Friday, January 27, 2006

Obedience: The Key to Renewal

St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that, after the virtue of religion, obedience is the most perfect of all the moral virtues. And this because the virtue of obedience unites us more closely to God than any of the other virtues, insofar as it detaches us from our own will. For the main obstacle to union with God is self-will.

Obedience unites us to God and enables us to share habitually in His life. Obedience subordinates our will directly to the will of God and, as a consequence, all of our other faculties since these are subordinated to our will.

When we offer our wills as a sacrifice to God through obedience, we enter into communion with God, since we no longer have any other will but God's will. Only then can we make the words of Jesus in His agony our own words: "Not my will, but thine be done." This conformity of our will to the Divine will becomes one with charity. As St. Thomas reminds us, love effects primarily a union of wills.

This is the teaching of St. John, the beloved Apostle. After teaching us that he who claims to love God and keeps not His commandments is a liar, the Apostle declares: "But he that keepeth his word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected; and by this we know that we are in him" (1 John 2:5). This is the teaching of Jesus Himself, Who tells us that to keep His commandments is to love Him: "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

True obedience is, in reality, a genuine act of love. And this genuine love, this genuine conformity to the Divine will, purifies us from sin. Moreover, this conformity to the Divine will is what works out our reformation. It is, after all, the disordered love of pleasure - to which we yield through either weakness or malice - which has deformed us.

The answer to problems which arise within the Church is not the promotion of self-will via a "democratic church." Only conformity to the Divine will can cure our maliciousness, our weakness. Obedience is the key to renewal.


Anonymous said...

Since Jesus said "If you love Me, keep My commandments," when we refuse to keep His commandments we are showing that we don't really love Him. And that's what dissent is. It is disobedience. It is a lack of love.

Marie Cecile said...

Paul, thank you for this, as it helps me to be forever reminded to keep my obedience always on God, where it should always be. Every now and then we need reminders to keep us faithful in God's love

Cleghornboy said...

Thank you Marie. You are right in saying that we often need reminders to keep us faithful in God's love. I am also thankful that when I fail to respond as I should in obedience to God's Will for me, that there is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Such is really the message of La Salette: Reconciliation!

But the Lord Jesus can only forgive us, heal us, and transform our lives if we let Him. He stands knocking at the door of our hearts. We respond and let Him into our hearts through daily prayer, attendance at Holy Mass, periodically confessing our sins - even if they are "only" venial (although no person of serious faith will ever refer to such sins as "only" venial since each and every sin is a serious offense against the All-Good God), and through love of neighbor.

God love you Marie Cecile. Pray for me.

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