Order is to have a place for everything and everything in its place." Most people have probably heard this old adage, or some variation, whether as a toddler being led to the toy chest or as a teenager sent back to clear a cluttered bedroom. And most of us would agree with the wisdom it contains as we struggle to keep a desk or a den reasonably tidy. ORDER in the realm of external things is restful as well as helpful. St. Thomas Aquinas goes so far as to say that Peace is the tranquility of ORDER.
But beyond neat work spaces and well-organized cupboards, there is need for ORDER in the realm of the spirit, ORDER which touches on the divine. When God created the universe, He made ORDER out of chaos. Everything DID have a place in God's plan and, before sin arrived on the scene, everything WAS in its right place, offering the Creator praise and homage by its simply being in that divinely ordained good ORDER.
The great disorder which is sin disrupts the serene unfolding of God's plan for creation, especially for the human family. But God, the great Maker of good ORDER, would not allow His creation to fall into ruin. In His mercy, He sent His Only Begotten Son to redeem the human race and to show it the path to take to reach its ultimate destiny.
Jesus taught the lessons of divine ORDER in simple, tangible terms: the two great commandments, the one thing necessary. He told us what to seek first and emphasized the need to give to God what is God's. The whole of our Lord's earthly life was a continual act of homage to His Father and the unfolding of His divinely ordered plan for salvation. Christ's OBEDIENCE, even unto death, showed so clearly the value He placed on submitting to God's good ordering of things, not out of servile constraint but out of filial love.
St. Francis of Assisi had an intuitive grasp of the need for good ORDER in the spiritual life. Enlighten the darkness of my heart; he prayed at the beginning of his conversion, that I may carry out Your holy and true command. And as his life drew to a close, he prayed. May we be able to follow in the footprints of Your beloved Son and, by Your grace alone, may we make our way to You. In between, the Little Poor Man offered a radiant witness of what happens when someone strives for good interior ORDER through the practice of an OBEDIENCE rooted in faith and freedom.
By seeking first the kingdom of God, Francis made the happy discovery that everything else he needed really was given as well. Observing the two great commandments — love of God and love of neighbor — gave him a reliable standard by which to measure his words and actions. Choosing, again and again, the one thing necessary kept the right ORDER in his spiritual life. Rendering to God what was His empowered Francis to remind the rulers of the world that OBEDIENCE to God's law ensures well-ordered earthly rule.
Not all the saints had perfectly ordered desks. But they all understood the need for ORDER in their spiritual lives, an ORDER founded on and supported by faith-filled OBEDIENCE to the divine law of love. Their example encourages us on our path to holiness (the ultimate "GOOD ORDER") and strengthens our faith in the simple truth that the Maker of the heavens' span / who all things splendidly adorned / shall lead us by His ordered plan / to joy eternal, life's reward. Pre-6th century hymn