Obedience: What is It?

By Marc Massery

Turn to any page of St. Faustina’s Diary, and you’ll find spiritual gems, like this one:

I became absorbed in prayer and said my penance. Then I suddenly saw the Lord, who said to me, My daughter, know that you give Me greater glory by a single act of obedience than by long prayers and mortifications. Oh, how good it is to live under obedience, to live conscious of the fact that everything I do is pleasing to God! (Diary, 894).

In our world today, the word “obedience” has a bad connotation.  It brings to mind totalitarianism or religious extremism — everything wrong with the 20th century. It reminds us how the strong have the tendency to prey upon the weak.  

In the spiritual life, however, obedience is an essential part of living out the Gospel.

So what is obedience? Obedience means putting the will of God above our own and following His Commandments as best we can. 

As a religious sister who took a vow of obedience, Sr. Faustina knew this better than anyone. Even though the Lord often spoke directly to her, she didn’t consider herself too holy to submit herself to the directions of her religious superiors, confessors, and spiritual directors. She knew God was using them as His mouthpieces to speak to her, too. She prayed often that the Lord would send holy people into her life, people who would listen to her and direct her in ways that would lead to a growth in virtue. 

Saint Faustina wanted to live a life of obedience, not because she was strange or deluded. She simply knew that striving for obedience would enable the Lord to perfect His holy will in her life. The more His holy will is fulfilled in each and every one of us, the more He can pour His love and mercy out upon us and on the whole world. 

Though some today may find the idea of submitting our obedience to the will of God’s scary, this brings us to the main point of the Divine Mercy message — God doesn’t want to hurt us! He only wants to help us. 
    
As we say in the final prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, God’s Holy will “is love and mercy itself.” Its selfishness that leads to destruction and unhappiness, not God. Sure, following His Commandments will cost us a lot. But striving to live God’s will in our lives is the answer to all problems.  

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash.

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