Show me your ways, O LORD, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long. (Psalm 25:3,4 The Book of Common Prayer).
In The Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 7 on Humility, he writes about steps two and three. Step two, Benedict writes is about not loving our own will; while step three is about being obedient to our Superior. Why are these so difficult to comprehend much less do today? It is because we live in a society where self sufficiency is the name of the game. If you cannot do it all by yourself, there must be something wrong with you. There is also the matter of how we define the word freedom. Freedom is defined by our contemporary society as being able to do as we please, without being accountable to anyone. Is it any wonder that wealth, power, consumerism and the stewardship of the earth’s many valuable resources are so out of control?
St. Benedict challenges us with these words about not loving our own will and being obedient to another, because we were created to live in community with one another. It is much too simple to do our daily devotions, go to Mass, engage in conversation about the Scriptures; and still miss the mark of what living the Christian life is about.
Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB probably wrote it best in The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century.
It is so simple, so simplistic, to argue that we live for the God we do not see when we reject the obligations we do see. Benedictine Spirituality does not allow for the fantasy. Benedict argues that the third rung on the ladder of humility is the ability to submit ourselves to the wisdom of another. We are not the last word, the final answer, the clearest insight into anything. We have one word among many to contribute to the mosaic of life, one answer of many answers, one insight out of multiple perspectives. Humility lies in learning to listen to the words, directions, and insights of the one who is the voice of Christ for me now. To stubbornly resist the challenges of people who have a right to lay claim to us and an obligation to do good by us–parents, spouses, teachers, supervisors–is a dangerous excursion into arrogance and a denial of the very relationships that are the stuff of which our sanctity is made.
Rungs one and two call for contemplative consciousness. Rung three brings us face to face with our struggle for power. It makes us face an authority outside of ourselves. But once I am able to do that, then there is no end to how high I might rise, how deep I might grow (pages 84-85).
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB