Chapter Five, Part Two
This obedience, however, will be acceptable to God and agreeable to humanity only if what is commanded is done without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling or complaint, because the obedience which is rendered to superiors is rendered to God. For Christ has said: "Whoever listens to you listens to me" (Lk 10:16). And it must be rendered by the disciples with a good will, "for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7)." For if the disciple obeys with an ill will, and murmurs, not only with lips but also in her heart, even though she fulfill the command, yet it will not be acceptable to God, who regards the heart of the murmurer. And for such an action the disciple acquires no reward; rather she incurs the penalty of murmurers, unless she makes satisfactory amendment.
Obedience creates a framework within which St. Benedict's vision of life can flourish, and the greatest threat to this framework isn't a defiant refusal to obey, but murmuring. The activity of murmuring, or grumbling, establishes a realm of relationship that exists outside the circle of mutual trust created by the sharing of vows, and, from the outside, attacks the common life. A Benedictine community can handle legitimate complaints and even blatant disobedience within this framework, but not murmuring, which forms the heart of the murmurer into a place of conflict and deceit.
Murmuring derives from feelings of opposition to the community's leadership. Appropriately addressing those feelings directly to the leadership is not murmuring, nor is acknowledging them in prayer and letting them go. But when we welcome, feed, and house them in the privacy of our hearts and in the hearing of our confidants, they keep us from being able to listen and respond to God with joyful action.