The Rules of Catholic Life
Based on BEHOLD THY MOTHER,
The Servite Manual,
I. 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.
II. Begin the day by making the Sign of the Cross as soon as you wake, and by saying some short prayer such as: “O my God, I offer my heart and soul to Thee. Grant that during this day all my intentions, thoughts, words, and actions may be directed to the praise and service of Thy Divine Majesty.” Rise diligently at the appointed time, dress yourself modestly, and then kneel down before the Crucifix and the image of our Lady of Dolors, and say your Morning Prayers.
III. If your occupations and condition of life allow you, make a daily meditation for at least a quarter of an hour or half an hour. Meditate especially on the four last things; the Life and Passion of our Blessed Lord; the virtues, privileges, and sorrows of our Blessed Lady; and on feast days, on the mystery or Saint of the day.
IV. You should also hear Mass, if you have time and opportunity; for to hear Mass is by far the best and most profitable of all devotions.
V. During the day endeavor to dwell in the Divine Presence. Sanctify your ordinary actions and employments of the day, by offering them to God in the beginning, and often raising up your heart to Him whilst you are about them, and saying some short prayer.
VI. As to your eating, drinking, sleeping and amusements, use all these things with moderation, and with a desire to please God. Be faithful to the Christian practice of saying Grace before and after meals.
VII. Every day endeavor, during at least a quarter of an hour or more, to make a spiritual reading from the Holy Gospel, the Lives of the Saints, and other spiritual works, which nourish our faith and piety, and arm us against the false maxims of the world.
VIII. If possible, recite daily the Crown of the Seven Dolors. Never forget the Angelus or Regina Coeli, in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.
IX. A void dangerous occasions, companies, and conversations, and keep a strict guard over your senses, especially the eyes and the tongue. Be not idle, “for idleness hath brought much evil” (Ecclus. xxxiii. 29.) Do not waste your time in profane, or light reading, which but too often is a poison to the soul.
X. When you find yourself tempted to sin, make the Sign of the Cross on your heart, and call on God as earnestly as you can, saying “Lord, save me, or I perish;” invoking also the holy names of Lord Jesus and our Blessed Virgin Mother. Then, in order to forget the temptation, give all your attention to the work you are doing, or occupy it with holy thoughts, such as the Passion of Jesus, the Sorrows of Mary, or death and eternity.
XI. If unfortunately you have fallen into sin, be not discouraged; but cast yourself in spirit at the feet of Christ, and humbly beg His pardon by a sincere Act of Contrition; and in the case of mortal sin, go to Confession as soon as possible.
XII. When God sends you any cross or humiliation, sickness or pain, accept it with resignation from His hand, offer it up to Him, in union with Jesus and Mary, saying: “Lord, Thy will be done; I take this for my sins. May I suffer patiently with Jesus and Mary.”
XII. Every evening, if you can, pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and to the Altar of our Blessed Lady, as this practice is most sanctifying and the source of many a choice grace. If not, as is the case for most of us today, enthrone an image of the Sacred Heart in your home in a special place. Have a votive candle thereto light and make an evening visit.
XIV. Finish the day, as you have begun, by kneeling down and saying your Night Prayers [see Basic Catholic Prayers above]. Examine carefully your conscience, humbly ask pardon of God for the faults of the day, and take good resolutions. Then observe due modesty in going to bed, occupy yourself with the thoughts of death, and endeavor to compose yourself to rest at the foot of the Cross near our Lady of Sorrows, giving your last thoughts to your crucified Saviour and His afflicted Mother.
XV. On Sundays and Holy Days give more time to prayer and works of charity, hear the Word of God, and attend as much as possible all the Masses and other devotions if available. Avoid manual labor that is absolutely not necessary, likewise shopping.
XVI. Go to Confession and receive Holy Communion at least once a month, and on the principal feasts of the year. Go oftener, if you can, even daily. For this, and everything else pertaining to your soul, choose a good and prudent confessor, whose advice you should seek and faithfully follow.
XVII. If you can, make a spiritual retreat once a year, under the guidance of an enlightened director. It is also a very salutary practice to make a monthly retreat, choosing for it the day when you are less busy. This last is not practical for most Catholics in today’s situation.
XVIII. Lastly, if you fall seriously ill, think that it may be your last illness, and make the sacrifice of your life to God, resigning yourself entirely to His holy will. Make a good Confession and receive Holy Communion, as if it was the last time, even before there is any danger. And when you are in danger, do not delay receiving the last Sacraments, but be the first to ask for them, so as to receive them in your full senses. And in order to learn how to die well, than which nothing is more important, make the exercise of Preparation for death in every monthly retreat. [Not on line here.]
XIX. Say five decades of the Rosary, either in the morning, the evening or during the day, incorporating rules III, and XIV where appropriate. Recite your Rosary slowly and deliberately, not hurriedly and destractedly in order to get it done on a technicality. If distractions occur, quickly ask Our Lord and Our Lady their grace to dismiss it and do not let these annoyances disturb this time in their arms. Remember that one devout Hail Mary is of more value than a hurried, half-hearted Rosary. Never omit praying for the relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory: an act of charity that is obligatory and ought to be a welcomed work and not considered merely obligatory.
XX. Read this Rule of life from time to time, in order not to forget it: see how you observe it, and take resolutions accordingly. Please note that these rules are fundamental, but they may be modified due to special circumstances beyond out control, such as sick children or spouse that occupy much time. Do not miss the Rosary, but you can choose rather to not read a salutary work for a quarter of an hour, for example. ou may want to recite the Angelus only at noon. Make a beginning and do what you can and the rest will come in short order as best as can be given the exigency of the crisis in the Church. Thus, daily Mass is not a possibility for most Catholics simply because it is not available every single day any longer. But crosses and humiliations we will always have.
“THIS DO AND THOU SHALT LIVE.” St. Luke x. 28.