Friday, December 30, 2011

This blog is moving over to wordpress. I hope you will continue to want to follow asolitarybird

http://asolitarybird.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Ancient Prayer for Advent

Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Blessed Mother. Amen

an ancient prayer traditionally prayed daily from St. Andrew's feast, November 30th, until Christmas

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Assimilation


“After arriving at the ninth step in this life the soul departs from the body. Since these souls -few that there be- are already extremely purged through love, they do not enter purgatory” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,5)

This secret ladder, love, assimilated the soul so that it had become like God. It has reached the last step and now has “clear vision at the top of the ladder, where God rests.” 
Though few ascend to these heights through the gift of contemplation, we should all desire it. We are all called to this contemplation, to this love. Therefore, let’s remember that, “by means of this secret love the soul departs from itself and all things and ascends to God. For love is like a fire that always rises upward.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,5)


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Burning Gently

photo by Darren Hester
http://www.darrenhester.com/

“The ninth step of love causes the soul to burn gently.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,4) Filled with the Holy Spirit, these souls burn gently and interiorly with love. The soul has reached perfect union; that is, union that is possible while in this life. The good these soul enjoy are numerous and could never be fully explained. This step is “succeeded by the tenth and final step, which is no longer of this life.”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Holding On


At the heights of the eighth step, now so near the top, the soul does not want to let God go. The soul has found God, the one it loves; it has reached union, though this union is not yet perfect - “it does not do so continuously”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,3) This union lasts “only for short periods of time”
               - until the next step on the ladder......



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Audacity


God gives souls on this seventh step an “ardent boldness”. Ask these souls to pray for you, for these souls “obtain from God what they ask of Him”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,2) 

While on this step the soul must “always conserve humility” remembering that although given a free hand and boldness from God, these same steps are used to descend.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hope


With nothing but hope, the soul on this sixth step runs swiftly towards God. The charity of these souls increases and is purer. It’s capacity to love has been enlarged by the many touches it has received from God. “And it runs without fainting by reason of its hope. The love that has invigorated it makes it fly swiftly.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,1)  ...to the seventh step.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Impatient Longings


The fifth step “imparts an impatient desire and longing for God”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,5) It is almost a painful death for the soul on this step. It so longs for and desires God that any delay tires it and annoys it. It experiences a great hunger and feeds this hunger with love for only love satisfies it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Suffering

Because of this love for God, souls on this fourth step of the ladder pursue Him “in the spirit of suffering for His sake”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,4) They do this because love makes “all burdensome and heavy things nearly nothing”. 


They have their body under control and take little account of it. They want to give to God and are willing to set aside their own interests. This love for God is so intense; therefore, he will frequently visit the soul with spiritual delights, ennobling them to endure the suffering they experience. The soul is interiorly detached from everything and does not stop to rest in these delights.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Solicitude


The third step. The soul on this step in its ascent to God on this ladder of love thinks that what it does for God amounts to very little. These souls are pained and in sorrow about the little they do for him. They do not believe they are useful or that their lives are of any value. They truly believe themselves worse than others. There is no“vainglory, presumption, or condemning others.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,3)



Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Seeking His Face

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902).
 Jesus Looking through a Lattice
The second step consists in the searching. The soul searches for God unceasingly and passes by all that is not Him. All thoughts are about God, all its conversations are about God. “When eating, sleeping, keeping vigil, or doing anything else, it centers all its care on the Beloved.” (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 19,2) 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ten Steps



“It is only love that unites and joins the soul to God” (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 18,5)  


The first step is the beginning of contemplation when the soul does not find any “satisfaction, support or consolation or resting place in anything” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,1) 


It is on this first step that the soul has lost its appetites for all things and has now changed from its previous way of life. The soul has turned its back on sin and now only wants God and God alone, for only God can satisfy it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ladder of Love

In darkness, and secure
by the secret ladder
Union with God through love is described by St. John of the Cross as a secret ladder. The secret is that this love is an interior wisdom that is simple and enters the intellect without the aid of sensory information or the imagination. There are no forms or ideas to speak of and the experience is so ineffable that it is indescribable. St. John of the Cross says that, “this mystical wisdom occasionally so engulfs souls in its secret abyss that they have the keen awareness of being brought into a place far removed from every creature.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 17,6) 

He also describes this wisdom as a ladder which become the steps one uses to ascend and descend. These communications from God produce two things within the soul- exaltation and humiliation in which it comes to knowledge of God and of self.
This ladder of contemplation is prefigured, according to St. John, in the ladder Jacob saw in his sleep and “by which the angels were ascending and descending from God to human beings and from human beings to God, while God leaned on the top [Gen. 28: 12-13]. The divine Scriptures say that all this happened at night, while Jacob was sleeping, to disclose how secret is the way and ascent to God and how it differs from human knowledge.” (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 18,4) 
The reason for calling this secret contemplation a “ladder” is that it is a “science of love”  - “an infused knowledge that both illumines and enamors the soul, elevating it step by step to God, its Creator. For is is only love that unites and joins the soul to God.(Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 18,5) This describes the state of perfection, which consist in love - “love of God  and contempt of self”.  It is God who is at the end of the ladder and it is in him that the ladder rests.  (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 18,4)

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Work of God

Whether we are praying the Divine Office - the Opus Dei - or working in the kitchen among the “pots and pans”, we should regard our work, all work no matter how humble, as the work of God.
It is really the intention that is most important and what truly matters in any kind of work. To tend towards God before the act of doing the work and to give it to God, to abandon all to Him. Thus making our work an act of the will, an act of love. 
God sees the intention. 
“Well, come now, my daughters, don’t be sad when obedience draws you to involvement in exterior matters. Know that if it is in the kitchen, the Lord walks among the pots and pans helping you both interiorly and exteriorly.” (St. Teresa, The Book of Her Foundations, Chap. 5)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Manual Labor - a way to holiness

“You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defences of your souls.” (Rule of St. Albert)
Manual labor is strongly encouraged by the Rule of St. Albert. “You must...” strong words for this precept. “No idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defences of your souls.” Here we have the motivation for this point in the Rule. For when we are unoccupied we are left open to the influences of the devil who comes to knock. The imagination and memory are his favorite playgrounds, if he can gain an entrance. Left alone with our thoughts, images and memories are created which will trouble us and stir up temptations. 
It’s not that thinking is a bad thing. To think is a good thing. However, lest bad thoughts creep in, our thoughts must be general ones and should have God as their object. Consequently, when left to dream, living in the imagination can be dangerous! Thought is a dynamic force. It is the beginning of action; therefore, it can lead to sin, even serious sin!
It must be recalled that everything in the Carmelite Rule is directed towards contemplation. A soul that is contemplative truly loves God and gives God more glory than any other soul. The devil knows this and will make every effort to hinder a contemplative soul. He accomplishes this best by trying to trouble the soul by overburdening it and causing it disquiet within it. 
The devil is so clever. He will do whatever he can to accomplish this disturbance within a soul even pushing it to idleness or to a work that  overburdens it - excess or defect. Either way he will gain.
“In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words. God made him preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations: with him as your leader you cannot go astray. We lived among you, he said, labouring and weary, toiling night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you; not because we had no power to do otherwise but so as to give you, in our own selves, as an example you might imitate. For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either. For we have heard that there are certain restless idlers among you. We charge people of this kind, and implore them in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they earn their own bread by silent toil. This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it.”(Rule of St. Albert)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Christ’s death on the Cross

Moses and the Brazen Serpent by Anthony Van Dyck
“And by it he accomplished the most marvelous work of his whole life, surpassing all the works and deeds and miracles that he had ever performed on earth or in heaven. That is, be brought about the reconciliation and union of the human race with God through grace.” (Ascent of Mount Carmel Bk II, chap 7, 11) 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Silence is Beautiful


Silence is the longest precept in the Rule. For Carmelites this precept of silence is seen as a means for recollection, not as penance. It is a privative, though a happy one because it is what makes possible our union with God. 
Prayer - Silence - Solitude
These three things go together and complement each other.
By being silent one is able to stay away the evils that come about in our abuse of words. What do we have to talk about? What is it that we communicate when we speak? Ideas?
No. Actually, most of what we communicate are images and impressions - mostly foolishness and nonsense. But God gave us the gift of speech to communicate ideas. In reality the more we speak the more our interior recollection is clouded. Words which do not express ideas will only manifest matter. Matter just makes dust! While on the contrary, silence makes for recollection.
For St. John of the Cross to be silent is to be seen in terms of contemplation. 

“The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son, and this Word he speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must it be heard by the soul," (Sayings of Light and Love #100)
Silence is difficult and poorly observed. This we can all agree. It costs. 
Observe silence. During the day let’s wrap ourselves in silence:

      speak little         think little   

The Rule of St. Albert

Friday, August 19, 2011

Memory and St. John of the Cross



In the Ascent of Mount Carmel, St. John of the Cross prepares advancing souls for the gift of God. In his treatise on memory, found in the third book of the Ascent, he teaches that there must be a void in order to make a place for God. This void is often referred to as “nakedness of spirit”.
“In each of these books readers must keep in mind the intention we have in writing. Failure to do so will give rise to many doubts about what they read. They may already have them concerning the instructions given for the intellect, or they may experience them on reading what we say about the memory and the will." 
"Observing how we annihilate the faculties in their operations, it will perhaps seem that we are tearing down rather than building up the way of spiritual exercise. This would be true if our doctrine here were destined merely for beginners who need to prepare themselves by means of these discursive apprehensions." 
"But we are imparting instructions here for advancing in contemplation to union with God.”

Souls advancing along the way in prayer toward union need to keep in mind that God operates the union. There is only one way to allow Him to do it, that is, to make the void which forces the powers, in this case, the memory, to deny its natural operation. Once there is a void in the memory a place can be given to God and to the supernatural infusion.
St. John instructs souls in a method they will need to apply to the memory in order to leave it empty. It is done by changing its habits. Firstly, its habits are changed by putting a bound to its limits- constraining its power. All this is so that it can be elevated above itself, elevated above all distinct knowledge and above all it possesses in order to place it in Hope.
“To begin with natural knowledge in the memory, I include under this heading all that can be formed from the objects of the five corporeal senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch), and everything like this sensory knowledge that the memory can evoke and fashion, It must strip and empty itself of all this knowledge and these forms and strive to lose the imaginative apprehensions of them. It should do this in such a way that no knowledge or trace of them remains in it; rather it should be bare and clear, as though nothing passed through it, forgetful of all and suspended.” (Ascent of Mount Carmel Book 3, chapter 2)
Keep in mind that for St. John of the Cross the memory is a repository of forms that were received through the fives senses. The soul takes this sensory information, along with the work of the imagination, and is able to synthesize these forms into more and various ways to produce still other forms with which the soul is not directly familiar. Given then the nature of this faculty and its ability to synthesize new material to present to the intellect and will, it is imperative that all principles involved in the negation that St. John proposes need to be applied before union can take place. The reason is clear for this negation. God is Spirit and is contrary to nature. For the soul to be transformed, the memory, as well as the intellect and will, must be stripped of its own natural activity in order to enter into union with God.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

 Gratitude Journal....


Horses grazing in green pastures (#518)


Quiet time at church to pray and meditate (#519)


Licorice tea (#520)


Irish dancing, Irish music, Irish festivals (#521)



Warm sun on skin (#522)


Sharing a Pepsi with my grandson (#523)


Purple sundresses (#524)


Black-eyed Susans in vases (#525)



A full moon at dawn (#526)

Creamy homemade yogurt (#527)

Lively dinner conversations (#528)


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Advertencia amorosa

~ simple regard ~

Contact with God, this is what is meant by prayer. From prayer we draw strength and supernatural energy so that we may not fall into sin. We pray in order to raise ourselves above all to Beauty, Goodness, Truth and Love of God.

The most important thing is that prayer is, above everything else, an act of love. While at prayer we give God loving attention.

Contemplation, which characterizes Carmelite prayer, is different from methods. Methods are distinct, particular and material. Pure contemplation, however, is a general knowledge- purely intellectual. Therefore, it is obscure and confused. In contemplation the soul rises above itself. It passes by all images and all distinct and particular ideas. In this way it attains God and is even lost in Him.

Carmelites apply the principle of the Ascent of Mount Carmel to prayer. They pass by all imagination, because contemplation is not the work of the imagination. They pass by all distinct knowledge and, therefore, all method.

What faithfully characterizes Carmelite prayer is to be disposed and attentive to following the breath of the Holy Spirit and to approach prayer with a simple regard - advertencia amorosa.

Loving attention.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

St. Teresa Benedicta, Jewish convert and martyr, celebrated August 9 :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

St. Teresa Benedicta, Jewish convert and martyr, celebrated August 9 :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)






.- On August 9 the Catholic Church remembers St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as St. Edith Stein. St. Teresa converted from Judaism to Catholicism in the course of her work as a philosopher, and later entered the Carmelite Order. She died in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in 1942.

Edith Stein was born on October 12, 1891 – a date that coincided with her family's celebration of Yom Kippur, the Jewish “day of atonement.” Edith's father died when she was just two years old, and she gave up the practice of her Jewish faith as an adolescent.

As a young woman with profound intellectual gifts, Edith gravitated toward the study of philosophy and became a pupil of the renowned professor Edmund Husserl in 1913. Through her studies, the non-religious Edith met several Christians whose intellectual and spiritual lives she admired.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

Gratitude Journal
          ....in gratitude for God's many gifts. Joining in with the community over @ a holy experience.




# 421. little girls on carousels



# 422.  ice cream cones dripping creamy sweet

# 423.  lunch with my husband

# 424.  fresh snap peas hanging in the garden

# 425.  the mysteries of the kingdom

# 426.  the smell of petunias in the late evening hours





# 427.  children setting the dinner table

# 428.  rainbows arching over mountaintops


# 429.  breezes blowing sheer curtains through open windows

# 430.  untangling Irish dance shoelaces

# 431.  tears at the cemetery, grieve and grieving, God's healing

# 432.  squirrels scattering up trees




# 433.  organizing and labeling

# 434.  morning fatigue and a nap

# 435.  butterflies




# 436.  combing tangles out of granddaughter's hair and memories of another little blonde-haired girl

# 437.  wild roses


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ZENIT - A Prophet's Depression, an Apostle's Grief, a Disciple's Fear

ZENIT - A Prophet's Depression, an Apostle's Grief, a Disciple's Fear

Chapter 19 of the First Book of Kings presents us with the aftermath of Elijah's brilliant victory in the contest with Jezebel and the priests of Baal atop Mount Carmel. 
Just when Elijah should have been triumphant, he receives a message telling him of Jezebel's murderous intentions, and he is "afraid" (3). The spectacularly exemplary servant of God is now in a rut -- believing that all of his efforts were in vain! In Chapter 18, Elijah was at the height of success; in Chapter 19 he is in the depths of despair. In Chapter 18 he is on the mountain peak of victory; in Chapter 19 he is in the valley of defeat. In Chapter 18 he is elated; in Chapter 19 he is completely deflated.
Mountaintop experiences

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Elijah and the Double Portion

“When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. . . Elijah said to Elisha, "Please stay here; the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan." "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live," Elisha replied, "I will not leave you." And so the two went on together. Fifty of the guild prophets followed, and when the two stopped at the Jordan, stood facing them at a distance. Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, which divided, and both crossed over on dry ground.When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha answered, "May I receive a double portion of your spirit." (2 Kings, 2)
What is this double portion Elisha asked for from this holy prophet? Some say the the ‘double spirit’ of Elijah is prayer and mortification. These certainly are the cardinal virtues of a Carmelite. Others say it is prayer and preaching. After all what is a prophet without words? Many say it is the spirit of zeal -
 "Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercituum" (I am on fire with zeal for the Lord God of hosts [I Kg 19:10]) - a reflection of his passion.
In the New Testament recall that John the Baptist was to come in the spirit of Elijah. Obviously, this means that Elijah had received the Holy Spirit in an exceptionally strong manner. Elijah is for Carmelites a special Father whom God had given the Holy Spirit with particular strength. This prophet possessed the spirit of unique holiness and left a double portion of it to Elisha. 
A double share of his spirit, that is -the Holy Spirit- twice as much
The Holy Spirit brings with Him gifts- precious, beautiful gifts. Chief among these gifts stands the Gift of Wisdom. Elijah had this gift and he was a great contemplative for it is by this gift that one contemplates. Whenever Elijah’s contact with the world exhausted him or whenever he was persecuted, he would flee to the mountain, into solitude, in order to enter into contact with God.  Then by contemplation he would be renewed in strength. - This is a great lesson for all Carmelites.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Torches

Mount Carmel was a solitary mountain where the prophet Elijah lived a retired and solitary life. There on Mount Carmel he lived in the continual presence of God, truly recollected, and contemplating divine things. Carmelites look to the prophet Elijah for their identity.  
If the world ought to be renewed, as indeed it ought to be, it is through Carmel. We, as Carmelites, ought to be as torches - scripture says so...
“And Elias the prophet stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch.” (Ecclesiasticus 48:1, Douay-Rheims Translation) 
This is as carmelite as it can be!


The torch is the image of the Carmelite life. In the Carmelite crest the arm holding the flaming torch represents light and love. As the torch illuminates the night, so too, we as Carmelites are to illuminate the darkness.
The love and light of God ought to be in our souls.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

Gratitude journal....joining Ann and community over at A Holy Experience

#381 ~ beautiful Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

#382 ~ chanted Marian hymns sung a capella in a beautiful church

#383 ~ mosquitoes and mosquito bites

#384 ~ marsh marigolds and magenta shooting stars



#385 ~ a high mountain lake


#386 ~ the rushing of water flowing swiftly over rocks in a creek

#387 ~ mountain heather

#389 ~ a faithful priest serving in the missions

#340 ~ determination to reach full potential...


. . . despite obstacles



Friday, July 15, 2011

Mary and the Brown Scapular

Mary is the first disciple of Jesus. Not only is she the first disciple, she is the model disciple. Perhaps this is why the hermits on Mount Carmel were so fond of Mary and is why they named their first chapel after her. The Brown Scapular is the habit of the Carmelite Order and is a symbol of Mary’s protection. It is also a reminder for those who wear it to strive to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ. Mary gave the Scapular to the Order as a sign of her motherly protection. This gift came with a promise that if you remain faithful to the Carmelite vocation until death, then you will be given the grace of final perseverance. The Scriptures support this idea, “Remain faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10).
Those of us who wear the Scapular have made a commitment - to follow Christ like Mary. Mary shows us the way to follow Him and teaches us many things. The Blessed Virgin Mary teaches us:
~ to be open to God and whatever He wants in our lives

~ to listen to His Word through the Sacred Scriptures believing what they contain and putting them into practice


~ to pray always and at all times aware of His presence

~ to be attentive to the needs of others.
[The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Catechesis and Ritual]

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Post-postmodern Defense of Christianity


The Christian lives a life that tends toward God. Actually, it is more of a flight towards God and it is a movement that is above all interior. This is contrary to life as viewed by the post-postmodern world. Today, life is viewed as an end in itself; however, for the Christian life is not an end in itself, it is a means. For the Christian life is to love. 
When we think of love we think of the heart. St. Teresa of Avila wrote of the heart as having a capacity of willing and choosing. If we want to have a better Christian understanding of the relationship between the heart and love then the post-postmodern world needs to understand that for the Christian “God is love”. Yet, Christians understand that their hearts are poor...poverty of spirit is what they call this. Their capacity is small. Christians desire above all to have this capacity expanded and filled. This desire then is for God. This poverty of spirit is because one cannot desire God in a supernatural manner unless God gives this desire and communicates it through humility. 
Therefore, the Christian expands this life, this capacity to love, through prayer. Prayer - contact with God. And what do Christians ask of God? 
-for the gift of Himself
-for His grace
-for the gift of the Kingdom
The life of a Christian is and ought to be a continual prayer. Surely, then one can see that this is interior. But, all prayer attracts or leads to an act of love (at least it ought to). 
There is another condition that is in effect for the Christian: that is suffering, the cross. Why? Because in order to have the Christian life in you, you have to renounce your natural life. The Christian renounces natural life by turning away from selfish joys and from seeing life as an end in itself. Then the Christian is able to turn towards that end which is the true goal - God. This renouncement is a death...mortification.
The moment one enters the Christian life - one enters into opposition with those who do not live it. The world does not understand them.
One final note is that Christians hold fast to the Church for this is a place that also expands this life. Christ gave the Church power; power to administer sacraments and to guide past obstacles to eternal life. Without the Church there is no truth, no sacraments, and no sure direction for the Christian.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wisdom and Silence


Wisdom...
...prevents
...awaits at the door
...presents herself along the way
...precedes
...guides
Never leave her presence
Observe all her movements
Know her voice and her silence!
When she speaks not, it is especially then that she spoke.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Yoke of Obedience

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Mt 11: 28-30)
Jesus is truly the living way. He is asking us to become His disciples, to accept His doctrines. For He truly is meek and humble and accordingly does not wish to impose burdens which we cannot bear ourselves. His yoke is easy and it is not a heavy burden.
Jesus took on the yoke of obedience. He was obedient to the Father, to the Father’s will. This yoke of obedience He bore unto death.
Obedience before all. As Seculars we “promise to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience”. We make this promise not as an end in itself but as a means; therefore, we too should be keeping in mind the end- which is perfection. Obedience is most important in the light of perfection. 
When we are under obedience we are not free to do what we wish. We are to set aside our preferences, our tastes, our desires and even those things that repulse us and to consider just one thing - God wills it.
When someone has been legitimately elected as the superior or as the one in authority over us, from the fact that this person accepts, God communicates in an invisible manner His authority to this person. When we obey this person we must keep in mind that it is God who is the end of our obedience and not this person. Therefore, when the superior commands it, it is God who commands.
St. John of the Cross in his Precautions offers some particularly important advice in the matter of obedience in his second counsel against the devil:
“Let the second precaution be that you always look on the superior as though on God, no matter who he happens to be, for he takes God's place. And note that the devil, humility's enemy, is a great and crafty meddler in this area. Much profit and gain come from considering the superior in this light, but serious loss and harm lie in not doing so. Watch, therefore, with singular care that you not dwell on your superior's character, mode of behavior, ability, or any other methods of procedure, for you will so harm yourself as to change your obedience from divine to human, being motivated only by the visible traits of the superior, and not by the invisible God whom you serve through him.
Your obedience is vain and all the more fruitless in the measure that you allow the superior's unpleasant character to annoy you or his good and pleasing manners to make you happy. For I tell you that by inducing religious to consider these modes of conduct, the devil has ruined a vast number of them in their journey toward perfection. Their acts of obedience are worth little in God's sight, since they allow these considerations to interfere with obedience.”
Whenever we regard the person who is commanding or judge this person’s acts, or whenever we are looking at the human elements (qualities and defects) we do not have the qualities of obedience.
On a final note, those who are in positions of authority over others ought to show the way. That is, they should only teach. St. Blanc of St. Bonnet says “to govern is to teach others to govern themselves”. The example of obedience Jesus Christ gave us is one always worth pondering.