The heart that has learned to rejoice in self-forgetting has learned to walk the path of perfection. Such a heart has been made docile to the Holy Spirit, and even though one should feel the pang of being denied the false consolation of the ego, they still develop a deep stillness. This stillness is not the result of the attachments to self in which tranquility of heart is gained at imposing one’s will, but rather this stillness is the fruit of one who has come to know and love their weaknesses and limitations.
Often, what keeps us from true obedience is our deep attachments to self. We are addicted to our limited points of views and our small perceptions, and this addiction keeps us from our true potential. True obedience is not a mindless servility to authority, but rather a deep bond of trust in which we are able to discern how our abilities fit into the larger picture. Obedience is a safeguard that makes possible true discernment because it frees us from our selfishness. In the world at large, discerning who and what to give our trust to is a delicate process which must be carefully weighed. However, in the Church our obedience rests not on the worthiness of her members, but rather the guarantee of the Holy Spirit.
This guarantee ensures that the Church will always remain the sacrament of Christ’s unconditional love in the world. This will always remain a mystery that must be accepted with the surrender of faith. Although such a mystery cannot be empirically proven, for how can one demonstrate the holiness of an organization that encompasses most of the globe with 1 billion members, we must walk the path of unknowing whereby we surrender in faith to the reality of what the Church is.
In this moment, as in all moments, the Church is the perfect icon of Christ, and this is true in the midst of great unworthiness and individual fallenness. Along these lines, the glory of her saints shines in the midst of controversy, scandal, and human weakness. This glory and triumph is the true meaning of life, the true path to happiness. Through obedience, we become witnesses of this triumph. Thus, we learn to see the Church not as the world sees her, but rather as Christ sees her. Through Christ, our vision is transformed in such a way that we learn that the true dynamic of history is not the rich and the powerful, but rather the secret life of prayer perfected by God’s friends.
Today, let us cultivate obedience to our pope, our bishops, and our pastors. Let us cultivate this obedience not so much out of a naive servility, but a deep bond of faith that through imperfect vessels, the glory of Christ shines. Such an obedience does not fail to challenge and to disagree when our consciences call us to voice our concern, but rather constitutes the freedom whereby disagreements can be freed of egocentricity that so often pollutes the will of the Father. Thus obedience is for the sake of freedom, a freedom that liberates us from the shackles of sin, allowing us to embrace the Father’s will with complete surrender. In this freedom is our happiness and our joy.