There is a kind of obedience which concerns superiors and subjects, religious and lay people alike, and it is not the obedience of man to man but the obedience of man to God. This is the obedience which sustains and makes acceptable all other kinds of obedience, to parents, to civil and religious authorities, to rules and to “every human institution”. It is precisely in order to make this obedience to law and visible authority flourishing again that we must start from obedience to God and to his Word.
Obedience is not in fact renewed by law, but by grace; not by the letter, but by the Spirit. It is the Spirit – that is, Grace – which alone can give man both the command and the capacity to obey. “Law was given so that we may seek grace; grace was given so that we may observe the law”, says St. Augustine. It is therefore to the Spirit that we entrust ourselves, so that he may take us by the hand and guide us in our quest to rediscover the great secret of obedience.