Have you been working your way through the first part of The Hidden Treasure of Pope St. John XXIII?
If so, awesome!
In Part 1 we went through the first five rulesof Pope John XXIII’s Daily Decalogue, discussing them a little bit and giving some practical ideas for living out each rule.
Now let’s dive into the last five rules.
Rule 6: Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
This one doesn’t need explanation so much as it needs some good ideas.
Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-thru.
Pick up some litter along the sidewalk as you walk into work.
Make an anonymous donation to a charity you care about.
Leave someone an anonymous note at work letting them know how much you admire and appreciate their hard work.
This doesn’t need to be complicated, you just need to get creative and do it.
Rule 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 no one notices.
But I’m so good at doing things I like doing!
Why can’t I just do something I like doing?
I like coaching little league baseball, playing with my kids, and working hard on my projects at the office.
Why do I have to do something I don’t like doing. (In my head I’m asking this question in my whiny-est teenager voice possible.)
Doing the stuff you like doing is easy. And sometimes the most important things for you to do are the things you don’t like doing.
Living this out:
Make a mental list of some chores your spouse does that you don’t like to do, and do them without asking.
For me, I don’t like doing the dishes, I don’t like vacuuming, and I don’t like giving the kids baths. Those are just a couple easy examples. But once a day I can do one—correction, at least one—of these tasks to help out my wife. Doing it is good for me, it’s good for her, and it’s good for our marriage. Seems like this saint really knows his stuff.
Here are some other ideas that you will thank yourself for doing later:
- Go for a workout.
- Eat a salad for lunch instead of a cheeseburger.
Rule 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.
Now we’re getting to a rule that is back up my alley. Planning and organizing.
I’m rubbing my palms together in excitement just thinking about it.
What’s that old adage? Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.
Things almost never go according to plan, but sticking to the plan isn’t always the point. Planning helps us recognize our priorities. And it helps us make sure we don’t leave the important stuff to chance.
Living it out:
1. Set aside ten minutes in the morning and plan out your day. Make sure you include the things that are most important to you, not just tasks. Playing with the kids, praying with your family, praying by yourself, reading your Bible … these should all be in the plan. Write this out on paper, in a planner, or on your phone. Don’t just do this in your head.
2. However you do your planning—whether it’s a planner or a notebook or on your phone—print it out and carry a hardcopy with you. Things that we write down tend to become reality. It’s just one of those mystical things that works even though there is no explanation for why. What you write down tends to happen. So, trust me, print it out and carry it with you.
Rule 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.
It’s sad, but sometimes the hardest thing to believe is that God cares about you.
Does God love me? Sure! He has to! He’s God! It’s kind of his job. But does he like me? Care for me? I don’t know about that.
How could he with how often I fail and sin, and with all the bad things I’ve done and all the bad things that happen to me.
God loves me? That’s an easy one to get behind.
God cares for me? That can be a tough one.
Living this out:
1. Read Psalm 23. Memorize it if you can.
2. Write down Jeremiah 29:11 and put it somewhere you’ll see it everyday:
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Put this verse on your bathroom mirror or on your car’s dash.
Rule 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 twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.
We finish with the most beautiful exhortation. A call, a cry even, to go and live boldly the life God has made you to live: to enjoy beauty and believe in goodness without reservation or fear; to rest, without worry, in the arms of God. Pope St. John XXIII could have given me just this one rule, and it might have been enough.
A few years later another saint pope would carry this rule throughout his papacy, as he exhorted the crowds to “Be Not Afraid!”
Living it out:
1. Breathe. Breathing is the enemy of fear. Watch and control your breath when you feel fear. It’s the most powerful tool to control your heart, mind, and body.
2. Fear and hope can’t coexist. When you experience fear (or it’s evil cousin worry), say to yourself, “God loves me. God is a part of me. God has a plan for my life” and then pray.
Now give them a try
Well there you have them. Ten practical and beautiful rules for living a happy life.
The Daily Decalogue of Pope St. John XXIII might not get a ton of airtime in our modern world, but I believe this hidden treasure just might be one of the greatest gifts the Church has given us. Imagine waking up every morning and reading through these rules and trying to really live them out in your day.
How might your days change?
How might your life change?
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Dominick Albano is a nationally sought-after speaker, having spoken at countless men’s conferences, parish missions, and other parish events. His podcast, The Best Catholic Podcast, features interviews with some of the spiritual greats of our time. He lives in Northern Kentucky with his wife and their four sons. Learn more about him and his ministry at dominickalbano.com.
Image from New Life Church Collingwood on Flickr