Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Fr. Jim, now retired his cancer has returned and he's begun treatment. He's aware of God's presence in this ordeal but asks for prayers. Prayers, too for all his loved ones and all who take care of him.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
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),
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).
A few monks were talking with a Brother with a charge who was
expressing his frustration that people did not do what he asked. He
had tried to be polite, but his requests were ignored or excuses were
given at every turn. He was clueless as to why this was happening and
Finally, a senior monk interrupted him with one of the nicest remarks
I have ever heard made to a monastic. He said: "Wait a minute, Brother,
you don't understand. You're not like other people, you do what you
are told without further argument." Another monk added: "For most
people being told to do something is merely a point to begin
Sad, but true! Bluntly put, obedience doesn't do its best work until it
messes with your life, until it disturbs you and stirs up your
complacent, settled smugness. It's rather like a light switch. The
bulb doesn't go on until someone throws the switch. The potential is
always there, but no switch, no light. Potential light alone is not
terribly enlightening, as anyone who's tried to read in a fully-wired,
darkened room can tell you!
There is a big difference between apathy and detachment.
This chapter offers a prime example: one leaves one's own affairs,
drops whatever one was in the midst of and forsakes one's own will.
That's detachment. Apathy is selfish, detachment is selfless. Apathy
makes oneself the center, detachment revolves around God and
others. Detachment cares deeply, but not for the selfish will!
Apathy, on the other hand, truly doesn't care one way or the other about
anything. There is no ascesis in apathy, because all things are regarded with
equal indifference. It is the LACK of indifference and the level of personal
attachment that makes detachment work. Detachment is active, apathy
is passive. Apathy is the uncaring state, detachment is the lover's struggle
against undue caring. It sets our priorities aright and they need that badly!
Satan hates monastic life, so different aspects will chafe different
people; that's his only hope of success. Obedience may not bother one
who goes off the deep end over chastity. Poverty may be a simple
cinch for one who can scarcely endure stability.
Obedience was the victim of a lot of word play in the 60's and 70's.
One must hope it was all sincere, but it was often misguided.
Beloveds, if you call it "coordination" or "dialogue" or "consensus"
you run a terrible risk of referring to a light switch more or less
perpetually in the off position, or to one which casts light only where we'd
like it to shine. Alas, we are not usually wise enough to request light
where we need it most. That must be left to God and God uses obedience.
Always be wary of euphemism, it can be a harbinger that something is askew.
Euphemisms often stem from a chip on the shoulder and a chip on
the shoulder usually means wood higher up- like in the cranial regions!
When any of those euphemisms actually work, actually intervene in
one's life dramatically, they do so as obedience, plain and simple.
One might as well just call the rose a rose! It does smell wondrously
sweet, but it also has thorns...
Love and prayers,
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