Rules to Live By

My wonderful Spiritual Director suggested something recently to me that I thought must be shared.

“Make some rules for yourself.”

Rules? I suppose I asked for it. I had said I felt disorganized and scattered in my prayer life (okay so I’m completely scattered in my real life, not just prayer) but I mentioned the need for some “structure.”

He mentioned St. Benedict and his book called “The Rule” which was a set of…rules. Duh.

So, if I wanna be a Saint I suppose I should try and learn from these guys and gals, right?

The task was to come up with 3 rules for myself that could be anything, not necessarily prayer related.

Example: I will answer all my emails within 24 hours.

The thought is that they should be simple and reasonable rules. And I couldn’t help but think, “This could actually be useful in my other life as a personal trainer with my clients as well as myself!”

That part is coming up…but I digress.

So I have this bad habit of purchasing books/checking out books from the library and just starting them without finishing them. I have about half a dozen books sitting on my shelf that I haven’t cracked open. Which led me to come up with Rule #1.

Rule #1: Don’t check out/purchase another book until I have completed the books currently on my shelf. And I will not read more than one book at a time. I have tried, to no avail, to read 3 books at once. Terrible idea. Never works for me. So back to just one at a time.

Rule #2. I won’t attempt to multi-task while listening to commentary/homilies on scripture. I can’t help but have a slight obsession with learning everything I possibly can about my faith and so I think at last count I subscribe to about 6 different pages/accounts that send out reflections/commentary. You’d think this would be fantastic and a great way to learn but turns out it’s awful for someone like me because I cannot seem to pay attention for more than 30 seconds at a time before I’m clicking the next one. Or I get up and start making breakfast thinking “I’ll just have it on in the background, I can still hear it!” It’s a prime example of why multi-tasking is terrible, for EVERYONE.  So my rule is to force me to focus on one message at a time, hence, structure.

Rule #3.  Think of a Rule #3. 🙂  I haven’t thought of one.  Although I’m considering “Don’t go to Adoration with more than one journal.”  I mean. is it my fault that I love to write and I have 3 different journals for 3 different writing formats? 1 is for blog ideas, 1 is for spiritual direction thoughts and 1 is for free thinking. Actually, that’s pretty organized for someone as scattered as me.

As for my “Other Life” as a Personal Trainer – I thought the Rules could be applied to myself and my own clients in their efforts to be healthy and in shape, especially for those who make those lovely “Resolutions.”

  • Skip dessert (or wine or whatever your biggest indulgence is) every other day. For me, I’m not a big dessert person but I do love cheese. And Peanut butter. So one of those has to get reduced.
  • Get up 15 minutes early 3 days a week in order to make breakfast instead of eating “on-the go.”
  • Save the fast food meals for payday only (Limits yourself to just twice a month at the most)
  • Don’t purchase a “treat” for yourself until you reach a certain health goal first (lowered blood pressure, loss of an inch in the waistline, held a plank for a minute, etc)
  • Walk at least a mile before hitting the “Stop” button on the treadmill/quitting to do something else. I find that the times I really don’t want to workout, if I just say “Okay, just 10 minutes of something then I can stop,” usually works.

There’s plenty more out there but these are just a few to get you thinking…In the meantime, I found this on Facebook and thought it was a great little image to share.  (I’m a big fan of anything food AND faith-related.)

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The Best Quotes About Lent

The practice of Lent

Matthew 6:1 Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

Pope Benedict XVI: “Lent is like a long ‘retreat’ during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual ‘combat’ which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism.”

Mother Teresa: “As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”

Pope Francis: “Live your Lent as if there is no Easter.”

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” – John Chrysostom

Fr. Robert Barron: “Jesus, having resisted these temptations from the devil in the desert for 40 days, is now ready to make God the center of His life. This, too, is our purpose during Lent.”

Prayer:

Matthew: 6: 5-6 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Martin Luther: “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

Paul E. Billheimer: “Satan does not care how many people read about prayer if only he can keep them from praying.

Various Priests and Deacons: “Pray in your car, it’s the perfect setting. You’re alone, you’re forced to slow down when you’re stuck in traffic. Begin a conversation with God right there.”

St John Damascene: “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”

Fasting:

Matthew 6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Pope Francis suggests we fast from indifference to others:  “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”

Fr. Robert Barron: “The pleasures of the body sometimes dominate and take over – so we fast from them purposely so as to allow the deeper hungers to arise and emerge.”

John Piper, Author of A Hunger For God: “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God.”

Almsgiving:

Matthew 6: 2-4 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Father Robert Barron: We all have too many material things. Here are 3 ways you can express almsgiving:

  • When you receive something in the mail and it is requesting money, donate to that cause.
  • If you see a homeless person who asks you for money, give them something (does not have to be money).
  • When you want to buy something, take a look at what you would consider your first choice. Then buy the model or the version just beneath it/less expensive than your top choice. Use the money that’s the difference between those two and give it to the poor.

Mike Aquilina – Catholic Education Resource Center: Almsgiving is a form of prayer because it is “giving to God” — and not mere philanthropy. It is a form of fasting because it demands sacrificial giving — not just giving something, but giving up something, giving till it hurts.

Book of Tobit 12:8-9: “Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness … It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life.”

Fit in Your Faith Today (and this Lenten Season): Practice the 3 aspects of Lent – Perhaps you take just one a day. Which one do you need the most help with? Do you find that you aren’t giving to the poor enough when it’s NOT Lent? Work on how you can give to those less fortunate, even if it’s not monetarily.

Do you go about your day skipping prayers and forgetting to give thanks to God? Arise every morning with a short prayer of thanksgiving.

What do you have too much of that you can fast from this Lent? It could be food, it could be social media, or it could be a certain bad behavior/habit you have been meaning to cease.

Is 46 days too much to ask to abstain and use that time/energy/money on something for your community of fellow Christians? Start your Lent off on the right foot and start a calendar or write down in a journal how and what you’re going to accomplish this Lent. At Easter, note how closer you have come to putting God first in your life.