Examples

Examples of Personal Rules

Pope John Paul XXIII when he was a seminary student

  • 15 minutes of silent prayer upon rising in the morning
  • 15 minutes of spiritual reading
  • Before bed, a general examination of consciousness followed by confession; then identifying issues for the next morning’s prayer.
  • Arranging hours of the day to make this rule possible; set aside specific time for prayer, study, recreation, sleep.
  • Making a habit of turning the mind toward God in prayer

Catherine de Hueck Doherty-Russian Baroness and founder of Madonna House in Ontario

  • Monthly retreat into silence and solitude for a 24 hour period at a poustinia (hermitage) a place away from human traffic that allows for fasting, prayer and immersion in scripture.

Dorothy Day—Founder of Houses of Hospitality in NYC and Catholic Worker Movement

  • Receive Eucharist daily
  • Read Bible daily
  • Keep a journal as a form of prayer
  • See Christ in the faces of the poor

Martin Luther King Jr.—This Rule was written to guide those who would be part of the non-violent protests of the Civil Rights Movement.  Every demonstrator had to agree to this Rule:

  • Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
  • Remember always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation, not victory.
  • Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
  • Pray daily to be used by God in order that all might be free.
  • Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all might be free.
  • Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
  • Seek to perform regular service for others and the world.
  • Refrain for violence of fist, tongue or heart.
  • Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
  • Follow the directions of the movement and the captains of a demonstration.[1]

John Wesley—Among other things, he dedicated 5 minutes from every waking hour to prayer.[2]

Henri Nouwen—Trust and claim chosenness despite what the world says.  Seek out people who will speak the truth to you and remind you of your true identity as the Beloved of God.  Celebrate and be thankful.  Gratitude begets gratitude.  “For me they are the spiritual disciplines of my life as the chosen one….when I keep my disciplines close to my heart, I am able to step over my shadow into the light of my truth.”[3]


[1] Thompson, Marjorie J., Soul Feast; an invitation to the Christian spiritual life. Westminster John Knox Press; Louisville, 1995.

[2] Canham, Elizabeth J., Heart Whispers; Benedictine Wisdom for Today, Upper Room Books; Nashville, 1999.

[3]Nouwen, Henri J.; Life of the Beloved. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1992.

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