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10 Life-Changing Daily Rules of Life, From St. John XXIII…

10 Life-Changing Daily Rules of Life, From St. John XXIII…

Pope John XXIII’s morning resolutions provide practical means to help you become a saint.

In high school, I stumbled across The Journal of a Soul by Pope John XXIII. Besides the knowledge that he convened the Second Vatican Council, was affectionately known as “Good Pope John,” and had a sense of humor, I had not known much else about him. 

His journal — which he began as a young seminarian — provides a glimpse into John XXIII’s spirituality as he himself once admitted: My soul is in these pages.” Each entry speaks of his desire for perfection, from the time he was a young seminarian until his last entry as pope, and contains the practical methods he created to pursue holiness.

As any saint, the Pope focused on finding God and striving for sanctity in the present, never worrying about the future. St. John XXIII wrote in his journal, during a retreat in preparation for the completion of his 80th year, that his aim was “not to try to predict the future, indeed, not to count on any future at all: that is my rule of conduct.” Instead, he sought to live in a spirit of tranquility and contentment by simply accepting the demands of the present day.

He employed two methods to aid him in this endeavor. First, he created resolutions and rules for his life which he faithfully followed and re-evaluated during his retreats. These can be found in his journal. Second, he wrote and lived by 10 daily resolutions — known as the “Daily Decalogue.” He read them every morning to remind himself how he should conduct himself during the day. 

At a memorial Mass commemorating John XXIII in 2006, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone shared with the faithful the Pope’s Daily Decalogue:

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 behavior; 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. 

St. John XXIII’s daily resolutions provide practical means for becoming a saint. They show us how to strive for holiness each day by focusing on the present, for God and his grace are only found and given in the present moment. All we are tasked with is to remain faithful, moment by moment, day by day, for tomorrow — the future — rests in God’s hands. The simplicity and beauty of following these resolutions will enable us, as it did for the saintly pontiff, to form the habit of living a virtuous life, which in turn, prepares us for our end. 

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