The Most Difficult Evangelical Counsel

If you ask a religious sister, brother, or priest which of the Evangelical Counsels—poverty, chastity, and obedience—is the most difficult, many of them will tell you it’s obedience. You might think that living a life of celibacy or giving up your worldly possessions would be hard, but for those who take the three vows, overcoming pride can be the most difficult of all.

Noelle in California called The Patrick Madrid Show for advice about a situation she recently encountered at Mass, and told Patrick that obedience is becoming very difficult for her. “I feel like we’re not doing the right thing, we’re not living our lives as martyrs, we’re not standing up for…” she trailed off.

“Oh, but you are,” replied Patrick. He tells her that obedience is the form of martyrdom that God is asking of her in this time.

When a superior is acting unjustly or pettily, or not doing something the way you would like them to, your holy docility and obedience can be a powerful way to grow in holiness. Of course, this does not apply to sinfulness—you should never be obedient to someone asking you to commit a sin.

“The best way in situations like that, if you’re seeking martyrdom, there is the cross that Christ is asking you to carry. Here and now, that’s the cross. And in your obedience, you cultivate the virtue of humility,” explained Patrick.

Obedience is hard and doesn’t come naturally to most of us. “I’m like you and probably most of us are like this that we want to fix the problem. We’re Americans, after all. ‘By golly we’re going to fix this problem! I’m going to write a letter, I’m going to demand that this be done right!’ And so often in life, especially in the life of the Church, it doesn’t happen that way,” said Patrick.

That’s not to say that we should stay silent when grave injustices are committed. In the face of abuse, mortal sin, and things that go beyond personal preference or small offenses, we must speak up. But practicing obedience in the little things can be a great reminder to aside our pride as Jesus did.

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Lindsey Kettner serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a wife, mother, and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she studied journalism and advertising. She writes daily at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.