Chapter 5: On Obedience, September 22, 2016

January 22, May 23, September 22

Chapter 5: On Obedience

The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.

This is the virtue of those

who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ;

who, because of the holy service they have professed,

and the fear of hell,

and the glory of life everlasting,

as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior,

receive it as a divine command

and cannot suffer any delay in executing it.

Of these the Lord says,

“As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me” (Ps. 17[18]:45).

And again to teachers He says,

“He who hears you, hears Me” (Luke 10:16).

Such as these, therefore,

immediately leaving their own affairs

and forsaking their own will,

dropping the work they were engaged on

and leaving it unfinished,

with the ready step of obedience

follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands.

And so as it were at the same moment

the master’s command is given

and the disciple’s work is completed,

the two things being speedily accomplished together

in the swiftness of the fear of God

by those who are moved

with the desire of attaining life everlasting.

That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way,

of which the Lord says,

“Narrow is the way that leads to life” (Matt. 7:14),

so that,

not living according to their own choice

nor obeying their own desires and pleasures

but walking by another’s judgment and command,

they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them.

Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord

in which He says,

“I have come not to do My own will,

but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).

Some thoughts

Before we get all hot and bothered and start exclaiming, “Yes, but what if…?” please allow me to point out that Benedict addresses that very question later in the Rule so let us put that aside for the time being.

What does today’s reading tell those of us who don’t live in a monastery, who don’t have a monastic superior, who are not under religious vows?

As the monks are supposed to receive the orders of their superiors as though they came from Jesus Himself, so to we can think about our own obedience to God. We too must practice humility to subject our wills to His. To prefer nothing whatsever above Him, to want to gladly and cheerifully offer to God all that is asked of us.

Do we?

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