Monday, March 22, 2010

A Teenage Girl's Rule of Life

A few weeks ago I was asked to speak to the 8th-grade girls in our confirmation class. Here is part 1 of that talk.


A few years ago, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the new leader of the Catholic church and his first action was to take the new name of Benedict after his favorite saint, St. Benedict. St. Benedict was born in the mountains and lives his early life there before being sent live and study in Rome. But he never really liked city life and grew to dislike the debauchery there and so set out to live the life of a hermit. Eventually other men began to admire his way of life and soon Benedict had enough followers to be able to found several monasteries. But as usually happens when a group of people start living together like a family they soon found that they needed some order and guidance for their daily lives. So St. Benedict went about writing his Rule of Life – to give rhythm and measure for their lives in their monastery home. His monks were not overdriven by austerities in fasting and night vigils. They had enough to eat and to drink and to clothe themselves. They worked with their hands about six hours a day but they also had leisure for prayerful reading and common prayer. Their sleep was sufficient. The young, the sick, and the elderly are cared for with compassion and attention. In short, RB arranged for a monastic life in which the monks may seek God in prayer and reading, in silence and work, in service to guests and to one another.

I learned about St. Benedict’s rule of life when I read a book written by a mom called “A Mother’s Rule of Life.’ She wrote it when she had just about give up hope of ever having her household full of many small children in any type of order, or having a good peaceful relationship with her husband. She followed St. Benedict’s example and tried to find balance in her life between all of the things that were important and needed priority in her life and gave everything it’s proper order.

And it occurred to me that maybe most of all what I needed when I was your age was the ability to put everything into a “right order.” Maybe a teenage girl’s Rule of Life could have been helpful to me. And I thought, what better time to develop a Rule of Life than with the time of confirmation, when we have been reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses and when the Gifts of the Holy Spirit come to strengthen us. So with that in mind, I’d like to submit to you girls what I see, as a former teenager, a few tips and suggestions for making your own Rule of Life for a teenage girl.

I think that as Catholic Christian young women there should be five main priorities for the season of life you are in right now.
1. Prayer and growing in faith which includes scripture reading and ongoing catechesis.
2. Taking care of your body which is the temple of the holy spirit. Including modesty and purity.
3. Study and education including discerning a life’s work and vocation.
4. Service to family, friends and community.
5. Obedience to your parents.
1. Prayer and growing in faith. Your prayer life is something that will grow, develop and change as you get older and mature. Ideally you’re already maybe doing a brief morning prayer and prayers before you go to bed at night, but if you’re not now would be a good time to start. Morning Prayer can be as simple as “Jesus I offer you all of my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day. I love you, please be with me. With the Our Father. Night prayers can be an act of contrition before bed time. Ten minutes a day of quiet time with Jesus would be ideal. When you think about it, you put in at least that much time a day talking on the phone, texting, checking your facebook, watching t.v. or hanging out so make your prayer life a priority and find a way to work in those few minutes a day.

I learned when I became a mom a tool that I could have used as a student too and I’ll share that with you. Have an ongoing conversation with God all day. Thank him for a beautiful sun rise, thank him that all the lights are green on your commute to school. When someone makes you mad or angry, say a little prayer for them. Say a prayer for yourself so you don’t say something back you shouldn’t. Pray before you eat, pray before your study period that you’ll get the most out the session, thank God for helping you to ace that test. When I read over some of the lives of the saints especially St. Francis and St. Teresa the little flower, I was so impressed with the way they were able to include God in their lives all throughout the day and if you do that too you’ll never feel like He is far away but that He is always there with you. Another trick is to keep the rosary in your pocket or get one of those rosary bracelets, and just when ever you think of it say a few decades of the rosary and by the end of the day you’ll have said it!

And I would say especially, since you are receiving the gift or the Holy Spirit in a special way, and the Holy Spirit is associated with wisdom, take a few moments before you have to make a decision to have the Holy Spirit guide you – in what classes you are going to take next year, or in what college you want to go to, if you should go to college or do something else, should you prepare for a vocation as a wife and mom, a nun, or as a single person – ask the Holy Spirit for the gifts of wisdom and discernment on these things and the let Him guide you.

It might be a little bit harder at your age to find the time to work in a bible study, but try to read a few of the scriptures every day. You can check out the readings of the church every day from the bulletin, or you can find them online if you’d like to check out that way. Or you can concentrate on say, reading through one of the Gospels in a quarter and really praying over them, or pick out one of the wisdom books like Proverbs and read through it a little bit every day and I promise you that you’ll start to feel like your growing in your spiritual life.






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