The following is excerpted from pages 53-61 of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic prayerbook
My Divine Friend
by Rev. Michael Schudlo, CSSR.
(Note: This prayerbook contains some latinizations but it does have some good principles for the layman on how to live a holy life.)
(Imprimi Potest: Vladimir Malanchuk, CSSR. Vice-Provincial No. 596, May 25, 1958. Nihil Obstat: Basil Makuch, STD, PhD. Censor Episcopalis. Imprimatur: Constantine Archbishop Metropolitan Philadelphia, August 1, 1958 No. 767/52M.)
A Rule of Life
Let us serve God “in holiness and justice before Him” all our days. (Luke 1,75)
The Christian should spend his life for the greater glory of God because He made men to know, to love and to serve Him on earth as the Angels are going in heaven. We must live with God and in His presence all the days of our life, as the Lord commanded His servant Abraham: “Walk before Me and be perfect!” (Gen. 17,1)
A rule of life is one of the best means to serve God and to reach that holiness to which all Christians have been called by Christ: “Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
He who adopts and follows a rule of life does not spend his time capriciously. He assigns to each moment its proper duty. “Let all things be done decently and according to order,” says St. Paul (1 Cor. 14:40). Where there is no rule, there is no order. Man without a rule of life lives by caprice and fancies. If he likes praying, he prays, if he does not feel like it, he won't pray for days. If he feels like reading a good book, he will read it, but if he does not feel like it, he won't touch it, nor do anything else, although his reason tells him to perform his religious and other duties, even though he does not have any sensible pleasure in do doing.
In the life of a Christian each duty must have its proper time and be fulfilled when the time comes, unless something occurs that renders its fulfillment impossible or imposes its delay. Nothing is forgotten, nothing is done in haste or in a careless way, if a person follows a rule of life. All is well done according to the previously established plan. All daily duties, all practices of piety are done with exactitude. If there is no rule in one's life, he easily neglects his duties and often ends by omitting them altogether.
A proverb says: Order is heaven's first law. God is a God of order while Satan is a ruler of confusion. “Method will teach you to win time. To him who does everything in its proper time, one day is worth three.”
It is obvious that a strict rule of life cannot be followed by all Christians, but a certain order may be prescribed for each day, for instance: begin each day with a prayer and end it with a prayer. Regulate the time for your meals, for work and for your recreation.
There is much merit in the self-restraint and mortification resulting from a rule of life which you have imposed upon yourself. Your life will be more pleasing to God and you will gain more merit for paradise. Your eternal salvation will be guaranteed by a Christian rule of life.
WHAT RULE OF LIFE SHOULD YOU HAVE?
1. Have a fixed hour for rising. Seven or eight hours of sleep are usually sufficient. Get out of bed as soon as your alarm clock rings. Don't indulge in sloth. Let your first thought be of God. If you delay in getting out of bed at the first ring of the clock, your whole day will be spoiled by sloth and lack of energy in the fulfillment of your daily duties. Give thanks to Jesus and Mary as soon as you wake up for having preserved you during the night in which thousands of people have passed away.
2. After having dressed, kneel down and say your morning prayers, adding three “Bohorodytse Divo” in honor of the Blessed Virgin, mother of Perpetual Help, for a happy death and eternal salvation. The Blessed Virgin promised special blessings in life and eternal salvation of the soul to all those who devoutly recite three “Bohorodytse Divo” in honor of her purity in the morning and at night. This revelation was made to St. Mechtilde. End your morning prayers with the morning offering of yourself and of all your works to God through the hands of the Blessed Virgin.
3. Devote a certain time each day to meditation according to the method of St. Alphonsus and to the reading of a book about the life of a Saint or Jesus Christ, and on Wednesdays read something about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Remember, that God is speaking to your heart while you are reading a good book. Read it slowly, do not hurry, reflect upon its contents and make necessary conclusions from what you read, trying to imitate the Saint whose life you are reading. Spiritual reading in this way is a sort of easy meditation.
4. If you can, assist at the Divine Liturgy every day. Unite yourself to Our Lord by means of a spiritual or actual Holy Communion. Look at the altar, think of the meaning of the various ceremonies, pray with the Blessed Virgin Mary for the conversion of the infidels, heretics and sinners, especially those that belong or should belong to your parish. Pray also for the progress of the Catholic Church, for religious and priestly vocations among our people, pray for the peace of the world.
The time of the Mass is the best to secure from God all the graces you may need for yourself, your family, your Church or country. St. Francis de Sales says: “You will not get grace at all, if you cannot obtain it during the sacrifice of the Liturgy.” The saintly Pope Eugene adds: “The Divine Liturgy obtains the forgiveness of the punishment of sin more efficaciously than the prayers of the whole world.” Jesus Christ Himself assured St. Mechtilde: “There is not a sinner, no matter how great he might be, whom I am not ready to forgive, if he asks me during the Liturgy.” God cannot despise and reject your prayers during the Divine Liturgy because Christ is praying with you by offering His unbloody sacrifice to His Father.
5. Use your missal while you are following Mass. Do not forget your daily Rosary. Try to say it with your family. God loves those who pray to Him. Remember that “the family that prays together stays together.” The Holy Rosary is very pleasing to the great Mother of God for which she will reward you in this life and hereafter.
6. Make a daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Do not forget your Divine Friend Who is expecting you in your church to bless and console you. Use the visits composed by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, the great Doctor and moralist of the Catholic Church.
7. Do not let your day pass without doing some penance for you own sins and for the sins of the world. The life of a Christian should be a continual act of penance. Here are some suggestions: mortify your curiosity or inclination to do something which is useless, watch over your eyes, do not let them wander and look at everything. Do not watch your television every day especially on Wednesdays and Fridays in honor of the Blessed Virgin and Jesus Crucified. Do not wound your neighbors with harsh words, do not tease them too much, refrain sometimes through a spirit of penance even from permitted pleasures, for example, eating fruit, candies, drinking, etc. Moderate your tongue. Do not speak to o much and never murmur or complain. Be courteous and kind to persons for whom you feel any antipathy. Bear your cross and pains with resignation, offering them to Jesus and Mary.
8. Fulfill your duties energetically and with a pure intention to please God and make yourself useful to your neighbor; direct all your actions and occupations, even those that are indifferent, to God according to the advice given to all Christians by St. Paul, “In eating, in drinking, in all that you do, do everything for God's glory.” (1 Cor. 10,31)
The Blessed Virgin made various requests during her apparitions at Fatima. Her principal request, however, was “the faithful fulfillment of one's daily duties.” Other pious practices “are important only in their relation to her one main request- sanctification of our daily lives,” said the Mother of God.
Thus all your actions and occupations will become meritorious and precious in the eyes of God for which He will reward you in the next life.
Before you undertake or start any work, say with St. Alphonsus de Ligouri: “I do it for Jesus and Mary.” Raise your mind and heart to God, repeat some short ejaculatory prayer during your work at least from time to time so that you may not be too much absorbed by earthly occupations.
9. Do not eat at random but have a time for your meals. Pray and bless yourself before you take your meal even when you are in company, in a restaurant or on a train. Always do some little act of mortification at your meals in honor of Jesus and Mary.
10. Go to bed at a fixed time as far as possible. Make your examination of conscience, thank God if you were good during the day, and ask His forgiveness if you were bad. Make an act of contrition for the sins you might have committed and promise to be better the next day. Make a spiritual Communion and offer it to Jesus Christ in reparation for all offenses that He has received from sinners and bad Christians during the day. Commend to Jesus and Mary all the poor souls in purgatory and the dying sinners.
11. Go to confession every week or at least every two weeks. By going to confession once a week you may approach Holy Communion every day, even when you have some venial sin on your soul. Make an act of contrition and go to Holy Communion which you should receive at least after every confession, or a few times a week, eventually every day, if your spiritual director advices you to do so. Do not omit preparation and thanksgiving which are very important.
12. Be kind and cheerful with the members of your family and with all people with whom you are in contact. Avoid little jealousies, criticism, tale-bearing, and caprices which discredit piety in the eyes of the world. Show by your behavior that Christian piety makes a person good, understanding and cheerful, and not sad. St. Francis de Sales rightly said: “Sad Saints are not really Saints”, that is , they are not true Saints because true piety which unites the soul with God makes it content and joyful.
13. Avoid both levity and repellent austerity. Be simple, modest, and considerate in your social dealings with others. On the other hand, be inflexible in regard to dangerous books, indecent plays and in movies, bad conversation and immoral jokes. Do not hesitate to protest when Christian faith or morals are offended., when the Pope, the Bishops and the priests are derided. Always give good example because pagans and non-Catholics observe you in your doings. A young man was in the company of his Protestant friends. He ate meat with them on Friday. They were scandalized and asked him, “Since when are Catholics permitted to eat meat on Fridays?” Defend the Catholic Church and the Eastern Rite if they are attacked.
14. Be frugal in your meals and honest in your expenses. Do not get too attached to earthly things. Imitate the poverty of your Crucified Redeemer. Try to support the church, school, and other good institutions of your parish or diocese with the money you can save.
15. Select one day a month to prepare yourself for death. Go to confession and receive Holy Communion. Recite the prayer for a happy death (p. 140).
16. A true devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary is regarded as a certain mark of salvation. Saint Andrew of Crete says: “God grants devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary to those whom he wishes to save.” Pray to St. Joseph, to the Holy Trinity, to your guardian Angel, to your Patron Saint and to your Name-Saint.