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Vow of Obedience

One of the stepping stones on the map is obedience. When we choose this way of life we choose to live under a rule and a prioress. We carry our profession document freely to the altar to sign, but the Prioress will then carry the document out of the church. In Wisdom Distilled From the Daily, Joan Chittister says, “a woman makes a decision to put herself in the hands of someone who will now become part of all major decisions.“ When we profess obedience we look to the prioress, and she will discern with us what is best for the community and for us.

For me, in this vow of obedience I am not just worried about myself; I also have to think about what is best for the community. The community is my number one thought when making big life changing decisions. For example, taking on a new job. We not only take this vow to the prioress, but we also profess mutual obedience — obedience to each other. Joan describes it as a wheel. This wheel has a hub in the center, which represents the prioress, and each community member is represented by the spokes. As I was thinking about it, I realized that if you look at a wagon wheel there is something that connects the spokes together on the outside. This connection of the spokes represents the mutual obedience that we have for each other. The wheel would not be able to roll or be useful without this connection. Community would not be functional if we did not have mutual obedience.   

I believe that Benedict did not ask us to have blind obedience. Our vow of obedience involves listening. “Listening with the ear of our heart.” Joan Chittister says that in obedience we learn to listen to others and hear their truths. We help each other be the best that we can be, and in our obedience call each of us to live the Gospel. On this step toward our buried treasure, we are called to the vow of obedience. This obedience calls us to listen closely to God, our prioress, and each other. We then help each other to find buried treasure and live our monastic life.