A Year with the Saints – 28 June


Whoever lives under obedience ought to allow himself to be ruled by Providence, through his Superior, like a dead man. It is a sign of death not to see, not to feel, not to answer, not to complain, not to show any preference, but to be moved and carried anywhere at the will of another. See how far your obedience falls short of this. – Saint Ignatius Loyola

A man of this type was Saint Paul the Simple, a disciple of Saint Anthony. He one day asked his master whether Christ was before the Prophets; upon which the Saint commanded him not to speak, as he was able to talk nothing but nonsense; and for three successive years the disciple observed perpetual silence. After that Saint Anthony, wishing to try his obedience still further, commanded him to do many absurd and useless things such as drawing water from a well and then pouring it out, making garments, then ripping them to pieces, and the like. Saint Paul regarded all these things as necessary, at least because they were commanded, though they might be frivolous and of no account in themselves. He performed them, therefore, cheerfully, promptly and with all possible diligence, without making the least reflection about them.

The same spirit was shown by a certain disciple of the Abbot Martin who, having a dry rod in his hand, planted it in the ground and bade his disciple to water it until it blossomed. The latter did this regularly for three years, going daily for water to the Nile, which was two miles distant; and he never complained nor was discouraged by seeing that he had labored so long in vain. Finally the Lord deigned to show how much this labor pleased Him, for the rod grew green and blossomed. This anecdote is related by Severus Sulpicius, who says that he had himself seen the tree, which was preserved up to his time as a memorial in the court of the monastery.

On the day when Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi received the habit, she prostrated herself humbly and with true feeling at the feet of her Mistress and resigned herself wholly to her will, saying that she gave herself into her hands as if dead, and that hereafter she might do with her whatever she pleased, for she would obey her in everything. She also entreated her not to show her any favor in regard to humiliations and mortifications. She made the same protestations to a second Mistress afterwards appointed to succeed the first. And she did, in fact, live thus wholly submissive to their will, obeying them promptly in everything, and allowing herself to be employed by them in whatever they wished, without ever contradicting or giving any sign of disapproval, whatever they might say. In this manner she succeeded so far in despoiling herself of her own will and judgment that she seemed no longer to have any, and they might be called dead in her.

MLA Citation