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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Again, on Obedience

CHAPTER XI. On Obedience. My comments in red...

   LOVE alone leads to perfection, but the three chief means for acquiring
   it are obedience, chastity, and poverty. Obedience is a consecration of
   the heart, chastity of the body, and poverty of all worldly goods to
   the Love and Service of God. These are the three members of the
   Spiritual Cross, and all three must be raised upon the fourth, which is
   humility. I am not going here to speak of these three virtues as solemn
   vows, which only concern religious, nor even as ordinary vows, although
   when sought under the shelter of a vow all virtues receive an enhanced
   grace and merit; but it is not necessary for perfection that they
   should be undertaken as vows, so long as they are practised diligently.
   The three vows solemnly taken put a man into the state of perfection,
   whereas a diligent observance thereof brings him to perfection. For,
   observe, there is a great difference between the state of perfection
   and perfection itself, inasmuch as all prelates and religious are in
   the former, although unfortunately it is too obvious that by no means
   all attain to the latter. Let us then endeavour to practise these three
   virtues, according to our several vocations, for although we are not
   thereby called to a state of perfection, we may attain through them to
   perfection itself, and of a truth we are all bound to practise them,
   although not all after the same manner.
I wrote about this before several times. The life of the monk and nun is one of perfection,
as the lifestyle is set up to be a shortcut for perfection.  But, as we are all called to be saints, our
way is not the same, and yet, we should strive to impose chastity, obedience, and poverty on ourselves.  
 There are two kinds of obedience, one necessary, the other voluntary.
   The first includes a humble obedience to your ecclesiastical superiors,
   whether Pope, Bishop, Curate, or those commissioned by them. You are
   likewise bound to obey your civil superiors, king and magistrates; as
   also your domestic superiors, father, mother, master or mistress. Such
   obedience is called necessary, because no one can free himself from the
   duty of obeying these superiors, God having appointed them severally to
   bear rule over us. Therefore do you obey their commands as of right,
   but if you would be perfect, follow their counsels, and even their
   wishes as far as charity and prudence will allow: obey as to things
   acceptable; as when they bid you eat, or take recreation, for although
   there may be no great virtue in obedience in such a case, there is
   great harm in disobedience. Obey in things indifferent, as concerning
   questions of dress, coming and going, singing or keeping silence, for
   herein is a very laudable obedience. Obey in things hard, disagreeable
   and inconvenient, and therein lies a very perfect obedience. Moreover,
   obey quietly, without answering again, promptly, without delay,
   cheerfully, without reluctance; and, above all, render a loving
   obedience for His Sake Who became obedient even to the death of the
   Cross for our sake; Who, as Saint Bernard says, chose rather to resign
   His Life than His Obedience.
So, wives, obey your husbands and children obey your parents in all things but sin. 

   If you would acquire a ready obedience to superiors, accustom yourself
   to yield to your equals, giving way to their opinions where nothing
   wrong is involved, without arguing or peevishness; and adapt yourself
   easily to the wishes of your inferiors as far as you reasonably can,
   and forbear the exercise of stern authority so long as they do well.

   It is a mistake for those who find it hard to pay a willing obedience
   to their natural superiors to suppose that if they were professed
   religious they would find it easy to obey.

   Voluntary obedience is such as we undertake by our own choice, and
   which is not imposed by others. Persons do not choose their own King or
   Bishop, or parents--often not even their husband; but most people
   choose their confessor or director. And whether a person takes a vow of
   obedience to him (as Saint Theresa, beyond her formal vow to the
   Superior of her Order, bound herself by a simple vow to obey Father
   Gratian), or without any vow they resolve to obey their chosen
   spiritual guide, all such obedience is voluntary, because it depends
   upon our own will.
This is why it is hard for singles to become holy-to whom are they obedient? To whom
do they daily defer and give up their wills? All singles need a spiritual director.
 Obedience to lawful superiors is regulated by their official claims.
   Thus, in all public and legal matters, we are bound to obey our King;
   in ecclesiastical matters, our Bishop; in domestic matters, our father,
   master or husband; and in personal matters which concern the soul, our
   confessor or spiritual guide.

   Seek to be directed in your religious exercises by your spiritual
   father, because thereby they will have double grace and virtue;--that
   which is inherent in that they are devout, and that which comes by
   reason of the spirit of obedience in which they are performed. Blessed
   indeed are the obedient, for God will never permit them to go astray.