Obedience is a ‘dirty’ word in this age of rugged individualism and personal autonomy. Nobody wants to be under ‘obedience’ to any one anymore. James Martin is right to point out that many people including Protestants view obedience to a ‘Superior’ in a religious order with deep suspicion. This suspicion in Protestant circles also include spiritual direction. Spiritual directors should not have so much power over their directees they say misunderstanding the whole concept of spiritual direction.
However, as Martin points out, no one is completely free and not under control of others. We are under control of our boss, Presidents, lawyers. spouses etc. I like his comparison of a religious order to an multinational corporation. The superior (called CEO etc) still send people out on ‘missions’ and they go. So
much for not been under obedience.
I like the gist of his section on obedience. It is dying to self and submitting our selves under the authority of another. It is submitting to the call of a new day as in Walter Ciszek’s “the reality of the situation.” (Walter Ciszek was a Jesuit who was imprisoned in Russian for his faith). It is submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I like a twitter I received from Rick Warren (author of the Purpose Driven Life). In his twitter message he wrote that in the centre of the word obedience is the word die i.e. obeDIEnce. That resonates with what I am thinking about obedience. It is dying to self and taking our crosses and follow Jesus.