Continuing today, we examine the third vow of an LMC--obedience. Check out the LMC website and statutes for further reading and understanding.
"As by one man's (Adam) disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's (Christ) obedience
many will be made righteous"(Rom 5:19)
1. Obedience is the whole-hearted and free submission of our will to the plan of God through a series of intermediaries: persons, events, institutions, human authorities, written rules, customs and practices. To obey is to say 'Yes' to the sacred order of existence established by God in this world.
1 - Based on this motive there can be two ways of obeying our legitimate superiors:
- servile obedience which is based on fear, and
- docile obedience which is based on love and respect for the person we obey - the obedience of Jesus. (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 77).
2. The obedience of the LMC is based on the obedience of Jesus, who although He was God's Son, subjected Himself to human parents (Lk 2:51), obeyed all lawful authorities, as He saw in them the design of His father's will. For the same reason he obeyed Pilate even when He knew that Pilate was wrong.
Jesus learnt obedience through suffering (Heb. 5:8), obeying even to death (Phil 2:8) to become the source of salvation for all who obey Him (Heb 8:9). Jesus Christ thus became the supreme inspiration and example of true filial obedience (Mt 26:39ff.) who repaired the damage caused by the disobedience of Adam (Rom 5:1 9).
3. The LMC obeys not only because Jesus obeyed, but they endeavour to obey like Jesus, doing so with all legitimate superiors.
Therefore obedience must be:
- supernatural in its motivation, which means to see God Jesus in the persons are obeyed. The fundamental motive which constitutes the sacred bond of obedience is the love of doing the will of God. It is to this end that the LMC must follow the obedient Christ;
- universal in its extent, in the sense that LMCs intend to submit themselves to every command of their legitimate superiors;
- perfect in execution, always prompt, without reservation, and joyful because the LMC intends to follow the example of Jesus the Master, co-operating in the work of salvation and continuing the work to repair the damage caused by the disobedience of the people of the world.
1 - Through the vow of obedience we surrender to God the right to make our own decisions, thereby binding ourselves to obey the lawful superiors commanding according to the Statutes in all things which are connected with the life and work of the Society and the law of the Church. (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 79).
2 - Although our vow of obedience does not bind us to obey the civil authorities, we are supposed to respect and obey the civil laws and regulations as long as they are in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church. (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 80).
4. There are legitimate superiors in both the natural and the supernatural order.
a) The legitimate superiors in the natural order are:
- in the domestic society, that is, the family, the head who is the father;
- in the civil society, whoever is placed in the role of authority in accordance with the various forms of government;
- in the work environment, where we find employers and employees, whose respective rights and duties are determined by particular contracts.
b) In the supernatural they are:
- the Holy Father, who has supreme authority over all the Church;
- the Bishops, who have jurisdiction over their respective diocese;
- pastors and curates, who under the authority of their respective bishops, administer the parishes entrusted to their care;
- the responsible persons within the Movement of the LMCs, together with their Spiritual Directors on the local, national and international levels. However, whoever joins the Movement binds himself / herself to observe the Rule and Statutes and to obey the Superiors.
1 - By choosing deliberately to be obedient to all our lawful superiors we like Jesus and with Him continue to save the world through our prompt and joyful obedience, making reparation for the death brought about in the world through many disobediences of daily life. We freely choose to live in obedience to reach the true freedom and maturity that belongs to the children of God, for it is a sure sign of doing God's will, an unfailing source of peace, inward joy and a principal condition for close union with God. (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 84).
2 - Our vow of obedience obliges us to obey even when the Superiors cannot give the reason for the command, or when we fail to understand its value. Like Christ we learn obedience through suffering (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 86).
3 - Obedience is the authentic proof of our love for God, for the Church and our Society; in this way we grow in holiness. "It is not those who say: 'Lord, Lord' that will enter the Kingdom of God but those who do the will of the Father"(Mt 7:21), like Jesus (Jn 4:34) (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 87).
4 - Authority is a matter of serving the design of the Father's love, while in accepting directions in obedience we cooperate in the work of redemption:
- all authority in our Society will be exercised in a spirit of humble service to the community after the example of Jesus who came among us to serve and not to be served (Mk 10:45ff.);
-the Superiors are to be the bond of unity and charity among the Brothers whom the Lord wishes to serve through them. By their special ministry they are to unite their community and all its energies toward the realisation of the society's aim at each succeeding moment in the bond of love and the communion of the Holy Spirit; they must foster in the Brothers the spirit of voluntary obedience (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 88).
5 - By our free and joyful obedience to our Superiors, we contribute to the building up of the Body of Christ, the Church, therefore:
a) we obey whole-heartedly using the forces of our intellect and will, and the gifts of nature and grace to execute the commands entrusted to us;
b) we recognise that the superior remains subject to the same weakness as the others. If we love him for his human qualities, we run the risk of not accepting his ministry when we discover his sinfulness. criticism, prejudice, murmuring and any sort of negativity kill the spirit, prevent growth and cripple evangelical witness. Let each brother be quick to pray and slow to judge his Superior. (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 91, a & d).
6 - "Never look upon your Superior otherwise than if you were looking upon God. Keep a careful watch over yourself in this matter, and do not reflect upon the character, ways, conversation and habits of your Superior. If you do you will injure yourself and you will change your obedience from divine into human and you will be influenced by what you see in your Superior, and not by the invisible God whom you should obey in him" (St John of the Cross).(From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 94).
5. Those in the Movement, called to exercise authority in serving their brothers and sisters, carry out the design of the Father's love and exercise their capacity as God's representatives, to give greater glory to God and promote the general welfare of both the members of the Movement. In accepting the directives of those in authority the members follow our master's example and cooperate in the work of salvation.
6. It is evident that it is neither obligatory nor permissible to obey a superior who would give an order manifestly opposed to divine or ecclesiastical laws: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
7. One must obey one's own conscience which is in the intimate recesses of one's heart and one's sanctuary. "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself, but he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, tells him inwardly at the right moment: do this, shun that. For man has in heart a law inscribed by God. His dignity lies in observing this law, and by it he will be judged. His conscience is man's most secret core, and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths..." (GS 16).