The Souls of Animals


"God said: 'Let the waters produce reptiles with living souls, and on the earth winged creatures flying across the firmament of heaven.' This is what happened." (Genesis 1.20) This translation is in Homily 7 on Genesis by St. John Chrysostom (18). It is also in my Grandfather's Russian Bible. It is also in the Greek in the Septuagint.

St. Basil the Great in his Hexaemeron:
"Let the earth bring forth the living soul" of domestic animals, of wild beasts, and of reptiles after their kind.
"Let the earth bring forth the living creature (Gen. 1.24)." Thus when the soul of brutes appeared it was not concealed in the earth, but was born by the command of God. (19)

The body-soul-spirit scheme of being is more accurate than the body-soul scheme is.

St. Theophan the Recluse says:
Letter 9 - Just what is the spirit? It is that force which God breathed into man when He created him. The earth bore all species of earthly creatures by God's command. From the earth also came every kind of living creatures soul. The human soul, although it resembles the animal soul in its lowest part, in incomparably superior to it in its highest part. That it is this way in man is because of it's bonding with the soul. The spirit, breathed by God, combined with it and raised it far above every nonhuman soul. That is why we note within ourselves, in addition to what we see in the animals, that which is peculiar to the spiritualized soul of man, and even higher, that which is peculiar only to the spirit.
Letter 11 - I will take up where I left off, that is, with what happened to the soul as a result of its union with the spirit, which is from God. From this union, the entire soul was transformed from being an animal soul, which it is by nature, into a human soul... The human soul, being such as described, displays aspirations above all this and rises a step further, because it is an inspired soul... (man) is the high priest in the sense that the voices of all creation praise God instinctively, while man raises praise to the Creator Above All with rational song. (13)

On Participation

St. Maximos the Confessor in his Third Century on Love:
46. God, full beyond all fulness, brought creatures into being not because He had need or anything, but so that they might participate in Him in proportion to their capacity and that He himself might rejoice in His works (Psalm 104.31) through seeing them joyful and ever filled to overflowing with His inexhaustible gifts. (11)

Bishop Kallistos Ware says:
...all created things are God-sourced, God-rooted, finding their origin and fulfillment in him. (14)

St. John of Kronstadt says:
"All things are near to God." says the Russian proverb. Truly everything is near: all spiritual, and sentient creatures, the Angels, the souls of the departed, all living men, all animals, all material worlds. The Spirit of God passes through all things, a reasoning pure, most refined Spirit, dwelling in every believing, pious soul. "The wild beasts of the field are in my sight (Psalm 1:11)," says He. "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20)." As an infinite Spirit, to God nothing is far away, but all things are in Him. All things live and exist in Him. (15)

Orthodox Prayer for & with our Fellow Creatures


Speak a word to me, Father.

Copyright © 1999, 2002, 2003, L.A. Christensen. All rights reserved.