Cult of Facebook Versus Catholic Faith?

I regularly hear parental concerns about the dangerously intrusive and addictive nature of Facebook, and, indeed, social media generally.  I’ve heard a variety of opinions expressed and examples given of the harm it can do to family life, but the most shocking remark came from a teenager (from a good Catholic family) who intimated that it would be easier to give up his Catholic Faith than Facebook .  Below,  a short televised conversation on the addictive nature of social media…

Comment:

There’s lots of research available on this subject, but the articles tend to be lengthy and usually end with the observation that, in moderation, social media is OK – having just detailed plenty of evidence to demonstrate how addictive it all is, and thus “moderation” is not the norm.  So, our question for discussion here really focuses on whether Catholic parents who are Facebook (and/or Twitter)  addicts themselves, need to re-think their devotion to social media and consider the damage they may be doing to their offspring. It may take years to manifest itself, but is it, in your experience, adding to the quality of your family life or having a detrimental effect on your family relationships?   Some parents, such as some home-schoolers, are finding that their children say they feel deprived because they’re not on Facebook and so are missing out on life online.   Are such parents really guilty of neglect? SHOULD they conform to the new types of “relationships” by signing up – or allowing their children to sign up – for Facebook? Or is the current fashion of permitting or encouraging children to sign up for social media actually a form of child abuse?  Does it really have to be ‘Facebook Versus Faith’?

39 responses

  1. I guess everyone else is too busy checking their Facebook pages to leave a reply, so I will.
    Facebook is not intrinsically bad, it is morally neutral, but like everything else we do for pleasure, the devil will try to get us to MISUSE it or use it to excess and so neglect our duties and devotions. Before Facebook existed, he probably succeeded with some people and failed with others. It is likely that as far as that concerned, nothing has changed.
    As to the young person who said he would find it easier to give up his Faith than Facebook, that sounds like the kind of hyperbole to which young people are often prone.
    Addiction to ANYTHING is to be avoided and most people who use social media do so in moderation for innocent and enjoyable purposes, just as most who enjoy a dram do not become alcoholics.

    • What you say is true up to a point, but although not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes an alcoholic, nearly everyone who takes up with Facebook makes it a key part of their life. They talk about it all the time, keep checking up on it, and it is the most trivial stuff, like I’m off to watch Eastenders, then Eastenders was great – it’s like a permanent diary of everyday events for most people, keeping a record of everything they do all day and all night!

      I know parents who have tried to limit their teens’ use of Facebook and have failed. That’s addiction, and I think it applies to most people using Facebook. I did have a Facebook page for a time, but got tired of the trivia and didn’t like the idea of so many people reading my private stuff. I thought it would be good to keep up with relatives in Ireland, but I now do that via email, much better and definitely its more private.

  2. I have Facebook. I’m not addicted to it. I check it but not excessively. I think in some ways it can enhance family relationships. I keep in touch with family in England, Canada and Australia through Facebook. It’s also a way of keeping up with events in the Church. The remnant, SSPX and the Fatima Center has Facebook accounts.

    However, it does have its problems. It can cause arguments, it can be addictive and it can contain impurity.

    So, I don’t think it necessarily has to be Facebook or the Faith but we must always be on our guard.

    • I agree with you Petrus. It is a great way to keep in touch with our oversees family members. Of course one has to be careful and take the necessary steps to guard ones privacy so that photos of children for example are not available for anyone to view. So it is a useful tool if used sensibly.
      However there are undoubted dangers for the young. With the endless selfies being posted it can encourage a certain narcissism or even lead on to self harming when vulnerable youngsters feel that they do not measure up or if they do not get enough’likes’ when they post something. Girls in particular can be very cruel and trolling is a vicious activity which causes much unhappiness.
      What does worry me is the tendency for most social interaction between the young to be via social media rather than direct conversation. The written word can never replace face to face encounters with all the nuances of tone and expression we get when we talk to each other. The young seem permanently wedded to their phones and take endless photographs of events rather than living in the moment. Now that is worrying.

    • I have never bought into the theory that (anti) social media are much use in spreading the faith. They may have some role in the giving of information, but they are no substitute for personal relationships.

      • Of course personal relationships are important, evangelizing in person. But, one can reach a great number of souls, the whole world even, with the internet.

        • I nourish very serious doubts about something as worldly as Facebook being a valid instrument of evangelization. (Anti-) social media are not morally neutral; anyone who thinks this is seriously deluded. Just think for a minute about the world view of a man like Zuckerberg.

          I can see a time in the future when shepherds serious about the salvation of souls will tell their sheep to draw back from so much of this screen-based technology which is increasingly poisoning our humanity.

  3. Well, am I pleased to see this thread.

    I say that because, coincidentally, if you like, I have just spent most of today visiting friends and their teenage daughter wrapped herself up in a chair and just worked away on her smart-phone the whole time. I couldn’t believe it. Between Facebook and texting, it was a waste of time trying to get two words out of her the whole day.

    I am not on Facebook and never will be. I know it has caused ructions in families where the parents don’t want the children on it during the school week and it has affected their family relationships because the children sulk and go on and on about it because “everyone else is allowed on Facebook during the week” etc. Their parents say it’s caused more arguments in the house than anything else.

    I honestly can’t see how anyone can think they have “relationships” with people over Facebook. What’s wrong with an email or a phone call to keep in touch? Even calls overseas don’t cost much these days. IMHO it’s a way of sort of staying in touch but there can’t be really close relationships in such a public form of social networking.

    Those who are finding it a good thing, good luck to them, I say, but I definitely think it’s caused a lot of trouble in some homes, and that comes from being addicted to it. I know people on here are saying they are not addicted, but could they give it up? Not many are willing to do so, which makes it pretty addictive, IMHO.

    • Lily,

      I completely agree. It’s one thing for adults to use Facebook if they must, but I think it is highly dangerous for young people, especially young Catholics. I personally cannot see the attraction, frankly. There’s more to life than the internet!

    • I also know families where it has caused problems. I suppose it’s like everything else. If it’s used in moderation, it’s OK.

  4. In the school where I worked there were numerous incidents of Facebook bullying, so I certainly wouldn’t allow my children to use it. Of course bullying occurs everywhere, but the effect of nasty, spiteful comments is greatly increased when they can be read by dozens, or even hundreds of people.

    I’m not on Facebook, and wouldn’t want to be, but perhaps that’s because I lead such a boring life that I haven’t got anything interesting to share.

    • Therese,

      Remember that a heartbeat viewed as a sinusoidal wave is excruciatingly boring, but without it you would be dead.

      There are a lot of people out there living apparently boring lives but who are really the salt of the earth and without whom there would be chaos.

  5. I agree with the comments saying that Facebook in and of itself is morally neutral, its a tool which is employed in accordance with the character of the user. Doubtless some people and organisations use it to do good, as Petrus points out.

    However, what I find sinister about it is that – in my understanding (and I am open to correction) – that once you have opened an account, you can never actually close / delete it again and that Facebook keeps a digital record of everything you have posted on it.

    Apparently you can put the account into stasis / “on ice” – but the data remains. I strongly dislike that notion, although admittedly I am quite a private person. This is obviously so Facebook can brag about having X million members to their advertisers, but there could be more sinister reasons too.

    I read an article recently which stated that, in a short time, Facebook will have more dead users than live ones, due to the fact that accounts cannot be deleted. It was claimed that some families liked this fact, as they regarded the account of the deceased as a kind of memorial.

    I also have concerns about what Facebook does with your data and who may access it – by fair means or foul. Yes there are privacy settings, but more than once these have been criticised for being ineffective or so complex that people fail to use them adequately (like trying to make sense of a document issued by Pope Francis). Certainly, I have stumbled across, and been able to view, Facebook accounts of people who are complete strangers to me.

    I really dislike the notion that there would be electronic files recording (over years) my activities, likes and dislikes, location, opinions, persons I know etc. (For similar reasons I do not use anything like “reward cards” from supermarkets or petrol stations etc – that records info about your spending habits, what things you like, where you have been etc). I suppose if you use a computer, you cant escape this kind of thing entirely, but even still I like to try!

    I have nothing to hide – bar the murders and the bank heist 😉 – I just believe in privacy / autonomy.

    If the Government said it wanted to create a database like Facebook to help police the nation, people would be up in arms. But pitch it to them as a way to “keep in touch with friends” and people are falling over themselves to divulge personal details. Its amazing to me.

    Maybe my opinions are old fashioned here, but I like to feel in charge of my own details. I am often shocked by how careless people are online. Its remarkably easy to stumble across peoples addresses, pictures of loved ones, personal details etc without even trying. As well as basic safety / privacy, there must be a threat of identity theft too.

    Recently I looked out the window and saw a group of young boys walking past. None of them were talking, all were glued to their phones – doubtless looking at Facebook or texting (probably texting each other). Every one of them looked bored stiff and there was an air of them not knowing what to do with themselves. I think that’s a big danger as well, especially for the young – that if you become too friendly with social media, you can end up forgetting how to deal with real people.

    That said, there still plenty kids out on bikes and scooters, playing football and the like. I think its when they get older, the threat of addiction to social media or video games rears its head. Fr Nicholas Mary CSSR spoke of this kind of thing at his recent conference in Glasgow (he was excellent).

    I don’t have a Facebook account and neither does my wife. I think I would be against my child having one when older too, though I don’t want to be a stuffy or unfair parent.

    I did open a Twitter account but have never actually used it and I still get bombarded with emails telling me of the latest inane posts on it. It seems mostly to be a forum for Z-list celebrity spats and for morons airing offensive views. I regret opening it.

  6. My name for it is Mugbook, and not because mug is slang for face. Oh no, mug in this case means something altogether different! I am pleased to say that I have nothing to do with Facebook or Twitter. I try to limit myself when it comes to online anti-social media platforms. I visit and/or contribute to a handful of Catholic blogs, mostly this one, and that’s it. Personally, I would have us all communicating again with smoke signals. Life was simpler then, and happier.

    Ok, smoke signals is a wee bit primitive but you’ll catch my drift.

  7. Let me state at once that I do not have Facebook or Twitter. I did sign up for Twitter a few years ago, but as a secure means of logging into blogs, etc., without having to remember to constantly update passwords. I don’t think that I ever tweeted more than twice, but the feeling that I was doing something instrinsically egotistical, not to say downright stupid, in the process grew on me to the point where an inner sense of uncleanliness coupled with an overwhelming sense of embarrassment forced me to close my account. It is probably still lying dormant, ready to be resuscitated should I so desire, for social media never forget you, and this in itself is very telling.

    My refusal of social media, which is increasingly turning people like me into pariahs, is based on the fact that Facebook, Twitter and their ilk are first and foremost private companies. They exist to make money. Nothing wrong with that in my book, but they do so by accepting all comers, with the result that one quickly discovers that one has freely–and this is the dangerous part–signed up for something that not only accommodates gross immorality and lies, but becomes inevitably an active purveyor of them. And I have a theory about evil. It is in a strong sense contagious, and so just as I think that it is impossible to have good healrth service when it is also an abortion provider, so I think that not very much in the way of good can derive from the use of Facebook and, to a slightly lesser extent–but only slightly–Twitter. And this is to say nothing of the grave misgivings I have over Facebook’s and Twitter’s quasi monopoly in their type. During the recent controversy over its alleged tinkering with conservative news sources in the United States in order to make them look less popular than they were, it emerged that Facebook is now the number one source for news there. And if we think that it has now, at Chancellor Merkel’s request, entered into an agreement in Europe about shutting down ‘hatespeech’ and encouraging ‘more favourable narratives’ (we are talking here about people’s opposition to mass Muslim immigration), I think that it is a direct threat to democracy which has to be challenged vigorously.

    I am very sorry for the young people of today. They have been betrayed by the generation that gave them life but which keeps them at all costs from Truth. They have been precipitated into a culture which is effectively a movie set with clever lighting and all sorts of special effects. At first the desire to be part of the glamour all trumps everything, even the very raw socio-economic deal on offer, which is virtually slavery by another name. But in the end there is only despair and loneliness they realise that the smoke and mirrors of the enemy’s deception have deprived them of making sense of their existence. And we have the temerity to wonder why the average age for the onset of serious psychiatric illness in the UK is now about 14.

    • Prognosticum,

      I don’t have Facebook or Twitter either. Petrus once did set up a Facebook account for Catholic Truth and so I had to create a Facebook page in order to access it, but very quickly we heard about their policy of clamping down on “hate speech” against “gays” so we closed everything down – and I was relieved to do so. I found it a very strange set up indeed, and almost impossible to keep up with everything.

      Now, hilariously, earlier this evening I had a call from a friend (who doesn’t read this blog, as far as I know; she is not a practising Catholic) because she was upset with another friend who had made a “cheeky” comment on Facebook about her, and she decided to ring to tell her that she was upset. I told her I’d no time for Facebook and that I had been participating in a blog about it, to which she made no comment, concluding that the fall-out with A.N. Other would resolve itself in the end. In short, she wasn’t about to give up Facebook! Does anyone? Ever? (apart from Catholic Truth and my unworthy self – see above…)

      So, I’m only too pleased not to be involved in that world – life really is too short. Takes me all my time to keep up with this blog. Were I on Facebook and Twitter as well… When would I eat? Sleep?

      I do agree with you about feeling sorry for the young people today. They really do set so much store by these machines and social networking outlets. Interesting, then, that we are seeing (so we’re told by the news agencies) an increase in mental health issues among the young. Nothing beats a friendly chat with a real live friend or relative over a cuppa (or, increasingly, in my case, a glass of water!) to catch up with news and/or confide concerns, or whatever. Much better, surely, than “sharing” with umpteen “friends” on Facebook.

  8. It has been reliably reported that the EU is to take some element of control of the social medium arising therefrom CT, like websites, anti-abortion and factual reporting upon Islam, et al, will be liable to action against them and possible prosecution.
    Breitbart: with MEP comments.

  9. Well those of you who are on Facebook might want to post the link to this petition sent to me by an Irish reader…

    It’s good, not to say a relief, to see a priest and bishop in Ireland publicly supporting the pro-life position. They deserve our support.

  10. I confess, I do have a Facebook account with a small number of “friends” (less than 40, including family), but I have fine-tuned it so that I am not bothered with the narcissism of people who think we all should know that they brushed their teeth this morning, what they had for dinner last night, or are waiting at the airport or the train station with nothing to do. That is, I have “un-followed” most of them.

    In addition to keeping tabs on family, I do find it useful, though, as a sort of “one-stop shop” for traditionalist articles, particularly those from 6 sources: the SSPX, the Fatima Center (including Fatima Perspectives), John Vennari, The Remnant, Louie Verrecchio, and Father Isaac Mary Relyea.

    As for Facebook being morally neutral (that phrase makes me uncomfortable), it may have started out that way, but I would have to disagree, given the ultra-liberal PC worldview of its owner, Mark Zuckerberg, and his determination to use it to enforce the leftist thought control whose noose is slowly tightening around us. I rarely post myself, but if I ever find that my posts are being censored, then it will be a not-fond-farewell to it. This myth of “neutrality” is identical to the myth perpetuated by the US government, which claims “neutrality” toward religion, and then in the name of said neutrality, persecutes Christians!

  11. It’s really quite revealing when adults talk about social media.

    FB is now pretty much the preserve of the over 30s. Almost no teenager uses it any more.

    As regards social media more generally, my two oldest boys (16 and almost 14) use it a lot. I don’t have a problem with that and they are normal, well-adjusted kids doing well at school with a circle of friends they do stuff with. It’s one of the ways people communicate nowadays.

    After all, this blog is social media and posters here seem to spend a lot of their time on it …

  12. Andrew

    This blog has a noble purpose, which is to uphold the Catholic religion and extol the clarity of Catholic truth in a time of spiritual crisis and confusion. Most other social media outlets are at best a waste of valuable time.

    I will pose this question privately to your conscience, Andrew: Do your kids spend anywhere near the same time in prayer and good reading as they do on social media with their friends? If the answer is no, then you’ll see what I mean about wasted time.

    Recreation of whatever kind is essential for us all to stay healthy in mind and soul, but too much recreation is as deadly to mind and soul as none at all. Your boys may be the exception but my experience with young people today is that they have generally lost the art of face to face communication, not to mention good manners. I see them typing away on their little phones all the time or walking around with ear plugs in their lugs. You say hello to a youngster in the street these days and you can count yourself fortunate if you get a grunt in response. It’s almost like half the kids in the country are already brain dead or have had their emotions surgically removed.

    There was an experiment carried out recently by scientists on X-box users. Ten youngsters who played a lot of games on X-box were juxtaposed to ten youngsters who never played electronic games. A series of tests were carried out to judge things like good manners, empathy, etc.

    In one test a teacher walked into a room where all 20 kids were gathered, they thought for a lecture. On her way past her desk she deliberately knocked over a jar holding pens and pencils, though she made it look like an accident. Instantly, all ten non-X Box users rushed to help her pick up the pens but only one of the gamers moved to help, and only after some hesitation.

    Ok, that was an experiment on young electronic gamers. But for me social media has a similar effect on youngsters. Could it be that they find it hard to function in real-life situations, spending so much of their time in a virtual world not communicating face to face with other human beings?

    As I said earlier, these so-called “social media” outlets are in reality more anti-social than social. That’s my opinion from the results I’ve experienced in the young.

    • Athanasius

      I have to say you seem to have a somewhat jaundiced view of youngsters.

      For what it’s worth, my oldest (16) was National C1 canoe champion in his age group (training 6-7 times a week in the Team GB programme) and was a Royal Marines Cadet. The middle one (almost 14) plays mean jazz trumpet in a band and elsewhere, plus piano and guitar, was recently awarded the Chief Scouts Gold Award, will soon be joining Explorer Scouts and the Army Cadets, and is buddying with a disabled kid at a camp in September. Until recently he was an Altar Server, and once old enough will join the Lourdes trip run by the Parish/school as a helper.

      They both play club rugby and are keen cyclists (e.g. Bealach na Ba with me, with which you may be familiar if you’re interested in recreational sports). They both read a lot. The oldest is doing GCSEs now and is on for A* in pretty much everything, with a place at the Kings College Maths 6th Form for next year, and has an eminently realistic ambition to study computer science at Imperial or Cambridge. The middle one is in top set in every subject and has an equally realistic ambition to study law at Oxford and become a criminal barrister. The youngest is 5, can easily swim a kilometre, regularly runs 2 to 3 km, plays drums and is as inquisitive as they come.

      However, perhaps to confirm your prejudice, all absolutely love computer games (the youngest on his LeapPad) and the older two spend quite a lot of time on social media.

      But to perhaps disappoint you, all are very well socially adjusted, polite and well-behaved, points that consistently shine through their school reports and less formal comments from school and Church.

      But let’s not forget the older generation. At 56 I spend a reasonable amount of time on FB since that’s the forum for my cycling club and for Scouts, as well as keeping in touch with friends, here and abroad, plus a few discussion boards such as CTC (as was). I also spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn (another social media outlet), since as an interim FD working in restructuring it’s one useful way of keeping contacts and finding new projects.

      I can’t help feeling that you should make a greater effort to keep up with the modern world, and to be slower to judge others, especially the younger generation.

      • Andrew,

        It’s great that your experience of social media and that of your children, is so positive. However, I could tell quite different stories, of people I know, who are all well adjusted and well qualified in their fields, and so on, who waste a lot of time on Facebook.

        And not all young people are involved in social media. I have a thirteen year old Great Nephew who tells me that he’s not remotely interested in Facebook or Twitter, having witnessed the time devoted to social media by friends and relatives. He’s seldom without a book in his hand in his free time, and he spends the other half of his free time in sporting activities, including winning swimming competitions.

        It is true that times are different and these social networks have now taken hold, so the best – probably the only sensible – attitude to take is “moderation in all things, including Facebook”. I think, though, from my own limited experience of it, “moderation” is not easy to achieve. Indeed, I note that you say yourself that your older two children “spend quite a lot of time on social media” and I suspect that your “reasonable amount” of time on Facebook and “fair amount” of time on LinkedIn, add up to quite a lot of time on social media…

        Each to his own. I am not remotely attracted to these sites – blogging here is quite enough time spent online for moi – but for those who enjoy it, it seems to be an important part of their lives.

        Finally, I think you’re being a bit hard on Athanasius – it’s not “harsh” or “judging” to make observations: the “experts” in psychology etc are busy writing up their research findings into studies on the phenomenon of social media and its (as yet not fully known) effects on young people. If they can comment, so can the rest of us!

      • Andrew

        I would suggest with respect that it is rather your view of today’s youth, not mine, which is narrow.

        You appear to base your opinion of all youth on your boys, who clearly have caring parents and a more privileged upbringing. This is not the general rule in our time, it is the exception. And here’s the most important fact of all, crucial to our understanding of the unhappiness that manifests itself in so many ways in today’s youth: A great majority are not baptised!

        My experience with youngsters, and I speak mainly of those from broken homes absent of God, is not the idylic picture of well-mannered, achieving university hopefuls who balance their social media and gaming times with recreational sports, the cadets, the scouts and helping the disabled. It’s the very opposite, in fact.

        Perhaps if you moved into a Council estate you would see the real modern world that the young are growing up in. It’s not a pretty sight.

        As for your own boys, who are clearly loved and well balanced, the question I would ask is this: With just a little less emphasis on worldly activities and achievements, and a little more emphasis on the supernatural, i.e. daily rosary, reading the lives of the saints, etc., within reason of course, isn’t it possible that at least one may have become disposed to the greatest honour of all, a divine calling to the priesthood or religious life?

        Please understand that I am asking the question as one who knows nothing of the religious practices of your boys, but who is guessing from all those worldly activities, especially the social media and gaming ones, that time left to devote to God and their souls in quality prayer and spiritual reading must be scarce.

        I know from personal experience just how easy it is to get caught up in exchanges on social media at the expense of prayer and peace of soul, so believe me when I say that my question is by no means intended to be derogatory or accusatory. What I am suggesting in effect is that even good young people using social media may be numbing their minds and souls to loftier influences.

        It’s no coincidence that vocations have almost dried up in Western nations in the fifty years or so since materialism usurped sanctification of soul as man’s primary reason for existence. In my estimation social media and computer gaming, over indulged in, are more conducive to the former than to the latter. The violence in many of these computer games and the dangers inherent in social media forums are a matter of record.

        At any rate I’m getting too deep into things now and it’s late, so I’ll leave it there. It’s worth pondering, though, is it not?

  13. I did join Faceook many moons ago but I soon left it, being repelled by the complete banality of it all. I’m not computer literate, so reading opinions of others such as Andrew and Petrus has made me realise that were I moreso I might have been better able to control my experience. As it was, being a serious ‘dog person’, and involved in their training and competitive sports, my first ‘friends’ group consisted of those, mainly much younger people people, with whom I and my dogs competed at weekends, and with whom I had nothing else in common. I can’t remember why my ‘board’, or whatever, used to reveal strings of inconsequential drivel, much punctuated by the F word, that made up the conversations of these folk who seemed quite ‘nice’ in real life. Another ‘friends’ group was dominated by a priest who occasionally celebrated the traditional Mass, and who was here, in his conversations and other ‘friends’ revealed in a light that made me feel that for him, FB, and the time he spent on it, probably constituted an occasion of sin. As I kept in touch with relatives and friends, none of whom were on FB, in the old-fashioned ways, I got out of it.

    I couldn’t imagine tweeting or twittering, I hope I don’t do either, so the name was enough to ensure I never tried that.

    Interest forums are a different matter entirely, more akin to blogs, and I do use those. As I indicated, I am a dog-lover, and there are many superb forums where one can receive help, and sometimes give it to others, on any number of canine (and feline) health, care and training problems. How many people who have no special affinity with animals could comprehend the grief that can be experienced upon the death of a companion animal? It is on a suitable forum that one can find true understanding and receive real help. The exchanges and conversations that develop on threads are focussed, and far removed from twitter and casual FB chatter.

    Apologies for any typos – I can hardly see this tiny screen.

    • Christina

      Tell me about it! I’m a dog lover too, currently loving a big fat Lab Retriever of 10 years. She’s had a lot of health issues. She was born atopic, meaning that she’s alergic to a lot of things, and is on immunosuppressant drugs for life. She also has arthritis in her hips as well as dysplasia in one of her front elbows. The poor old girl has slowed down a lot in recent years, though the vet doesn’t think she’s in too much pain, if any at all, and has advised cutting out the pain killers.

      Between the immunosuppressants, the anti-inflamatories, the pain killers and the 3-monthly vet visits, I reckon the cost so far is around £18,000. Yes, I neglected to insure her when she was a pup and it has come back to haunt me. Having said that, I don’t grudge a penny of the money I’ve spent over the past 10 years.

      She collects the mail, brings the phone or TV remote, closes the doors, plays dead and takes the washing out of the machine. It’s all mercenary of course, a treat being the general price for her labour. At 46 kilos it’s clear that she closes a lot of doors, etc. We should have called her Dyson, such is her capacity for scooping up grub.

      Gets her porridge in the morning and then stands there with bowl hanging from the mouth like Oliver Twist asking for more. Say no and she tosses the bowl away in a manner that I can only describe as utter contempt.

      Not a bad bone in her body, though. All she wants to do is slobber on everyone. She’d roll on her back in submission to a mouse. It will certainly be heartbreaking when she goes. I already know how that feels having lost a previous dog after 15 years. It’s like losing one of your family.

      Anyway, I’m glad to have had this opportunity to wax lyrical about Amber, my big fat cuddly pooch with a food obsession.

  14. Christina and Athanasius

    It seems we are kindred spirits!

    Christina, I know just what you mean about the terrible grief one experiences at the loss of a beloved pet, which one can’t express to many people as they think you’re a nutcase. I love all animals, but especially cats and dogs. I wish I could train my cat to do half the things that Athanasius’ dog does! Alas,the training has gone the other way – I’m the one who does what she says, when she says it, and in the manner she wants it to be done. Or there’ll be consequences….

    • Therese, Christina, Athanasius,

      I’m going to be unpopular but I have to say that I’m afraid of animals, especially dogs and I am very wary of cats. I can see the goodness as described by Athanasius, although I would have to re-wash everything if a dog handled my newly washed clothes! I just feel very nervous around animals and it doesn’t help (annoys actually) when the owner keeps saying the dog is just trying to be friendly. I feel like screaming back “That’s why I’m nervous!”

      I don’t mind budgies, as long as they stay in their cages, so I hope that gets me off the hook a bit – LOL!

  15. Michaela

    You could never be unpopular! You can’t help being afraid – I’m morbidly terrified of spiders and moths – well – all flying and crawling insects actually, and it’s no good people saying “but they won’t hurt you”! They will if I have a heart attack if one touches me!

    • Therese,

      Thank you for not hating me! I’m also afraid of spiders etc. So we have something in common, besides our Faith! LOL!

      • You’re not unpopular with me either, Michaela! The only bit that worries me is the washing bit ‘cos that’s what Muslims have to do if a dog touches them😬😬😬

        Athanasius, all my dogs have been Labradors and no matter how much I trained them to do all the clever things they were bred for, FOOD, and how to get it was a lifelong obsession for all of them. I won’t compete with the lovely piece about your Amber. My Lucy died on 11th September, and it was a forum that helped me through the worst times, so I’m all for them. Near Christmas I decided to respond to an ad for an experienced dog owner to give a ‘retirement home’ to a newly-retired working Labrador. ‘Bingo’, I thought, applied for Lettie, passed the ‘test’, met her, mutual admiration was expressed, then I asked about her previous experience. Alas it was not what I expected. She had been a highly successful search dog working with the UK Border Force on illegal immigrants in Calais!!! In her previous life she was kennelled, never lived in a home, had no training as a well-mannered pet, no lead training, bad habits galore, and the loveliest temperament and waggiest tail I’ve ever seen. We’re getting there!

        But to return (spuriously) to a religious theme, and avoid a telling-off, one of my best-trained dogs was definitely a Tridentine Catholic dog and used to come to Mass with me in various places where the priest liked dogs and knew how good she was. On this occasion I put her away from everyone lying down in the middle of a side aisle and told her ‘stay’ after which wild horses wouldn’t induce her to move a muscle. Although I hadn’t realised it, the priest had decided on a degree of ceremony and a long entry processio emerged, to the singing of the Introit, from the sacristy door at the head of th aisle in which Vida lay full-stretch! From the back of the church I could only watch in horror as the procession advanced. When the cross-bearer reached her, after a moment of wild surmise he took a long step over her, and the rest, including Father, following did likewise! To my mortified apologies after Mass he said “No worries, I’ve got a couple of Labradors myself”, while Vida, released from her ‘stay’, got biscuits.

  16. All you dog lovers might be interested to know that the first Traditionalist in Scotland was Rusty, a Cairngorm terrier belonging to Cardinal Gray. Apparently Rusty was in the habit of attending the Cardinal’s Mass in the chapel attached to Archbishop’s House in Edinburgh. He would sit very still during Mass and at the Consecration would bow his head to the ground. The first time that the Cardinal said the Novus Ordo Rusty was was in his usual place in the chapel. Not long after Mass had started he got up, walked out of the chapel and never went back. And some say that animals are dumb.

  17. Christina and Vianney’s stories remind me of Fr Oswald Baker. He used to have a special Mass for animals on the feast of St Francis of Assisi, to which the congregation’s pets were invited; he said that they were the best behaved congregation of the lot! He told me one story of a dog who went up to the foot of the altar, bent his front paws as if in adoration, and then took his seat alongside his owner. As you may guess, Fr Baker was a devoted animal lover!

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