The moment I saw this amazing and uniquely creative photograph,” From a Horse's Point of View", taken by Jim Arnold, animal photographer extraordinaire, of his horse's eye reflecting the sunset, I was moved deeply and immediately the expression, "the eyes are the window into the soul" came to mind. I was reminded about the question, which many animal lovers have asked repeatedly, "Do animals have souls?" This is a highly controversial question, which has been explored by both lay people and religious leaders. Of course, the belief is highly subjective and each person's answer is highly personal. In looking for proof, however, I learned that Pope John Paul II issued a proclamation in January 1990, declaring that animals have souls. For centuries, the Tibetans have held this belief. St. Francis of Assisi considered that even the most diminutive creature was sacred and treated all animals with great reverence and respect. Additionally, St. Francis believed that animals were an expression of God, and our task as humans, was to care and protect them. His great love for animals made him the most famous Saint that many of us look to as one who most embodies that deep unconditional love for everyone and everything on Earth. I found a famous story about St. Francis, which is most compelling. On the evening of his death, great numbers of larks flew over his house to express their grief over his passing. These birds seemed to know that St. Francis cared so much for the suffering, mistreated animals in his day. His concern for the whipped horses, starving dogs, hunted birds and other creatures preyed upon by humanity was so great, that he pleaded with the authorities to pass a law protecting them from those abuses. Gerasimus the Abbot, cleaned the wounds of the lion he came across on the banks of the river Jordan, whose paw had an embedded thorn. If we thoroughly read the story of the creation, where references about the creation of animals are found, we will also see the Hebrew phrase, "Nephesh Chaya" which translates to "soul". In Genesis 1.24, we find, "And God said, 'let the earth bring forth NEPHESH CHAYA of every kind: Cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind. And it was so." Pictured regularly are horses, oxen, lions and eagles, as part of heaven. If this wide variety of animals is depicted as part of heaven's realm, it makes sense to me, that they have souls. In present times, the Rainbow Bridge was created for those who have lost a beloved pet, who patiently wait in Heaven for that joyous reunion with their human companions. Do you believe that animals do have souls? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
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