And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
- 1 Samuel 15:22
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.”
- Hebrews 13:17
Obedience is one of the most difficult, misunderstood and yet essential aspects of the Christian life. But instead of having me talk about it, I’m going to let the saints – those who lived in true obedience to the Will of God – share their thoughts.
It is obedience and obedience alone that shows us God’s will with certainty. Of course our superiors may err, but it cannot happen that we, holding fast to our obedience, should be led into error by this. There is only one exception: if the superior commands something that would obviously involve breaking God’s law, however slightly. In that case the superior could not be acting as a faithful interpreter of God’s will.
Through obedience we transcend our own limitations and align ourselves with God’s will, which, with infinite wisdom and prudence, guides us to do what is best.
This is the path of wisdom and prudence, this is the one way by which we can come to give God the highest glory. After all, if there had been another, better way, Christ would certainly have shown it to us, by word and by example. But in fact sacred Scripture wraps up his entire long life in Nazareth with the words ‘and he was obedient to them’ and it shows the rest of his life to have been passed in similar obedience – almost as an instruction to us – by showing how he came down to Earth to do the Father’s will.
- from a letter of Maximilian Kolbe, in the Office of Readings on his feast day
Now what is the surest way to know and ascertain what God requires of us? There is no surer way than to practice obedience to our Superiors and directors.
– St Alphonsus Ligouri, in his book ‘The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ’
To desert an occupation given by obedience in order to unite ourselves to God by prayer, by reading, or by recollection, would be to withdraw from God to unite ourselves to our own self-love.
- St Francis de Sales, quoted by St Alphonsus
A little drop of simple obedience is worth a million times more than a whole vase full of the choicest contemplations.
- St Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, from her revelations
My daughter, know that you give Me greater glory by a single act of obedience than by long prayers and mortifications.
- St Faustina, from the revelations recorded in her book ‘Divine Mercy in My Soul’
He who always acts under obedience may be assured that he will not have to give an account of his actions to God.
- St Philip Neri, from his ‘Daily Maxims’
Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.
- St Thomas Aquinas