Obedience

The true ground of obedience is trust; the most fruitful expression of obedience is love, which gives itself in wholehearted trust even when this love does not see or understand. Obedience does not imply a relationship of dependence, submission, or even conciliation, but of freedom grounded in love.

This trust is what makes obedience authentic at every level, including relations with our colleagues or peers. It is trust that enables obedience to become a means of true conversion. Trust in God's working leads us beyond attitudes and perceptions that limit, and holds open the possibility that other persons, in their otherness, and their difference, may mediate something of God’s desire for oneself. In other words, God may be asking us to grow in even a very small way through the challenges that others present to our way of thinking and acting.

In practice this means being able to listen attentively and openly to other persons, and be secure enough in one's identity as beloved of God to treat the other and their words with the same respect and attentiveness one desires for oneself.

What is most essential about the practice of obedience is that we take nothing as seriously as trust. While both our questions and our participation are often limited by what we understand, our trust is limited only by our love and our desire.

 

Prayer

All Christians are called to lives of prayer—it is the first promise we make in our Baptismal vow. To have a vow of prayer is the commitment to let that expression expand into all parts of our life, to be led by the Spirit in the intention to make turning to God in love in all things our way of life. Our vow of prayer reminds us that our lives are to be lived as response to God rather than as a series of religious initiatives to which we hope God will respond. The goal of this vow is the summation of all the others: to become completely available to God in love, open to God's presence in all things, and to union with Christ in each aspect of our living.

The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches us to pray, who prays within us, and who gradually opens our hearts and eyes to be able to see God in each other and in all things. The Spirit also gently searches our hearts and will show us, if we are willing, those things in ourselves that so much need to be reformed in Christ, no matter how good and holy they may appear to us.

Prayer faithfully practiced will become a new way for us to experience our radical weakness and spiritual poverty. This is another way that the Spirit teaches us to pray, as we become more aware of our complete dependence on God, and the riches offered us in the Name of Jesus.

The struggles we will encounter in the daily commitment to certain forms of prayer are actually gifts in disguise. They locate the precise places where we may be resisting grace in hidden ways, and where God means to purify us through our struggle. Such times of difficulty in prayer, if borne faithfully and patiently, will always lead to deeper growth.