An unsympathetic reader of this reflection might think that the immediacy of response expected of the monk when he is asked to do something represents a kind of subservience, an unthinking obedience:
In the monastery we make a vow of obedience. If we’ve vowed obedience and we’re asked to do something and instead stop and ask ourselves if we want to do what we’re told, we’re vacillating with the world. St. Benedict says in his chapter on obedience that as soon as a monk is asked to do something he is to drop everything immediately and do it. We aren’t supposed decide each time whether or not we’re going to obey. It should be a pattern in our life. It should be something that’s sealed within us, imprinted on us.
I wonder whether St Benedict's point is most fundamentally a point about the disposition expected of the monk? Not so much that the monk literally does everything asked of him, instantly - though, of course, that is how his disposition to obedience will manifest itself. More that the monk is disposed at every moment to that obedience, a disposition that represents an orientation towards acceptance of God's will for him. [The one who commands obedience is, of course, bound by a similar obedience in his life; so that the practical exercise of obedience in the monastery is mutual in nature, a mutuality that arises from the duty owed by the Abbot to the care of his monks.]
From the point of view of the lay faithful, the monastic vocation is the same as that of every Christian, though lived to its most radical extent. The disposition to obedience is lived out in very different circumstances, but it is still part of the lay persons vocation.