17th April

What’s Good About A Rule Of Life?

I chose some of your people to be prophets, and some to be Nazirites … but you made the Nazirites drink wine, and ordered the prophets not to speak my message. Amos 2: 11, 12

Certain Christians, not just monks and nuns, follow what they call a Rule or a Way of Life. This sets out the values and goals they choose to make their priority, and a check-list, suited to their circumstances, of practices which help them to live these. Some Christians argue that they want to be rid of rules and regulations, and, since no two situations are alike, all they need is the Holy Spirit to guide them. Here is some advice to consider:

In a single day we make so many decisions we cannot possibly weigh up the good and evil consequences of each decision. We are liable to make foolish and wrong decisions. For this reason we need a rule, a simple set of moral principles that we can apply to each decision we make. This will not be foolproof, but with a good rule, our decision will far more often be right than wrong.

Another reason for a rule is this: Jesus tells us to pray always; yet sometimes we love to devote much time to prayer whereas at other times we are dry or feel far too busy to pray. A rule prevents us from making excuses; it spurs us to pray at a particular time even when our heart is cold towards God.

The teaching of Jesus must be the primary general guide for any disciple, but Jesus himself did not give rules. The source of a rule is inside your own heart. What we call conscience is a kind of rule which God has written in your heart. If you wish to formulate a rule you must listen to your conscience and write down on paper what God has written on the heart.

Eternal God
our beginning and our end
accompany us through the rest of our journey.
Open our eyes to praise you for your creation,
and to see the work you set before us.
Based on St. Finbarr’s Cathedral Midday Prayer, Cork