Friday, July 31, 2009

A Rule of Life

Say a prayer for us today! We are traveling home -- it's a long trip south and I wouldn't be surprised if it is boiling hot too. The CA Central Valley tends to be like that in late July!

These suggestions for a Rule of Life are from The Secret of Sanctity (available online). It seemed fitting to post them on St Ignatius's feast day, the last day of my novena. These might seem overly detailed or dated, and I'm not posting them to make people feel guilty about not measuring up. What I like about them is that they are specific. And you notice that they are all about not letting silly things take too much of a hold, while allowing good things to take first priority. So in that way they are elaborations on St Ignatius's First Principle and Foundation.

It's really as simple as that, but some people (like me) need some helpful hints. So I'm trying to take one at a time and figure out how to apply it to my own life circumstances. There are more details about each of the suggestions in the text of the book.

Oh, and one thing the book definitely says is that while order is a good thing, and a Rule can be very helpful in building that daily order, that "rules are made to be broken" in the sense that they aren't supposed to replace reason:

Reason requires some times that we depart from the order we have prescribed ; only to follow, however, a more perfect order required by necessity, charity, infirmity, or obedience.
Necessity means that you don't ignore real needs in favor of your "rule"; charity that you don't ignore others in favor of your rule; infirmity means that if you are sick and incapacitated it is more important to respect that than respect your order; and of course, obedience means that if some law of duty gets in the way of the rule, that the rule is less important. This is important because many mothers of small babies, for example, can't consistently follow a rule because of the need of their baby. This is not a deficit in them -- it's a higher calling, a "more perfect order". When need, charity, infirmity or obedience keep you from following your planned rule, you can feel blessed because it is your natural "monastery bells". So the planned rule is a default. I think Jen says it better!


Have a fixed hour for rising ; from seven to eight hours sleep are usually sufficient. Beware of beginning your day by sacrificing to sloth hours every moment of which may avail you for eternity.

Let your first thought be of God ; let it refer as much as possible to the subject of your meditation, and let it be accompanied with the resolution to combat the fault which is the subject of your particular examen.


Give as much time as possible each day to prayer; determine this time according to your occupation, your attraction, and the advice of your director. Let your heart take much more part in this holy exercise than your mind; and let the mysteries of the life and passion of your Saviour be the usual subject.


Do not voluntarily deprive yourself, even for a day, of the inestimable happiness of assisting at the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Unite yourself to Our Lord by means of spiritual communion; offer yourself with Him to God His Father, and ask with perfect confidence, through the merits of His sacrifice, the graces of which you stand in need. Do not fail to pray thus and to offer all your actions of the day in union with the merits of Jesus Christ, for the conversion of infidels, heretics, and sinners, for the progress of the just, and the triumph of our holy mother, the Church.


Give a certain time each day to the reading of a good book according to the advice of your director. Read it in the presence of God, Who speaks to you Himself. Reflect upon what you read; relish it; ask God to give you the grace to carry out the good desires with which He inspires you by means of this reading. Reading made in this way is a sort of easy meditation, and when we are deprived of a sermon may take its place.


Say your rosary every day, either alone or with others, and as you recite it accustom yourself to meditate affectionately on the mysteries of Our Saviour and of His holy Mother. This is the easiest and frequently the most fruitful of all meditations.


Make a daily visit, if possible, to the Blessed Sacrament; go to Our Lord with the simplicity of a child; confide to His heart your joys, your sorrows, your temptations, and your faults.


The life of a Christian should be a continual exercise of penance. Mortify yourself in common and ordinary things; nothing is more necessary in order to establish in your soul the empire of grace and destroy that of nature. Here are a few practices to this end: Resist your inclination to do something which is useless. Keep careful guard over your eyes. Refrain from raillery. Withhold a clever word likely to wound, or intended merely to satisfy self-love. Do not seek what merely flat ters sensuality. Regulate innocent pleasures. Refrain sometimes, through a spirit of penance, even from permitted pleasures. Moderate that excessive tenderness we all have for ourselves. Detach your mind from pleasurable sentiments. Speak little and with moderation. Be courteous and kind to persons for whom you feel an antipathy. Be silent under affliction, and bear your cross with resignation.


Devote yourself to your labor as well as to the fulfilment of all your duties energetically and with a pure intention to please God and make yourself useful to your neighbor. Do not forget that the most indifferent actions acquire, through a fervent intention, inappreciable merit for eternity. Raise your heart to God from time to time by means of fervent ejaculations, that it may not be narrowed and absorbed by earthly occupations.


Let no meal pass without offering a slight mortification to your Saviour, Who accepted the bitter draught on the cross for love of you. These little sacrifices will avail you many graces, and will preserve you from the dangers of sensuality.


Go to bed as far as possible at a fixed hour, and before doing so carefully make your particular examen as well as a general examination of the day. Let there be, if possible, family prayer, that your petitions thus united maybe more efficacious before God, and more advantageous to your children and to your servants.


Go to confession at least every fortnight) prepare yourself for it in the morning during your meditation and the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Give more care to exciting yourself to sincere contrition for your faults than to enumerating them with great accuracy.


Receive Communion as frequently as your director permits; bring to this great action all the devotion and care of which you are capable; and remember that the disposition God asks of you is not sensible fervor, which is not always in your power, but profound humility and a sincere desire to be united with Him.


In your relations with the members of your family and those about you be full of consideration, kindness, and devotion; endeavor to make piety loved through you. Avoid with the greatest care that spirit of criticism, those little jealousies, petty weaknesses, and caprices which many vainly seek to reconcile with true piety.


When you go out into the world avoid with equal care unseemly levity and repellent austerity, and while the politeness of the old school seems to be disappearing more and more, endeavor to revive it in your social intercourse by that delicate courtesy, thoughtful consideration, and simple, modest bearing which are the natural outcome of humility and Christian charity.


Be inflexible in regard to dangerous books and plays. Let even innocent pleasures be moderate. Banish evil pleasures. The day you yield in this point you will take the first step in a down ward course from which there is no redemption.


If God has placed you in a position to give yourself to good works, let them be your pleasantest recreation. Remember that in helping the poor and the afflicted you are helping Jesus Christ Himself, and that they, in thus affording you the means of meriting the gratitude of your God and the indulgence of your Judge, confer a greater benefit upon you than you can bestow upon them. Regulate your expenses, moderate your attachment to the things of this world, and remember that you will be judged by a God Who for love of you bore poverty, humility, and suffering. If your crucified Saviour wills to give you a small share of His sufferings, do not forget that the cross is the only incontestable mark of real love and the strongest bond by which your soul maybe united with God. This conviction will give you strength to overcome the repugnance of nature and to bless God in the midst of the most cruel trials.


Select a day each month to prepare your self for death, and on that day perform each duty as faithfully as if it were to be the last of your life. Go to confession and receive Communion as viaticum. Examine what might trouble you at such an hour: unjust possessions, doubts, restitutions unmade, unreconciled quarrels, etc. Repeat the acts made by the dying : acts of resignation, acts accepting the time, the place, the manner of the death God wishes you to die; acts of thanksgiving, of lively faith, of hope, of confidence, of sincere sorrow, of love of God, etc. Invoke Jesus crucified; implore the Blessed Virgin, your angel guardian, your patron saint, to plead for you, and when you lie down to rest regard your bed as your tomb.


Faithful devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His blessed Mother is regarded as a certain means of salvation. Zealously embrace it. Unite yourself with confraternities established in their honor; practices enjoined by these associations are not onerous, do not oblige under pain of sin, and are enriched with numerous indulgences. Nourish also in your soul sincere devotion to St. Joseph, the spouse of Our Lady, to the holy angels, and the saint whose name you received in Baptism. Finally pray frequently for the dying and for the souls in purgatory.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful post. It is nice to see a faithful feminine approach to Ignatian Prayer.




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