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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spirituality: Text of the Deliberations of the First Fathers (four of five)

Concerning the problem we have been discussing, in order to find the way to solve it the three following preparations of soul were proposed to one and all. The first was that each one should so prepare himself, should so devote himself to prayers, sacrifices, and meditations, that he make every effort to find joy and peace in the Holy Spirit concerning obedience, working with all his powers to have a will more disposed to obeying than to commanding when the effect would be the equal glory to God and praise of his Majesty.

The second preparation of soul was that none of the companions should talk to another companion about this matter or should inquire about his arguments, so that no one would persuade another or incline him more in favor of obeying or of not obeying or the contrary, but that each one would desire as more expedient only that which he derived from prayer and meditation.

The third: that each man should think of himself as not being one of our Company, into which he never expected to be received, so that from this consideration he would not be pushed toward his opinion and judgment by any emotions, but as an outsider he might freely propose his idea to us concerning the resolution of obeying or not obeying, and finally he would confirm and approve his judgment that alternative which he believes to be for the greater future service of God and the more secure permanent preservation of the Company.

With these antecedent spiritual dispositions, we ordained that the following day all would come together prepared. Each one would state all the possible disadvantages of obedience, all the arguments which arose and which each one of us had thought of individually in reflecting, praying, and meditating; and he should propose in his turn what he had drawn from this.

For example, one said: “It seems that this name of a religious institute or obedience does not have the good reputation it should among Christian people, on account of our failings and sins.”

Another said: “If we wish to live under obedience, perhaps we will be obliged by the supreme pontiff to live under some already established and constituted rule. If this happens, since it might not give us the opportunity and scope to work for the salvation of souls, which is our unique purpose after concern for our own souls, all of our desires, which in our judgment we have received from the Lord our God, would be frustrated.”

Still another said: “If we vow obedience to someone, not so many men will enter our company to work loyally in the vineyard of the Lord where the harvest is so great but so few true laborers are found. The weakness and inconstancy of men in such that many seek selfish ends and their own will, rather than the desires of Jesus Christ and their own total self-abnegation.”

In the same way another man gave other reasons and an fourth man and a fifth, and so on, stating the apparent arguments against obedience.

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