In today's First Reading, Old Testament image of the Israeli prophets of Baal hopping around and slashing themselves until they were covered in blood is so ridiculous it’s laughable. But, let’s take heed—this is exactly what disobedience before the Lord does to you: it makes you a hopping fool.
Obedience as a virtue has long since fallen out of fashion. We have replaced it with rebellion. And properly exercised, rebellion is a virtue. But it’s awfully easy to mistake my willfulness and sin for a stylish kind of insurrection. (Think Ethel Merman belting out “I’ve gotta be me!”)
In recent months, I have been researching women for a new book on holy women and virtue and have been privileged to get to know Anne de Guigné (1911–1922), a child whose practice of obedience was so heroic, her cause for beatification has been opened. You will not regret getting to know her, especially if you have little people underfoot in your household.
Anne began as “the little tyrant.” She was beyond precocious, jealous of her younger siblings, bossy, and often impressively naughty. But when her father was killed in World War I, Anne was so moved to see her mother grieving that she experienced a radical internal shift. She was not even five years old yet, but she fell in love with Jesus so profoundly and so convincingly at that moment that her life became a testimony to Saint John’s verse: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
A deep and delightful soul, Anne had an unusual sense of the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and received her First Holy Communion at age six. On that day, she wrote, “My Jesus, I love You, and to please You, I resolve to obey You always.” She loved to pray for the conversion of the most intractable sinners and took on “cases” like a little spiritual doctor. Many extraordinary conversions and healings have been attributed to her intercession.
Rebel all you like against unjust laws, corruption, and the evil that threatens your soul. But take a beat from Venerable Anne and check your heart. Is it run by the little tyrant or the Little Lamb of God?