Some Examples and Discussion of Rules of LIfe
Here I'm adding a list of links to various articles and discussions of rules of life. I made them varied on purpose, not to be confusing, but to show how the general idea can have many varieties of application. The basic idea of a rule seems to be to order our lives so that the important things don't get skimped or left out altogether. It also seems to be a way to correct natural areas of weakness by focusing on the opposite virtue.
If this list is overwhelming, perhaps you might want to start with the second section on "rules, roads and programs". These are various applications for daily life, and from solid sources. Also, check out Fr Longenecker's "Benedict for Busy Parents" in the first section. I put the information on Benedict's Rule first though because it's the primary source and all the others are in certain respects derived from his original inspiration (of course he in turn was inspired by Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures, and his rule, both the idea and the rhythm of the details, is deeply and profoundly based on these sources).
Rule of St Benedict, and some of his followers
The classic Rule is the Rule of St Benedict. It has been given the credit for saving Western Civilization. Many books, Catholic and Protestant, have been written on how to apply it to ordinary lay life -- too many for me to list here.
Here is an Outline of the Benedictine Rule
St Benedict's Rule organises the monastic day into regular periods of communal and private prayer, sleep, spiritual reading, and manual labour – ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus, "that in all [things] God may be glorified" (cf. Rule ch. 57.9). In later centuries, intellectual work and teaching took the place of farming, crafts, or other forms of manual labour for many – if not most – Benedictines.Here is an article called St Benedict for Busy Parents (PDF by Fr Dwight Longenecker; HT bearing blog)
Benedict’s three vows of obedience, stability and conversion of life help us to remember that it is through submission to our own circumstances, our own gifts and our own relationships that we can find God and follow the ordinary road to Heaven. The best way to do this is to see everything in our life as being either work, prayer or learning. Every aspect of our life can be filled with God’s glory.More here about St Benedict
If you are interested in studying St Benedict's Rule but are lost on how to apply it to your life, I have subscribed to two daily meditations which are helping me get a better sense of how the Rule looks to today's monastics and oblates:
Benedictine Daily Prayer
This one seems to be targeted to Benedictine Oblates
Holy Rule: Daily Meditation
This one is by a Benedictine brother.
Both send out a daily prayer list, excerpt of the Rule and reflection.
Rules, Roads and Programs in Ordinary Life
Cardinal Newman --short road to perfection
We must bear in mind what is meant by perfection. It does not mean any extraordinary service, anything out of the way, or especially heroic-not all have the opportunity of heroic acts, of sufferings...He, then, is perfect who does the work of the day perfectly, and we need not go beyond this to seek for perfection. You need not go out of the round of the day.
From Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction: What is a "program of life" and why is it important?
- First, when we draw up a Program of Life together with our spiritual director (which is a very good idea), our efforts to follow it have the added benefit of being acts of obedience, since we are doing not just our own will, but God’s will as manifested through our director (we are not speaking of a vow of obedience, but the virtue). An effective time to draw up a Program of Life is during a retreat; a little distance from the daily grind sharpens our spiritual vision.
- Second, a good Program of Life includes a personal (usually weekly) schedule with prayer commitments that are decided upon ahead of time. This saves us from the inconsistency that comes from moodiness and constant improvisation. It also includes concrete areas of activity (the formation of good habits of behavior) that directly counteract the most salient manifestations of one’s root sin.
- Third, the Program of Life is a living entity. It can and should change as we get to know ourselves better and as we grow. Living it out is not like following the Ten Commandments, to which there are never exceptions. Rather, it’s like following a game plan on the basketball court; flexibility in the face of life’s dynamism is preferable to scrupulosity.
A Variety of Rules of Life
I haven't read everything on all the pages here listed, so I can't absolutely vouch for orthodoxy, though I weeded out resources that contained, say, quotes from people I knew to be dissenters. I included a couple of Protestant sources, because I think it's quite interesting how deep an influence the Benedictine Rule has had on non-Catholics, and I think it's a hopeful thing since plainly Christians across the board can see how our society is becoming more like the late Roman Empire and are intuitively (or by means of grace) looking to the solution.
Rule of Life (PDF)
a Rule of Life is something to help us live our lives in regular contact with God, welcoming each new day, week, month or Church’s season as a new opportunity to love and serve Our Lord and our fellow men and women.
CS LEwis Institute Rule of Life(PDF)
(I am guessing this one is non-Catholic)
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.
Rule of Life (Monastic Mumblings)
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
Rules of Life (Behold Your Mother)
This is from the Servite Manual Imprimatur 1959
As the right employment of time is of the greatest importance in the spiritual life, draw up for yourself, with the advice of your spiritual director [if you have one], a rule or order of the day, assigning to each duty its proper time; observe this rule punctually.
Rule of Life and "Customary" in Imago Dei Society. I don't know anything about the Imago Dei Society, but it seems to be a Catholic or ecumenical voluntary community.
Our Rule is designed with the thought that the habits of the Christian Spiritual Disciplines can be accomplished within the regular lives of Christians everywhere and under all kinds of circumstances. It isn't easy, we know, but with the support, encouragement, and accountability offered be brothers and sisters together it can be done - God with us in all of the human condition.