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Reflections: Catholic Life Section (Obed./Disobed.)

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Catholic Life Section:

Obedience / Disobedience

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Obedience / Disobedience

 

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Obedience / Disobedience

Note: Christians are called to obey just laws. Also note that history proves that being a faithful Christian may sometimes be dangerous to one's bodily health (e.g. when persons are forced to disobey unjust laws). Consult appropriate, competent authorities for assistance in interpreting / applying items herein. Note that we do not advocate unlawful / immoral civil disobedience and we are not responsible for anything which may occur due to use of this site.

"[W]hoever disobeys the Son [Christ] will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him." (Jn. 3:36)

"When they had brought them in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, 'We gave you strict orders (did we not?) to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us.' But Peter and the apostles said in reply, 'We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.'" (Acts 5:27-32)

"Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16)

"By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness." (Rom. 2:5-8)

"Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer. Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience. This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due." (Rom. 13:1-7)

"Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient." (Eph. 5:6)

"Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming (upon the disobedient)." (Col. 3:5-6)

"If anyone does not obey our word as expressed in this letter, take note of this person not to associate with him, that he may be put to shame." (2 Thes. 3:14)

"But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them." (2 Tm. 3:1-5)

"Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise." (Ti. 3:1)

"Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Heb. 13:17)

"Be subject to every human institution for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good." (1 Pt. 2:13-14)

"Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior." (1 Pt. 3:1-2)

"In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments." (1 Jn. 5:2)

"[O]bedience... is, in a sort, the mother and guardian of all the virtues in the reasonable creature" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"For evil is nothing else than disobedience to God." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"It is right to submit to a higher authority whenever a command of God would not be violated." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Obey promptly! Do not consider the age or merit of a person. And in order to succeed imagine you are obeying the Lord." [St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)]

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors: "It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against them." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, This proposition was condemned in the Syllabus of Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 A.D.) 

"...interior obedience...is the true obedience of an orthodox man" (Pope Clement XI, "Vineam Domini Sabaoth", 1705 A.D.)

"When we humbly give way to another's voice, we overcome ourselves in our own hearts." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[O]bedience in this case [of things contrary to God] would be unlawful." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he order of justice requires that subjects obey their superiors, else the stability of human affairs would cease." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[S]ubjection whereby one man is bound to other regards the body; not the soul, which retains its liberty." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[O]bedience to a superior is due in accordance with the divinely established order of things" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Do I believe the gospel? You ask me if I believe it, though my obedience to its commands shows that I do. I should rather ask you if you believe it, since you give no proof of your belief." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[E]vil should never be done out of obedience: yet sometimes for the sake of obedience we should lay aside the good we are doing." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"It is written (Acts 5:29): 'We ought to obey God rather than men.' Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Commands that are issued adversely to the honor due to God, and hence are beyond the scope of justice, must be looked upon as anything rather than laws." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"There are three different distinct kinds of obedience. For either from fear of punishment we avoid evil and are servilely disposed; or looking to the gain of a reward we perform what is commanded, like to mercenaries; or we obey the law for the sake of good itself and our love to Him who gave it, and so savor of the mind of children." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[W]e may distinguish a threefold obedience; one, sufficient for salvation, and consisting in obeying when one is bound to obey: secondly, perfect obedience, which obeys in all things lawful: thirdly, indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters unlawful." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"By nature, therefore, all things are servants of the Creator and obey Him. Whenever, then, any of His creatures voluntarily rebels and becomes disobedient to his Maker, he introduces evil into himself. For evil is not any essence nor a property of essence, but an accident, that is, a voluntary deviation from what is natural into what is unnatural, which is sin." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"To despise legitimate authority, in whomsoever vested, is unlawful, as a rebellion against the divine will, and whoever resists that, rushes willfully to destruction. 'He that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.' To cast aside obedience, and by popular violence to incite to revolt, is therefore treason, not against man only, but against God." (Pope Leo XIII, "Immortale Dei", 1885)

"Take pains to impress on the Christian people a due obedience and subjection to rulers and governments. Do this by teaching, in accordance with the warning of the Apostle, that all authority comes from God. Whoever resists authority resists the ordering made by God Himself, consequently achieving his own condemnation; disobeying authority is always sinful except when an order is given which is opposed to the laws of God and the Church." (Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846)

"[A]lthough a man should take every care to obey each superior, yet it is a greater duty to obey a higher than a lower authority, in sign of which the command of a lower authority is set aside if it be contrary to the command of a higher authority. Consequently the higher the person who commands, the more grievous is it to disobey him: so that it is more grievous to disobey God than man." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Therefore to be disobedient to the commandments of God is a mortal sin, because it is contrary to the love of God. Again, the commandments of God contain the precept of obedience to superiors. Wherefore also disobedience to the commands of a superior is a mortal sin, as being contrary to the love of God, according to Romans 13:2, 'He that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.' It is also contrary to the love of our neighbor, as it withdraws from the superior who is our neighbor the obedience that is his due." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Man is subject to God simply as regards all things, both internal and external, wherefore he is bound to obey Him in all things. On the other hand, inferiors are not subject to their superiors in all things, but only in certain things and in a particular way, in respect of which the superior stands between God and his subjects, whereas in respect of other matters the subject is immediately under God, by Whom he is taught either by the natural or by the written law." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"A thing may be deemed gratuitous in two ways. In one way on the part of the deed itself, because, to wit, one is not bound to do it; in another way, on the part of the doer, because he does it of his own free will. Now a deed is rendered virtuous, praiseworthy and meritorious, chiefly according as it proceeds from the will. Wherefore although obedience be a duty, if one obey with a prompt will, one's merit is not for that reason diminished, especially before God, Who sees not only the outward deed, but also the inward will." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Does obedience to men as the legitimate representatives of God, that is to say, in the final analysis, obedience to God, degrade man and reduce him to a level unworthy of himself? Is the religious life, which is based on obedience, contrary to the ideal of human nature? Were the Saints, the most obedient of men, just slaves and degenerates? Finally, can you imagine social conditions in which Jesus Christ, if He returned to earth, would not give an example of obedience, and further, would no longer say: 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's'?" (Pope St. Pius X, "Our Apostolic Mandate")

"Christian liberty bears witness to the absolute and most just dominion of God over man, and to the chief and supreme duty of man toward God. It has nothing in common with a seditious and rebellious mind; and in no tittle derogates from obedience to public authority; for the right to command and to require obedience exists only so far as it is in accordance with the authority of God, and is within the measure that He has laid down. But when anything is commanded which is plainly at variance with the will of God, there is a wide departure from this divinely constituted order, and at the same time a direct conflict with divine authority; therefore, it is right not to obey." (Pope Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum", 1888)

"Can. 2331 § 1 Whoever pertinaciously does not obey the Roman Pontiff or a proper Ordinary or another [competent authority] legitimately precepting or prohibiting shall be punished with appropriate penalties, not excluding censures, according to the gravity of the fault. § 2 But those conspiring against the authority of the Roman Pontiff or his Legates or a proper Ordinary or against their legitimate mandates, and likewise those provoking their subjects to disobedience regarding same, are to be coerced with censures and other penalties; and if they are clerics, [they are deprived of] dignities, benefices, and other duties; [and they are deprived of] active and passive voice and office, if they are religious." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Therefore, warn your faithful that the very nature of human society obligates its members to obey its lawfully established authority; nothing in the precepts of the Lord on this subject, which are proclaimed in holy scripture, can be altered. For it is written: 'Be subject to every human institution for God's sake, to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him to punish wrongdoers and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right, you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Be as free men, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but be as servants of God' (I Pt. 2:13f). And again: 'Let ever soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, he who resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur their own condemnation' (Rom. 13:1f)." (Pope Pius IX, "Nostis et Nobiscum", 1849)

"The one only reason which men have for not obeying is when anything is demanded of them which is openly repugnant to the natural or the divine law, for it is equally unlawful to command to do anything in which the law of nature or the will of God is violated. If, therefore, it should happen to any one to be compelled to prefer one or the other, viz., to disregard either the commands of God or those of rulers, he must obey Jesus Christ, who commands us to 'give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's,' and must reply courageously after the example of the Apostles: 'We ought to obey God rather than men.' And yet there is no reason why those who so behave themselves should be accused of refusing obedience; for, if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, they themselves exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice; nor can their authority then be valid, which, when there is no justice, is null." (Pope Leo XIII, "Diuturnum", 1881)

"[T]here are two reasons, for which a subject may not be bound to obey his superior in all things. First on account of the command of a higher power. For as a gloss says on Romans 13:2, 'He that resisteth the power, resist the ordinance of God' (Saint Augustine, De Verbis Domini viii). 'If a commissioner issue an order, are you to comply, if it is contrary to the bidding of the proconsul? Again if the proconsul command one thing, and the emperor another, will you hesitate, to disregard the former and serve the latter? Therefore if the emperor commands one thing and God another, you must disregard the former and obey God.' Secondly, a subject is not bound to obey his superior if the latter command him to do something wherein he is not subject to him. For Seneca says (De Beneficiis iii): 'It is wrong to suppose that slavery falls upon the whole man: for the better part of him is excepted.' His body is subjected and assigned to his master but his soul is his own. Consequently in matters touching the internal movement of the will man is not bound to obey his fellow-man, but God alone." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"We are taught most clearly that the obedience which men are obliged to render to the authorities established by God is an absolute precept which no one can violate, except if by chance something is commanded which runs counter to the laws of God or of the Church. 'Let everyone' says the Apostle, 'be subject to higher authorities, for there exists no authority except from God, and those who exist have been appointed by God. Therefore he who resists the authority resists the ordination of God...wherefore you must needs be subject not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience sake' (Rom 13.1,2,5). Similarly St. Peter (1 Pt 2.13) teaches all the faithful: 'Be subject to every human creature for God's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to the governors sent through him ...' for (he says) such is the will of God, that by doing good you would silence the ignorance of foolish men.' By observing these admonitions the first Christians, even during the persecutions, deserved well of the Roman emperors themselves and of the security of the state. 'Christian soldiers,' says St. Augustine, 'served an infidel emperor: when it came to the subject of Christ, they recognized no one except Him who is in heaven. They distinguished between the eternal Lord and the temporal lord, but also were subject to the temporal lord because of the eternal Lord' (St. Aug. On Ps 124). The holy Fathers have always taught this doctrine. The Catholic Church has taught it and continues to teach it." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Cum Primum", 1832)

"Whence it will behoove citizens to submit themselves and to be obedient to rulers, as to God, not so much through fear of punishment as through respect for their majesty; nor for the sake of pleasing, but through conscience, as doing their duty. And by this means authority will remain far more firmly seated in its place. For the citizens, perceiving the force of this duty, would necessarily avoid dishonesty and contumacy, because they must be persuaded that they who resist State authority resist the divine will; that they who refuse honor to rulers refuse it to God Himself. This doctrine the Apostle Paul particularly inculcated on the Romans; to whom he wrote with so great authority and weight on the reverence to be entertained toward the higher powers, that it seems nothing could be prescribed more weightily: 'Let every soul be subject to higher powers, for there is no power but from God, and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist purchase to themselves damnation... wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake.' And in agreement with this is the celebrated declaration of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, on the same subject: 'Be ye subject, therefore, to every human creature for God's sake; whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors, as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good, for so is the will of God.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Diuturnum", 1881)

Also See: Obedience / Disobedience / Assent (Vatican View Reflections) | God's Laws | Catholic Citizens | Parents / Parenting | Primacy of Husband / Obedience of Wife | Obedience (Topical Scripture) | Priests & Vocations Section | Vatican View Section | Catholic Basics Section

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