This is the fourth in a series on St. Benedict for Beginners. – The Editors

"Saint Benedict of Nursia" by Fra Angelico

‘It is by the way of obedience that we go to God.’

Benedictine monks and nuns take three vows. They promise to pursue obedience, stability, and conversion of life. Obedience is a hard word in a society that values personal freedom above anything else.

But Benedict realizes that unless we submit to something greater than ourselves we will never be able to become greater than ourselves.

To make obedience real, the Benedictine monk vows to obey his abbot.

We may think we are free from the troublesome duty of obedience, but in our daily lives we have to obey many forces greater than ourselves. We ‘obey’ train timetables, the weather, and the tax collector. Put in its best light, we also obey those whom we love, because moment by moment we listen to them and give ourselves for their welfare.

As Christians our first instinct should be to trust God and obey the teaching of His word and Church. We should do this with an open spirit of learning and discovery.

When Benedict says we go to God by the way of obedience he is recognizing a universal principle that by submitting to a pattern bigger than ourselves we find not only the place for which we were created, but we also find the Creator himself.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the author of “Listen My Son” – a commentary on the Rule of St Benedict for families. Visit his website to buy a copy.

Father 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:

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