In the hundreds of years since their development, the rules of Saints Augustine, Benedict, and Francis have ordered and oriented the lives of monks, sisters and lay people across the globe. Their emphasis on daily ritual, manageable though virtuous behaviors and everyday actions appeal to anyone seeking a deeper spiritual life, a time-tested order for cultivating meaning in the day-to-day rhythm of life, and guidance on prioritizing the things that matter most.
Obedience isn’t the first virtue that comes to mind when I consider ways that I can strive for a life of everyday holiness. But putting it into practice in a few small ways has helped me to see the goodness that can flow from not allowing myself to be my own guide or god.
Just over fifty words, the Suscipe is brief. But by moving me to complete three major actions — letting go, giving thanks, and asking for help — it transforms my mindset and softens my heart with each recitation.
We make hundreds of yes or no decisions daily, even if just to ourselves — no, I won’t stay in bed even though I kind of want to; yes, I’ll invite a new neighbor over for coffee — and good reasons for both our yeses and our nos can lead to wholeness and holiness. But looking back on my life, I see that a few yeses, which, like Mary’s, came in the face of uncertainty and even bafflement, have led to a life that I love.
As St. Augustine once explained, a Sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. I may not think that Confession is a necessary prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness, but I do experience God’s grace through the Sacrament.