There are many rules for living, most of them take up an entire book or lecture series. The Jesuits have their daily Examen, a meditative prayer that guides one through an examination of actions. It can be performed once a day or twice. It calls for reflection on your actions in the past and to affect your future actions.
I am a child of Vatican II. As such my tendency is to listen to Blessed Pope John XXIII who threw open the doors of the church to bring light inside. There are many wonderful stories about him and his sense of humour. I’m planning on a future post about his great humanitarian works.
Years ago, however, I came across his Decalogue and found it to be on a much more human scale than the Jesuit form. He doesn’t ask for big efforts or big changes, just one little thing, only for today.
Some have compared it to a booklet Alcoholic Anonymous puts out but I’m pretty sure this came first. As I’m sure this blessed man would point out, however, it doesn’t matter, in truth there is no first. This is a simple tool, if it works, it works.
This is from the Vatican website, link to the original text here.
1) Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
5) Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.
To conclude: here is an all-embracing resolution: “I want to be kind, today and always, to everyone”. In this way, we can put Pope John’s hope for every Christian into practice: “Every believer in this world must be a spark of light, a core of love, life-giving leaven in the mass: and the more he is so, the more he will live, in his innermost depths, in communion with God”.