Obedience is the essence of the Christian life - and even more radically of Religious life - because it allows one to more closely imitate Christ. In his agony in the Garden, Jesus lovingly prayed to the Father, "Not my will, but yours be done." Scripture records that Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered. Christ clearly shows through his teachings and actions that obedience is crucifying, yet this is the mark of a true disciple for we are all called to take up our cross and follow Christ. In love, obedience is sweet and the cross becomes light when it is carried with and for Jesus.
Obedience is very freeing and when it is lived out joyfully, generously, and promptly, it leads to profound holiness. In vowing obedience, religious are given a clear-cut guide to knowing God’s will, for it is revealed through the directives of one’s religious superiors. In addition, religious strive to recognize all the circumstances and events of life, from the mundane to the most sublime, as a gift from their Providential Father.
Jesus refers to obedience as a mark of love: "If you love me, obey...” When one loves whole-heartedly one gives oneself entirely: body, soul, intellect and will. By vowing obedience, a religious gives back to God the gifts that make man the "crown of creation," and those gifts become a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord when they are lovingly placed at His service.
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