Interior order before exterior order PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 July 2015 10:55



Keeping order has always been an abiding concern of ours. And especially now, when we are thrown into an increasingly complex and complicated world, we would really need to have a firm and solid hold on this virtue. Otherwise, we would just be lost in today’s maze, so marked with a lot of pressures, issues, need for multi-tasking, challenges, etc.

We just have to make sure, first of all, that in speaking of order, we need to have an objective basis. We just cannot be led in this by passing ideas of how this virtue should be, as in simply following our raw instincts, or some merely worldly values like efficiency and convenience, profitability and popularity, or some earthly concept of aesthetics, etc.

Our instincts and the worldly values can only give us some semblance of order, but they cannot bring us to our eternal  destination which is what this virtue of order in the end is for. Our instincts and the worldly values are in need of a deeper, more stable foundation that would put them oriented and on track toward our final goal in life.

And this objective basis of the virtue of order is none other than God who is our creator and the first and ultimate lawgiver. To him we should always have constant recourse, because as creator and lawgiver he is actually governing all his creation at all times through his providence. We should never forget this fundamental truth of our faith.

God is always in control of everything, no matter how much we mess up his work. As the Book of Ecclesiastes puts it: “All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…A time of love and a time of hatred. A time of war and a time of peace.” (3,1ff)

God knows what to do with any situation. He allows his creatures, especially us, to live according to their God-given nature, including the possibility of going against nature which of all the creatures, we, as free beings, are capable of doing. And in spite of that, God would still know in his wisdom, power and mercy, what to do.

God effectively orchestrates a kind of symphony out of his own creation.

Our virtue of order that necessarily involves also the virtue of prudence would require us to have an abiding and intimate relationship with God. That way, we would go along with God’s plans and ways. We, so to speak, would do our part in that great symphony God is conducting in his entire creation, hoping to avoid getting out of tune.

That is why when we talk about how to develop this crucial virtue, we need to realize more deeply that we have to take care, first of all, of our interior order before we worry about exterior order, material, temporal, social, cultural, political, etc.

Obviously, the priority we give to interior order over exterior order is in terms of the spiritual and moral dimension of our life. In the actual flow of life, we learn first some exterior order before we are aware of the need to take care of our interior order. But once we see the priority of interior order over the exterior, we need to change gear and give due attention to the former.

With interior order well taken care of, we would really know what is essential in life and would be properly guided when we are faced with apparently competing options that in themselves are good. We would know what to sacrifice for the sake of the greater good, or bluntly said, of what God wants in any given moment.

This interior order prevents us from getting rigid, although it will always make use of certain attitudes, practices and habits that would always be welcome anytime or most of the time. This can be the attitudes of always being prompt and making good use of time, avoiding idleness and laziness, or the practice of assigning specific places for specific items, or specific times for specific activities.

Still, the main motor of our sense of order is that intimate sensibility of following God’s will in any given moment. This will make our sense of order flexible, not frozen. This is, of course, a big challenge, since it will not be easy to be acquainted and abidingly familiar with God’s will and ways.

But that’s the big challenge which we have to face squarely. And the sooner we tackle it, the better for us.