“By obedience a man offers to God his will.”–From “Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life; Vol. 5: St. Thomas Aquinas,” pg. 64. Selected and Arranged by John P. McClernon.
Isn’t this a comforting thought? Simple obedience causes us to surrender our will to God. Isn’t this what we are always striving for? A surefire way to do God’s will? Well, He has given it to us–we must be obedient, to His commandments and to all of our lawful authorities. When obedience will lead us to the performance of some virtue that we ought to be practicing, it is doubly pleasing.
But how hard it is to convince ourselves to let go of that little thing we had in mind! How hard to submit our will to the will of another, or to the law of God, when we were sure we were going to do things this or that way! We cannot always have our way. That is a phrase I am sure many of us have heard several times growing up. It is a very helpful phrase. To me, it meant there was always a will superior to mine, and no matter what I did, I still had to submit to it. The only way that I ever got to do things ‘my way’ is because my will just so happened to line up with the will of my parents for me.
This taught me a very valuable lesson, and the most legitimate way to use it is to realize that God’s Will is exactly this way, only perfect, inscrutable, ineffable, and above all, good and holy! We may not be able to ask God directly what His will is, but He has very graciously given us the ways by which we can be sure we are living in a way that is pleasing to Him, that is within His Will. He has also expressed in Holy Scripture that His Will is for the sanctification of our souls. This lines up perfectly with the commandments He has given us, His revelation and the teachings of Holy Mother Church. And in being obedient to them, in submitting our will to the will of God by denying ourselves what is contrary to His will, and seeking only those things that will bring us closer to sanctity, we can be sure that we are offering our wills to God, and that this is pleasing in His sight.
Let us strive this Lenten season to be especially vigilant about obedience and submission to authorities, especially in this hedonistic culture that champions self-will over all. Our victory is found in our submission–that is, our battles against sin and death are won by obeying the laws of God and of our lawful superiors that God has given to be over us. Let us take pleasure in offering our wills to God in this way, knowing that it pleases Him. In doing this, we will find the strength we need to keep us on course for our goal of heaven and of the beatific vision of God.