Doing Our Duty

August 26, 2013

St. John of Matha Celebrating Mass by Juan Carreno de Miranda, 1666

St. John of Matha Celebrating Mass by Juan Carreno de Miranda, 1666

A fellow blogger inspired this post when she wrote about her frustrations with Holy Days of Obligation being celebrated during the week, which necessitates our attending Mass according to Church law. Many people feel that way, some to the extent that they skip Mass, but not so this blogger who went because it was her duty to go whether she liked it or not.

Life is like that. We all have duties, some of which become outright oppressive at times. Who hasn’t been tempted to shirk them at home, at work, or church? The concupiscence of our human nature is constantly at war with our spirit which urges us on to the noble acts required by our status as children of God. Fulfillment of all of our duties according to our state in life and its attendant obligations is a virtuous act of filial piety, something we tend to rebel against now and then. Filial piety flows into devotion, which St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, is “the will to do promptly all that pertains to the service of God.”

Since we are speaking specifically about attending Mass, how does God view the person who kicks himself out of bed, rearranges his schedule to accommodate an act of the virtue of religion, takes into account the coordination of family members’ schedules plus work, etc. while groaning all the way? To quote from Divine Intimacy, meditation #282,

St. Thomas teaches that devotion is an act of the will, that this act can very well exist in spite of aridity, coldness, repugnance, and even rebellion in the inferior part of the soul. St. Paul himself, although raised to the third heaven, was still not entirely free from these miseries, and confessed: “I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man: but I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind” (Rom. 7:22-23). Now as St. Paul – in spite of this resistance in the sensible part of his soul – was not deprived of true piety and true devotion, so neither is the soul deprived of them if it remains firm in the decision of its will to give itself promptly to God’s service, in spite of everything.

Devotion, which is derived from the Latin word devoveo means precisely consecration to the divinity; and the soul gives itself entirely to God, not by bursts of enthusiasm in its feelings, but by an act of the will. Furthermore, when devotion is deprived of relish for the things of God, “it has a double worth, because the soul both fulfills its duty and governs its sensitive appetite by a strong act of the will” (Ven. John of Jesus Mary).

Considering this, the very fact that we fulfill our duties to God in spite of feeling aggravated, irritated, frustrated, rebellious, or angry is a sign that our spirit is overcoming the flesh. We are strengthening our will and the virtues of filial piety and devotion. If we want to broaden the subject to our entire life, if we make the morning offering every day everything we do is sanctified regardless of the mood we’re in. We have bowed our stiff necks to the Lord and advanced one more step along the narrow way.

To be able to do our duty with a spirit of surrender to God’s will and with joy is a process. We don’t get there over night, and, in fact, our battle is never ending until the moment of death although we do make progress along the way. This is all part of fighting the good fight and winning the race (1 Tim. 6:12; 1 Cor. 9:24). Let us thank God then for the opportunities He gives us to improve our spiritual athleticism so that we will one day meet Him at the finish line.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Monday, August 26th, 2013 spirituality

8 Comments to Doing Our Duty

  1. Great article.
    I, being a convert, was actually disappointed that the American bishops decided to take some of the holy days of obligation. I just loved the thought of the obligation to go to Mass during the week, keeping God first before all things. So instead, I needed to surrender to the “new way!”
    colleenmae recently posted..Light in the Darkness: Out of Gas

  2. colleenmae on August 26th, 2013
  3. When I was growing up in the 40s and 50s Epiphany was a holy day of obligation as was Corpus Christi and the Ascension. Personally, I think the American bishops caved into modernity by moving some feasts to Sundays and cancelling out others. Part of the new evangelization ought to be a restoration of these days on their proper day. As a convert, you have a stronger sense of the Faith than many Catholics, even of my generation.

  4. barb on August 26th, 2013
  5. motherofnine9 on August 26th, 2013
  6. Melanie, thanks for the honor. God bless you.

  7. barb on August 26th, 2013
  8. This is a great post Barbara.

    I think we should be asking WHY some people do not wish (want) to attend Mass when it is mid-week, as you suggest. I feel the reason (or part of it) is that attendance is seen as an obligation, a duty, a major sin if not carried out. It is viewed by the Church (and congregation) as a stick to beat the parishioners with. Instead, I feel the Church should teach that if we TRULY (I repeat … TRULY) love God, we would be glad to attend Mass, daily even not just on obligation days. We would be happy to say morning and evening prayers and in between too.

    Sadly some priests I know celebrate Mass as a routine job they do day in day out. Gone is the JOY of being with God, receiving God in Communion, and wanting to be there at Mass and with God.

    Instead of revatilising the Church the Bishops (here in the UK) have moved some obligation days to Sundays or made then non-obligation. Teaching in sermons is rarely heard. It’s just a few nice words before we move on with celebrating the rest of the Mass.

    Sorry to moan Barbara. I feel we need real passion and enthusiasm from our priests to revive the sleepy congragations who know not what to believe any more.

    God bless you.
    Victor S E Moubarak recently posted..Global Warming Gertrude

  9. Victor S E Moubarak on September 1st, 2013
  10. Same here, Victor. Sticks only work for awhile. Conversion of heart is what we all need.

  11. barb on September 1st, 2013
  12. when devotion is deprived of relish for the things of God, “it has a double worth, […] a sign that our spirit is overcoming the flesh.

    Are you sure? It would be nice to think so, personally.

  13. Moonshadow on September 8th, 2013
  14. Yes, I’m sure. Aridity deprives us of relish but if we keep on doing the right thing, our spirit is keeping our concupiscence (the flesh) from ruling.

  15. barb on September 9th, 2013


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