A monastic rule not only underpins the corporate life of a community; it also provides the model for an individual Rule outside the cloister. Basically, an individual Rule consists of a set of established agreements made by an individual as promises to God regarding spiritual practice. Thus to adopt a Rule of life is to provide a structure for one’s own spiritual journey; and a good first step to take is to find a soulfriend or spiritual director who can help us apply the Rule realistically to our own individual circumstances.
A contemporary Rule must wrestle with daily life, being applicable to the good, the bad and the ugly elements in all our lives. It is not a technique or a spiritual diet but a framework that helps us step by step and in a natural way, to incorporate reminders of God’s presence into the life we already live. Repetition and association are key elements in sustaining a spiritual life. ‘The human spirit requires ritual. The stories we tell, the myths that shape us and give us meaning, need to be acted out.’ A Rule creates a structure in which we can recall God’s presence by associating that presence with common, daily things. It provides a rhythm of remembrance – punctuating our day with opportunities to refocus on God. It enables us to redeem the daily round of life – not by escaping it, but by finding the holy in the ordinary. Otherwise we will spend our lives discovering again and again the folly of believing the grass is always greener on the other side.
A Rule of life helps us to stay connected to God in the present moment by noticing the now – not by adding disciplines to an already busy life but by becoming conscious of God in what we are already doing. Our part is to remain available, to listen, to observe, to act, to be. This enables us to remain spiritually alive – mindful of God’s presence with us. Mindfulness is to be aware of what is going on. Live in the ‘now’: life is just the next thing that happens. The present is where we always are. ‘Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.’
Read how our Rule unites us as a community.