Is ʻwithholding obedienceʻ ever acceptable?

Being obedient to Authority IS , after all, a VERY Catholic thing! However, there are situations wherein obedience can be and sometimes ʻoughtʻ to be withheld. . .

St. Thomas defines Law as "an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated" (STh., I-II q.90 a.4 resp) From that definition we can clearly see that a truly BINDING law must be

1) reasonable
2) for the common good
3) come from a legitimate superior
4) must be properly promulgated

He also addresses the question of  "Whether Subjects are Bound to Obey Their Superiors in All Things?" (STh., II-II q.104 a.5) In that article St. Thomas clearly points out that we have the right to withhold obedience if the lawful authority is

1) acting outside his sphere of authority
2) acting contrary to the will of a legitimate higher authority (God included)
3) if his command is unjust

From those two articles we can summarize that we are allowed to withhold obedience in the following circumstances

1) If the command is contrary to the eternal law of God
2) If it is contrary to the will of some higher human authority
3) If the superior is acting outside his sphere of authority
4) If the command is unjust, that is: not conducive to the common good, unreasonable or not properly promulgated

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons. St. Thomas Aquinas. 1476 
(My summary post was masterfully presented by the late Mr. Michael Davies in 1983 in a lecture)
(His lecture and other lectures can be found at

The Biblical Basis of the parts of the Holy Mass (6 of 7)

OFFERTORY. 2 Pt 1:3; Ph 4:18

PRAYER. Ps 140:2–4

THE LAVABO. Ps 25:6–10

Reference made to
1. The Passion of our Lord. Mt 27:1
2. His Resurrection. Mt 28:1
3. His Ascension. Lu 24:51

Is 6:3; Mt 21:9; Mt 21:9.

(Saints invoked.)
1. The Blessed Virgin. Lu 1:27
2. St. Peter. Mt 4:18
3. St. Paul Ro 1:1
4. St. Andrew. Mt 10:2
5. St. James. Mt 10:3
6. St. John. Mt 10:3
7. St. Thomas. Mt 10:3
8. St. James. Mt 10:3
9. St. Philip. Mt 10:3
10. St. Bartholomew. Mt 10:3
11. St. Matthew. Mt 10:3
12. St. Simon. Mt 10:4
13. St. Thaddeus. Mt 10:3
14. St. Linus. 2 Ti 4:21
15. St. Clement. Ph 4:3

CONSECRATION.Mt 26:26; Lu 22:20; Mt 26:27–28. [The Mystery of Faith.—1 Ti 3:9.]

AFTER THE CONSECRATION.Reference made to the Sacrifices of
1. Abel. Ge 4:4
2. Abraham. Ge 22:1
3. Melchisedech. Ge 14:18

In which is mentioned
1. St. John. Ap 1:1
2. St. Stephen. Ac 6:8
3. St. Matthias. Ac 1:26
4. St. Barnabas. Ac 13:2
By reference. Ro 11:36

(Post 6 of 7)

See all 7 posts here: Part 1 Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7
image via Creative Commons License . Consecration at Solemn Pontifical Mass by Jim the Photographer
Source of Scripture references: ʻThe Divine Armory of Holy Scriptureʻ Vaughan, K. (1894)

The Biblical Basis of the parts of the Holy Mass (5 of 7)

1. I believe in One God, He 11:6 The Father 1 C 8:6 Almighty, Ap 1:8 Maker of heaven and earth, Ex 20:11 And of all things visible and invisible. Je 32:17

2. And in One Lord Ac 10:36 Jesus Mt 1:21 Christ, Jn 4:25 Then Only-Begotten Son of God, Jn 1:14 Born of the Father, before all ages; 1 Jn 4:9 God of God, Light of Light Jn 1:4 True God of true God, Jn 5:18 Begotten, not made, Jn 8:58 Consubstantial with the Father, Jn 10:30 By Whom all things were made. Jn 1:3

3. Who for us men and for our salvation Mt 1:21 Came down from Heaven, Jn 3:31 And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost Lu 1:35 Of the Virgin Mary, Lu 2:6–7 And was made man. Jn 1:14

4. He was crucified also for us; Mk 15:25 Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Mt 27:26 And was buried. Mt 27:60

5. The third day He rose again Mt 28:6 According to the Scriptures. 1 C 15:4

6. And ascended into Heaven, Lu 24:51 Sitteth at the right hand of the Father. Mk 16:19

7. And He shall come again with glory Mt 25:31 To judge both the living and the dead; 2 Ti 4:1 Of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. Lu 1:33

8. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, Jn 14:26 The Lord (Compare with Ac 28:25), Is 6:8 Giver of Life, Ro 8:2 Who proceedeth from the Father Jn 15:26 And the Son. Ro 8:9 Who, together with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified. Ap 4:8 Who spake by the Prophets. 2 Pt 1:21

9. And in One Jn 10:16 Holy Ep 5:26 Catholic Ro 10:18 Apostolic Church. Ep 2:20

10. I Confess one Baptism Ep 4:5 For the remission of sins. Ac 2:38

11. And I look for the Resurrection of the dead. Ro 6:5

12. And the Life of the world to come. Mt 25:34

* The next post in this series will cover the biblical basis of the 'Offertory until the Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus'

(Post 5 of 7)

See all 7 posts here: Part 1 Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7
image via wikipaintings in the Public Domain. Mass of St John of Mathaa
Source of Scripture references: ʻThe Divine Armory of Holy Scriptureʻ Vaughan, K. (1894)

St. Augustine on the Churchʻs Authoritative Interpretation of Revelation

"For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church." - St. Augustine, Contra epistolam Manichaei, 5, 6: PL 42, 176

(A note in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers collection says that this statement is "one of the earliest distinct assertions of the dependence of the Scriptures for authority on the Church") 

What are the ʻEvangelical Counsels'?

Those who enter the consecrated life (Religious brothers and sisters) make a public religious vow declaring their desire to seek a ʻmore intimate' consecration to Christ. This vow includes the profession of the ʻEvangelical Counsels' (cf. CCC 914 - 916)

The ʻEvangelical Counsels', or Counsels of the Gospel, are three:"Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. They have been recommended by Christ in particular as means of perfection. By voluntary poverty, the right of possession and free disposal of property is renounced. Perfect chastity, which voluntarily renounces not only unlawful pleasures but even the married life, is recommended by our Lord in the following words: “There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it” (Matt. 19:12). Perfect obedienceunder a spiritual superior has for its object the perfect regulation of such actions as of themselves are not prescribed and regulated by any law. By such obedience our will is not only preserved from transgressions and forced to the performance of many acts of self-sacrifice, but also, by the fact of being subjected to the will of God’s representative on earth, it is wholly conformed with the divine will." (Thein, J. (1900). In Ecclesiastical Dictionary)

St. Thomas Aquinas explains how these councils, though not necessary for salvation, are means to perfection

"Secondarily and instrumentally, however, perfection consists in the observance of the counsels, all of which, like the commandments, are directed to charity; yet not in the same way. For the commandments, other than the precepts of charity, are directed to the removal of things contrary to charity, with which, namely, charity is incompatible, whereas the counsels are directed to the removal of things that hinder the act of charity, and yet are not contrary to charity, such as marriage, the occupation of worldly business, and so forth. Hence Augustine says (Enchir. cxxi.): Whatever things God commands, for instance, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ and whatever are not commanded, yet suggested by a special counsel, for instance, ‘It is good for a man not to touch a woman,’ are then done aright when they are referred to the love of God, and of our neighbour for God’s sake, both in this world and in the world to come. Hence it is that in the Conferences of the Fathers (Coll.i., cap. vii.) the abbot Moses says: Fastings, watchings, meditating on the Scriptures, penury and loss of all one’s wealth, these are not perfection but means to perfection, since not in them does the school of perfection find its end, but through them it achieves its end, and he had already said that we endeavour to ascend by these steps to the perfection of charity." (STh., II-II q.184 a.3)

image via wikipaintings in the Public Domain. Nuns convent of the Sacred Heart in Rome

Encouragement from St. Thomas More

“The times are never so bad that a good man cannot live in them.” - St. Thomas More

image via wikimedia commons in the Public Domain. St. Thomas More

Even the punished were allowed meat & wine on Sundays!

It was a custom in some ages of the Church to hand down, as punishment, a restriction on eating meat and drinking wine. However, this punishment was often lifted on Sundays. At the council of Tribur in 895, lead by several Archbishops under Pope Sergius, it was declared as a penance that the: "penitent might not eat meat nor drink wine, except on Sundays and festivals.

(Landon, E. H. (1909). In A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church. Edinburgh: John Grant.)

image via wikipaintings in the Public Domain. The Council

Lenten Journey: Hang in there! (Rules of Matthew 6:16-18)

"And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee." 

image via wikipaintings in the Public Domain. Still Life: Fast Day Menu