How Can a Rule of Life Foster Holiness?
Did you know that living a Rule of Life that has been accepted by the Church is a marvelous way to begin to accomplish this? Why? Because the Church promises that those who follow such Rules faithfully are guaranteed eternal life. Many Religious Orders, Congregations, and Associations of the Faithful, whose Members follow a Rule of Life, exist in the Catholic Church. Each of these has a unique charism that is reflected in the organization’s Rules, Statutes, Constitutions, and other governing materials. If you wish to achieve any or all of the above goals, could you do better than living a Rule of Life?
Many people believe that such Rules exist only for consecrated religious like nuns and brothers. That is not true! Thankfully many wonderful Rules of Life, accepted and encouraged by the Catholic Church, exist for lay people to follow. The details of the Rule may be enumerated and explained in Constitutions and Statutes. All Carmelites follow the Rule of St. Albert but the friars, nuns, and seculars have different Constitutions and the Statutes are further specialized by region or province. The graces that come from following a Rule of Life are many. They are often aligned with the evangelical councils of Obedience, Poverty, and Chastity which also correspond to Faith, Hope and Charity.
You give up your own will to follow the Rule.
You allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into the unknown.
You grow in humility.
You grow more detached from possessions.
You conform your will and your life to Christ.
You desire God alone.
You learn self-discipline.
You practice love of neighbor by serving others.
You practice love of God through prayer and worship.
It makes sense that a Rule of Life that causes you to give up more of your own will, to grow more in humility, to become more detached from possessions, to practice more self-discipline, to engage in greater service to your neighbor, and to pray more to our God, is a Rule that will speed you along the spiritual journey to help you achieve your spiritual goals. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, OCDS, can assist you in all of these ways and more! But you should consider other Orders/Rules/Charisms as well, in your discernment.
The following is borrowed, with permission, from the Confraternity of Penitents:
Selecting a Rule of Life
Before you explore all Rules of Life available today, a word of wisdom is necessary. A Rule of Life is not “one size fits all” It is more like “one Rule fits one person.” Living a Rule of Life is a vocation, that is, a direct call from the Holy Spirit.
Selecting a Rule of Life to live as a lay person is not like selecting an article of clothing, an appliance, a book, or a vehicle. It might be safer to say that the Rule selects YOU. If you feel the desire to go beyond the requirements of being a “good Catholic,” then the Lord may be calling you to live a Rule of Life that will help you to achieve this. How will you know? First, pray about this question. Ask God, “Do You want me to live a Rule of Life? Do You want me to live it now?” If the Lord seems to be directing you to investigate this idea, how do you find the Rule that you ought to try to live?
An internet search will unearth many Rules of Life. A call to your Diocesan offices can put you in touch with groups in your area. Your parish priest and other lay Catholics may know of groups nearby. Ask questions. Follow leads.
Each Rule of Life requires certain obligations from its Members. Some Rules are very specific and others more general. Some allow more personal choice and others allow less. Some groups require a specific plan of study before permitting a Member to make a Church-accepted commitment to live that Rule. Others have less structure. You will discover these differences as you investigate different groups and their Rules of Life.
Should you investigate several groups and Rules? Yes, probably you should. Bathe your search in prayer. Certain groups and Rules will resonate with you. Others will not. Keep a list of the Rules and groups that seem promising and pray about that list. Contact the ones that intrigue you. Keep in touch until you know that a certain group or Rule is not for you, no matter how good it is. In time, the Holy Spirit will whittle down your contacts until you find the group whose Rule seems made for YOU.
The Rule of Saint Albert can be found under the Legislation tab above.