“Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on. ~ Henri Nouwen
Last week I wrote about our Baptismal Covenant wherein I had discovered a Rule of Life built into it. It’s a simple rule of life, but not necessarily simple to live. Part of the reason for this problem is that we don’t actually plan on how to we are going to execute it.
This week is a about the “whats” and the “how-tos”. If we only have a rule that we aren’t tending, it will soon become pushed into the “sometime I might do this” part of our lives. What to do and how to do it, specifically and personally, is what a rule is about. The elements of the way are only an outline. What will I/we choose to do in each element and how will I personally live this out in my life is the question. Since what I am writing about this week is a continuation of what I wrote before, and if you haven’t a clue and really want to know what I’m talking about, let me know.
Whichever rule you choose will work if there are elements in it that help us carry out our promises made at our Baptism, grow spiritually, and become transformed into the image of Jesus. I often prefer to use the word “Way” rather than the word “Rule” because Rule sounds so much like law when all it really means is a way to measure and a way to grow in loving God and loving our neighbor.
I am a closet Benedictine, so when I began a way of life, I chose the method used by Cursillo printed on their Rule of Life Card. This is a modified Benedictine rule. St. Benedict’s Rule was divided into regular daily periods of communal and private prayer, sleep, spiritual reading which is mostly scripture, and manual labor, which in modern times was modified into other forms of work that we do. In that case, we should probably add exercise to our way. There was no need for that in Benedict’s time. I like that Benedict added sleep to his Rule. I’m thinking of adding it to mine. Although, what Benedict called for here may be close to what I get when I don’t think I’m getting much.
This rule includes Piety (Seek Holiness – prayer); Study (Learn the Story); and Action (Evangelism – Tell the story, Serve Others, etc.) There is a Check-in (accountability) method used in small groups – How is this way working for you and what action have you done to spread the Kingdom of God that you planned to do in the past week? It is strongly suggested that you share this plan and the results of it in your life with a spiritual director. This whole way (or rule) is to take place within the context of community (continue in the Apostle’s Teaching, the breaking of bread and in the prayers).
How did I make my way specific? I already was receiving Holy Communion twice a week when it was available. I began making sacramental confessions from time to time. I spent time in prayer, quite often reading those from the Book of Common Prayer. I read some scripture, often it was the Bible verse at the top of a meditation from “Forward Day by Day” that was my daily reading. It took me some time before I was very faithful in the reading and study of the Bible. My action and service to others varied and usually took place in a group. I met with a small group, weekly, to pray and to share how I have been accountable to my plan and to God. It is permissible to start small with your “Rule” and let it grow in you.
I had a way to go, and let me tell you a secret. I still do. I have grown, and continue to grow, and how I follow my “way”, now, is quite a bit different than it was, but it is also quite a bit the same. That’s what 40 or 50 years of being reasonably faithful will do to a person. Several, well many, years ago, I added play to my rule of life. I had almost forgotten about that. See, we need diligence. I will need to figure what I can do about this. Deliberately planning what I will do in each element of my rule and planning when I will do what I have chosen is the key. My rule, at this time of my life, is a combination of the Trinity Way of Life, Daughters of the King’s, and my old sort of Benedictine Rule. They mesh well.
What will you choose for your way of life? It might very well be the Trinity Way. It may be another one. If you are just starting out, don’t overwhelm yourself. Remember that Fr. Jack told us to start out in “Pay Attention (prayer)” by spending 10 seconds, yes – that’s right 10 seconds, paying absolute attention to God. Do the same with the other elements of your way. If you need some help getting started, give a holler. You will be amazed at what this does.
Bless the Lord, O my Soul, O my Soul. Worship his holy name.Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship your holy name. ~ Matt Redman