Rule of Life
The tradition of the rule of life comes out of religious orders who specified guidelines for how they chose to live out their lives in community. But we can write our own personal rules of life based on our own gifts, life situation, and calling.
Intentionality and Accountability
The process of writing a rule allows us to be intentional about our personal call: how we each believe God is calling us. It also provides accountability when we come back to it and evaluate our fidelity to it and God.
Structure and Support
Just like tomatoes, beans, and vines need structural support for healthy growth, our lives can benefit from the structure and support that a Rule of Life can provide.
A Family Rule
A married couple may choose to write a rule of life together, putting words to their common call. Challenging an engaged couple to write a rule can be a great way to engage them in how their marriage will be a vocation. The rule can be reviewed together on anniversaries.
Personal, But Not Internal-Focused
While a "personal" rule of life will be unique to you, a rule is not intended to be exclusive to your interior life. A rule should encompass our entire call to discipleship: relationship with God, self, and others.
The structure for a rule is very flexible. Use your creativity to make it your own: incorporate artwork or photos, and arrange it how it is most useful to you.
A Rule of Life is simply a structure in which spiritual formation is facilitated. The Latin term is regula, which we get our word regulation. I know most modern Christians don't like to think on rules constraining them, but each person's own Rule regulates their life in a way they see that is helps them to grow. It should be something you yearn to do. It is a tool for growth, not a pair of steel shackles.
It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a casual or haphazard manner. There will be a need for some intentional commitment and some reorganization in our own lives. But there is nothing that will enrich our lives more than a deeper and clearer perception of God's presence in the routine of daily living.
William O. Paulsell
A Rule of Life is an intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how he has made us. The disciplines which we build into our rhythm of life help us to shed the “old self” and allow our “new self” in Christ to be formed. Spiritual disciplines are means of grace by which God can nourish us.
Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to our culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.
Romans 12:1-3, The Message
Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way
Stephen A. Macchia
All of us have an unwritten personal rule of life. We wake at certain times, get ready for our days in particular ways, use our free time for assorted purposes and practice rhythms of work, hobbies, and worship. There is already a rule in place that you are following. Isnt it time to give up your unwritten rule and prayerfully write one that more closely matches the heartbeat of God?
In this practical workbook Stephen A. Macchia looks to St. Benedict as a guide for discovering your own rule of life in community. It is a process that takes time and concerted effort; you must listen to God and discern what he wants you to be and do for his glory. But through the basic disciplines of Scripture, prayer and reflection in a small group context you will be lead forward in a journey toward Christlikeness.
The invitation is transformational, so brace yourself for sweet release. By letting go and trusting God, you will receive the gift of life in its fullest and richest form. (Amazon)
Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life
Marjorie J. Thompson
Few books in Westminster John Knox's publishing history have been so embraced and so loved as Marjorie Thompson's Soul Feast. First released in 1995, this spiritual classic continues to be a best-seller, as thousands each year accept her invitation to the Christian spiritual life. Offering a framework for understanding the spiritual disciplines and instruction for developing and nurturing those practices, Soul Feast continues to be a favorite for individual reflection and group study. Now engagingly redesigned to appeal to contemporary spiritual-seekers and repackaged for easier use in study and reflection, Soul Feast is a must-have. (Amazon)
At Home in the World: A Rule of Life For the Rest of Us
From informal versions of the Rule of St. Benedict to Twelve-Step groups and Weight Watchers, the basic human need for guidance and structure in the quest for wholeness is palpable and real. Out of her long experience as a spiritual director, mentor, and teacher, Margaret Guenther offers a warm and sensible guide for "the rest of us" -- singles, couples, parents, extended families, members of churches -- to create a helpful and balanced rule of life to help us in our search for faith. She explores ancient and contemporary meanings for the classic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, along with the distinctively Benedictine ethos of stability and conversion, pointing out the pitfalls of each. A series of short essays follows on the different elements of a rule of life -- such as authority, money, pleasure, stinginess, friends, enemies, and living through hard times. The final chapter gives practical ideas for crafting a rule of life that encourages each of us to grow, stretch, and flourish. (Amazon)
Organizations & Websites
- Rule of Life Videos (RuleOfLife.com)
- Crafting a Rule of Life (Pete and Geri Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality)
- Discovering Your Rule of Life (Michael Anne Haywood)
- Creating a Rule of Life (UrbanMonk.org / John Colletti)
- Creating a Rule of Life (The Community of Reconciliation at Washington National Cathedral)
- Instructions For Developing a Personal Rule of Life (C.S. Lewis Institute)
- Rule of Life... the Beginning (Christ Episcopal Church, Cape Girardeau, MO)
- Rule of Life (Order of the Ascension)
- Rule of Life (Monastic Mumblings)
- A Personal Rule of Life (iCrucified)
- A Rule of Life For Daily Christian Living (Fr. Michael Woodgate)
- How To Write a Personal Rule of Life (Vivificat)
- Rule: Law or Gospel? Writing a Rule of Life (Notes From Stillsong Hermitage)
- The Rule of St. Benedict (Wikipedia)
Invite parishioners to all draft their own rules of life. Perhaps make it a process that the community works through over Lent. At a specified Sunday, participants can bring up their rules with the presentation of the gifts. Rules could also be shared with others (with permission), perhaps posted on the walls of the church.