Obedience As a Sacrifice

Obedience is a penance of the soul, and for that reason a sacrifice more acceptable than all corporal penances. -St. John of the Cross

This Saint, having finished his studies and returned to the monastic life, showed that he had a high opinion of himself, on account of his great learning. To cure him, his director gave him a catechism, telling him to lay aside all other books and read this alone, picking out the words syllable by syllable, like a child. He continued to do this for a long time, and with great application, and afterwards confessed that he derived from it not only a high degree of obedience, but many other virtues as well.

We read in the Lives of the Fathers that four monks once visited the Abbot Pambo, and each of them told him in private of the virtues of the others. One fasted severely; another did not possess the smallest thing; this one glowed with the most fervent charity; while that one had lived in the practice of obedience for twenty years. When the Abbot had heard these things, one after the other, he said: “The virtue of this last is greatest of all, for the rest followed their own will, but he has made himself the servant of another’s will.”

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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