A rule of life is the means by which an individual Christian establishes an intentional pattern of Christian discipline which can, over time, be reflected upon, revised, and deepened. Your rule is an expression of the faith and practice of the whole Church in your own life; a discipline freely taken on to give order, support, and direction to your life; and a means of rooting your life in Christ."
I copied what you have just read from the home page of the Christ Episcopal Church in Cape Girardeau. It was a concise explanation of what I am attempting to do and what I encourage every Christian to do. If you "google" rule of life on the internet you will get many explanations but they say basically the same thing. As the author of this article goes on to say, ".. a Rule of Life is a guide, a scaffold, a trellis on which you place those activities in your life which particularly point you to God. In researching this, I liked the image of a trellis, where a seed is planted, allowed to grow upward toward and with the Son along a framework which is modified for the size, need of the plant..." I personally like this image.
When writing my rule, I first thought of the things that I regularly do as a Christian. I regularly go to Mass (again). I pray. I write about my own journey of spirituality. I meditate. I read the Bible. I read books on faith and spirituality. I try to practice the "golden rule."
These experiences are good but pretty general. A Rule of Life, the way I understand it, needs to be more specific...in fact this same article says this:
A rule needs to be:
1. Specific: You should be able to say whether or not you are doing it.
2. Realistic: Something you can really manage.
3. Sacrificial: It should demand something of you.
4. Flexible: A rule must be appropriate to the circumstances of one's life.
5. Responsive: Reflecting the claims and pattern of the Christian life as the Church understands and lives it.
So I looked at my list again.
I regularly go to Mass...now in my rule I have expanded this to going to Mass twice a week--for me I like Sunday morning and Monday evening. Since Mass @my church is now offered at least four times a week..this part of my rule is specific, realistic, flexible, responsive, and maybe a little sacrificial.
I pray. I believe in unceasing prayer but it would be nice to include a specific time of day to pray for a specific reason....maybe every morning for life in another day or maybe before bed, a prayer of gratitude. Maybe out of the book of common prayer--regularly reading the office of morning and/or evening prayer. For me to do this everyday is impossible (I have tried) but I love the office of Compline and I can say it every night before I go to sleep. This is my "specific" of prayer.
I hope by now that you get the idea. A Rule of Life is something between you and God--a promise to keep. My rule is between God and me and it is not important (or necessary) for me to publish it here. It is, however, very important to me that you know that I have one and that I am trying to live by that rule.
My rule includes writing on this blog everyday. This sometimes is hard work but I make sure I take the time and do what I promised to do. Being a Christian includes discipline. Just like going to church, the most important time to go to church is when you don't feel like it. Some of my best writing (as I have said many times) has occurred when I could not ignore my computer because it reached up and grabbed me by the throat.
Anyway, I just wanted you to know that a Rule is Life is something that I have written and try to live by. It has enhanced my life and my relationship with God. It is important to do specific things on a regular basis to point you in the direction of God. It is an exercise that I encourage you to undertake.