Perhaps the most difficult thing for some to accept when joining the religious life is obedience. We spend our childhoods forming our consciences and learning to take care of ourselves. We learn how to study without the guidance of parents and teachers, and how to grow in our spiritual relationship with the Lord in private. We choose our own friends, follow our vocation according to our own judgment and reading of God's will, and work according to what we wish or need to gain.
These things are good and holy... and important for our spiritual progression towards Our Lord. Our free will is a gift, a responsibility, a joy and a sorrow. We are called to give this gift in ourselves wholly back to God and serve Him through it. It is a major task indeed! But, often, it is a burden we are used to bearing. When we are called to obedience, we become possessive over it. When we are asked to use it in a way not desirous to us, we wish to revert to independence. When we are subjected to having others make decisions for us, we remember with jealousy and pride the times we have made decisions for ourselves.
This is a hardness of heart encountered in those newly subjected under a religious superior and a rule. I have heard many times the words "I could not bear to have my life run by bells." It is NOT easy to give up our self-will and self-love to such an extent that we willingly subject ourselves to holy obedience. It is not easy to ask a superior for even the smallest thing we desire rather than deciding for ourselves that we can have it. Even more difficult is resisting the temptation to judge those who are over us... in resisting the temptation to think wrong thoughts concerning them when they order us to do something contrary to what we believe is the thing to do.
Now, I have laid before you the difficulties concerning holy obedience... what is left is to explain why we do it. The gift of free will and how we use it is the main gift we have to offer God in ourselves. Holy Obedience provides a way of doing this. It is a most perfect way of practicing humility of the will. It is a perfect way of gaining spiritual understanding beyond our own small minds. But most of all, it is freedom from confusion, misunderstanding, and indecision. We cannot be truly free without understanding what it is to be free... free from punishment, free from sin, free to do good, freedom from ourselves, freedom to be God's and God's alone.
I speak of freedom, but it is only freedom if we heartily embrace holy obedience. If we look upon our superior and our rule as God's Voice guiding us, and if we see security through our lack of independence, then we will learn to cherish holy obedience and will be blessed for it. God will always guide those who ask for His Guidance... and that is exactly what we do through obedience.
Now that I've given you an explanation, I want to put holy obedience in a personal perspective. One of the saints, I cannot remember which at the moment, said that she wished God to take her free will back. She wanted to lay it in His Hands and let His Will be her will. This is exactly how I feel about it. Although I am young, it will not surprise many of you to hear that I have become very independent. I have my own job, I study independently, I've pursued my vocation through my own judgment, I do not have a spiritual director, I have a license, I use the computer with complete freedom... basically, my life is my own. In spite of all this, I want nothing more than to be completely God's. I want to rise out of my weaknesses and smallness of mind by allowing Him to teach me through others. The more freedom I have, the more restricted I feel from making a complete gift of myself to Him.
The more independent I become, the more I yearn for holy obedience. I do not want to be my own, but His. I trust Him completely and want to SHOW Him my fidelity through obedience. I do not want to have any personal motives for my actions... I want all my motives to spring from His Will. I see my life as something that is given to me as a gift... I see all that I have, especially my vocation, as His Gifts to me. Even my love would be non-existent if His Love were not so complete! Therefore, I look upon my own free will and what I do with it as the only thing that I can offer back to Him as a gift. "If you love Me, follow my Commandments." This is exactly what I want to do... I love Him and I want to give my free will to Him absolutely.