that disclaimer, take a look at the face of that dog pictured above. This dog – what looks to be a kind of American Pit-Bull mix – has a certain expression on his face, a visage of total loyalty to his adopted human being, an expression of utter freedom choosing to be tied in friendship to the guy he’s now accompanying and protecting.
I see this expression daily. When Laudie-dog adopted me – shot between the shoulder blades with bird-shot, mangy, skeletally thin – when Laudie-dog realized that I accepted being adopted, she has used this “look” as her default:
- Yes, that is a smile.
- Yes, that is a look of situational awareness against untoward aggression of previous owners and strangers.
- Yes, that is an expression of pride: “This is my raison d’être, and no one is going to tear me away.”
Laudie-dog is given to protecting Jesus and Mary.
I see this expression daily. When I was designated to be adopted by Shadow-dog, he was a bit rambunctious, wolf-dog that he is. His life had been quite the maelstrom of food gathering, always in all the wrong places. After realizing that being a loyal friend and protector for me was his raison d’être, and that he entirely enjoyed this, he became the dog pictured up top of this post, as it were.
Mind you, that scarred dog pictured at the top of this post is is a street-dog who adopted that human being, a good friend. That street-dog had been and continues to be THE alpha-dog of all the alpha-dogs in that small city where my friend lives, regardless of the size of the gangs of sycophant-dogs gathering around whatever alpha-dog other than the one pictured above.
- Yes, those are scars of battle on dog in that picture up top, scars surely received from other alpha-dogs who failed in their efforts, scars also surely received from other human beings throwing rocks and other rubbish at him, putting him through all that hell’s minions have to inflict upon any creature of our good God in this world.
That dog in the top picture is by far the most heroic vigilante-dog in the region, meaning that he is good and kind, but able to take care of any threat whatsoever there might be against the one he has taken to protecting.
Dogs sense quite exactly, judge quite certainly, rightly, correctly, what any human soul is on about, whether they are good, or malicious. And if good, whether that person is naïve or has suffered the onslaught of hell but has survived.
The guy in the background recognizing the wherewithal of this dog has, in fact, suffered the onslaught of all the hell that can be launched against any one person in this sorry, fallen world. He’s very much like what I have described about this dog, well able to take care of himself and others, but also carrying within himself the grace of the Living Truth of God. God’s non-human creatures are attracted to this goodness and kindness that has faced the entirety of evil and has chosen to remain with the Light.
After a week or two I’ll be able to link to a much fuller story about these two creatures of our good God.
SOME WORDS ON FRIENDSHIP: In speaking to a possible seminarian from the northeast U.S.A. the other week, friendship came up in the lengthy discussion. I said that friendship, true and deep friendship, is entirely dependent on the depth of unity that both of those souls have with the Living Truth, Christ our God. When there is total respect and reverence and obedience in all humility by God’s grace to Jesus and His Immaculate Mother, there is then shared sincerity in the Living Truth in that friendship. When I mentioned that this friendship is immediately recognized by such souls – the joy of each being entirely sourced in humble thanksgiving to Jesus – there was an immediate expression of recognition of that truth: “Yes! That’s it! Exactly! Jesus is the One!”
That’s the kind of friend to whom you would entrust your life in a life-threatening situation. That’s the kind of friend for whom you would lay down your life in a life-threatening situation. There is no greater love than that of laying down one’s life for one’s friends (see John 15:13), words spoken by Jesus on Holy Thursday as He lay down His life for us at the Last Supper, in Gethsemane, the beginning of this Sacred Triduum.
- “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another. “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15:13-20)
But, here’s the amazing part: Jesus loved us while we are yet minions of hell, while we were yet sinners, loving us in such manner in all truth as to bring us from sin into the joy of the children of God and of Immaculate Mary. Not that we get this right away. Within moments, Judas would betray Him, Peter would deny Him three times, and then all of them would run away, with Judas committing suicide.
- Father George, you don’t understand. You’ve been speaking so much about guardian angels and now you speak about dogs, even daring to go from dogs to… to… Jesus?! How dare you!
Yes, well. Methinks that the guardian angel of Saint John Bosco had something to do with Grigio coming to the rescue of the great saint Don Bosco for a good part of his life:
I remember trying with futility to get Shadow-dog to take his meds, which I had to put down his throat. It wasn’t going to happen, what with his being a “cane lupo”, a wolf-dog, indeed, oversized. I stopped trying, prayed to my guardian angel for assistance in the task, blaming my guardian angel, as it were, for getting me such a dog. And then I tried once more. This time and for the rest of the course of these meds, Shadow-dog just sat there calm and respectful as ever, letting me put the medicine down his throat with zero difficulty. Stunning, really.
Speaking of faces during Holy Week:
“It’s-The-Face”-God. Jesus. The Holy Face speaks in death, Jesus having laid down His life for us, whom He later called friends, but at time we became His enemies. God’s in unconditional, taking us where we are at, to start, but He requires that we assent to be changed from death to Life if we are to be with Him in Heaven.
4 responses to ““It’s-The-Face”-dog: Holy Thursday special”
Your conversation with possible seminarian brought tears to my eyes.
Truth tears. God bless you Father George David Byers; you and all priests as you help us join in the suffering and joy of our Lord!
may the suffering Lord always be with you and may st francis protect your pooches against anyone who may want to harm them
I know a dog isn’t a person and therefore cannot love, and I’ve heard that a dog cannot really smile … and yet … Laudie-dog’s smile and loving eyes are caught in the photo.
The dog is called man’s best friend and to be a best friend one must surely be capable of love and the happiness that comes from that friendship. In the case of a dog, the friendship is, of course, unequal: one is master and the other the faithful servant.
Perhaps God made our canine companions to remind us of who we are – men and women called to friendship with our Master, Jesus Christ – and to remind us of our dependence upon Him, His unceasing love and care for us, and the faithful love and devotion that we should have for Him. That is what I see in Laudie-dog’s face for her master, Father Byers.
Thank you, Father Byers. We love men! However, women are the lifeblood of the Church, let’s “face” it. Joyous Easter!