Life & Soul

Obedience to God is the path to happiness


While in the traditional Roman calendar the last Sunday of October is dedicated to Christ the King, not merely in the summation of all things at the end but even now over all temporal realms, in the Novus Ordo it is the 30th, and Ordinary. Let’s see its Collect:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, da nobis fidei spei et caritatis augmentum, et ut mereamur assequi quod promittis, fac nos amare quod praecipis. 

The current ICEL translation (2011): “Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise.”

This Sunday Father asks God to increase in us the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, bestowed on us in baptism.

The German writer Josef Pieper (d 1997) wrote that the supernatural virtuous life can be described as having three main currents. First, we have some knowledge of God surpassing what we can know about Him naturally because He reveals it to us (faith). Second, we live in the patient expectation that what we learn and believe God promises will indeed be fulfilled (hope). Third, we make an affirmative response of love of God, whom we have come to know by faith, and also love of our neighbour (charity).

The theological virtues can be considered individually, but they are intimately woven together. St Augustine (d 430) says: “There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither love nor hope without faith” (enchir 8).

The goal of the virtuous life is to become like God (CCC 1803). We are all called to be saints. Hence, Father also prays that we will love what God wills.

Doing what another commands is not always pleasant. Our will and passions rebel. We want to command rather than be commanded. “The lust of rule”, libido dominandi, as the late Fr Richard John Neuhaus (d 2009) put it, shouts “My way or no way!” Frank Sinatra got it wrong.

Speaking of God’s will, holy souls, on earth as in heaven, desire only what God wants for them.

During our lives, if we try, we can discern something of what God wills for us. When we obey Him we act in accordance with the way He made us and what He intends for us to do. Even amid the vicissitudes of this troubling and passing world, we find happiness and peace in obedience to God and His Church.