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Oblate Blog: February 6, 2012: Obedience

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For your information the new guest house being built at the present time will be called: ST. GABRIEL GUEST HOUSE.

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Have you, as an oblate of St. Benedict, ever asked yourself what "obedience" means to you as an oblate of St. Benedict? In chapter 5 of the Rule St. Benedict it specifically talks about obedience, although he also talks about it in some of the degrees of humility. In fact I think we could say very definitely that obedience has to be associated with humility. I remember well our novice master telling us that obedience would probably be the most difficult of the vows for us. He said it is always with us, day in and day out. We are constantly acting under obedience.

Esther de Waal, in her commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict says with regard to this chapter on obedience: "He (Benedict) starts by looking at obedience, but all three (obedience, humility and silence) are closely linked, for humility is essentially the emptying of my own self-love and self-will, and obedience is listening to God that will never be possible without interior silence" (p. 45 of her commentary).

I think it helps a lot to see obedience as a way of listening. And of course it is difficult to listen if we are always talking; that is, we need silence to help us to listen. Obedience is more than just someone telling us what to do or what not to do. We only know what the Lord wants of us by listening to him. As an oblate you only know what your spouse wants by listening to him or her. Perhaps that is one thing that is lacking in many marriages. There is not enough listening. Hearing what each wants or needs as well as sharing our own wants and needs.

St. Benedict in this chapter seems to see obedience as something done without hesitation. In verse 4 of this chapter St. Benedict uses the word promptly and at other times he uses quickly. On the other hand we know that true obedience has to come from the heart. It should be a joyous and generous response.

All of us are called to obedience. As oblates of St. Benedict, your goal should be to listen intently. We discover the will of God by listening to God (especially in the scriptures), by mutual listening to one another, by listening to homilies, by listening to God in books we read, and by listening to God in nature.

Obedience is not an easy task but it is the way we return to God which is the purpose of our life here on earth.