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Does A Mosquito Bless The Lord?

John Kelleher

...the bishop answered... "The fathers teach us that God created animals for man's use..."

[Fr. Quixote] "But I have never understood, monsignor, how a mosquito could have been created for man's use. What use?"

"Surely, father, the use is obvious. A mosquito may be likened to a scourge in the hands of God, it teaches us to endure pain for love of Him. That painful buzz in the ear - perhaps it is God buzzing."

[ Graham Greene, Monsignor Quixote, 1982 ]

Covenantal moral theologies find themselves unable to profess a purely nominal moral capacity to the Good Creation. A rock, or salt, do bless the Lord, independently of meaning assigned from the 'outside' by man or by their utility to man.

But a mosquito?

When considering irritating and disease-carrying mosquitoes, disabling and deadly viruses, or man-eating tigers, a steadfastly amoral universe in which beings other than men and angels have no capacity for worship suddenly seems much more workable than the covenantal alternative.

The covenantal response is indeed much less workable than the alternative -- but only within some kind of ridiculous context in which man is to have no dominion over the creatures of the earth.

Dominion can mean many things: husbandry, for one, leaving well enough alone, for another; but having dominion also can mean carefully avoiding some creatures of the earth, actively resisting others, and wiping others clean out.

Dominion means dominion; it does not imply either rolling over or rapine. It means judging -- judging respectfully, but judging, with full knowledge both that every single created thing has the capacity for worship, and that trade-offs, not solutions, are very often the best that man can gift into this fallen but good world.

Catholicism is not pantheism. Nor is it nature-worship or any other related heresy. The fact that covenantal moral theologies assert that earth as well as heaven is "full of your glory," that every blade of grass has the capacity for worship, does not mean that men should worship blades of grass, but rather, that man should exercise his dominion.

Thus the moral issue is not whether man should exercise his dominion over all created beings, but how he should.

Nor is there anything covenantal, let alone moral, in insanely wondering whether man has dominion over all created beings. Yes, he does; both the scriptural and liturgical testimony is absolutely clear, continuous, and of long standing.

St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle, which sings: "Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures..." says no more and no less than the book of Daniel's "Bless the Lord, sun and moon...." Neither can be stuffed into a quasi-Romantic pantheism.

Man has been gifted with both the clear responsibility and the clear glory of dominion over all the creatures of the earth.

Not the mosquito.

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