Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve discussed the two religious vows that get the most attention: the vows of poverty and chastity. While those are the two that most commonly come to mind when one thinks about religious life, there is another one that is just as important: the vow of obedience. So, i’m going to give it some attention and contemplations.
From a surface-level examination, it seems like the most simple of all the vows. It seems like the easiest to understand, and it seems like the easiest to adhere to. You simply have to listen to those who have authority over you. You have to be obedient to the teachings of the church, in their entirety. You have to be obedient to God. What could possibly be hard to understand about it?
That might surprise you.
To truly understand, you have to examine exactly what freedom is. Is freedom the license to do whatever you want, when you what, and how you want at any given moment? Is that truly freedom; or does it lead to an existence of utter and complete slavery to one’s own shifting whims? Honestly, it seems to me that true freedom is completely different from the convention wisdom.
Consider this. If you look at the great artists, athletes, and musicians throughout the ages, did they become great by doing whatever they wanted? Did they disregard the rules and frameworks that they were operating in; or did they masters those rules to a point that they could build upon them? If you think about it, life is like that too. There are constraints and rules that we need to life by, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be constrained. I think the same is true about the vow of obedience. Sure, it puts another level of rules upon us that the general population doesn’t have to life by; but that doesn’t mean we have to be constrained.
That leads me to how I think it will ultimately end up affecting my life. In my life, I’ve been known to be quite headstrong. I’ve been known to arrogantly think that I know best. This is, of course, erroneous logic, as I ultimately end up going astray in my life, through my own better-known devices. So, if I can get past my own self-righteousness, I can learn to let go of that need to control my own destiny and have faith. Through that faith, it is my hope that I will find true freedom in my life.
At least, I hope I can.