Obedience to Divine Inspirations

January 5, 2022 • 4 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 438
By Venerable Louis of Granada

The third degree of obedience, as we have said, consists in fidelity to divine inspirations.

Good servants do not confine their obedience to the formal commands of their master, but promptly execute the least indication of his will. So should we act towards God.

This is a subject, however, in which we are exposed to grave illusions by mistaking the whisperings of self-love or the suggestions of the devil for divine inspirations.

Hence we must follow the counsel of St. John and “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God.” [1 St. John iv. 1.] We have for our guidance in this respect, besides Holy Scripture and the teaching of the Saints, this general rule:

The service of God embraces two kinds of acts, one of which is of our own choice, the other of obligation. However meritorious works of our own choice may be, we must always select what is of obligation in preference to them.

This is the teaching of the Holy Spirit: “Obedience is better than sacrifices.” [1 Sam. xv. 22.] God first requires of us the faithful fulfilment of His word. When our obedience in this respect is perfect we may follow the guidance of pious inspirations.

This fidelity to the word of God comprises,

  1. first, obedience to the commandments, without which there is no salvation;

  2. secondly, obedience to our lawful superiors, for the Apostle tell us, “he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God”; [Rom. xiii. 2.]

  3. thirdly, obedience to the laws of our state, whether it be the priesthood, religion, or marriage,

  4. and, fourthly, fidelity to practices which, though not of precept, greatly facilitate the observance of the commandments.

For example, if you find, by daily reflecting upon your faults and by asking God to inspire you with the most efficacious means of correcting them, that you lead a more regular life, that you acquire more control over your passions, and that your heart becomes more inclined to virtue; while, on the other hand, your neglect of these precautions weakens your virtue, throws you back into many failings, and exposes you to the danger of relapsing into former evil habits, you cannot doubt that God calls you to these pious exercises. Experience has taught you that they are the means which He has chosen to enable you to overcome your sins and to prevent you from committing them again. God does not, it is true, formally command these practices, but He strongly exhorts you to embrace them if you would faithfully fulfil what He does command.

Again, if you find that you are self-indulgent and opposed to everything which disturbs you, and that this love of comfort hinders your spiritual progress and leads you to neglect good works because they are laborious and painful, while you indulge in culpable actions because they are attractive and pleasant, you must conclude that God calls you to practise mortification and to overcome your appetite for pleasure by penance and austerities.

Examine all your propensities in this way, and you will easily discern what will be most profitable to you. Be always guided, however, in this respect, by the counsels of your superiors.

Thus we see that we are not always to choose what is best in itself, but what is best for us. Hence there are many excellent practices from which we would derive no advantage, either because they are above our strength or because God does not call us to embrace them. Then let us not soar above our state; let us aspire to what will strengthen us, not to what will overwhelm us. “Lift not up thy eyes to riches which thou canst not have,” says Holy Scripture, “because they shall make themselves wings like those of an eagle, and shall fly towards heaven.” [Prov. xxiii. 5.]

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