IMITATION OF CHRIST.

USEFUL ADMONITIONS FOR A SPIRITUAL LIFE.

OF OBEDIENCE AND SUBJECTION:

      IT IS A VERY GREAT THING TO STAND IN OBEDIENCE, TO LIVE UNDER A SUPERIOR, AND NOT BE AT ONE'S OWN DISPOSAL.

The great goal of Christlikeness is made possible through total obedience to go where God sends us, speak what he would say and show us how to say it. In a holy monastic lifestyle such as Thomas Kempis lived, the disciple to be puts himself totally under the authority of the brother Superior, so his life is no longer his own. In doing so, he obeys him whom he can see in preparation for the even more difficult obedience of obeying him whom he does not see as Christ guides true disciples in the Spirit of his anointing. In the monastary where Thomas Hammercken of Kemper lived in the private cell of a prayer closet where he could seek the Lord, those studying to show themselves approved of God stood in absolute obedience before their Superior even as a soldier might expect to stand before a superior in the military. The difference is, soldiers war in the visible dimension of existence while true disciples war in the invisible world of the Spirit. So Thomas Kempis wrote, IT IS A VERY GREAT THING TO STAND IN OBEDIENCE, TO LIVE UNDER A SUPERIOR, AND NOT BE AT ONE'S OWN DISPOSAL. He went on to say:

      IT IS MUCH MORE SECURE TO BE IN A STATE OF SUBJECTION THAN IN AUTHORITY.

      MANY ARE UNDER OBEDIENCE, MORE OUT OF NECESSITY THAN FOR LOVE; AND THESE SUFFER AND EASILY MURMUR.

What the Saint is saying here about men coming "UNDER OBEDIENCE" "OUT OF NECESSITY" applies to every occupation where someone is obeyed. Those who serve the world work for wages, but even monasteries are infiltrated by some "UNDER OBEDIENCE" "OUT OF NECESSITY". A Superior must carefully consider the real intent of every applicant or the holiness of the monastery will be compromised. But it will not take long to perceive who is labouring in a monastery "OUT OF NECESSITY". They will murmur,...

      NOR WILL THEY GAIN FREEDOM OF MIND, UNLESS THEY SUBMIT THEMSELVES, WITH THEIR WHOLE HEART, FOR GOD'S SAKE.

The Saint says "FOR GOD'S SAKE" to let Superiors of monasteries know monks may suppose they are being singled out unnecessarily for reproofs of correction. The monk must not be encouraged to think he is being bullied into absolute submission to God. Monastic Superiors ought not to correct anyone simply for their own pleasure. They are to guide students of the Lord out of their selves deeper into Christ. The Spirit of the Lord of glory is so beautiful it is inconceivable for a being of his greatness to force anyone to come to Him. Seek the Lord and you shall find him.

      RUN HERE OR THERE, YOU WILL FIND NO REST, BUT IN HUMBLE SUBJECTION UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF A SUPERIOR.

      THE ILLUSION OF CHANGING PLACES HAS DECEIVED MANY.

2. IT IS TRUE, EVERY ONE IS DESIROUS OF ACTING ACCORDING TO HIS OWN LIKING; AND IS MORE INCLINED TO SUCH AS ARE OF HIS OWN MIND.

      BUT IF GOD BE AMONG US, WE MUST SOMETIMES GIVE UP OUR OWN OPINION FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE.

      WHO IS SO WISE AS TO BE ABLE FULLY TO KNOW ALL THINGS?

      THEREFORE TRUST NOT TOO MUCH IN YOUR OWN OPINION; BUT BE WILLING ALSO TO HEAR THAT OF OTHERS.

      ALTHOUGH YOUR OPINION BE GOOD, YET IF FOR GOD'S SAKE YOU LEAVE IT TO FOLLOW THAT OF ANOTHER, IT WILL BE MORE PROFITABLE FOR YOU.

3. FOR I HAVE OFTEN HEARD, THAT IT IS SAFER TO HEAR AND TO TAKE COUNSEL THAN TO GIVE IT.

He who gives advice may not realize there is the liability of his counsel failing in some unexpected way.

      IT MAY ALSO HAPPEN THAT EACH ONE'S OPINION MAY BE GOOD; BUT TO REFUSE TO YIELD TO OTHERS, WHEN REASON OR A JUST CAUSE REQUIRES IT, IS A SIGN OF PRIDE AND WILLFULNESS.

Saint Thomas is an inward man who looks inside himself introspectively, and is showing the reader how to discern who others really are. Those who are puffed up with egotistical pride and willfulness make miserable companions. They have ears but cannot hear the truth while seeking their own selfish way in all things and will guide you in the way that is not right and holy if you foolishly allow it.


REFLECTION:

      OBEDIENCE IS THE VIRTUE WHICH CONSTITUTES THE EXCELLENCE, THE HAPPINESS AND THE MERIT OF A CHRISTIAN AND RELIGIOUS LIFE, BECAUSE IT MAKES GOD THE ABSOLUTE MASTER OF OUR SOUL. BUT TO ARRIVE AT THIS, IT IS NECESSARY THAT THE MIND, HEART AND ACTIONS WORK TOGETHER IN MAKING US PRACTICE OBEDIENCE. THAT IS, THAT THE MIND APPROVE OBEDIENCE, THE HEART LOVE IT AND ACTIONS EXERCISE IT PROMPTLY, GENEROUSLY AND CONSTANTLY.



PRAYER:

      O MY SAVIOUR, GRANT ME THE GRACE TO PRACTICE THE VIRTUE OF OBEDIENCE AS YOU PRACTICED IT WHILE YOU WERE ON EARTH. MAY I BE SUBMISSIVE TO MY SUPERIORS AND TO YOUR WILL, AS YOU WERE SUBJECT TO MARY AND JOSEPH DURING YOUR STAY HERE ON EARTH. MAY I ALWAYS FULFILL YOUR HOLY WILL IN ALL. AMEN.