Be grateful for the gift of obedience

By Zoe Cannon

Gratitude for the Gift of Faith

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).

The words obedience and authority are sometimes looked upon negatively in our culture. I have thought a lot about these two words during the past few months. We have been put in a position to submit to government decisions and trust science experts because of a virus!

This unprecedented pandemic showed up complete with conspiracy theories, problematic cancellations, isolation and fear – all valid concerns. As we were beginning the ninth week of the quarantine, I tuned in to a live-streamed morning Mass celebrated by Father Tony Ernst in the Crypt of the St. Francis Xavier Minor Basilica in Vincennes. His homily reminded me to view obedience with prayer as the saints did. St Francis De Sales said, “The Devil doesn’t fear austerity but holy obedience.”

Father Tony shared a message from St. Teresa of Avila, who believed one gets closer to God through obedience than through prayer! Seven years ago, I purchased a copy of the “Interior Castle,” written by St Teresa of Avila. The book is very challenging; and every time I reread this valuable guide, I learn something new about spiritual life! In her treatise, she reminds the reader that the Our Father prayer leads to the fount of living waters. She describes how the soul feels when it drinks living water. She tells us that God alone can satisfy, and He takes away our thirst for earthly things. This amazing Doctor of the Church provides wonderful imagery of the mystery of the human person, describing how the soul truly seeks perfect union with God.

For weeks we have been obedient to the latest government and Church guidelines, watching news reports about the pandemic, following live-streamed Masses and living in required isolation. I am grateful for the reminder Father Tony shared on that Monday morning. I believe God calls each of us to be attentive to the witness of saintly people, the ones who knew the true meaning of suffering. As we move forward in a world divided by disinformation and the reality of a very contagious disease, pray for wisdom from God, only then will we find truth, peace and healing.

I took our grandsons to our church parking lot one morning to pray. We created some “chalk art” for Good Shepherd Sunday weekend. When we arrived, the 6-year-old exited the car and shouted, “I miss coming to church!” He explained that when he goes to Mass, where he is able to join his family in a pew, he knows when to kneel, sit and stand; he knows how to sing and respond when the music plays; and he knows to look up at the altar when the bells ring during the Consecration. He said, “When I watch the Mass on the computer at home I get in trouble because I lay on the floor or couch, and don’t pay close attention.” The understanding of the “True Presence” is not lost on children! Prayer and obedience are companions; good communication and rules are meant to help us! The Authority blessed by God keeps us safe, in fact, it is liberating!

In the midst of all the changes in our lives please remember to pray for the priests who will soon be moving to new parishes. Obedience to their Bishop for the purpose of strengthening our Church is necessary; but transitions are not always easy, especially during a global pandemic with social distancing. The human person was created to interact with human touch. The soul, as St. Teresa shared, desires to seek perfect union with God. To achieve both requires trust in Our Heavenly Father who created us in His image and likeness. Through our prayer and obedience, we will live with Him forever! Amen!