My favorite book growing up was THE NUN’S STORY, by Kathryn Hulme. Not only was I fascinated by the world of the convent (which was far different than my life), but I learned some real spiritual lessons from that story.
Sister Luke’s main problem, you see, was obedience; her fatal flaw was pride. A nun is supposed to obey the voice of her Mother Superior as if it were the voice of Christ himself. And Sister Luke was always running ahead of her superiors–doing good things, but doing them without her superior’s permission.
In one scene, Sister Luke works with an envious older nun, Sister Pauline. Both nuns are taking a test in medical school, and Sister Pauline is worried about being shown up by a younger nun. But Sister Luke grew up in a doctor’s home, so she has taken to tropical medicine like a duck to water.
When Sister Luke goes to her superior to confess problems with Sister Pauline, the Reverend Mother thoughtfully suggests that Sister Luke purposely fail her exams on the morrow. Such an act would be done in obedience, and it would be an act of charity–she would do it out of love for Sister Pauline and Christ.
Sister Luke knows that she stands “at a crossroads of her religious life.” But the next day, she cannot bring herself to fail her exam. She passes it with flying colors, to her great shame. Her pride won that battle.
It’s easy to follow Christ when he’s not asking us to do something we don’t want to do. But when he asks something that flies in the face of our logic or our desires . . . are we still willing?