Week 11: What's Next?
Learning to Live was always intended to be a stepping stone, just one part of the journey. This week, we look forward to what’s next.
Spiritual Practice: Craft a Rule of Life
The concept of a rule of life stretches back as far as the Desert Fathers and Mothers, a monastic community in the Egyptian wilderness in the 4th and 5th centuries, but it was popularized by Benedict of Nursia (who also established the practice of lectio divina). Essentially a rule of life is a structure for putting our faith into practice, a way for our beliefs to not simply stay in our heads but to find tangible form in how we live our lives.
Throughout Learning to Live, we have been learning different practices that our forefathers and foremothers in the faith have handed down to us, habits that have been vital in forming souls and lives more and more in the likeness of Christ, disciplines that have enabled us to recognize the Spirit at work within us and respond accordingly — including sometimes getting out of the way! The rule of life is simply a structure on which to hang those practices.
While the word ‘rule’ can seem strict or unbending, St. Benedict intended it to be a very practical working document for how the monks of his order could structure their lives individually and as a community. The same is true today: crafting a rule of life is intended to be of practical help rather than an undue burden or a source of guilt.
One of the things I have found is that our natural drift is toward entropy, or disorder. Without intentionality and effort, we are more likely to move toward paths of least resistance rather than committing ourselves to soul-forming habits that help us become more like Jesus. Without conscious engagement and awareness, we are more likely to be distracted than we are to become more in tune with the Spirit of God around us. At least, that’s been my experience.
My hope, then, is that this last week of Learning to Live may serve as a time when you, through this rule of life, might be able to consolidate the lessons learned and the practices that have enabled you to connect better with God and with one another so that whatever happens next, wherever you go from here, these truths and these experiences will continue to help you live better and better — or, indeed, as Jesus would if he were in your place.
Verse of the Week: Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”