The Sinner's Guide
Ven. Louis of Granada
With Imprimi Potest and Imprimatur
TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC.
Ch 43. The Obligations of our State
We shall here briefly consider the importance of fidelity to the duties of our state, which vary according to our position. The duties of one who governs, for example, are very different from those of one in subjection; the duties of a religious are very different from those of the father of a family.
According to the Apostle, those who govern must be vigilant in labor and in all things. (Cf. 2 Tim. 4:5). This watchfulness is generally proportioned to the value of the object and to the danger which surrounds it. Now, there is nothing of greater value, and at the same time nothing more exposed to danger, than a soul. Consequently nothing requires greater vigilance than the care which must be bestowed by one who is charged with so important a trust.
The principal duty of a subordinate is to behold God in his superiors and to pay them prompt and entire obedience. If a monarch order me to obey his minister, do I not obey the monarch by obeying the minister? In like manner, when God orders me to obey my superiors do I not obey Him by submitting to them? This is the teaching of St. Paul: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your lords, as to Christ." (Ephes. 6:5).
There are three degrees in this virtue. The first consists in simply doing what we are commanded, the second in doing it willingly, and the third in submitting our judgment to that of our superiors by "bringing into captivity our understanding unto the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5). Many fulfill the commands of a superior, but with reluctance, Others obey, but murmur and disapprove the command. Others, in fine, cheerfully obey and heartily approve whatever order they receive.
Endeavor that such may be your obedience, bearing in mind the words of Our Saviour: "He that heareth you heareth me, and he that despiseth you despiseth me." (Lk. 10:16). Refrain from all murmuring against superiors, that you may not deserve the reproach addressed by Moses to the Israelites: "Your murmuring is not against us, but against the Lord." (Exod. 16:8). Beware of despising those in authority, lest God should say to them, as He did to Samuel: "They have not rejected thee, but me, that I should not reign over them." (1 Kg. 8:7). Serve them with truth and sincerity, that you may never hear the terrible words of the Apostle: "Thou hast not lied to men, but to God" (Acts 5:4), and that you may never incur the malediction which fell upon Ananias and Saphira for their duplicity.
Let married women faithfully acquit themselves of the duties of their household, discharging all their obligations to their husband and children, that they may thus be free to attend to practices of piety without neglecting what they owe their family. That would be a worthless devotion which would occupy the time which should be given to domestic affairs.
Let fathers of families reflect upon the terrible affliction which the high priest Heli drew upon himself by neglecting to chastise his children. Sudden death came upon himself and his sons, and the priesthood was withdrawn from his family forever. (Cf. 1 Kg. 4). As the sins of children are to a certain degree attributable to parents, the perdition of a child not infrequently involves the condemnation of the parents. How can he be called a true father who, having begotten his son for this world, fails to train him for the kingdom of Heaven? Therefore, advise and correct your children. Guard them from evil associates. Give them wise and virtuous masters. Teach them to love virtue, and let them, like Tobias, be inspired from their infancy with the fear of God. (Cf. Tob. 2:13).
Do not gratify their whims, but curb their wills that they may become truly submissive. Be no less solicitous in providing for their spiritual than their corporal wants; for it is unreasonable to suppose that the duty of parents extends no further than that of birds and beasts, whose only care is to feed and nourish their young. Fulfill the duties of a father in a manner becoming a Christian, a true servant of God, and thus you will bring up your children heirs to Heaven, and not slaves of Hell.
Heads of families with servants to govern should bear in mind these words of the Apostle: "If any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." (1Tim. 5:8). The members of their household form the sheep of the flock which has been confided to them, and for which they must one day render an account. Precious are they in the sight of the Lord, because they have been redeemed by the Passion of His Divine Son, through whose Blood every human being has received a nobility higher than all the honors of earth.
A good master, therefore, will carefully endeavor to abolish among his servants all public vices, such as quarreling, gambling, swearing, and especially sins of impurity. He will see that they are instructed in the principles of their faith, and that they are enabled to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, particularly the precepts to hear Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, and to keep the fasts and abstinence prescribed by the Church, unless they are lawfully dispensed or excused.