A Catholic Rule of Life: Why Lent Is a Good Time To Begin

Written by on March 2, 2024

What Is A Rule Of Life?


A rule of life is not a mandate or law, but a spiritually-based daily routine that includes time for prayer, work, ministry, recreation, and rest.


Religious orders in the Catholic Church are organized by a rule. Yet each order has a different rule by which it lives out its charism, or unique way of sharing the Gospel.



A Rule Of Life: Not Just For Catholic Religious Communities


In the late 16th century, acts of penance were thought to be the best means to make progress in the spiritual life. Lay people also looked to the rule of nearby religious communities as a model. However, that often led to frustration, especially for women, who were keeping a home and raising a family.


St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) was a bishop in France. He provided spiritual direction in person and through his writings. He recognized that a rule for a religious community was incompatible with married lay people. The daily duties for each were different.


In his Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Church (also called the Doctor of Charity), taught that to progress in the spiritual life, charity is more efficacious than penance. The book is comprised of five sections:

  1. The desire and resolution to lead a devout life
  2. How to approach God in prayer and the sacraments
  3. The practice of important virtues
  4. Remedies against ordinary temptations in life
  5. Renewing and confirming the soul in the practice of devotion



How Lent Encourages A Devotional Life


During Lent, there are many opportunities to participate in the penitential nature of the season. Lent is marked by the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.


Also, parishes typically schedule penance services or offer more scheduled times for confession. Stations of the Cross are on Fridays, as well as other communal devotions or prayer services.


“Giving something up” for Lent has been a long-standing tradition in the church. However, in recent decades the faithful have also adopted the practice of  “adding something in”. Examples include weekly Adoration or holy hour, attending daily Mass, praying through a devotional book, scripture study, rosary or other chaplet.



Reflect On the Successes and Failures In Your Lenten Devotions


God, Our Father, continually calls us to greater conversion. This requires reflection. What worked well during Lent? For example,

  • Were you more centered in Christ and peaceful by attending Mass more often than usual?
  • Did praying the Sorrowful mysteries of the rosary help you connect the wounded parts of yourself with Christ in His passion?
  • Did passages in a Lenten devotional renew your mind towards heavenly things above?


What intentions did you set at the beginning of Lent that never came to fruition? Think about what can be adjusted to begin again.



Consider Some Elements of a Catholic Rule of Life


When creating a rule of life, consider marking time in your calendar or planner. Try to include the following. It’s fine to start small. New habits take time.



  • How can you incorporate prayer throughout your day?
  • Do you need to learn how to meditate or pray lectio divina?
  • What tools can you utilize to make prayer time happen? Apps, short devotional books, daily emails of scripture, or words of the saints, make it easier to utilize brief amounts of time.



  • When can you attend daily Mass to receive Jesus in the Eucharist? If no time is available, when can you listen on Catholic radio? (Catholic Radio Network has 5 livestreams to meet your needs.)
  • Many priests recommend regular confession at least monthly. Are you making that happen?





  • How can you infuse your work with elements of your faith?
  • In what way can you turn your thoughts to God throughout your time at school, workday, and daily duties?



  • Do you have hobbies or activities that bring refreshment and rejuvenation to your soul? How can you make them a more regular part of your life?
  • How do you spend your “down time”? Is it fruitful, or fraught with laziness? Be intentional so as not to waste time needed to bring wholeness or balance to your life.
  • Is there any way you spend your time that may not be pleasing to God? Is something hindering you from greater unity with Our Lord?



Convert Your Lenten Practice Into A Catholic Rule Of Life


The seasonal rhythm of Lent and the structure of its devotional practices can serve as a starting point for a regular spiritual practice. A rule of life invites you to experience peace from regular encounters with God.


An easy and fruitful way to add more God to your everyday life is to tune in to Catholic radio. The Holy Spirit will multiply the time you spend listening and infuse your days with guidance and hope.


We invite you to listen online to one of our five livestreams, find your local station, or download our free app for Apple and Android.

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