Fish Are People Too

In some churches, it is taught that animals have no souls. This is typically true in the Catholic Church, which is strange because Catholic tradition is rich with folklore about amazing encounters between saints and the animal kingdom, including stories about the taming of fierce wolves, and the conversion of birds to Christianity.

In one such legend, a man named St. Anthony is struggling desperately to convert a group of heretics to the true faith. After days upon days of sharing the Good News of Christ with them, they still refuse to take him seriously. So St. Anthony decides to try something else. He walks over to the mouth of a nearby river, and in front of all these alleged heretics, St. Anthony begins to preach to the fish. He reminds them of all of their blessings—the water they live in, the food that God gives to sustain their lives, the fins that let them swim to their little heart’s content. And almost immediately, the mouth of the river swells with fish, who stick their heads out of the water to listen to St. Anthony. In the words of one storyteller—and I quote—“At (the) preaching of St. Anthony, some of the fishes began to open their mouths, and all of them nodded their heads, and by these and other signs of reverence they praised God as much as they could.”

Well, after being a pet owner for several years, I have to confess that I’ve also become one of those people who like to pretend that he can converse with animals. This is my cat, Monroe.

As you can see, I’m quite comfortable talking to him, and pretending that he’s talking back. And like St. Anthony, I even preach to him sometimes, practicing my sermons on a Saturday afternoon while I make him listen. Let’s just say he’s not nearly attentive as St. Anthony’s fish.

But you know, I like this story about St. Anthony, because it reminds us that even fish can have personality, and so do our cats, our dogs, and all of our other pets. I might not go so far as saying that fish are people too, nor do I think that animals are intelligent as we are….generally speaking. But they are still living creatures, animated by the divine breath of God. And I believe that when they die, that life force will return to its creator in Heaven.

For God made these creatures. God gave them life. And God saw that it was good.



Rev. Seth Ethan Carey


4 Comment(s)
  • Bob Stout Posted October 3, 2017 6:12 pm

    I can’t think you enough for reaching out to us as our pastor, offering the clarity of thoughtful reflection that has helped me for one, to sort through the chaos of this most horrible event. Your observation about the distance between the shooter and the target graphically and accurately assessed the nature of the shooting as being far less mpersonal than other mass shootings. His victims must have appeared as ants or perhaps even less than ants, just shooting targets.. I fear for the future and “copy-cat” efforts. And yes, we do need to come closer and recapture a sense of empathy and compassion, two qualities that have been eroded away by the force of the waves of social media, distant and impersonal/instant one-way communication with significant delay in response if not even no response at all. SAD!

  • Diane Adams Posted October 4, 2017 6:16 am

    Pastor Seth,

    Thank you so much for your words of comfort at this sad, frightening time. Your words, both spoken and written, have touched me many times in the past. I, too, am thankful for my church family, where we can be uplifted and comforted.


  • Siobhan Wagner Posted October 4, 2017 11:59 am

    Pastor Seth ~

    This is such a sad time in all of our lives. There are people out there that hugged and kissed a loved one for the last time on Sunday evening, not knowing it was the last time. We should love everyone like it’s our last day here on earth. Unfortunately we don’t do that on a daily basis. We get too caught up in life until someone evil shows their “face” to the world and we again hug and kiss our loved ones. I have always wondered is there evil in the world or is it mental illness?

    How do we know if someone is truly evil or mentally ill. This is one of the things that scares me the most. Everyone automatically thinks, Oh, he was mentally ill, but was he? This is the one thing that I question in life, is evil among us. It truly scares me to think there is evil but we see it in the news everyday not just Sunday evening.

    Like you said, it’s like a window to hell opened and it is staying open……but why? Are we being tested by one side and pushed by the other?

  • Leland Livingston Posted January 27, 2018 8:49 am

    I like that view of the glass–thank you.

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