Happy Feast of St. Benedict!
Of Obedience is one of my favorite chapter in that book since I am always criticized of not knowing what is obedience. St. Benedict writes about three different degrees of obedience. For me, I have not even reached the first degree. Obedience is a virtue showing the “trust” in God and His people. Because of trust, one can be submissive immediately to his superior because the superior takes care of the souls, just as Lord in Heaven takes care of His people on earth.
I do not understand this for very long time, especially during the time when I am a student in philosophy department. Philosophy, especially the modern philosophy always teach us to “doubt” , especially “doubt” the authority. I cannot make to the Heaven without Church, which represent the God’s authority on earth. Once I was asked by some people whether I love “authority ” too much because I told them that I love Latin Mass. At that time, i did not give an answer. Now, after I read this passage, I can confidently say “Yes”.
I am nothing without authority from God on this earth. Practice obedience is a kind of way to lay trust in God instead of oneself. As a lay person, I can practice “obedience” through reading Church teaching with a humble heart, spending more time listening than criticizing, mediating than discussing. I am lucky enough to have a good spiritual director. I should try to follow his instruction “closely” , “without delay” and ” without complain”. (for this point, I think all my friend know that I have not even reached the first level of obedient…lol..)
CHAPTER V Of Obedience
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This becometh those who, on account of the holy subjection which they have promised, or of the fear of hell, or the glory of life everlasting, hold nothing dearer than Christ. As soon as anything hath been commanded by the Superior they permit no delay in the execution, as if the matter had been commanded by God Himself. Of these the Lord saith: “At the hearing of the ear he hath obeyed Me” (Ps 17:45). And again He saith to the teachers: “He that heareth you heareth Me” (Lk 10:16).
Such as these, therefore, instantly quitting their own work and giving up their own will, with hands disengaged, and leaving unfinished what they were doing, follow up, with the ready step of obedience, the work of command with deeds; and thus, as if in the same moment, both matters—the master’s command and the disciple’s finished work—are, in the swiftness of the fear of God, speedily finished together, whereunto the desire of advancing to eternal life urgeth them. They, therefore, seize upon the narrow way whereof the Lord saith: “Narrow is the way which leadeth to life” (Mt 7:14), so that, not living according to their own desires and pleasures but walking according to the judgment and will of another, they live in monasteries, and desire an Abbot to be over them. Such as these truly live up to the maxim of the Lord in which He saith: “I came not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (Jn 6:38).
This obedience, however, will be acceptable to God and agreeable to men then only, if what is commanded is done without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling or complaint, because the obedience which is rendered to Superiors is rendered to God. For He Himself hath said: “He that heareth you heareth Me” (Lk 10:16). And it must be rendered by the disciples with a good will, “for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). ” For if the disciple obeyeth with an ill will, and murmureth, not only with lips but also in his heart, even though he fulfil the command, yet it will not be acceptable to God, who regardeth the heart of the murmurer. And for such an action he acquireth no reward; rather he incurreth the penalty of murmurers, unless he maketh satisfactory amendment.