When society was ruled by laws based on sound reason and observed by a populace of good will, there were relatively few crimes. There was order in homes and from this order learned at home it spread wherever people of order moved.
When doctrine is corrupted, morals are corrupted also. And when corrupted morals are `legalized,' the destruction of social order is imminent. No amount of force or violence will restore right order. Force merely moves the evil underground.
But, now, disorder has become so generalized that it need not go underground. On the contrary, disordered wills flaunt their disobedience and practically dare you to do something about it.
There are some misconceptions among Catholics concerning obedience. There are many who make an erroneous distinction between obedience as a moral virtue and an obedience that must be practiced under threat of punishment.
The confusion lies in the fact that they erroneously think that there are more than one kind of obedience: an obedience which they will freely tender when and for as long as they deem fit; and another kind of `obedience' which they cannot avoid even in this lifetime.
The first kind of obedience they attribute to religious obedience as members of the Church. They would have us believe that they do not have to obey if they do not so desire. This is no obedience at all. As a matter of fact, it is a challenge to authority to ask only what the other chooses to accept.
The second kind of `obedience' is slavish. It's the kind of obedience complied with when getting a speeding ticket and forced to pay a fine; it's the kind of `obedience' complying to commands (even unjust ones!) under threat of fine or imprisonment.
Because this second kind of obedience is not practiced in the Church by Her legitimate representatives, people who flatter themselves with the name `Catholic' boldly spurn the urgent exhortations of the Church's ministers.
The obedience that a Catholic owes the Church and Her ministers is a moral obedience. It is a free act of the will in accepting whatever legitimate commands may be given for their spiritual good and the general good of the Church.
Obedience, then, is not something we are forced to do, even though we are urged and commanded to do. The element of `force' is absent. Perhaps it is this absence of force that deceives the disobedient. But, God will not be mocked. Just as all our actions have consequences, so too, disobedience has its consequences.
First of all, disobedience separates the disobedient from the community of believers. That is to say, the disobedience is an act of schism which places the individual outside the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ because by this external attitude of will, the individual is showing that his or her actions are not motivated by supernatural grace. When grace is gone, all of corrupt nature takes over the life of the person. How is this possible? Quite simply. Once the Holy Ghost which is the life of the supernatural life through grace is absent, Satan enters that mind and heart and now the state of that person is as one possessed, as of one once more returning to that slavery of Satan from which the waters and grace of Baptism had freed him or her.
When a priest says to a Bishop: "Prove to me that I must obey you" you have an example of a perverse, obstinate, self-centered will. This is particularly true when the same priest in a saner moment gladly accepted his duty and obligation to submit to his Bishop.
There is a peculiar difference between the mentality of those of the Traditionalist sects and that of the Modernists.
The Traditionalist boldly challenges the very existence of authority, and refuses to call himself the Protestant that he actually is. The Modernist, on the other hand, even though he is wrong and refuses to obey the leader of his sect, will not deny the authority of the leader. He will simply leave that sect and join another more to his liking.
Traditionalists are contumaciously schismatic; Modernists are just plain schismatic.
The Traditionalists are against all authority _ except their own which they claim they do not have. (Figure that one out, if you can); the Modernist just ignores whatever authority disagrees with him. Or, he fancies himself a `loyal dissenter.'
Those who reject the authority of the Apostate Church find themselves in a dilemma. If they reject the Conciliar Church and its hierarchy, to remain Catholic they must accept the authority of the Bishops consecrated by Msgr. Ngo. But, they do not wish to submit themselves to this authority. There is no other alternative than making themselves their own authority. But, then, they face a practical problem: How can they claim to be members of the Roman Catholic Church which is Apostolic?
Because they are blinded by their self-love, they are unable to see the lack of logic in their thinking.
Soon, a priest (whether validly ordained or not becomes inconsequential) becomes empowered to be even higher than a Bishop. Then an incompetent but ambitious layman begins to teach as if having authority to do so.
These are the usual results of disobedience. For a Catholic to fall into this kind of demonic trap is a real tragedy.
The gravity of the sin becomes even greater when such poorly advised individuals seek to sate their own misery by trying to induce other Catholics to abandon their shepherd and to follow them into their heresy and schism.
There is no doubt that such impertinent individuals would quickly cease and abandon their wicked ambitions if the Church used the kind of force such individuals understand. But, this is not proper to the Church. The Church uses moral persuasion, urging the erring to return to that salutary obedience which was once the sign of grace.
If we were living in the time of St. Charles Borromeo, such scandalous dissidents would soon have a couple of his "ecclesiastical policemen" knocking at their door. A few weeks on bread and water has a tremendous illuminatory effect on people.
Maybe that's what we need? Actually, we do not need this kind of `persuasion.' It is enough punishment and censure that these lax Catholics must suffer the lack of grace in their lives. It generally does not take long before the effects of fallen nature make themselves felt anew in a soul devoid of grace.
When a priest is ordained, he must publicly promise obedience to the ordaining Bishop, or, if he is being ordained with dimissorial letters, to his own Bishop. In any case, the Council of Trent stringently decreed that there were to be no more "headless" (bishopless) priests.
We face a tragic phenomenon that will haunt the Church for a very long time. On the one hand, the invalidity of ordinations in the Conciliar Church will spawn thousands of non-priest ministers to deceive the people with empty sacraments and `masses.'
On the other hand, we see the proliferation of wandering priests ordained by one or two equally wandering bishops whose validity and liceity have been in doubt from the day of their alleged-consecrations. At best, they can only be called "usurper bishops" of the type condemned by the Church centuries ago.
What are we to think of a priest who says that he has no obligation to obey the bishop who ordained him, and that his `obedience' is only out of virtue? Clearly, such an obedience is no obedience because it has no binding power. If a priest did not promise obedience to his bishop, he is a scandal to the people whom he would expect to obey him. Why should they? And, logically that is what they do: They roam around wherever they please; they ignore the laws of the Church because they see that the priest ignores law. The priest ignores the law because he sees that the bishop ignores law.
With `order' like that, hell must be a heavenly place because our Lord says that even the kingdom of Satan is united. The disunity among those who have left the Conciliar Church _ the Church of the Great Apostasy _ is a worse scandal than the heresies of the Modernists.
Disobedience is the cancer of spiritual life. Whereas obedience is the perfection of the spiritual life.
St.Thomas Aquinas answers several objections concerning obedience:
"Religious perfection consists chiefly in the imitation of Christ, according to Matt. 19,21, If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and follow Me. Now, in Christ obedience is commended above all according to Philip 2,8: He became obedient unto death. Therefore, seemingly obedience belongs to religious perfection."
There are some who would object that apparently, religious superiors are not bound to obedience, consequently, it would seem that obedience would not be necessary for religious perfection.
To which, St. Thomas responds:
"The subjection of religious is chiefly in reference to bishops, who are compared to them as perfecters to perfected, as Dionysius states (Eccl.Hier.vi), where he also says that the monastic order is subjected to the perfecting virtues of the bishops, and is taught by their godlike enlightenment.
Hence neither hermits nor religious superiors are exempt from obedience to bishops; and if they be wholly or partly exempt from obedience to the bishop of the diocese, they are nevertheless bound to obey the Sovereign Pontiff, not only in matters affecting all in common, but also in those which pertain specially to religious discipline."
In an allocution to Dominican Friars (1955), Pope Pius XII said:
"May your obedience be founded on unshakable motives: those which make you behold God Himself in your superiors. Disobedience, that scourge peculiar to our times, dissipates strength and renders apostolic enterprises weak and sterile."
We ask a serious question: Is there a single obedient Dominican Friar left in that once great Order? If so, where is he so that we may embrace him as a true son of St. Dominic? Alas, they are all gone! The Order of Preachers is crushed into the dust by the heavy boots of heretical, disobedient Friars.
And what of that Reformed Order of which the star and gem is St. John of the Cross? The glory of the Carmelite Order and of the entire Spanish nation is lost in the misty, dusty libraries of the world. To professors of the Discalced Carmelites, Pope Pius XII uttered these words:
"You would now like to receive from Our lips some points which have to do with the profession of the vows of religion and the training which is suitable for novices. In the program of matters to be discussed We read on this score: `Formation for religious obedience: exercise of authority and respect for the personality of the subject.' Certainly, in religious houses supernatural obedience, which maintains the ardor of charity towards God, must at all costs flourish and be firmly and assiduously cultivated, generously, and in conformity with the established rules. Is it not here that we find the solid basis of discipline and the religious life?
Is it not true that the great enterprises which religious have successfully carried out and which they will carry out in the future, have obtained and will obtain their happy results only by reason of the union of forces in obedience? Recognize, therefore, and respect, and be willing to accept the salutary yoke of obedience as the burden of the strong. However, in our day, when the machine is everywhere in command, when technique invades all things, impregnates all things, and fashions all things to its own image, let those who command be careful not to treat those subject to their will as so many pieces of merchandise or as parts of a machine, and let them always respect in them the human personality."
Obedience is the bond of perfection. Therefore, it is the highest of the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. As faith leads to hope, hope is perfected in charity.
Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. stated in his masterful work on mystical theology The Three Ages of the Interior Life: "Obedience is the highest of the three evangelical counsels, just as pride of life is in itself a graver disorder than the concupiscence of the flesh and that of the eyes. Pride, which was the sin of the rebellious angel and of the first man, is the source of all deviations because it turns us away from God to put our trust in ourselves."
This is true. For even our Lord Himself said to the Pharisees who were consumed with their pride: "Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: by you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him" (Matt.21,31).
The principal sin of the world and even of those who fancy themselves `right with God' or `right with the Church.' It is the sin of Satan: "Non serviam, I will not serve."
Pride is above all the sin of the `modern' world and those Catholics, clergy and laity alike, who are more steeped in the world than in the grace of the Holy Ghost.
The world seeks to obey its own will, its own judgments, its own reason. Yet, this very perversion leads it to disobey reason which would urge it to obey God.
One finds even among Religious and clergy a loss of understanding of the role and value of obedience. Rarely do they consider disobedience as a mortal sin. They are more concerned with sins against the vows of poverty and chastity _ holding them up as if they were the greatest of sins, and while doing so they themselves commit the most scandalous sins against obedience.
Supernatural values have been turned upside-down. As far as some clergy are concerned, the publicans and harlots will not enter the kingdom of God, but the disobedient ones like themselves will. Somehow, I find this hard to believe. In fact, it smacks of a Pharisee mentality.
Obedience frees the soul from slavery to one's own will and it frees us from our own judgment.
Obedience due to God, to His spiritual and temporal representatives assure us that we are conforming our will with the will of God. In this way, obedience saves us from our too often prejudiced self-will that sets ourselves against the will of God.
There are many examples of this in daily life. Some of these examples are publicly promoted by those who would replace not only the order established by God, but would even teach God a thing or two.
It was St. Bernard who said: "Take away self-will, and there will no longer be any hell."
Self-will is especially dangerous because it can corrupt even our good works. It does this by taking itself as its own end rather than subordinating itself to God.
If God sees that it is self-will that inspires physical penances, He rejects them as pharisaical works done through pride to make oneself esteemed.
In Religious life, it is often pointed out to the young that it is not what is done that at times is bad, but how it is done. If something good is done outside of obedience, that good ceases to be a good. There are many who have opened themselves to the influences and suggestions to the spirit of pride by throwing themselves into activities, in themselves good, but because of the lack of obedience to superiors, the good becomes corrupted.
Today, one encounters such an obsession with one's own judgment that it is easy to see from whence this comes. Judgments are rashly made with insufficient foundation, and not conformed to the judgment of God.
One's own personal judgment often becomes the source of singularity in conduct and stubbornness which leads to counter-productivity and becomes an obstacle for doing the good which others seek to do.
Our own judgments frequently lead to rash judgments that are contrary to justice and charity. St.Thomas Aquinas says: "According as we are well or ill disposed in our will and the sensible faculties, a given end seems good or evil to us."
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