What is a Rule of Life?
Our habits are the foundation of our life. If we do something for long enough it becomes part of who we are and changes us. Habits form character over time. If you are habitually lying, eventually you become a liar: if you are habitually giving, eventually you become generous. A rule of life is an intentional set of habits and spiritual disciplines that provide structure and direction for growing in Christlikeness. It’s a set of habits that disciples of Jesus do together to become more like him over time.
A Rule of Life is a Framework by which a Community can Engage in the Same Habits Together.
Famous rules include those designed by St. Francis and St. Benedict. In those instances, a novice would join a community and engage in the same set of habits as everyone else in the community. Versions of these rules still exist today, and they have been used to form disciples of Christ for centuries, responsible for significant Christian growth.
However, the Rules of Life, exemplary of old-monasticism, tend to be a one-size-fits-all approach that is not necessarily conducive to the needs of a diverse community in 21st Century New York.
For the community of All Angels to successfully engage in a rule of life, it needs to work for a diverse group of people:
- Diversity in life stage: youth, young adults, middle-aged people and seniors
- Diversity in lifestyle: College kids and those with full-time jobs, people involved in caregiving, retired, single and married people, young kids and empty-nesters.
- Diversity in the range of socio-economic experiences: very wealthy to people experiencing homelessness.
Lastly, this rule of life also needs to be adaptable to a broad range of Christian experiences. We recognize that this community contains those who have never done a rule of life before and also those who practiced a rule of life for decades. Can we create a rule of life that works for mature Christians and new Christians?
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