The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 7 Pt. 4
I am unable to think of a value that is held higher in Western culture than that of self-determination, or freedom of will. Yet this paragraph sets the Rule in diametrical opposition to such a value. Our Father Benedict instructs us, in light of scripture, to distrust our own will because what seems right to us may lead us to utter destruction. It seems hard to be more countercultural in our context. How willing are we, really, to follow St. Benedict on a path that begins with rejecting one of our society's most treasured dictums?
As the Prior of The Community of St. Mary of the Annunciation, my vow of obedience was taken to Holy Scripture, to the Rule, and to Jesus Christ himself as my Shepherd. Self-will is forbidden to me every bit as much as it is forbidden to those who give their obedience to me as the shepherd of this community of canons.
Accepting this role as one who receives a vow of obedience from others is not what I would choose. I do not desire that others obey me. I feel unworthy to hold such trust. Yet, when I stand in witness of the vows of the canons, novices, and oblates of this community, I do so as an act of obedience, and not as an act of my own will. I have been called to stand up and allow my life to be the icon through which each member of this community gives up his or her self-will to Christ, as Kate will do this Sunday on the Feast of the Presentation when she enters the novitiate. May God be our help.