Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for May 23,2009

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. 17:45).
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:

Perhaps those of us in a religious community, we might substitute "Holy Spirit" for "superior" or "Abbot" and try that on for size. Then we could test drive the idea of obeying the Holy Spirit without delay. I wonder if you have the same experience as I. I often have the sense that God might be giving me some task or whatever and while I know it to be a good and holy thing, my response to the things I know I could do tends to start with " Yes, but...". "What if..." The thing I kick myself over and over for is that I know darn right well that there is nothing better for me than my Lord's will for me. But I would prefer to stay in my comfort zone of what I know well, even when it is no longer any good for me.

I think Benedict hits the trigger point, the pressure point, the place where it hurts the most when he says "The first degree of humility is obedience without delay." It's humility I lack. There is a certain arrogance, is there not, in saying to God "Yes, but..." or "What if...". It is really quite arrogant of me to think I might come up with notion that God had failed to consider. Would you agree?

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