Before there were the 12 Rules for Life from Jordan Peterson, there were the 13 Rules of the Catholic Gentleman’s Rule of Life.
Here we’ll go over six very practical rules that every Catholic man can implement in their own life.
1. “I will fear, love and honor God above all others, even at the cost of my own life.”
The early Church was full of martyrs. These men didn’t simply give up their lives for Christ, they faced their death with courage and — sometimes — even jokes! It is said that as St. Lawrence was being roasted to death on an iron grill, he teasingly told his torturers, “I am done on this side, turn me over.”
Christ was so real to the early Christians that they counted death as nothing so long as they could be with Him. You may not have to die for your faith. But you may suffer from “soft martyrdom,” such as losing friends over your beliefs.
The word “martyr” means “witness.” By holding true to Christ’s teachings, you are witnessing to a higher order of values.
2. “I will honor holy things and treat them with respect.”
Once upon a time, sacred things were treated as sacred. Even in Western churches, a screen separated the sanctuary and altar from the people. This highlighted that the Mass was a holy moment, not some ordinary event.
We now live in a world that has lost a sense of the sacred. Even in some Catholic Churches, you have people who trivialize what’s holy.
We don’t want to drag God down to our level. Sure Christ came down to us in the flesh, but this was to raise us up to share in His divine life. Jesus is your Lord. Remember this and be reverent.
3. “I will learn to pray as if my eternal salvation depends on it.”
God created you to be in a relationship with Him. Prayer is the bedrock of this relationship. After all, how can you have a good relationship with someone if you don’t talk to them regularly?
Your eternal salvation depends on prayer, but don’t think of this in a legalistic way. It’s not as if you will be saved by saying X number of prayers. The point is that if you don’t want to spend time with God here on earth, why are you going to want to spend eternity with Him?
The more you pray, the stronger your soul grows. Without it, the ups and downs of life will dictate your behavior. Don’t try going through life without prayer.
4. “I will struggle for virtue and to overcome myself, no matter how difficult the process, not sinking to the level of mediocrity and excuse making.”
The spiritual life is HARD. Christ said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” If you’re going to get serious about the spiritual life, it will hurt.
Growing spiritually involves dying to yourself and your love of pleasure, comfort and success. Not that those things are bad in themselves, but you can’t let them dominate you. That’s why penance is an essential part of spiritual life. We have to mortify our desires for food, drink, sex and other pleasures so that Christ can reign in us.
5. “I will prefer the Beatitudes to the world’s values, remembering the truth that if anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in Him.”
The world operates by a very clear paradigm. It’s the exact opposite of God’s order. The world emphasizes power, pleasure, prestige, revenge and looking out only for yourself.
In the Beatitudes, Christ flips all these worldly values on their heads. He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He promises eternal joy to the persecuted, suffering and forgotten. This gives hope to those without “worldly success,” while also challenging those living only for this life.
Try to make time to reread the Beatitudes and meditate on them frequently. We promise they will change your life!
6. “I will treat others made in the image and likeness of God with dignity and respect, especially remembering to honor and to serve the poor, the weak and the rejected as I would Christ Himself.”
This goes back to the two great commandments (which are really one): Love the Lord your God with your whole soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.
Each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. This includes the poor and suffering. The saints who served the poor always said they were serving Christ Himself. And Christ said that we would be judged by how we treated the least among us.
Go out of your way to love and serve others, especially those who can’t give anything in return. Otherwise, you don’t really love God.
These are life-changing principles that will make you holier and happier! Start looking for ways to incorporate them into your life. The world needs men who live by these values. It needs YOU to set an example!