BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 9: OF OBEDIENCE AND SUBJECTION
IT is a very great thing to be settled in obedience, to live under a superior, and not to be one's own master.
It is much safer to be in subjection than in authority.
Many are under obedience, more out of necessity than charity; and such have suffering and are apt to murmur.
Neither will they acquire liberty of mind, unless they submit themselves with their whole heart for God's sake.
Run hither or thither, thou wilt find no rest but in humble subjection under the government of a superior.
A fancy for places and changing of residence hath deluded many.
2. It is true, everyone is desirous of acting according to his own way of thinking, and is most inclined to such as agree with him in opinion.
But if God is amongst us, we must needs sometimes give up our own opinion for the blessing of peace.
Who is so wise, as to be able fully to know all things?
Be not over-confident therefore in thine own sentiments, but be ready also with pleasure to hear the sentiments of others.
Although thine own opinion be right, yet if for God's sake thou leavest it and followest another man's, thou wilt profit the more by it.
3. For I have often heard that it is safer to listen and to take advice than to give it.
It may also happen that each one's opinion may be right; but to be unwilling to acquiesce in other men's, when reason or occasion requires it, is a sign of pride and obstinacy.
How delightful to depend solely on God in the persons of our superiors, who hold
His place, and how very meritorious is the constant practice of obedience, which is a perpetual exercise of abnegation, of self-renunciation, and of the most perfect love of God! Obedience constitutes the excellence, the happiness, and the merit of a Christian and religious life, and makes God the absolute master and proprietor of our hearts.
But for this, our minds, our hearts, and all our actions must combine in the practice of obedience: the mind by approving it, the heart by loving it, and our actions by exercising it promptly, generously, and constantly.
Is it possible, O my Savior, to behold Thee sacrifice the independence of a God to obedience, and I not love and practice it? Can I behold Thee, for thirty years perpetually obedient to Thy blessed Mother and St. Joseph, and not endeavor faithfully to observe what Thou ordainest for me by Thine inspiration, by my rules, and by my superiors? How can I listen to the repugnance and difficulty which I experience in obedience, when I behold Thee obedient even to the very executioners who nailed Thee to the Cross? Grant, O Jesus, that, in imitation of Thee, I may subject myself to obedience, and thus evince my desire of pleasing Thee, and of doing in all things, and at all times, Thy holy will. Amen.