Day 5 Admonition
3.1 Of Perfect and Imperfect Obedience
This time I am including the text:
“The Lord says in the Gospel: he “that doth not renounce all that he possesseth cannot be” a “disciple”(Luke 14:33)and “he that will save his life, shall lose it.”(Matthew 16:25)
That man leaves all he possesses and loses his body and his soul who abandons himself wholly to obedience in the hands of his superior, and whatever he does and says—provided he himself knows that what he does is good and not contrary to his [the superior’s] will—is true obedience. And if at times a subject sees things which would be better or more useful to his soul than those which the superior commands him, let him sacrifice his will to God, let him strive to fulfil the work enjoined by the superior. This is true and charitable obedience which is pleasing to God and to one’s neighbor.”
From my first conversion I have found it difficult to understand what Jesus expects of us in this era concerning renouncing all that we possess. However Jesus speaks his words in the context of sueing for peace against a superior force and intimates that discipleship can be counting the very cost of our lives. If we count ourselves valuable then entrusting our lives to Jesus will keep us safe despite the worst the Devil the World and the Flesh can hurl our way.
Francis admonished his brothers that once they entered the Order they were to consider their superior as Christ’s representative and to render to him all they already rendered to Christ, but in the earthly manner.To have the uttermost trust in that superior and all he desired for them. If by chance there was something they thought more worth their while doing, they were to forsake it, renounce it for their Superior’s sake and therefore towards their spiritual growth in Christ Jesus their Lord, whose representative he was.
In this 21st Century it is difficult to apply this to life in a religious order especially one such as ours where we all live busy lives in the world. As I have said previously, our obedience is to our Rule and to each other. For the good of the many it is better if each single one works towards the Spiritual good of the Order even though the individual may aspire to great things. If indeed something might be better then there is the vote. The Chapter.
What might it mean to lose our own soul in this context? To be cast out since to disrupt the whole by constant contrariness leaves no other option than expulsion and for anyone in a Religious order, now or then such is like the loss of the kingdom of heaven.
Saint Francis of Assisi, The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi, newly translated into English with an Introduction and Notes by Father Paschal Robinson (Philadelphia: The Dolphin Press, 1906). 08/09/2015. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1172#lf0535_footnote_nt097