The 3rd step on St. Benedict’s Ladder of Humility may be especially troublesome to those not prone to humility, or who are too rooted in the ways of the world.
It says that a person should submit to their superior in all obedience for the love of God, in imitation of Jesus.
From St. Paul’s Letter to the Phillipians:
He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
This is hard to tolerate, as “obedience” is rather contrary to modern Western thinking, and connotes weakness and slavery.
Benedict’s Rule is primarily for monks living in monasteries of the Benedictine Order. But as I said in the post that introduced this subject, many laity (people who are not priests, nuns or religious brothers) also follow the Rule of St. Benedict. So, how might we find value in this 3rd Step?
It is especially humbling, or humility-inducing, to subject yourself to another’s authority. So, to what authority would we willingly subject ourselves for the love of God?
Well, let’s think about that. What did God do for the love of us? He incarnated Himself in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, who while fully human, also retained the fullness of His divinity. And Jesus died for His love of us, to pay back to God the Father the sin of Adam and Eve which had ruptured our relationship with God (read Genesis 3).
After Jesus died, and rose again, what did He do? He established the Catholic Church, protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error (i.e. the Pope and Bishops in union with him, all of whom are direct lineal successors to the Apostles and who carry out their mission of teaching the Gospel).
The Church is by no means perfect, composed as it is of humans, but it has survived 2,000 years of history created by it’s human members. It has never changed a teaching to be the opposite of what it was originally, and guided by the Spirit, it has developed teachings as we come to more fully understand the Bible and discern God.
This is what we can be obedient to. The Church can guide our conscience to follow and do God’s will. It has the consistency needed to build trust to follow it’s authority in matters of Gospel faith and morals.
Obedience is not slavish submission. It is a willful act of agreeing to follow legitimate authority and consent to its leadership. Authority that has merited trust and acquiescence.
If you have trouble with Step Three of the Ladder of Humility, Step Four tells you how to deal with it.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"