From Sabine Schwartz, Catholic Chaplain:
A group from the Chaplaincy spent the last weekend on retreat at Worth Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery in West Sussex, and our activities were largely structured as a dialogue between monastic life and student life, exploring each others values and practices. There are obvious differences (just think about prayers starting at 6:20 in the morning!), but it was still very interesting and challenging to see what a young Christian at University (and by extension, any Christian) might learn from the monastic way of following Christ.
One of the aspects that most caught my attention was that of obedience- not a fashionable concept and, as far as I am concerned, not even a particularly attractive one. Obedience, after all, smacks of ‘doing as I’m told’, of unthinking following, of giving up my own judgement and my own will in order to follow somebody else’s, hardly worthy of a responsible adult. It also sounds like the antithesis of freedom.
But then, to be a Christian means to be a disciple of Christ and as such, to to follow the values and practices of Another, and this Other is the incarnation of God’s love and the revelation of what it means to be truly human. And that makes all the difference.
To be a Christian also means to belong to a community of disciples, and as such, our obedience is not just to God, but also to the community and its values and practices. This, does not mean that I have to slavishly obey every rule or unthinkingly assent to every decision taken by its leadership. Rather, I am called to do my bit for the community to be as fully alive and as faithful to the Gospel as possible.