“The Will of God is the origin, the real greatness of all authority among men. Of themselves men have no right to command their fellow-men... But God wishing that men should live one with the other, has thereby wished that there should exist amongst them a power which should rule over the rest; that is, should direct the thousands or millions of different wills to the unity of one social end. God leaves to men themselves a great latitude as to the form under which is to be exercised the civil power and the mode of its transmission. But once regularly invested with the power its depositories are responsible to God alone as far as the legitimate exercise of their authority goes, because it is from God alone that the power comes to them. It does not come to them from their people, who not having that power themselves cannot give it to another. So long as those rulers comply with the compact, or do not turn to the ruin of the people the power they have received for its well-being, so long their right to the obedience of their subjects is the right of God Himself... It is God Himself that commands and insists on being obeyed.
“How great then is the dignity of human law! It makes the legislator a representative of God, and at the same time spares the subject the humiliation of feeling himself debased before a fellow-man. But, in order that the law oblige, that is, to be truly a law, it must be, first and foremost, conformable to the commands and prohibitions of God, whose will alone can give it a sacred character by making it enter into the domain of man’s conscience. It is for this reason that there cannot be a law against God, or His Christ, or His Church. When God is not with him who governs the power he exercises is nothing better than brute force. The sovereign or the parliament, that pretends to govern a country in opposition to the laws of God, has no right to aught but revolt and contempt from every upright man; to give the sacred name of law to tyrannical enactments of that kind is a profanation unworthy, not only of a Christian, but of every man who is not a slave.
Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B.,
The Liturgical Year,
Commentary for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost.