Sunday, October 7, 2007


Esteem for Obedience

The most pernicious temptation against obedience is contempt, sizing it up as something mean and unworthy of a human being, or at least as indecorous for cultured and noble minds. Submission to obedience, according to this view, requires a servile type of mind --ánima dimidiáta-- as Homer would say, if translated into Latin, a "reduced personality."

The reluctance experienced by Satan in submitting to God, which made him cry out I will not serve!; the self-elation which drove our first parents to gamble away their own and all their prosperity's inheritance by an act of rebellion against their Father and Creator; that inward struggle which takes place within the soul of every one of us when it comes to surrendering our will to the will of another; these things are not trivialities; and therefore obedience is not something to be brushed aside with a sneer; because obedience is given only at a very high price, at the cost of breaking in our natural appetites, and going through a death-like agony in the process. Call obedience what you will, but deem it not contemptible. It is not a contemptible thing to refrain the human personality from running wild through the regions of caprice and savage independence.

To obey wholeheartedly is noble, most noble; if only because no other virtue taxes us so sorely: neither the repressing of anger, nor the stern bridling of sensuality. Noble, most noble, is that which one obtains only by dint of absolute self-denial and high-mindedness; namely, to deposit into another's keeping not merely external acts of submission --any slave or beast of burden at the crack of the master's whip will do that-- but also the reins of our internal desire, sacrificing our own wishes for the sake of some great good which surpasses human fickleness and even human reasoning. Say what you will, then, about obedience, but do not hold it in contempt.

Do not despise obedience, obedience is divine, and the divine is not despicable. Divine, not only because as St. Paul says, "Authority comes from God only" (Rom. 13:1), but also because of Christ's example. The God Who became Man, possessing the human faculties of the mind and the will, was by His very Nature our only Sovereign --This title is written on his cloak, over his thigh: the King of kings, and the Lord of lords (Apoc. 19:16); He had the Eternal and inalienable right to present Himself to the High Priest in the Holy of Holies and say: "Deliver unto Me the attributes of the High-Priesthood, I am the Eternal Priest"; He could have stood before the all-powerful Roman Emperor and said to him: "Yield me that throne, it is Mine, through Me kings reign"; He had a perfect right to exercise dominion over every household in the Name of His Father "from Whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth takes its title" (Eph. 3:15); He was God, God's Equal; and yet, He forwent the privileges due to His Godhead; He hid them away, as though they did not belong to Him; He lived as a man, appeared in most of His manifestations just as a man; He lived as a slave:

"He dispossessed Himself, accepted an obedience which brought Him to death, death on a cross." --(Philip i, ii, 6-8)

This is the meaning of the Cross of Christ! There we have the great lesson of the Crucifix! So before you despise obedience, despise your crucifix, if you dare; tear it from the Altar; tear it from your heart!

My God, crucified through obedience: Thou knowest well how hard it is for me to obey; I instinctively loathe humble submission; but one thing I will never do: I will never say that obedience is something low and mean. Thou wert not low and mean, and Thou wast the great Model of all who obey.