Discernment on Obedience
An item titled, 'Obedience - A better offering than Fasting' by Fr John Abberton was sent to the TLIG forum mailing list on(October 22, 2001.) It referred to the difficulties being experienced by Ana Lizarralde with her bishop in Uruguay.
Copied below, is a response from Vassula to Fr John's letter.
Dear Fr. John,
I read your letter regarding Ana's case. There are a few things I would like to understand, certain things you said, and forgive me if I will contradict part of your letter.
The bishop, as you said, is not acting in accordance with Cardinal Ratzinger and is not following the correct rule of Canon Law and is therefore not in union with the Pope in that issue. In other words he is in total disobedience. Wouldn't you be disobeying the Church, Pope and God's Will if you listened and became collaborator to an anarchist who made his own rules to dictate to people?
When you said that you knew of no saint who 'disobeyed' her superior, am I wrong if I say that St Joan of Arc was known not to have listened to or obeyed her bishop Cauchon? She listened to God's voice alone and paid no heed to what her bishop was ordering her to do. She accomplished her mission successfully.
In reading a small booklet Mother Tekla gave me from the Birgittine sisters on Saint Birgitta of Sweden, I read the following on p. 34 & 78 in the book called 'The Mother of God and Saint Birgitta', published by the Vatican Polyglot press 1983: "For the sake of obedience, it is better to surrender ones own will even if it is good and obey that of a superior UNLESS it is harmful to the salvation of the soul or in some other way unreasonable." Next, about a priest: "He should humbly obey his superior in everything THAT IS NOT CONTRARY to God."
The virtue of obedience needs discernment and a great deal of interior light to assess it to see if what is demanded comes from God and is in accordance with God's Will. If what is ordered by a superior or bishop is not according to the teachings of the Church and not according to the rules of Canon Law and mainly not according to God's Divine Will, according to Our Lady (who spoke to St. Birgitta) am I wrong if I say that one should not obey just for the sake of saying you obeyed? One needs shrewdness because, correct me if I am wrong, if this bishop or superior breaks the divine law and Will of God, then what he does is contrary to God's Will. He is the one who is disobeying and in this case is enlivening something that is dead and abolished, and that is the Index. To me, this bishop has made his own rules and canon laws. If, (I take this as an extreme example) the bishop tells Ana to go and hang herself next time, should she listen to something that is against God's rules and kill herself? How would you advise her there?
If the Church teaches us to be good Christians and encourages us laity to evangelize and pray, and then you have a bishop who dashes in and tells you that your prayer group should be dissolved, should one obey?
It is true that a Christian, as you say, must read the Scriptures and listen to the teaching authority of the Church. So we should listen to what Scriptures say in Acts 4, 18-20: "So they called them in and gave them a warning on no account to make statements or to teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John retorted, 'You must judge whether in God's eyes it is right to listen to you and not to God. We cannot promise to stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard' " Then this, Acts 5, 29: "obedience to God comes before obedience to men." Has it occurred to you that the reaction of that bishop is very much in the way freemasons behave and that he most likely might be one and an enemy of the Church?
What can one say as well on Mt. 12, 1-8? Especially the words of Christ: "What I want is mercy, not sacrifice." To me it looks like Ana sacrificed a lot and one should ask: "Has this act pleased Jesus?"
Again, forgive me for challenging you and I will appreciate you answer me and correct me where I am wrong.
In God's love,