By Miriam Díez i Bosch
ROME, JULY 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The May document from the Vatican on authority and obedience in religious life is a reminder of life’s ultimate objective, said the superior-general of the De la Salle Brothers.
Brother Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverría spoke with ZENIT about the instruction on “The Service of Authority and Obedience,” issued in May by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
“On a general plane, my first impression on reading the document was that it is a motivating, evangelical, human and balanced writing that includes the necessary nuances and reflects great respect for persons and the different situations in which they might find themselves, despite the difficulty that the classical language continues to have, for example, when speaking of authority and obedience, or of superior and subjects,” he said.
The La Salle superior, born in Costa Rica, added that “it seems fundamental to me, and it is very clear throughout the document, that both authority — or what we might call the ministry of leadership — as well as obedience are subordinate to the search for the will of God, which are two facets of the same objective.”
Moreover, “this objective is final, essential and unconditional. Consequently, it is an obedient authority and a proactive obedience. Hence, we cannot place them in a vertical dimension, with one subordinate to the other, but in a horizontal dimension, namely, the two as ‘obedience of the faith,’ in Pauline terms, seeking only the salvific will of God,” he clarified.
The Brothers of the Christian Schools run educational institutions in 83 countries. Today they boast almost 1 million students.
Brother Rodríguez said he was especially impressed by the first part of the instruction: “the theological foundation of an obedience whose final and ultimate objective is the search for the will of God, of the God that the Gospel presents to us, who wills that all have the fullness of life and all come to knowledge of the truth.”
“The second and third part,” he continued, “make us see that communion and mission must be the coordinates of all ministries of leadership and governance, whose aim is nothing other than to foster Christian witness of incarnate love in a spirituality of communion and to promote, at the level of mission, a more human world where all can feel themselves loved by the Father and called to be brothers and sisters.”
“Such is the kingdom Jesus dreamed of,” the brother concluded, “a dream that must continue to lead us to new searches and new realizations especially in favor of the poorest, the little ones, the excluded and the vulnerable. I hope this Vatican document will awaken this impulse in each one of us.”