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The Service of Authority and Obedience


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  • Official Vatican document on obedience in religious life.

    This document underlines the "roots of obedience" found "in that search for God and His will which is also the will of believers".

    The text also deals with the issue of "difficult obedience", when "the demands made on the religious are particularly hard to meet" or when - in the words of St Francis of Assisi - the person who must obey feels that there are "better or more useful things for his soul than those ordered him by his superior". In these situations we appeal to "Christ first among the obedient" who "learned obedience through all he suffered".

    The function of authority is presented through the category of "human mediation" of Gods will. The document goes on to clarify that this does not mean "the will of the superior coincides perfectly with Gods own will". When, however, a person in religious life is faced with a legitimate order from a superior, the Lord asks him or her to obey the authority which in that moment represents Him.

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The Service of Authority and Obedience