Summary of Do Monkeys Go to Heaven? Finding God in All Creation by Fr. John McCarthy, SJ

God finding us in nature

“Nature is a path to God, pure and simple… It was how I found God. And probably most importantly, it was how God found me” (6-7).

The ecological crisis is a moral crisis

“This ecological crisis is not first and foremost a scientific or economic or technological crisis. It is, rather, as Saint John Paul II has noted, a “moral crisis”… What we need is not an ethic per se, but rather an ethos; not a program, but a change of heart… Only religious discourse can offer what is really needed to meet the ecological crisis” (9).

Nature’s vocation

“Nature is blessed with its own vocation to give honour and glory to God… All we have is one world, a world so loved by God, by Mystery, that even matter becomes the way divinity is expressed. What a potentially blasphemous utterance – that the omnipotent God of infinity is known most fully in and through the flesh of the world. If that is true, and dare I say it is, then everything in every day can speak of the glory and the beauty of God” (10).

“Faith seeking understanding” (St. Anselm)

“Push the scientific and humanistic endeavours as far as you can. Never stop questioning. Without questioning, our faith will wither and die. Questioning is central to the Catholic imagination. The insatiable desire for understanding is the heartbeat of Catholicism” (19).

“Play is essential to the spiritual life” (28).

…Maybe that’s why Jesus encouraged his followers to become like little children… Obviously, Jesus is not calling us to forget our mortgage or forgo our favourite Scotch. We are no longer children. But there is something of the child that we must hold on to – and that is the universal call to play. Watch a playground full of squealing and laughing children. Hair flying, gleeful cries of delight, abandoning themselves to the moment. No past to haunt them, no future to worry them. That will come, but for now they delight in the moment, for that is all there is… Maybe that is a good definition of play – focused delight. Not a bad descriptor of prayer as well” (29).

The Resurrection of Creation

“The Easter Triduum celebrates the deepest mystery of creation – that at the heart of creation, of all reality, is the pulsing beat of life. A brutal instrument of death is transformed into the tree of life. Jesus Christ, lifted up on the cross, becomes the sign of life for all creation. Conversion is possible. Death has lost its sting” (35).

“On Easter Sunday, we not only celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ; we also celebrate the resurrection of creation… the resurrection of Christ is the beginning of the divinizing transformation of all things – the beginning of the ontological transformation of the entire creation” (35).

Rainbows & Stained Glass

“As you know, there is more to visible light than meets the eye. Rainbows reveal the inner life of visible light, showing off the range of colour from red to violet… Just as the rainbow reveals the inner life of visible light, stained glass may be said to reveal the inner life of the invisible God” (74).

“So, the next time you fret over the “absence” of God, think of the inner beauty of light as given by the rainbow. Reflect on stained glass that works only when the inside is dark. And rest in the wisdom of Leonard Cohen, who rightly noted (in his song, “Anthem” – “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”) that the cracks and failures of our lives permit the abundant grace of God to pour unreservedly into the depths of our soul” (75).

Do monkeys go to heaven?

“If we believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the final fulfillment of all creation in the Love of God, then yes, monkeys do go to heaven. We hope that all creation will reach fulfillment in God, but such fulfillment will no doubt depend on the “level of being” of each creature. God relates to each creature on its own terms. This is mysterious. However, our faith speaks of a fecund, loving God, who embraces all creation in the vivifying Spirit, and in Christ, in whom all things hold together – all things, monkeys and humans alike” (112).

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