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I was with some Seculars in formation the other day and we were discussing the call to obedience to be found in our Constitutions. I always think that this word sounds rather strange these days outside the context of the military and the cloister. I can't recall being summonsed to obedience in Carmel. However, I think of obedience in our context more as respect. We accept the decisions of our leaders even if we disagree with them because a spirit of cooperation and collaboration is essential to maintain the harmony of a group. Sometimes a group is badly undermined because of the development of factions within it, sub-groups who are questioning the leadership. This is especially inexcusable when the group has been canonically erected and has chosen a president and council by vote. When the group is a smaller one led by a founder-figure whose authority does not have a 'democratic' basis, the situation is still the same. If the group is to work, there must be respect for the leader. One of the delights of Carmel in my experience is that virtually all members give that respect happily.

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