Vocation: Life Giving Vow of Obedience

By Sister Therese Maria Touma

My food is to do the will of him who sent me, that I may accomplish his work”
(John 4:34)

In reflecting back over the nearly seven years of my religious life, I can honestly share that I have tasted the beautiful fruits of living obedience, and have seen my self grow in self-knowledge, confidence in God’s mercy and inner freedom. On the other hand, the daily struggle to live out authentic obedience has been real and trying. Throughout my journey, I have stumbled (and in the process have been humbled) in my quest to love God undividedly and master my self-seeking and strong will, which wants to seek its “own” way.
Obedience is much more than something I do or my efforts in striving to listen and follow my superior’s directives, I have come to learn that it is essentially a gift from God. “This is one of the greatest gifts that God gives us in our vocation as religious, to enable us to share in complete self-giving which is the life of the Blessed Trinity, to be enabled to give him our last self-possession, our own will and judgment, and by giving it to him, to receive it back from him glorious and divinized, part even of himself.”
(The Mysticism of Obedience, Page 29)

To surrender each day in faith, my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding to God has been something I have cultivated with the help of my formator, Mother Marla Marie. Sometimes I have been successful and at other times I have taken back my will due to certain fears, difficulties, weaknesses and a lack of trust on my part. So what impels me in my religious life to obey to my superior? Simply put, it is because I love God, and I believe that it is God who is speaking to me in the person of my superior, and when I do my superior’s will, I do God’s will and thus I am united to God’s will in my loving obedience. As Bernard Lemming, S.J. asserts, to unite our will with God is to become sharers in his nature and to be one with his being. “God’s will IS himself. He is immutable.” (The Mysticism of Obedience, Page 28)

In imitation of the obedient, poor and chaste Christ who redeemed the world through his obedience to God the Father, I too as his spouse and as a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light am called to live out this radical vow in union with him for the salvation of souls. Christ came to do not his will but the Father’s will. “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)

My prayer is that I may always find great joy and beauty in seeking God’s will both in the small and grand assignments that come my way. Lord, grant me a greater trust and surrender knowing that you permit all things in your loving and wise providence.  

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, take my memory, my understanding, and take all of me. All that I have and cherished you have given to me. Take Lord Jesus, Take all of me. I surrender it all to you to be guided by your will. Your grace and your love, they are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, I ask nothing more of you.

(Ignatius of Loyola)