Over the past few entries I have tried to share a little of my understanding of the promises one makes when they enter the Benedictine community as an oblate. We first looked at stability and then conversatio morum, and today we shall look at obedience.
The promise of obedience may seem daunting at first. But in reality obedience is really about being open to how God wants to work in our lives. Instead of looking upon obedience as a command to be fulfilled we are called to see within it the way in which Christ is calling us to live out our vocations and be open to His grace.
More often then not we tend to seek out situations and people who are most agreeable to ourselves. We do not like chaos or confrontation for life is hard enough as it is. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this. It is the path of least resistance, yet in the spiritual life as in most of life, nothing good comes easily.
Each day we come across situations and people who call us to stretch and grow. We find ourselves too tired to pick up the Liturgy of the Hours after 8 or 10 hours of work even though we know we have promised under obedience to do so. Just when we get comfortable at work with the project we are doing we are called upon to leave that behind and do something else. After long hours of work and finally putting the kids to bed a parent may be able at last to take a moment to themselves for prayer but are interrupted two seconds after beginning. More often then not this leads us to a life of frustration but when we look at all situations and people in our lives as a call to obedience and the will of God we may be able to see it through the eyes of faith and respond with an appropriate amount of love. But we must always remember that, “This very obedience, however, will be acceptable to God and agreeable to men only if compliance with what is commanded is not cringing or sluggish or half-hearted, but free from any grumbling or any reaction of unwillingness.” (Rule of Benedict, Chapter 5)
As oblates we are not so much called upon by an Abbot or immediate superior to fulfill a command of obedience but our work life and home life brings us ample opportunity to hear Gods voice and follow through on what He brings to us each day. The situations and people that are placed before us become the voice of God who calls us to make an act of faith that it is He who speaks to us in the ordinary and mundane situations of life. Even in moments that might not make much sense to us we are called upon to see Gods presence and and hear His voice. Love then compels us to respond and obey.
For me obedience must first begin with listening. I cannot obey if I have not heard the command. This can be a struggle at times because Gods voice is not so obvious and it takes a lot of humility to believe that He is speaking to us through the common situations and people in life He places in our way.
Obedience is a dialogue between God and man. We speaks to us through the people and situations of our lives and we respond to Him as best we can. If we are open to the commands of God then we will most assuredly grow in love. But if we fight against struggle against His commands we can be confident that our lives will be filled with a constant grumbling which leads to frustration and pain. Obeying leads us to a life of peace and freedom. May God help us to hear His voice and respond as best we can.