1. Contributed by my son Jesse Ray a while ago but worthy of reposting…

I arrived on the scene with my gun and stoically loaded in some self-defense rounds (although I was clearly not in danger). I did not lavish the idea of slaughtering a lamb, but my friend and new-farmer, Pat, called and sheepishly asked for some help. I guess he thought I was qualified since I had butchered last year’s deer with the help of my family.

It took a while for me to prepare the surroundings, I had never killed something so large, at such close range. During these few minutes I had time think about the gravity of what was about to happen.

Of course my mind took me back to the Jews and passover. Remember, the Bible is not just filled with stories, but with accounts of historical events. These events that we are familiar with actually happened. The Word of God prescribed, no dictated, the killing of a lamb. For the Jews, the lamb was not just dinner. The blood of the lamb was spread on the horizontal and vertical wood of the door frames (of course we recognize this as a foreshadowing of Christ’s blood dripping from His wooden cross).

Samaritan-Passover,-slain-lamb,-tb041106729-bibleplaces
  • Save

(Picture: Present day slaughter of Passover Lamb by Samaritans in Israel) 

Exodus 12:21-22
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel, and said to them, “Select lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.

We all know that the consequence of sin is death, yet today we do not always see or feel that direct connection. Before Jesus, the Lamb of God, came as our final sacrifice, a cute, woolly lamb <baaa>, had to die in expiation for sins. The Jews symbolically placed their own sins on the head of the lamb before it was killed in Leviticus 1. The male sheep was chosen from the flock for its spotlessness, just as Christ, sinless and perfect, died for our sins.

We Catholics are blessed with the sacrament of confession, a very quick and clean way of cleansing sins from our soul. Well, let me tell you there was nothing quick or clean about killing a lamb. If we had to go through this every time we sinned I would expect people would either sin less, or would carry more sins around on their hearts.

I tell the following story, not for the sake of gore, but because it was a very raw and spiritual experience. You should stop here if the thought of blood makes you queasy.

I was compelled to pause, and say a prayer thanking God for this animal and for the gift of it’s life. At first it all happened quite fast: The the gun popped, a red spot appeared on the lambs head, the lamb dropped. I was glad that was over with.

What happened next surprised me. All living things try to avoid death, and even after the lethal blow, the lamb was not going to die without a fight. I apologize, for the detail, but far more blood than I expected began pouring out of the sheep’s mouth and nose. The famous painting “Adoration of the Lamb” by van Eyck flashed in my brain, (of course in the painting the sheep is standing, but the flow of blood is clearly key in the comparison).

My friend Pat, the instigator of this whole event, took action (and large knife) holding the sheep down with the full weight of his body and slit the throat. As more blood emerged it was clear that the bloody descriptions in the old testament will never be void of imagery for me anymore.

PETA people refuse to eat lamb chops or wear sheepskin because of (I assume) the violence of slaughter. (or maybe they just need some cause to distract them from the evils of abortion and euthanasia that many support). Before any scriptural lessons, I think seeing that this tasty protein-source doesn’t start out in a Styrofoam package at Meijers is good to know.

But seriously, what kind of a “merciful” God would order His people to do something so violent and base? The answer points to the Eucharist, and is so deep that we need to understand God’s plan of salvation is exposed in history and recorded in scripture. Now we just need to know where to look.

Adoration of the Lamb_van_Eyck_inset
  • Save
My dad, Steve Ray, teaches about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and its Biblical foundations; he can speak for hours about the beauty and reality in his talk entitled Defending the Eucharist: You are What You Eat. The whole talk can be found here, and is really a great listen.

I pray that you will all draw closer to our Lord and find joy in His Cross and Resurrection.

Share on facebook
Share
Share on twitter
Tweet
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Jean-François Virey

    STEVE RAY HERE: I MODERATE MY BLOG AND ALLOWED THE POST BELOW BY JEAN-FRANCOIS FOR THE SAKE OF DISCUSSION AND TO SHOW THERE ARE SOME VERY FANATICAL PEOPLE TRYING TO CHANGE THE WORLD TODAY. I DON’T KNOW IF HE IS ONE OF THE “ANIMALS ARE PEOPLE TOO” TYPES AND AN EXPONENT THAT ANIMALS HAVE EQUAL HUMAN RIGHTS WITH PEOPLE BUT THERE CERTAINLY ARE MANY KINDS OF ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS PUSHING THEIR AGENDA. I FIND HIS COMMENT FALLACIOUS AND FOOLISH BUT POST IT FOR AN EXAMPLE AND FOR DISCUSSION. IF HE IS NOT THE RADICAL TYPE HE SHOULD BE MORE TEMPERATE IN HIS TONE AND WORDS.

    JEAN-FRANCOIS WRITES: I find this article totally repellent. And as a vegan Catholic, I resent the idea that I “just need some cause to distract [myself] from the evils of abortion and euthanasia”, which I do not support. This is just a gratuitous ad hominem attack. You have no idea how many people you are turning off from Christianity because of such glorifications of animal butchery. More and more people are realising the horror of animal exploitation, and as they see Christians like you revelling in the gore or simply enjoying the food irrespective of the pain and destruction it causes, they come to despise our religion and simply apostatise. If your belly is so important to you that you can’t go without killing animals or having animals killed for its satisfaction, please just don’t brag about it. Keep it to yourself, and don’t turn such behaviour into the mark of a real Christian. Many Catholic saints were vegan, and I can’t think of a single one who delighted in killing animals the way you do.

  2. Steve Ray

    Steve Ray here. I was raised on a farm and raised animals to eat, and shot other animals who tried to eat them before we did. The idea of killing an animal makes Americans queasy like Jesse says above, but it has been part of human existence from the beginning.

    We think of the Temple in Jerusalem (I happen to be there now looking out my window at where the Temple stood 2000 years ago) as a pristine and beautiful sanctuary when in reality it was in part a huge slaughter house with sometimes over a hundred thousand animals slaughtered for sacrifice and the smell of blood everywhere.

    Jesus is our Passover sacrifice and all of the New Testament terminology is based on the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Jesse has tied the two events together in his explanation of a modern killing of an animal for food. There is nothing wrong with killing an animal to eat, though I would never advocate killing for blood lust or for the fun of purposeless killing. A lot of nutty people are out there now who think “animals are people too” and their nonsense is obvious.

  3. Stephen

    STEVE RAY HERE. I HAVE AGAIN POSTED A RESPONSE TO THE ILL-ADVISED COMMENT BELOW – FOR THE SAKE OF DISCUSSION. I HAVE POSTED A FULL RESPONSE TO THE COMMENTS AT https://www.catholicconvert.com/documents/Vegans.pdf

    Jean-François Virey like yourself ranks among the brightest and most intelligent converts to the Church in recent years. Professor Virey is not ‘FANATICAL AND IDIOLOGICAL ILLOGICAL…ONE OF THE “ANIMALS ARE PEOPLE TOO”… ‘ANIMALS HAVE EQUAL HUMAN RIGHTS WITH PEOPLE…FALLACIOUS AND FOOLISH’ and so forth.

    Firstly, I assure you Prof. Virey is completely faithful to the magisterium and his ‘Vegan Catholic’ Facebook group explores a profoundly Catholic veganism entirely devoid of New Age falsehoods. Nowhere in his comment above or elsewhere has Virey asserted animals are people or have human rights.

    The following points are worth considering:

    Scripture is fairly clear that in the Garden of Eden, mankind in his state of original justice, was vegan. Adam is likely to have shared Virey’s concerns about slaughtering one of the animals he was given charge over. There was no death before the Fall/curse. Indeed, there are prophetic verses showing that God’s ultimate intent for his Creation will be a return to how it was in the beginning.

    There is an established tradition of Hebrew and Christian respect for animals. Unnecessary cruelty to animals is utterly alien to the mind of Christ. Many Catholic saints were vegan ascetics; I simply could not imagine St Francis of Assisi killing an animal and then waxing lyrical about the spiritual allusions.

    Today there is widespread concern about animal exploitation, factory farming and animal cruelty. Many ordinary people now pay a little extra for free range eggs or ask questions such as should dogs be made to smoke tobacco until they get cancer or chemicals forced into rabbits eyes to test the latest cosmetic. Virey is right to ask will this gory article and accompanying bloody photography help the cause of Catholic evangelization. Does this technicolor killing broached in Temple and NT motifs present the right image to the lost post-modern humanists we are trying to reach?

    You do Prof Virey a great disservice in your inaccurate and ill thought polemic. Your journey from the baptist sect was long and ardous and you now stand in an entirely different place. Perhaps you should study some of the Catholic literature supporting Mr Virey’s thoughtfully held and sincere beliefs.

  4. tobin nieto

    Why do vegans always feel the need to evangelize. Remember to be Catholic is to have a both/and mentality in understanding certain things. If God’s divine plan was for us to be vegan why did he give us teeth.

  5. Bill912

    “Scripture is fairly clear that in the Garden of Eden, mankind, in his original state of justice, was vegan.” And it says this where in Scripture?

    “Adam is likely to have shared Virey’s concerns about slaughtering one of the animals he was given charge over.” And your evidence is?

    “There was no death before the Fall/curse.” And your evidence is?

    Was Jesus wrong to eat lamb? Was Jesus wrong to eat fish? Was Jesus wrong to cause atleast 2 miraculous catches of fish, one of which resulted in the death of 153 large fish?

  6. Lita

    STEVE RAY HERE: I ALLOWED THIS FOR THE SAKE OF DISCUSSION. OF COURSE A CATHOLIC HAS THE FREEDOM TO EAT VEGAN. THE ARGUMENT IS WHEFHER IT CAN BE IMPOSED ON ALL. ANT TO QUOTE ST. BASIL WHO ATE MEAT SO OUT OF CONTEXT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED.

    God gave us teeth to chew food. God gave us hearts so we could love Him, and ALL of His creation.

    Please do not be so limited in your assessment of the vegan and vegetarian cause. From my perspective, the motivations for such viewpoints are fully in line with an ordered Catholic worldview. We are the stewards of this world and its sinless creatures, but we are raping, plundering, and mercilessly tormenting all that get in our path. We should be deeply ashamed. I recommend “Dominion” by Matthew Sculley for more insight on this issue from a very reasonable perspective.

    “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Oh, God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of travail. May we realize that they live not for us alone but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life.” – St.Basil (Bishop of Caesarea) (330-379)

  7. Lillian Santiago

    Just a quick note about this article, surprisingly enough, without a very important detail. Just this last June, I had the wonderful privilege of traveling to the Holy Land with the young adults of our parish. We also had an excellent guide (Jewish) and considered a “walking encyclopedia” on all Jewish culture and history. Upon my asking about the slaughter of so many animals, our guide explained that there were special priest who were dedicated to this task so that all the meat would be “kasher” which we call “kocher”. They would have a blade with a perfect edge – it could not have any kind of imperfection. The priest would proceed to cut the jugular and the animal would not even know what happened to it. They would fall asleep as they bled and would then die. In fact, our guide explained to us that the next animal to be sacrificed was not permitted to see the other animal sacrificed because it would then not be “kasher”. I found this fascinating. Hope it helps a bit to understand that our awesome God never allows anything without a profound reason – in this case, awaiting the arrival of the perfect Lamb, which was Jesus himself. God bless you all.

  8. Matthew Q

    Ran across this article. I thought it was good for the most part. The PETA comment wasn't needed and could cause scandal. There are plenty of faithful Catholics that choose to eat ethical meat and care for Creation., and if they choose to avoid meat, then so be it. God made meat clean for us, so we should not be ashamed in eating meat either. There's is too mush partisanship on this issue though- there are those that won't touch meat or a meat-derivative, and those that believe they must prove something (not sure what ?) and shoot and kill everything that walks, out of their insecurity. Both are extremes. There should be a balance – killing of anything isn't meant to be a fully pleasant experience, as it's a sacrifice – this is why it gives us life. Yes, joy that we will persist from the energy of the meal, but also a reflection of the animal losing its life, as well as gratitude to God. Re-iterates the point that life requires sacrifice. In this case it's the animals life, which involves pain and suffering for the animal and (should, to some extent) cause the person eating the meat to reflect and give thanks, or evoke some sort of realization that life was slain to provide life to him/herself. Animals aren't humans, but do deserve respect. God made them after all, and entrusted them to us – not solely for eating, not to hunt and kill and leave for dead, not to confine in huge operations and treat as an object, but to glorify Him and fill Creation. Killing for the sake of killing is a sickness.
    I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but I do try and eat meat as ethical, clean, and responsibly as I can – hard to do at times, I'll admit. But, I do think Lita's comments are perfectly valid, though I haven't read "Dominion". Humans have plundered the earth for far too long due to the wrong understanding of "dominion" in Genesis. As made in God's image and above the other creatures, it isn't so much as a licence to kill as it is a license to care for and be more compassionate- we have the most responsibility in stewarding all the other creatures. I will agree with one of the other commenters that this topic does cause a lot of scandal. Being Bull-headed may feel good at the time, but in the end it just pushes others from the faith.

    STEVE RAY HERE: I moderate my website and some comments I don’t allow and others I do. I’m allowing this comment for its discussion factor. I appreciate Matthew’s moderation and complimenting my son on a comment that he “thought was good for the most part.” And I know Matthew was just trying to bring what he thought was balanced to the discussion.

    But, I think my son’s point was completely missed and misunderstood by this comment.

    We were all raised on a farm and maybe we view farm animals differently than city people do and people influenced by the modern more genteel culture which I don’t think is always good. And I don’t think it’s wise to appeal to God about killing animals when he’s the one that required lambs to be killed for the Passover which required during the time of Christ up to it times 250,000 lambs per year to be slaughtered just like my son killed the lamb for eating. There was the slicing of the throat and blood and intestines and body parts everywhere. Can you imagine the brutality and the mess made with the slaughter of 250,000 innocent cuddly cute little lambs?

    I think our generation has become way too “sensitive”. No one denies that we are to be the caretakers of creation and we should not exploit it, but killing animals for food as a gift given by God to human beings. We on the farm killed varmints that were damaging but we didn’t kill animals for fun. We went hunting and we ate what we shot.

    People Love to talk about animals as creatures of God and yet they don’t hesitate to stomp on the spider that’s running across their bedroom floor or to kill a mouse that’s in their pantry.

    Again, thanks to Matthew for his comments and I hope I did not respond too strongly, but I understand what my son was trying to say.

Comments are closed.