The Rule of Life
Why submit yourself to our rule of life?It will not make sense to bind yourself to any rule of life if you do not recognize and desire several things. First, the binding is to persons–Jesus, Mary and Joseph. If you were to walk into the little home of Nazareth and be adopted by the members of this Holy Home, you would soon find out the love that flows from each of them to each other. You would also discover that this love takes on a definite shape. You would recognize a certain way they speak to each other, treat each other, respond to needs and problems. Love is ordered and has a definite shape to it.
Second, you would find a submission to the discipline of love. The other is more important than the self. Because each loves the other, there is no clutching and possessing this love but generous giving.
Third, even though Jesus resides in the home of Nazareth, there is a unified understanding on the part of all three–Jesus, Mary and Joseph–that no one of them is the ultimate authority. This belongs to the Father who is in heaven.
These three qualities of the home of Nazareth are the reasons you should have for desiring to live our rule of life: 1) you realize that your love needs ordering, taking the shape of God’s love; 2) that you are the object of your own love more than God or neighbor; and 3) there is a need to become more a child of God by placing your Heavenly Father’s will and authority above your own. In short, you desire to submit your life to God in all things. Our rule of life becomes the way for you to do this, modeled after the Holy Family of Nazareth.
What attitude should you have regarding submission to the rule of life?First and foremost, the word submission can not be interpreted as a ‘nasty’ or ‘outdated’ word. This will result in a ‘stubbornness of heart’. You must first develop a complete trust in the Father who loves you. Submission is usually most difficult when trust is not present. Love, too, must be the very center of your submission. No other example will be able to match with the trusting, loving submission of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to the Father of heaven and earth. Only in imitation of them will you be able to complete this submission to the power of God and His authority.
How will you know that this ‘exchange of wills’ is taking place?The most simple way to know this is by noticing that the qualities of the Nazareth life in the rule begin to describe you: silent, contemplative, chaste, poor, obedient, prayerful, studious, hard-working and charitable. You would know these qualities after having lived in the home of Nazareth. They would not appear as laws nailed on the wall with Joseph’s hammer but flowing from his life in union with Jesus and Mary. Imitation is the key. This does not happen all at once, but, as is said in our Constitutions, "we gradually exchange our weak and imperfect human life for the boundless life of God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth."
How do you go about living the life of Nazareth?Nazareth begins in the heart. Your heart must become the home of Nazareth where true love dwells. Joseph is your protector and guardian. Learn from him how to depend upon God’s providence and grace in the midst of uncertainty; how to love Mary and Jesus with an undivided love. Let Mary be your mother. Go to her as your Mother for counsel, comfort and when in greatest need. Learn from her what it means to be holy; to have true faith, hope and love in God. Learn from Mary and Joseph how to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the complete Word of the Father. Learn to live only for Jesus. This Holy Family desires nothing more than to take you into their home and teach you the lessons of Nazareth. They cannot be learned in any other home that does not learn them first in the Nazareth home. Yes, much good can come from Nazareth. In our modern age there is a school to learn just about anything. But where do you learn holiness? Pope Paul VI said, in a visit to Nazareth in Galilee, the school of holiness is in the home of the Holy Family. The lessons of Nazareth are the very core of our spiritual discipline in the Institute of Saint Joseph. By learning these lessons, bending our strong wills more toward the Divine Will of God, we may become not just a family but a “holy family”.
Lay and Priestly Formation
The Nine Elements