Historical setting: 584 C.E.
“Maybe we have done enough reading for the day, Anatase. Do you wish to take a rest from this? I could just borrow these pages if you would let me, and read them ahead myself. And I promise to save any that are interesting for you to read aloud.”
“No. I can keep on, now that I know The Rose he was talking about was his horse. When first I read it I thought he was trying to practice giving orders to the flowers, bossing them around, expecting they would obey his slightest whim. Knowing it was his horse makes a lot of difference.
“He wrote, ‘I’ve always thought there were two reasons for obedience, one was my soldier duty to the officer, and the other was something I do simply because God is God and my love for God makes me delighted to follow. Holy obedience is like the difference between following a military officer and training The Rose. Everyone said to teach obedience to The Rose I needed to teach him rank and show him I was the boss. But what actually worked was when I said to The Rose, ‘I am Nic, and you are The Rose and we belong to one another each in our own way.’ So that is also how I am obedient to God.
“’The Rule of St. Benedict says, ‘As soon as the superior gives an order, they carry it out as promptly as if the order came from God, either because of the holy service they have promised to perform, or because they are afraid of hell, or for the sake of the glory of eternal life.’” [Footnote 1]
“’It seems to me,’ the Old Monk writes, ‘obedience driven by threat or gift is not actually obedience at all. It is simply a fear or a lust greater than the respect for the master giving the order.’
“’And the emphasis on humility is even a more disagreeable pretend of virtue. Clearly the paradox is that one who claims ‘to reach the highest peak of humility’ would not actually be humble. There are twelve steps and not one of them is of the true humility of discovering one’s own small place in the awesome love of God that speaks of the goodness of all of Creation, even the goodness of me.”
[Footnote 1] White, Carolinne, Translator,The Rule of Benedict, London: Penguin Books, 2008. page 19.
[Footnote 2] Ibid. pages 22-26.