This excellent excerpt by Father Jacques Philippe touches on the spirit of obedience….
If we want God to reveal more of his will to us by His inspirations, we need to start by obeying His wishes that we already know. This obedience can be applied in various ways. As we saw earlier, each act of faithfulness to grace attracts new graces, in ever-growing numbers. If we are attentive and obey the motions of the Holy Spirit, these graces will become more abundant.
If we ignore inspirations, on the other hand, there is a danger that they will become less and less frequent. “To everyone who has, more will be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away,” Jesus tells us.
This is the beginning, then. To obtain more inspirations, we need to begin by obeying the ones we receive.
Next, it is obvious that God will grant us more inspirations if He sees us being faithful in fulfilling His will when it comes to us by other ways: the Commandments, the duties of our state in life, and so on. God’s will is expressed in many ways, and we know these without any need for special inspirations.
We know God’s will as expressed in a general way through the commandments of Scripture, the teaching of the Church, the demands that are part of our vocation, and those that come from our job, for example.
If we have a sincere desire for faithfulness in these domains, God will favor us with more motions of His Spirit. If we are careless about our normal duties, then however much we beg God for special inspirations there is not much chance of His granting them.
Let’s not forget either to consent, for love of God, to all the legitimate opportunities for obedience that present themselves in the areas of community, family, or social life.
Of course we must obey God rather than men, but it would be an illusion to think we were capable of obeying God if we are incapable of obeying other people.
The reason for this is that the same obstacle has to be overcome in both cases: attachment to ourselves and to our own will. If we can only obey people when it happens to please us, we are fooling ourselves about being able to obey the Holy Spirit.
If we are never prepared to renounce our own will (our ideas, our tastes, our attachments) for other people, what guarantee is there that we’ll be able to do so when God asks us to?
A Divine inspiration cannot ask us to do something that contradicts what the Word of God teaches and asks of us. This means not the Word of God as compiled by each individual’s fantasy and interpretation, but Holy Scripture as transmitted and explained by the teaching authority of the Church.
For example, a Divine inspiration cannot ask me to commit acts that the Church considers immoral.
In the same way, true inspirations always go in the direction of a spirit of obedience to the Church.
A religious who disobeyed his superiors, even for a purpose that was praiseworthy in itself, definitely would not be acting under Divine inspiration. “ When God puts inspirations into a heart, the first He gives is obedience,” says St. Francis de Sales.
Consistency with the demands of our vocation
A whole collection of demands are derived from our own vocation as a married person, a parent, a priest, a religious, et cetera, and from our situation in life (our professional duties, etc.); and these demands are God’s will for us.
An inspiration, if it comes from God, cannot ask us for something that is in manifest contradiction to our “duties of state.” The Holy Spirit may encourage a mother to be somewhat less occupied with her household cares so that she can dedicate some time to prayer.
But if He suggested to her that she should spend so much time in contemplation that her husband and children suffered, there would be good reason to question the source of this inspiration.
Inspirations go in the same direction as our duties of state and do not divert us from them but, just the reverse, help us to fulfill them.
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