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Friday, September 15, 2006


Last night, my Carmelite group had an unusual meeting. Usually we meet on Saturdays, but this month because of a retreat we did not have our regular meeting. We met on a Thursday evening, though, for discussion and formation, without the meeting. All I can say is God knows my needs.

We read and discussed a lesson on obedience, and how much I needed to learn actually surprised me. You see, I'm a pretty obedient sort of person. I try not to break commandments, I obey the speed limit, I vote my conscience and I read to my kids. Not exactly a rebel.

But last night's lesson talked about the spirit of obedience. It quoted people like St. Therese of Lisieux, discussing how virtuous obedience goes farther than just following the rules: it honors and loves all the people God puts into our lives. The spirit of obedience asks not "What does God require of me?" but instead "What does God wish of me?"

When I was new in my active walk of faith, full of enthusiasm and zeal, it was natural for me to devote most of each day, most of my heart, to my relationship with God. But eventually every Christian comes to the point of realizing that this world I'm seeing through fresh eyes is still the same old stale world. Bills still need paid and dishes still need washed, and as important as prayer is, I have some more mundane duties that need attending to.

It is too easy, at that point, to slip into maintaining faith, but with a "background" approach. We do what is required of us, and we try to make time for prayer and the relationship with God that we still know is vital; but when we look at a miscreant child or an annoying neighbor, we see them through our own flawed eyes and not the eyes of a child of God. We look at our work as a burden, and our state in life as being somehow separate from our calling from God.

That, of course, is where we are wrong. It isn't enough merely to follow the rules that God has set in stone. We need to look at our state in life as a blessing and a calling, and ask ourselves not jusst what God demands of us, but what He most wishes for and from us, as well. He demands that I feed my baby and love her, but he wishes that I prefer her company to that of a computer game.

I have a way to go... I am grateful for this lesson that pointed me in the right direction.