Tuesday, July 14, 2009

St. Francis on Obedience

St. Francis of Assisi

I believe that the current problems of faith in the world are rooted in disobedience. The "culture of death", the problems with religious vocations - all rooted in this disobedience. St. Francis had an interesting take on obedience.

Here is en excerpt from “The Way of St. Francis” by Murray Bodo, O.F.M.

One of the strangest stories about Francis is his comparison of the obedient person to a corpse. He is sitting with his companions, and he says something like this: “There is hardly a friar in the whole world who obeys perfectly. “Taken aback, his brothers say to him: “Tell us, Father, what is the perfect and highest obedience.” And Francis replies, using the figure of a corpse to describe the truly obedient person. “Take a corpse and place it wherever you want. You will see that it doesn’t resist being moved, it doesn’t complain about its position, it doesn’t cry out if it is allowed to lie there. If it is placed on a chair, it won’t look up but down; if it is clothed in purple, it looks twice as pale. This is true obedience: not to ask why you are moved, not to care where you are placed, not to insist on being changed somewhere else. Raised to an office, you retain your accustomed humility; the more you are honored, the more unworthy you consider yourself.”

The truly holy person chooses obedience, the way a knight rides purposefully into battle, or like Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, not because he was weak, but because he chose to do so in order to become one with us. Obedience, embraced for the right reason, makes us one with all of creation, because it makes us one with Christ who is the Firstborn of all creatures.

The Christian’s first obedience is to God, and the authority of the Church is linked with the obedience to Christ by and through its hierarchical superiors.

Above painting of St. Francis - Artist: Anthony Van Dyck (1599 - 1641)

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