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04.11.2019 15:54:24 514x read.
The Religious Community and obedience to the Will of God.

The Religious Community and obedience to the Will of God.

Obedience is primarily an attentive listening to the call of the moment: to self, to others, to the events and experiences of life that demands a response. All Christians and religious are called to obedience, and to model themselves after the obedience of Jesus Christ. By the vow of obedience, religious seek God through Jesus in their religious community and through its way of life. According to Y. Houssay, we religious do not make the vow to obey God. Obedience to God is part of our baptismal promise which requires us to fulfil the basic requirement of "doing the will of God." So why do we take the vow of obedience? To get to obey God we make the vow to submit to man, in order to obey God.

We religious are not to be identified as “the obedient ones” in the Church, as though others do not have to obey. Given this way of looking at it, our life is but one among so many ways of seeking and living out the Will of God, a continuation of Christ’s obedience to the Father. What then makes the authority-obedience relationship/service in religious life unique compared to other Christian vocations? Uniqueness does not lie in imitation of Christ’s obedience (i.e. “why”) since this is common to all Christians by our baptism. Uniqueness lies in the “how,” in the kind of mediation through which the religious feels called by the Spirit to seek the will of the Father and so extend the obedience of Christ.

A celibate religious feels called, therefore, to scrutinize, discern and carry out the Father’s will in fellowship, that is, together with other Christians called by the Holy Spirit. That is why the obedience of a religious should be viewed within a new and broader horizon encompassing the brothers and sisters given by God rather than understood first as a “renunciation” to one’s own will (even though this is part of it). It is a case of the expansion of self so as to include one’s brothers and sisters in such a way that one’s human and spiritual mode of thinking and acting is affected decisively and forever more. A religious, then, does not give up thinking, searching, judging and deciding but gives up doing this alone: a renunciation of aloneness for the sake of communion. The relationship among brothers/sisters constantly overcomes the “I-you” opposition in favour of the “we.” Each one must feel like a “we.” Each one must participate in the community according to his or her human and spiritual gifts (intelligence, experience, abilities, etc.) by freely and willingly offering them to others and by counting on the gifts of others when thinking, deciding and acting.

[Source: A commentary on "The Service of Authority and Obedience" by J. Rivora and Y. Houssay]

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