14 September 2009

A Liberating Theology

Please allow me to begin with a disclaimer: I am not writing about "Liberation Theology." What I am writing about is the vow of obedience, or at least my understanding of it.

To most people obedience is a scary concept. For some the mind boggles with images of brainless, soul-less subservience. The Code of Canon Law (canon 601) defines it is as follows:

"The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in a spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ who was obedient even unto death requires a submission of the will to legitimate superiors, who stand in the place of God when they command according to the proper constitutions."

The submitting of the will is not done under a bully or an adversary, but to someone standing "in the place of God." Wow! That is very deep: being obedient to someone serving you. The abbot or abbess of a monastery, using Christ as their model, is the servant of the entire community. Of course the needs of the entire community comes before that of the individual, and occasionally one has to accept a "no." I expect there to be some challenges as I transition into the monastic life, but eventually --God Willing-- it will just become part of the life.

Overall, however, I believe that the vow of obedience, as framed by the rule of St. Benedict, is liberating. There are two values prevalent in Western society that, to me, are obstacles in the spiritual life: Acquiring and Aspiring. The vow of obedience nullifies aspiriations, if you let it.

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