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Souls, immortality and eternity


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#1 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 02:18 PM

Mammal mothers nurture their young. They express emotions. They love. They form attachments. They respond to each other and to humans. They think. Pets become part of the family. Do they have souls? I think so. Perhaps not the same degree as humans, but a definite soul. What does the doctrine say?


#2 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 03:53 PM

"Man alone is capable of communion with God. For to man alone among the living creatures does God speak - at night through dreams, by day through the intellect." St. Anthony the Great. Does this imply animals have no soul, or just that animals aren't cognizant of God?


#3 Lawrence

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 04:03 PM

Animals have a soul, but they have not received the Spirit through the breathe of God. For this reason they have no intellect. They participate completely with God and are sinless because they have no free will.

Now that brings an interesting contemplation of the Lord's casting of the demons into the swine.

LD


#4 Guest_Thomas Davidson

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 06:00 PM

The trouble is 'soul' in itself is a flexible and somewhat indeterminate term.

This from the Hebrew tradition:

Nefesh:
The creaturely or animic soul (psyche and anima in Greek and Latin). It means 'vitality' in the sense of life enjoyed by every living creature "for the life of every creature is the blood of it" (Lev 17:14).

The soul at this level is neither incorruptible, "that through these (promises of Christ) you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4) and "for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved" (2:19), nor immortal: "When you chastise man because of his iniquity, you condemn his soul to dissolution" (Psalms 39:12) or "Let my soul die the death of the righteous" (Num 23:10).

Ruach:
The mental or psychic soul (pneuma and spiritus) endowed with the faculties of reason and intellect. Ruach means 'breath' and in this sense the soul is the breath of God which animates Adam and all humanity. Thus when reason deserts man, he becomes prey to his animic passions and apetites.

Neshamah:
The sanctified soul (pneuma or pnoe and spiritus, spiraculum or habitus) as spoken of by Christ: "Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).

There are other levels, but then all becomes a matter of degree.

Tom


#5 Guest_Rebecca

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 10:49 PM

Icons of the Nativity often show animals and plants, not in their realistic perspective, but in the perspective of the icon.

Then there's the psalm "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord"


#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 11:53 PM

"In comparing the soul of man with that of animals, St. Gregory [Palamas] says that animals possess a soul not as essence, but as an energy. 'The soul of each of the irrational animals is the life for the body it animates, and so animals possess life not essentially, but as an energy, since this life is dependent on something else and is not self-subsistent.' Therefore since the soul of animals has only energy, it dies with the body. By contrast, the soul of man has not only energy but also essence: 'The soul possesses life not only as an activity, but also essentially, since it lives in its own right... For that reason, when the body passes away, the soul does not perish with it.' It remains immortal [by God's Grace].' [St Gregory Palamas 150 Chapters, ch 38]." Taken from Orthodox Psychotherapy by Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), page 105.


#7 Fr Averky

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 12:34 AM

Dear Herman,

Interestingly enough, several years ago Father Alexey Young told me that he had read somewhere in one of the Fathers, but could not remember which one, that if a righteous person had a pet animal, like a cat or a dog, or perhaps a bull such as St. Aganfangel of the Kiev caves had, that that animal will be with him in heaven. I do not think that this is a heavenly reward for the "soul" of the animal in that sense, but as an added joy to the righteous one. I can give no proof of this, but like all animal lovers, if by some amazing mercy of God I were to receive salvation, there is one cat in particular that I would love to be with me for he brought me so much happiness during very difficult times. I do believe that animals have feelings, and can express them; sorrow, joy, anger, suffering, and sympathy and loyalty.

Fr. A.


#8 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:38 AM

For St.Palamas to have written about comparing the soul of man with that of animals, indicates belief in animals having souls. Good. But I'd read or heard that Catholic doctrine states animals have no soul. I have a hard time accepting this. I'm heretical on that, I guess. What to do.


#9 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:41 AM

Herman,
I have Orthodox Psychotherapy, and will look up the passage pertaining to animals having souls. Is that the closest to any official Orthodox doctrine on the matter?


#10 Guest_Alexis L. Williams

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 03:05 AM

Dear Fr. Averky,

Bless!

My dad once asked this same question of his spiritual father, and received essentially the same reply as you have given.

With Love In Christ,
the sinful reader Alexis


#11 Richard Leigh

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 04:29 AM

Dear Herman,

I liked your answer very much and found it commensurate with Thomas'& Lawrences.

Dear Rebecca, I know this will be a bit of a let down for you but Scripture says that because of what Thomas' post said about "breath" (Ruach).

We're talking about "rational souls" here. That, Dear A is why the Catholics won't call "soul" what Gregory Palamas is calling "soul (live) as an energy, not an essence." They are trying to say the same thing.

I loved Fr A's answer (being half Scotish I have a love for animals and pets!) I remember that George MacDonald (19th Century Scotish 'divine') that "Ol' Bess [a parishoner's horse which had died] would see [it's owner one day] in heaven" his salary was dropped to a pound a year forcing him out of the ministry!

And, just in case any of you wanted to know, my Lutheran Spiritual Father (i.e., the one though whom my conversion to Christ came) taught the Latin Catholic doctrine about it (but then, he wasn't Scotish but Norwegian!)

Richard


#12 Fr Averky

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 05:50 AM

Dear in Christ Alexis and Richard,

Since I have no "salary" to speak of, I will gladly give it all up to have my wonderful Kublai Khan with me, should God grant me that which I do not deserve. Even if I did have a salary, I would still give it up. Kublah, as we called, him, was a "cat-wonder," half Tabby and half Siamese, with Siamese coloration, sapphire blue eyes, and striped legs, tail, and face. He was the most intellignet, sensitive, delightful and loving animal I have ever owned, and even the Archbishop, who does not like for people, especially monks to have pets in their room, was genuinely delighted by the "Lord Emperor." When I got so very ill, I had to find him another home, and I miss him to this very day

Fr. A.


#13 Guest_Thomas Davidson

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 10:57 AM

Animals 'pop up' often in the Celtic Christian tradition and the lives of the saints - I recall one tale (vaguely, I'm afraid) of a monk who dropped his psalter into a river - and later an otter fished it out and returned it to him in his cell.

Animals may not be cognizant of God as we are (they have no intellectual faculty) but in my experience they know 'good' when they see it - in the abstract as well as concrete sense.

Tom


#14 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:36 PM

When my late mother (miss you mom) appears in my dreams, it is as if she is actually visiting, still very much alive in the spiritual realm. So, when a past pet appears so vividly in a dream, why can't it be that their semblance of a soul still exists in the spiritual dimension too?


#15 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:38 PM

For St.Palamas to have written about comparing the soul of man with that of animals, indicates belief in animals having souls. Good. But I'd read or heard that Catholic doctrine states animals have no soul. I have a hard time accepting this. I'm heretical on that, I guess. What to do.


Well, for me, the Catholic "doctrine" has no relevance. Regardless, we have to realize that the word "soul" is a construct, and different people use the word differently. Even within Orthodoxy, you see words like "soul" and "spirit" used somewhat indiscriminately, sometimes as substitutes for each other, others assigning specific and different meanings to each. And what one calls spirit the other calls soul. It is not the words we must focus on, but the concepts. Metropolitan Hiertheos comments on this at length.

He goes further to state that, contrary to some populist beliefs circulating today, there is no such thing as an inherently immortal soul. Immortality is granted to a soul by God, it cannot exist apart from God. According to St. Gregory as quoted by Metr. Hierotheos, the immortality granted by God to the "essense" of the human soul is not extended to the "energy" of the animal soul, at least that is how it seems to this simple mind.

#16 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:44 PM

I have Orthodox Psychotherapy, and will look up the passage pertaining to animals having souls. Is that the closest to any official Orthodox doctrine on the matter?


The Orthodox Church, as far as I am able to tell, does not have an "official doctrine" on the matter. The "Official Doctrine" is that which is contained in the Nicene Creed and as resolved in the 7 Ecumenical Councils. I do believe that "the Orthodox Church" would agree that what St. Gregory says represents a proper Orthodox understanding on the matter and is solidly based on the official doctrine as stated in the Creed and Councils.

#17 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:49 PM

Dear Herman,

I liked your answer very much and found it commensurate with Thomas'& Lawrences.


Well, I can't take credit for it. It was NOT my answer, but the pious Orthodox opinion of an individual highly regarded by the Orthodox Church, with which I have no reason to disagree. My opinion is not really worth the electricity expended to illumine your computer screen.

#18 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 02:26 PM

Herman, You say,"My opinion is not really worth...." Christianity would never have gotten off the ground if St. Paul and Stephen had had this attitude. Humility is vital, but the Holy Spirit instills a knowing too. Disciples DO become as their teacher.


#19 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 02:37 PM

H, Our awareness of Grace adheres us to this path. We do God's will not only because of written law, but because of the spiritual experiences we learn from. If a faith fails to instill spiritual knowledge in seekers, what's the purpose? At some point students must fly on their own!


#20 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 02:47 PM

Herman, I, too, consider myself a lifetime "student." But because of good teachers and teaching, I know I've grown spiritually. This only gives praise to God. How can staying in the "lurch" give glory to God? Your opinions are worth sharing.





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