This is the ninth in a series on St. Benedict for Beginners. – The Editors
The Third Step to Humility
‘The third step of humility is that for the love of God a man should be obedient to his superior in all things.’
Obedience? What a sign of scandal in an individualistic age! The whole self revolts against the idea of obedience. Or if we even entertain the idea of obedience we think we should only obey when it seems sensible to do so, or if we understand and agree with the particular order we have been given.
Benedict would agree with St Therese of Lisieux who said, “There is no virtue in doing what is reasonable.” In other words, the true test of obedience is to obey when we find the order not only disagreeable, but unreasonable.
Let’s take it further: what if the order we have been given seems wrong and contrary to what we feel God wants us to do?
The lives of the saints show us just that kind of obedience.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta waited fifteen years before she was given permission to leave her convent and start her famous missionary work. It is as is their obedience (despite their feelings and convictions otherwise) wins them an even greater prize. This is because total obedience to the superior (even when it seems unreasonable) produces humility in a way that nothing else can.
Therefore the person who truly desires humility will be obedient to his superior even when it is difficult–especially when it is difficult.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the author of “Listen My Son” – a commentary on the Rule of St Benedict for families. Visit Fr. Dwight’s website to buy a copy here.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is author of thirteen books on the Catholic faith. Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing is available in Catholic bookshops and through his website: dwightlongenecker.com
Follow Fr. Longenecker on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/frlongenecker
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