Oboedientia et Pax

Notes from two talks given at the Retreats of the Novices and the Memores Domini. Molveno, Italy, September 28, 2003; and Bellaria, Italy, October 12, 2003.
Luigi Giussani

Forgive me if I too break into your reflections with a reflection of my own, one that you have aroused, reawakened in me now. It is a phrase used by Cardinal Baronio, one of St Philip Neri’s favorite disciples, that St Philip approved and maintained in all his discussions: “Oboedientia et pax.” Baronio would go every day to put his head on the feet of the statue of St Peter in St Peter’s Church in Rome, and would repeat, Oboedientia et pax.

The meaning of this Latin phrase is worthy of note for all of you, even those who only have an elementary school education: “Oboedientia et pax.” But this obedience, from which flows a peace that is a desire–even when it is unconscious, it is a desire of man’s heart, always–this “obedience and peace” implies in any case a house to dwell in; it implies a condition of life through which it is made to pass; it implies something through which God reserves the right to penetrate your perception of life, your consciousness of living, maybe without your realizing it; indeed, always without your realizing it.

My wish for you is that your good will, which each of you certainly assumes today or in these days, may truly foster this invasion of peace, in peace, into your lives–an invasion that is fostered solely by that word, “obedience,” and by its content, which you will discover with time, just as I am discovering it now, after fifty years of life as a priest. “Oboedientia et pax.” Now I obey as I had never conceived before. My health, for example, as it goes its way towards the destiny that God assigns to me, is a synthesis of so many things that obedience makes worth noting day by day.
In any case, my best wishes. May obedience be peace experienced!
See you soon!
There is a detail that I would like to highlight, one that provides the cue for my talk. You have been told that one who loves is one who truly aids your destiny, who truly loves the mission of our life, who truly loves your vocation. Yes, it is true, God has chosen me as responsible for your vocation. This is a given fact that cannot leave anyone unmoved. I say this so that you may pray to Our Lady to help me in this great task that she has given me, that Her Son has given me, that Jesus has given me.
I do not know if, in the last meditation, a phrase was quoted that has been handed down to us by the history of the Church, Cardinal Baronio’s phrase, “Oboedientia et pax,” obedience and peace. Obedience to God is given by obedience to the one He has placed as responsible for your life.
He has placed me, He has called me, as responsible for your life–I repeat–with all my faults, with all the weaknesses I may have; but it is His strength, His strength that saves you. His strength returns to you as light on your path. His strength makes your steps sure–not the strength of men, but of God–along the road that He will point out to you through my words, through the cordiality of my heart. Any other solution is very doubtful–it does not avoid ambiguity, because someone can claim to love your destiny and your vocation, while he really loves himself, while he loves his forms of vocation, while he loves the whims of his heart as if they came straight from God.
Let us pray to the Lord, then, with a Glory be to St Joseph, patron of the holy Church, whom no one would ever have dared to think responsible for Christ, if it were not for the fact that he was placed, by Our Lady, as responsible for His life.
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
Sancte Joseph, ora pro nobis.
Protector Sanctae Ecclesiae, ora pro nobis.
Till we meet again. Thank you.