Monday, April 12, 2010


Obedience can be defined as attentive listening.

I have to be honest. My obedience has not been tested. Then again, I have yet to take a promise of obedience. But I still have not been tested so my knowledge of obedience is scant to say the least. Coming to Rome under obedience is probably not a good example. :)

But I have met men here who even in terms of their formation have allowed the spirit of obedience to rule their hearts. I know a priest recently ordained whose bishop asked him to come back and study to be an ambassador for the Vatican. From what I get, it was not exactly his choice but under his own discernment and understanding of obedience he said yes. I doubt he could have dreamt that his priesthood (in Christ of course) meant serving overseas for much of the rest of his life, rarely staying and serving in a local parish.

Likewise I met another recently ordained priest who was sent here to study for a licentiate in dogma or something only to be told after a year to starting studying for a doctorate in philosophy because that was the need of the diocese. And he obediently and faithfully agreed to his bishop's request, knowing that it would add another 3 or 4 years on to his time here in Rome.

A Benedictine recently came and spoke to us about obedience.

He said obedience is not destroying your own will, creativity, initiative, and energy but harmonizing it with that of the authority in charge. That does not mean that you creatively decide how to obey without really obeying. But it means finding in obedience a life-giving strength that only helps you to give glory to God.

There are three ways to help build obedience. One is to develop respect for your superiors. Another is to look at the broader perspective and not just your individual situation, your parish, but the whole diocese and even the good of the universal Church. Finally he said, you need to be cheerful with your obedience. Don't complain and drag your feet but be faithful in your duty.

Obedience. Tough word. But if you want to be a priest, religious, or really any kind of Christian whatsoever, it requires obedience. Obedience to your bishop yes, the pope, your pastor, your fellow brother and sisters in the pews, oh yeah, and God too.


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