Monday, March 28, 2011

We give everything

"Religious life can easily be a heaven on earth, but only for the man who lives it perfectly. And although much has been written on the fine art of acquiring perfection, all spiritual writers seem to agree on one big point. If a religious can obey, he can find perfect happiness. If he cannot obey, then he only nails himself to his own cross (by his own hand) and hangs over forever on the left side of Christ. Religious life demands greatness; and a man is never greater than he he bows his head in submission to another.

Obedience is the big vow. Obedience is the problem. In our monasteries we are not free to do what we want, or have what we like. We are pledged to obedience and there is a solemn vow to remind us of it. It is a vow that makes us say 'yes' when we would like to say 'no.' But when we take this vow, we offer to God one of our most priceless possessions: our free will. It is a perfect gift, one that God would never force from us. It is the last word, the limit. When we give this, we give everything. But it is only too bad that its worth is lost to many young men who, possessing all the other needed talents and dispositions, find themselves balking at that they call, 'this business of taking orders.'


Actually, there is a probably not a single man on the face of this earth who is free from the obligations of taking orders. Every subject has a boss who in turn has a boss, who in turn has another boss. It is the same in both lay and clerical circles. So we men in a monastery figure that since we must take order from someone, we might just as well make a good thing of it. We might just as well gain merit for our troubles."

-- Men in Sandals by Fr Richard C Madden, ocd

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