Obey with docility. —But intelligently too, with love and a sense of responsibility which has nothing to do with judging those who govern and direct you.
In the apostolate, obey without paying attention to the human qualities of whoever it is asks you to do something, or to the way he asks you. Otherwise it is no virtue at all.
There are many kinds of crosses: some have diamonds or pearls or emeralds on them, some are enamelled or made of ivory… But some are made of wood like Our Lord’s. All deserve the same veneration, for the Cross tells us about the sacrifice of God made Man. —Apply this consideration to your obedience, without forgetting that He embraced the Wood of the Cross lovingly, without hesitation! There he obtained our Redemption.
Only after obeying, which is a sign of rectitude of intention, may you make fraternal correction with the required conditions, and reinforce unity by fulfilling the duty in question.
We obey with our lips, our heart and our mind. —It is not a man who is being obeyed, but God.
You do not love obedience if you do not really love the command, if you do not really love what you have been asked to do.
Some pressing difficulties can be remedied immediately. Others, not so quickly. But they all are solved if we are faithful: if we obey, if we observe what has been laid down.
The Lord wants a definite apostolate from you, such as catching those one hundred and fifty-three big fish — not others — taken on the right-hand side of the boat.
And you ask me: How is it I know myself to be a fisher of men, can live in contact with many companions, and be able to distinguish to whom I should direct my specific apostolate, but still catch nobody? Is it Love that is lacking? Do I lack interior life?
Listen to the answer from Peter’s lips, on the occasion of that other miraculous draught: —“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
In the name of Jesus Christ, begin again. —And being strengthened, rid yourself of that indolence!
Obey without so much useless brooding… Showing sadness or reluctance when asked to do something is a very considerable fault. But just to feel like this is not only no fault, but can in fact be the opportunity for a great victory, for crowning an act of heroic virtue.
I have not invented this. Remember the Gospel tells us that a father asked his two sons to do the same job. And Jesus rejoices in the one who, despite raising difficulties, does it! He rejoices because discipline is the fruit of Love.
Most acts of disobedience come from not knowing how to listen to what it is you are being asked to do, which in the end shows a lack of humility or of interest in serving.
Do you want to obey fully? Well then, listen carefully so that you may understand the extent and the spirit of what is being pointed out to you; and if you do not understand something, ask.
When will you be convinced that you have to obey? And you disobey if, instead of fulfilling your plan of life, you waste your time. You have to fill every minute, with work, study, proselytism, interior life.
The Church, through care of the liturgy, makes us intuitively aware of the beauty of the mysteries of Religion and leads us to love them better. In a similar way, without being theatrical, we should behave with a politeness — which may even seem worldly — of deep respect — external as well — towards our director, through whose lips the Will of God is made known to us.
In governing, after considering the common good, one must realise that both in spiritual and in civil affairs it will be very rare for a law to displease nobody.
—There is a popular saying: The rain never pleases everybody! Yet you can be sure, that is not a defect of the law, but an unjustified rebelliousness of pride and selfishness by a few.
Order, authority, discipline… They listen, if they do at all, with cynical smiles, claiming that they — both men and women — are defending their freedom.
They are the very people who later pretend that we should respect their erring ways or adapt to them; with their scurrilous protests, they do not understand that their behaviour is not — it cannot be — accepted by the authentic freedom of the rest.
Those who direct spiritual tasks have to be concerned with all things human, so as to raise them to the supernatural order and make them godlike.
If they cannot be made godlike, do not be deceived: such “human” things are not human, they are “brutish”, inappropriate for a rational creature.
Authority. This does not consist in the one above yelling at the one below, and he in turn to the one further down.
In such a way of behaving — a caricature of authority — apart from an evident lack of charity and of decent human standards, all that is achieved is that the one at the top becomes isolated from those who are governed, because he does not serve them. Rather it could be said that he uses them!
Don’t be one of those who let their own homes be badly managed but attempt to meddle in the management of other people’s.
But… do you really think you know it all just because you have been placed in authority?
—Listen carefully: the good ruler knows that he can, that he should, learn from others.
Freedom of conscience: no! How many evils this lamentable error, which permits actions against the dictates that lie deepest in oneself, has brought about in nations and individuals.
Freedom “of consciences”, yes: for it means the duty to follow that interior command… ah, but after receiving a serious formation!
To govern is not to mortify others.
Occupying as you do a post of government, would you meditate on this: the strongest and most effective instruments, if they are not properly used, become dented, worn out and useless.
Decisions of governance taken lightly or by someone on his own are always, or nearly always, influenced by a one-sided view of the problems.
—However good your training or talents might be, you must listen to those who share with you that task of direction.
Never listen to anonymous accusations: it is the way villains behave.
A principle of good governance: take human material as it is and help it to improve while never despising it.
I think it is very good that you should try daily to increase the depth of your concern for those under you. For to feel surrounded and protected by the affectionate understanding of the one in charge, can be the effective help which is needed by the people you have to serve by means of your governance.
How sad it is to see some people in positions of authority speaking and making judgements lightly, without studying the matter in hand. They make hard statements about persons or matters they know nothing about, even permitting certain prejudices which are the result of disloyalty!
If authority becomes dictatorial authoritarianism, and this situation is extended in time, historical continuity is lost. Those who govern die or become old. People without experience in government become mature in age, and the inexperienced and excitable young want to grab hold of the reins. How many evils and how many offences against God — their own and those of others — are to be blamed on the ones who abuse authority so badly!
When he who commands is negative and distrustful, he will easily become tyrannical.
Try to be properly objective in your work of governance. Avoid the inclination common to those who tend to see rather — and sometimes only — what is not going well, the mistakes.
—Be filled with joy and be assured that the Lord has granted to all the capacity to become holy precisely by fighting against their own defects.
Eagerness for novelty can lead to mismanagement.
—You say we need a new set of rules… But do you think the human body would be better with a different system of nerves and arteries?
How determined some are to turn people into a mass! They turn unity into amorphous uniformity and drown freedom.
They seem to know nothing of the remarkable unity of the human body, which presents such a God-given variety in its members. Each one has its own function, yet contributes to the general health of the whole.
—God does not want us all to be the same or to walk alike along exactly the same road.
People have to be taught how to work, but their training need not be overdone, for actually doing things is a way of learning too. They should accept in advance their unavoidable shortcomings: the best is the enemy of the good.
Never put your trust in organisation alone.
The good shepherd does not need to fill the sheep with fear. Such behaviour befits bad rulers, and no one is very much surprised if they end up hated and alone.
Governing often consists in knowing how to draw good out of people, with patience and affection.
Good governance knows how to be flexible when necessary, without falling into the mistake of not asking enough of people.
“As long as they don’t make me sin!” said that poor man bravely when he had been almost ruined, in his private life and in his earthly and Christian ambitions, by powerful enemies.
—Meditate on this and learn to say: “As long as they don’t make me sin!”
Not all citizens form part of the regular army. But in time of war everybody plays a part. And Our Lord said: “I have not come to bring peace, but war.”
“I was a guerrilla fighter,” he wrote, “and I moved around the hills, shooting whenever I wanted. But I thought I had better become a soldier, because I realised that wars are won more easily by organised armies and well-disciplined armies. A poor guerrilla fighter on his own cannot take whole cities, or conquer the world. I hung up my old musket — it was so out of date! — and now I am better armed. At the same time, I know that I can no longer lie down in the hills, under the shade of a tree, and dream about winning the war all on my own.”
—Blessed be the discipline and blessed be the unity of our Holy Mother the Church!
I would say to many rebel Catholics that they fail in their duty if, instead of accepting the discipline and obedience due to lawful authority, they become a party, a small faction, worms of dissension, conspirators and gossips, promoters of stupid personal squabbles, weavers of a mesh of petty envies and difficulties.
A gentle wind is not the same as a hurricane. Anyone can resist the first: it is child’s play, a parody of struggle.
—Gladly you bore small contradictions, shortages and little urgent problems. And you enjoyed the interior peace of thinking: now I am really working for God, because here we have the Cross!…
But now, my poor son, the hurricane has come, and you feel you are being shaken by a force that could uproot century-old trees. You feel this from without and within. But you must remain confident, for your Faith and your Love cannot be uprooted, nor can you be blown from your way… if you remain with the “head”, if you maintain unity.
How easily you leave the plan of life unfulfilled, or do things so badly that it is worse than not doing them at all. —Is that the way you mean to fall in love more each day with your way, and to pass on this love later to others?
Aspire to have no more than one right: that of fulfilling your duty.
Is the burden heavy? No, a thousand times no! Those obligations which you freely accepted are wings that raise you high above the vile mud of your passions.
Do the birds feel the weight of their wings? If you were to cut them off and put them on the scales you would see that theyare heavy. But can a bird fly if they are taken away from it? It needs those wings and it does not notice their weight, for they lift it up above other creatures.
—Your “wings” are heavy too! But if you did not have them you would fall into the filthiest mire.
“Mary kept all these things in her heart.”
Discipline does not seem at all heavy when it goes together with a clean and sincere love. Even if it costs you a lot, it unites you to the Loved One.