Tuesday 14 June 2022

A Rule of Life For Daily Christian Living - Father Michael Woodgate - CTS Life With Christ Series

A Rule of Life: 
For Daily Christian Living
Life With Christ Series
Father Michael Woodgate
ISBN 9781860824401
CTS Booklet Do 759

As of the reading of this volume I have read 284 different titles from the Catholic Truth Society, most over the last 5 years, many of them multiple times. I tracked this volume down after it was recommended by Deacon Nick Donnelly in Companion to Faith - CTS Year of Faith Do 860.  The description of this booklet is:

“Amid the busyness of the modern world, a personal Rule of Life can be invaluable, to help us have regular contact with God each day, week, month and season. This rule will assist you in acquiring good habits for living as a Christian, and so to love and serve God and your neighbor. The author draws deeply on the experience of Christians over the ages to map out the rule.”

The chapters in the volume are:

Reasons for a Rule of Life
     Everyday living
     Value of a Rule of Life
     Domestic Church
     Preparing to make our Rule
Elements of a Rule of Life
     Where to start in prayer
     Confession or Reconciliation
     Fasting, self-denial and abstinence
     Bible reading, spiritual reading and study
     Retreats, days of recollection
     Spiritual Direction
     Make a beginning

This volume is an excellent read. I know it is one I will return to again. I highlighted many passages while reading this booklet. Some of them are:

“But a Rule of Life (or whatever we want to call it) can be an enormous help to ordinary Catholics and Christians who really do want to follow Christ. In recent years the Rule of St Benedict (which is still a basis for many religious orders) has been re-interpreted for lay Christians by a number of different writers.”

“So how do we become holy, how do we encourage our Christian life to grow and mature into holiness? Yes, by prayer, by taking our part in the Mass, by receiving Holy Communion, by good works and so on. The list is easy to make, not so easy to practise.”

“This is where a personal Rule of Life can be invaluable. “But surely,” you may say, “we don’t want to reduce our living faith, our love for God, our discipleship of Christ, to a list of rules?” No, of course not; but remember that the word “rule” really means “regular” and so a Rule of Life is something to help us live our lives in regular contact with God, welcoming each new day, week, month or Church’s season as a new opportunity to love and serve Our Lord and our fellow men and women.”

“Above all, we need to acquire good habits to live out the Christian life. It was St Bernard who said, “Take care of order and order will take care of you”. The word “disciple” and the word “discipline” both come from the same Latin word meaning “to learn”. So our personal discipline helps and encourages our discipleship.”

“A Rule of Life is usually regarded as a very personal aid to Christian living, but there is no reason why it should not be drawn up for a married couple or even a whole family.”

“What we must not do is to allow our Rule to become our master. It should always be a good servant, never ruling our lives and never becoming an end in itself.”

“The Church herself of course, has given us some very basic rules for our Christian lives such as: Mass on all Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, the need to make a sacramental confession and receive Holy Communion at least once a year; abstinence of some kind on a Friday, fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. These, however, are minimal and if we did nothing more, our love for Our Lord would seem rather cold and almost formal.”

“One thing we need to watch is our use of time, so we need to keep that in mind and guard against the wasting of time in our daily lives.”

“Our relationship with God is - or should be - a very close one and therefore we need to set aside quality time for Him every day as well as make special times during the week, month or year. This is what we are setting out in our Rule of Life, well aware of how our relationship with Him can either grow or deteriorate.”

“Write out your Rule, sign and date it and be sure to review it from time to time, at least once a year. Circumstances change in all kinds of ways. Ask God to help you keep it generously.”

“Remember it is not a sin to break your Rule (unless it is a rule of the Church) and there are times when it is right to break it. What God asks for is our love and so a well-kept Rule means not just one where we can tick what we have done, but one where we are keeping it in the right spirit.”

This book is a life changer! It is a book that will help you craft a plan of life. And grow spiritually. There is an old saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I have seen this come true academically, and work, and in the spiritual life. This is a volume that any Catholic would benefit from reading. The writing is clean and concise. The advice practical and easy to apply. This book is excellent and I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Michael Woodgate:
A Priest's Guide to Hearing Confessions
The Seal Of The Trinitarians
Ignatian spirituality

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