Once, circa my time at Messiah College, I remember we had a Priest invited over to give us a discussion on matters of Faith. Seeing as this was about 7 years ago, most of the memory has withered away. I do, however, remember that one part of his conversation focused on the Vatican, the faith of the early church community...and the catacombs for the faithful.
Considering the turbulent years of the Early Church, with the rampant persecution and "brutality-for-sport" that their accusers displayed, Faith certainly was a more tangible thing back then: you either had it, or you didn't...and chances were you would either have to renounce or defend it if challenged.
Thus the catacombs tell one part of this story; they are, of course, the place where the Martyrs were buried, and venerated. Because of their great show of faith in times of trial, traditions celebrating their deeds grew around these early faithful, and people also sought to have the graves of their loved ones sited adjacent to the Martyrs' graves (...perhaps hoping to get a "seat" closer to the throne at Resurrection).
The Priest then elaborated on how the Martyrs were venerated (a subject of contention for some, I realize): with beautiful paintings by their graves, or even graffiti scrolled alongside. The usual Christian symbols featured prominently: the fish, dove, Good Shepherd, the palm, etc. Interestingly, at one grave, the Priest noticed a peculiar symbol drawn: A Dog's Paw Print.
For an animal considered Man's best friend, and loyal as can be, dogs don't tend to rank as "overt" Christian symbols. To tell you the truth, dog references in the Bible usually tend to be negative; hence, the surprise expressed by the Priest. Later on, the Priest discovered what this little piece of graffiti actually meant:
As a Dog to his Master...I will be Faithful
I'm a dog-person, so it is indeed a fitting reflection of so intimate a relationship between Man & God. Intelligent and gifted as the dog is, it is also capable of great servitude, submission and loyalty. And just as we are gifted, beautifully-made, with eternity imbued in our hearts....even with all that, we pale in comparison to our Maker, and we ought to seek Him out each and every day.
So, that is my little prayer for today,
That as a Dog unto his Master, I too will be Faithful.