A human being, says St. Gregory the Great, is in a way a representation of the whole universe. We have something in common with everything God created, from rocks to angels.
Everything that exists falls into one of these classes:
- It exists, but does not live.
- It exists and lives, but does not feel.
- It exists and lives and feels, but does not understand or choose.
- It exists and lives and feels and understands and chooses.
Stones exist, but they do not live.
Trees both exist and live, but do not feel: we call the greenery the “life” of plants and trees, as Paul declares: “You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Cor. 15:36).
Animals exist and live and feel, but they do not understand.
Angels exist and live and feel, and they have knowledge by understanding. But we have it in common with stones to exist, with trees to live, with animals to feel, with angels to understand. So a human being is rightly called a “universe,” because in a way the whole universe is contained within us. –St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, 6.20IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
If I have something in common with everything in the world around me—even the angels—doesn’t that give me the responsibility to take care of that world? How well am I taking care of my own little corner of it—my family and friends, for example?
Guardian angels of all people and nations, you are ceaselessly vigilant, ever watching. Teach me to be diligent for the good of whatever in creation is under my protection.
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