High in the Pyrenees, tucked into one of the innumerable valleys and away from the normal passes through those mountains, there was a monastery. It had little to distinguish it from others, really. It was just a middling-sized place full of industrious, serene men, helping lost travelers and providing nearby hamlets with really good beer.
Monasteries, of course, are usually the last place to find extremely spiritual people, at least insofar as we define the word "spiritual." Being self-reliant, the monks often find themselves spending far more time shoveling manure and tilling fields than kneeling in contemplation of the Divine Mysteries.
In this monastery, however, there once was an abbot who combined the very best of an earthy spirituality with the best of heavenly insight and inspiration. He was dearly loved by everyone who met him, and was known for quite some distance for his wisdom, leading everyone, including his own brothers in the monastery, to drop the title "Abbot" and call him "Teacher."
Every morning before their work began and every evening before retiring, the Teacher would speak to the assembled brothers. He was wise and compassionate, and the years of his stewardship were the apex of that monastery's history. The Teacher was also a man freed from the burdens of earthly desire and never abused his power, never used the monastery's resources for his own gain. His only indulgence was a cat.
Like all felines, the Teacher's cat had a soul of pure evil that was obvious to everyone but the Teacher himself. No amount of destruction, no number of scratches could convince the Teacher that the hissing, spitting demon/cat he kept was anything different than the little ball of fluff he'd first brought into his life.
The Teacher's cat, then, had the run of the place. He disrupted as much as he could, especially during the morning and evening sessions with the Teacher. It was only because of the Teacher's surpassing wisdom and charisma that the brothers were able to put up with the cat.
Unfortunately, the Teacher died like anyone else. The monastery went into deep mourning for their loss, and as often happens, the next abbot spent most of his time trying to keep things as they were under the guidance of the Teacher. Even the awful cat was redeemed in the eyes of the community, because of the living - some might say "undead" - connection to the Teacher the cat represented. So as they kept up the morning and evening teaching sessions rehashing the Teacher's lessons, they also allowed the cat to attend and disrupt them.
The Teacher's cat one day decided to see what havoc he could wreak in the afterlife and was found dead by the suddenly-relieved brother tasked with changing his litterbox and giving him food. It is a sign of the deep love for the Teacher and the deep loss they all felt that when the evening session came, one of the brothers suggested getting another cat to remind them of how much the Teacher loved his. And so they did.
The seasons passed this monastery in the mountains, and the brothers grew old and went on to their rewards. The memory of the Teacher was kept alive and amended as necessary, with the best qualities and practices of his successors inevitably being attributed to him. The cat which replaced the Teacher died and was replaced, who was replaced as well. After many years much of what the Teacher did and said was lost to the community. Most of the brothers didn't learn of this revered figure from the past, and the monastery entered a low point of its history, ruled over by petty little abbots who abused their authority and lived sumptuously at the expense of not only the hard work of their fellow monks, but the gifts they were able to extort from the surrounding communities. Everything good which had been passed on from the Teacher was lost.
But the morning and evening teaching sessions still happened. And for each session, before they could begin, the cat was carried in on soft pillows and placed in a seat of honor before the assembled brothers. The cat's collar was pure gold, and he ate better than anyone beside the abbot himself. He had his own chambers (those of the Teacher, kept empty for his memory), richly decorated with silks and jewels. Nothing could happen at that monastery without the presence - and with it the ceremonial blessing - of the Teacher's cat.
As humans, we tend to hold onto the damnedest things.