Posted by Jenn Giles Kemper

 

Today is the nineteenth day and final day of our #formationFOUNDATIONS series. In case you're new here, you can read more about this series or start from the beginning at SacredOrdinaryDays.com/FF. Our goal for this series is to help you...

  • LEARN about different spiritual practices that you can adopt for your own walk. You will learn how to make the most of your Sacred Ordinary Days planner or the FREE Essentials Workbook you got when you joined our newsletter list, which has all the most essential pages from the planner that we don't want anyone to miss out on.
  • PRACTICE these things on a daily, weekly, seasonally and yearly schedule. You will be able to lay (or bolster up) a strong spiritual formation foundation by clearing the space for your new spiritual practices to deepen.
  • SHARE your experience with people who speak the same language. You'll get to know the other members of our community, who are some of the wisest, most interesting, super fun, and most real people I know by following along on Instagram or Facebook or inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

Day 19 | Rule of Life

A rule of life is a commitment to live your life in a particular way. It is meant to be crafted with prayer and discernment, in partnership with God, as you consider the way God made you and the values God has inscribed upon your heart. Once written, it serves as a tool that can help you make decisions for your life and determine how best to order your days.

The first example of a Christian rule of life came from the Desert Fathers, a monastic community of mystics living in Egypt around the third century AD. The most well-known rule is the rule of St. Benedict, written fifteen hundred years ago, which was created to help his community of monks translate their faith into the habits and rhythms of their shared daily life. His famous rule has inspired many communities and individuals to develop their own rules with a similar intention.

WHAT IS A RULE OF LIFE?

Our English word rule is derived from the Latin regula, meaning “a straight piece of wood,” “a ruler,” and, by extension, “a pattern, model, or example.” Esther de Waal, a longtime student of monastic spirituality, writes that “regula, a feminine noun, carries gentle connotations: a signpost, a railing, something that gives me support as I move forward in my search for God.” A rule of life, then, serves as a gentle guide that keeps you trained toward God.

In this way, a rule of life is different than the goals, intentions, or resolutions we tend to set for ourselves. Those methods are task-based and measurable, and they’re often focused on what we do. A rule of life, on the other hand, helps you become. It is comprised of several simple statements that guide the posture of your life and the living of your days. It is not lived perfectly but can be lived faithfully while fostering within you an integrated and embodied life of faith.

 

WHY CREATE A RULE OF LIFE?

Most of us do not belong to communities, monastic or otherwise, that give us a rule to follow, but all communities and families share values and expectations, whether or not they are clearly articulated, and these values and expectations form us, often without our awareness. By crafting a rule of life, we become intentional about the forces and dynamics that shape who we are becoming.

 

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

Allow your rule to develop slowly over time. Listen for God and realize that the unique expression of Christ in you, your family, and your church will look different than the expression of Christ in others. It can be helpful to remember that the kingdom is built by the whole of the church body, so you need only seek to be a faithful hand or foot. Ask God how to live your part faithfully.

We have included pages in the planner and in the essentials workbook to capture your process. Consider inviting others into this exercise with you, such as a spouse, a spiritual director, or members of your community. Regard your rule as a living document—something you can review and adjust as you live it out.

 

Want more? We have gathered a collection of resources on rule of life and made them available on our Website. 

If you want to listen to more about developing a rule of life with others, check out episode 5 from the first season of our podcast. You can listen to on our website, on SoundCloud, in iTunes, or with your favorite podcasting app. 

 

Now it is your turn ...

Have you worked on a rule of life before? How has that been for you? If you have one, how do you keep that before you and use it in your life? Developing a rule of life is a process. We invite you to take some time today to reflect on what you include in yours, whether you are just getting started or whether you have one that you are living with. 

If you want to share on social media with us today, head over to Instagram or Facebook using #formationFOUNDATIONS and tag us @sacredordinarydays, please.  Or, join the conversation inside Common House, our ecumenical online community. 

If you'd like to use the planner alongside us, you can order one today or get August for $2. You might even already have a planner, either the new Academic year or the previous Liturgical year. If not, today's the day to order yours since they just started on August 1st.

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