A rule, from the Latin regula, suggests not so much a code of legislation but a means of regulating and regularizing.  A monastic rule sustains identity by mandating the rhythms of worship, spiritual discipline, prayer and rest, work and ministry.  It sets the patterns by which authority is distributed and where accountability is expected.  It delineates the bounds of the community and describes the processes of initiation.  And it connects the ideals of the particular community or order with the gospel and the Christian mystery.

Our Rule is a contemporary one, created by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist over a period of eight years and formally adopted in September 1996.  It replaces the original Rule, written by our founder in the 19th century.  While it draws on the teaching of Richard Benson and other early members, the new rule addresses a whole host of issues that we knew to be vital for the health and faithfulness of a community making the transition into the third millennium.  It is an authentic expression of our life for today, both who we are and who we hope to be.

Our sole motive in creating a new Rule of life was to strengthen our own community and our awareness of the particular vocation that God has given us; in other words, we produced it specifically for ourselves.  Friends urged us to publish it for those who know us and who are seeking a deeper understanding of a way of life to which they feel attuned. And we offer it for those who do not know us yet, but who, in this time of widespread spiritual hunger when the monastic way is exerting a considerable pull on people’s imagination and interest, seek a window into the life of a contemporary religious community.

The response to its publication has been overwhelmingly positive. Roman Catholic and Anglican religious communities on both sides of the Atlantic have welcomed it, in some instances using it to enhance the teaching of their own Rules.  And large numbers of men and women of a variety of faith communities in their daily meditations have drawn strength and renewal from its teachings.


  1. Dr./Fr. J. Jonathan Zajas, FACMP on September 2, 2010 at 00:42

    Dear SSJE Brothers in Christ:

    I commend you for establishing a Rule of Christian Life that gives structure, balance, discipline, accountability, and order to the life of service in Christ. It is indeed difficult to do so without restricting the creative power of Christ and the Holy Spirit to empower us (and others) to be all that we were created to be in Him. We are called to be not just human doers, but human beings, with essential skills, talents, and gifts that were given us to honor Him (see 2 Sam 2:13-30) while living the abundant life (John 10:10). Play and rest can be as important as work and productivity. Worship and devotion are as essential as performance and growth. We all develop in wonderful ways when we live with such a balanced perspective.

    One of the greatest teachings of our dear Lord was this: “Suffer NOT the little children (those who were still pure and innocent) to come unto Me, for as such is the Kingdom of God. For I assure you, unless your heart be like that (similar to) of a little child, ye (you and I included) shall NOT enter into the Kingdom of God (i.e., Heaven).” (emphasis mine). In west Texas, we would have said it perhaps a little differently: “We’d have, in other words, a snowball’s chance of surviving the day in the mid day sun on the plains of Texas, in the middle of August.”

    To be whose we are is the secret to becoming and being WHO we are. “We are no fools when we give that which we cannot keep (our noos, as expressed in our mind, will and emotions), for that (God’s love as revealed in salvation, grace, righteousness, peace, and joy) which we cannot lose!” “For this reason the Son of God came: To destroy the works of the enemy” (e.g., denial, doubt, fear, bitterness, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, lust, greed, envy, jealousy, gossip, rumors, depression, despair, hatred, murder, narcism, et cetera). {For additional information on a Lifestyle Model for SPH, refer to my 15th book entitled, “Just for You: Discover The Z Force for Meaning in Your Life,” a lifestyle model for spiritual and psychological health}.

    May the Lord of Lords continue to guide, bless, and inspire you to be and become all that He has called (and created) you to be in His faith, hope and love. I will look forward to speaking with you again in the near future.

    En Agape,

    Jay Zajas, Ph.D., Psy.D., FACMP
    Fellow & Diplomate, ABMPP & AAP

  2. Jeff Spahr on February 25, 2009 at 09:35

    It took a lot of guts to redo a Rule of Life that was handed down from the original founder of your society, and even more guts to publish it and make it public so soon after finishing it. Your Rule of Life radiates with Christ Jesus’ love like no other, and it is a prime example of what a Christian community should look like heading into the third millenium.

    Several times I have purchased a copy of the SSJE Rule as I try to keep a copy for myself and always have a copy to hand out to a friend that might take interest.

    To anyone who might read my comment here and is considering purchasing a copy, I can highly recommend it. It is truly inspiring and easily translatable to any Christian community right down to the local parish level.

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