Friday, December 22, 2017


I promise: Poverty, Chastity, Obedience
Community of the Holy Family Akron, Ohio Photo: R Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing

At Vespers on the last eight days of Advent, the Church traditionally prays the "O Antiphons." We cry out to Jesus: "O Wisdom, " " Rod of Jesse," "O Emmanuel," etc. I suggest another "O Antiphon, " that is,"O-bedience."

The Christian life is a life of obedience. If we don't obey God, we don't have life in the Spirit (Acts 5:32). If we don't obey Him, we don't love Him (Jn 15:10)...

If Mary had not obeyed, she would not have been the mother of God. If Jesus had not obeyed, He would have have become a human being and died on the cross to save us. Jesus' obedience destroyed the reign of sin and brought justification to all people.

As we near Christ's Christmas coming, the Lord is calling us to obey Him as never before, to break new ground in obedience, and to be pioneers in obedience. The Lord wants us to be the first in our city, parish, family, business, or neighborhood to obey in all areas of His plan for us. Obey now; obey for the first time; obey first, obey all His commands. Live a life of obedience.
From the publication "One Bread, One Body," 2013

I came across this article just moments after I had a conversation with a fellow Carmelite about the virtue of obedience.  The little blue book laying on my kitchen counter seemed to speak to me, "Take up and read."  "Take up and read."  After reading the above selection for the day, I was consoled that the Holy Spirit spoke to me through this article, for I think it is very appropriate for secular Carmelites who wish to take their promise of obedience seriously.

The virtue of obedience has come up many times in my life lately. I've had more than a few community members approach me and ask me to speak about obedience.  I am glad that they, like the author above, want to be pioneers in obedience. This article will be very useful in discussing this elusive virtue. I say elusive, because the ugly head of individualism shows its face everywhere. And if one is caught off guard, one can easily fall prey to the perversion of the virtue of obedience. The perversion takes place, when the soul confuses obedience with control.  Some people find superiors controlling. Some people find a spouse controlling. Some people find a boss controlling. Why do I need to be obedient to Father so and so? Why do I need to be obedient to my husband or wife? Why do I need to obey my boss? This is the way of the world. No one is supposed to tell us what to do!  Yes, this happens, even in Carmel.

However, there are those truly rare souls who want to be formed and fashioned into the image of Christ, who was obedient unto death. These souls look for opportunities to be obedient. Why? Because they are passive individuals who do not like to think for themselves?  No! An emphatic, "No!" These are holy souls who are like the saints. They viewed superiors and others in authority as the voice of God!  These people possess a submissive and docile heart, ready to obey at a moment's notice. I love these types of souls. They are very giving and help immensely in community.These are the souls who are ever-ready to "break new ground in obedience."  

Do you lack obedience? Are you anxious or afraid of obedience? Then, keep this in mind:  Obedience frees us from the anxiety of discernment.  

This is very important to remember if one has a spiritual director. Following the advice of one's confessor of spiritual director is all that is required when receiving direction in the spiritual life. Remembering of course that he or she does not ask you to do anything sinful or uncharitable. We are speaking of directors who wish to keep you on the true path of obedience to Christ and his Church.

The secular Carmelite is asked to obey the Rule. Here is a small excerpt about this virtue:

The Rule (#15)
The promise of obedience is an exercise of faith leading to the search for God's will in the events and challenges in society and our own personal life. For this reason the Secular Carmelite freely cooperates with those who have responsibility for guiding the community and the Order in discerning and accepting God's ways: the Community's Council, the Provincial and the General.

As secular Carmelites we can examine our conscience and ask ourselves a few questions of discernment:

*Am I faithful to the Order by praying each day?

* Do I support, encourage, and cooperate with my local council?

*Do I obey the Rule and the Constitutions of the secular 

*Am I faithful to my local council by studying the assigned 
  formation materials?

*Do I make an effort to lighten the burden of the president and the 
  council, or do I just show up for meetings, never really 
  participating in the life of the community?

Only you know if you are being obedient to your Carmelite promises.  Only you can decide "to break new ground in obedience" and live like the saints. We can all do this one moment at a time in life. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts to stand at attention, ready to respond when the Lord calls: "Here I am Lord, I come to do your will."

Let us pray for each other!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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