from Listen to the Silence: A Retreat with Père Jacques
Tr/Ed Francis J. Murphy
Whatever brings us to this point [obedience[ be it a superior or a sorrow, a sickness or a job, it is alway God who comes and speaks to us. When we embrace obedience, we embrace God. When we obey with a smile, we smile at God and welcome him joyfully into our home. To dream of profound prayer, like that of the saints, while withholding the obedience of the saints, is a contradiction.
It's remarkably simple. We cannot pray like saints if we do not live like saints. Or more simply stated, one cannot be a saint without being a saint. Period. One can't hope for deep, profound, unitive prayer while one is chasing every idle pleasure that passes by. Every licit pleasure is not necessarily something to be pursued or obtained. Licit pleasures should be used as a means to the end, which is God. A hike in the mountains should have as its end, a closer walk with God. A cruise in the Caribbean should have as its destination close communication with God. There may be any number of intermediate "ends," for example strengthening and revivifying the relationship one has with one's spouse; however, this in intself becomes a further means to closeness with God. All service, all leisure, all joy, and all sorrow should lead inevitably to the All in All. And one of the ways this happens is when we humbly obey.
What this leads me to is to ask myself, where am I lacking in obedience? Where do I fail God? He alone knows how many ways I fail in obedience, and in my prayer, if He is willing, He will show them to me one by one. Disobedience isn't always obvious. I have many clever ploys to protect myself and my habits from change. But if I wish to live in God, I must ask Him to reveal to me all these places where I fail in obedience.
Obedience is a critical means to the most important of Ends. What we start in obedience ends in growing love.