Lent blog: Day 34 – ARE YOU REGULAR?

Published Sat, 27/03/2021 by

The Latin word for ‘rule’ is regula.  At school we used rulers to measure distances and draw straight lines.  This helped our work to be accurate and presentable, in a way that guesswork or drawing freehand would not have achieved.  In Government, rulers are those who have the task of framing just laws for the common good – things that should be observed for the benefit of all.  This is because there have to be areas of consistency and regularity in the way we behave in society, rather than everyone just taking it into their heads on a whim to do whatever they like.

Communities living together also need clear ground-rules if they are to be effective and not descend into chaos.  Schools have rules, for example, and (more informally) families too.  Religious communities have had rules to guide and inspire their members for centuries: the Rule of St Benedict is a famous example.  For 1500 years it has stood as a model for other monastic rules. 

Individual Christians do well also to have some sort of Personal Rule of Life.  It will act as a benchmark, helping us to see if our lives as disciples are ‘up to the mark’ – because it’s all too easy to become slack.  A rule of life isn’t a straight-jacket though – and this is important.  All good rules need some flexibility and the recognition of reasonable exceptions if they are to be humane, serviceable and not imprisoning.  

It’s good if you can find an experienced Spiritual Director to talk these things through with in order to get the benefit of an objective perspective and wise guidance.  As a rule of thumb, we shouldn’t take on anything too demanding until we have gained the capacity to cope with something less demanding.  It’s the same in the gym.  It’s a mistake to start off trying to lift the heavy weights: be sure to work up to them gradually, otherwise you’ll regret it.

Some things to consider in a personal rule of life are: regular attendance at Mass (when restrictions are lifted), particularly on Sundays and major Holy Days; praying the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church; making time each day to read and pray with the Scriptures; having a plan of intercession; giving time for regular examination of your conscience and resorting to the Sacrament of Penance; undertaking affordable financial support of the Church and other charitable bodies on a consistent basis; getting personally involved in some project which tangibly expresses the Church’s social outreach to the poor and vulnerable.

As a Christian, how regular are you?

MICHAEL KIRKHAM