Rules, rules, rules. I’m a rule follower in general. During my school days, I wasn’t on a first name basis with the principal. I never got infractions or served detention. Rules just made sense to me. They set expectations and defined boundaries. They kept me safe. They made it possible to achieve what I set out to do.
When I teaching in a Catholic high school, we had an infraction system for violations of the school rules. You can probably imagine or recall how many teenagers try to walk the line between keeping and breaking rules like the dress code. You may have thought that with my love of rules I would have been one of those “enforcer” teachers, but I wasn’t. As it turned out, my love of rules evolved to a very short set of them.
In my classroom, I had two rules. Be respectful of me and each other, which meant that one person was to speak at a time, and only when called on. And don’t try to make me angry. As it turned out, most of the other detailed rules of the school fell under these two. Sort of like the “Golden Rule.”
More recently, I have directed our parish’s children’s choir for the last four years. This oftentimes noisy and energetic group of children ranges in age from four to 12. For thirty minutes each week, I have the privilege of sharing my love of music with them and helping them become the best young music ministers possible. Just like in my teaching days, I have a very short list of rules—three to be exact. Rule number one is don’t touch the piano. Rule number two is don’t touch the drum set. (The reasons for those should be pretty obvious!) Rule number three is have fun. They are all the rules I need to balance their energy and interest with my need to complete a short list of tasks.
This week’s CatholicsRead titles reminded me of my love for rules, albeit the shorter lists of essential ones. Each of these books rests on the steady rock of wisdom, achieved through living life gratefully and with awareness of God’s presence, understanding the simple rules of faith that can guide us on the often complex journeys of life.
Marriage: In A Lifetime of Love from Ave Maria Press, legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz offers couples young and old practical advice on marriage and parenting gleaned from his fifty-nine year marriage.
Aging: In The White Stone from Liturgical Press, author Esther de Waal reflects on the changes and losses that come with growing older.
Caregiving: Daily Companion for Caregivers from Catholic Book Publishing includes Scripture, prayers, and reflections to strengthen the compassion and mercy required for caregivers of all kinds to accompany those who suffer.
Crisis/Crossroads: Steeped in Scripture, Melissa Overmyer writes From Worry to Wonder from Ascension to help Catholics look to the timeless guidance of God’s Word to let go of worry and embrace awe of the Lord.
Daily Living: In Great Love in Little Ways: Reflections on the Power of Kindness from Twenty-Third Publications, best-selling author and spiritual guide Gunilla Norris helps us learn to cultivate kindness in all aspects of our daily lives.
Spiritual Life: Through the imaginative stories in I Am With You Always: Stories of Jesus to Inspire Deeper Prayer from Twenty-Third Publications, author Leo Gafney helps readers place themselves in the Scripture accounts, then offers a powerful reflection and questions that draw out the implications for our own lives of faith today.
Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.