I am reading ‘Journal of a Soul‘ a tremendous autobiography by Pope John XXIII. The pope, who I did not know much about, starts his journaling at the age of fifteen in 1896. During his time in the seminary, the ‘Little Rules’, a guide for the most serious students at the Bergamo seminary, is published in the appendix. I found the prescriptions for daily living interesting.
At all times:
1. Have a special love for your companions, and this mutual love must come from God and tend to God.
2. Pray to the Lord for one another, especially in any particular need, and for this purpose offer a communion for your companions every month.
3. Correct one another’s guilts, and let him who is corrected say three Hail Marys for his corrector.
4. Each must choose a corrector from among companions.
5. It will be an excellent thing for you to write letters to one another during the holidays, encouraging perseverance in doing good, especially when making a Novena.
6. NO one shall lay his hands on another. DO not use the intimate •tu’ when speaking with one another and do not use dialect words or, worse,
immodest expressions; if you hear these used by others go away, showing that you will not take any part in such conversation.
7. Evil companions must be shunned like vipers, especially those who criticize virtue, good men and good example, subjecting them to ridicule.
8. Be very much on your guard against human respect. Do not refrain from doing good, or indulge in evil because of any human respect or consideration.
9. Have a great love for that virtue which sheds a luster on all life and especially on that of ecclesiastics. the guiding star of the priesthood: purity. Therefore, you must set a guard over your senses, and especially over your eyes, shun the company and of corrupt youths, and avoid idleness.
10. No books must be read that have the slightest taint of immodesty; in fact, before reading any book be sure that it is approved of by your director, especially if it is a book of poetry.
11. Do not attend public spectacles, or fairs, or listen to profane speeches, or go to luxurious parties. Do not sing love songs.
12. To guard the virtue of purity you must have a great love for Mary most holy, and in her honour say three Hail Marys for yourself and your companions, offering them to her and begging her for this virtue.
13. Fast for the principal feasts of Mary, and have a great devotion also to your Guardian Angel and to St Aloysius Gonzaga, in whose honour you will observe the six Sundays and three days of special prayer before his feast.
14. Your chief devotion will be for the Blessed Sacrament: therefore great recollection in church, especially when there is Exposition. Receive the Blessed Sacrament as often as you can, with the best possible dispositions and devotion, and with a prolonged thanksgiving. Visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament frequently. rejoicing to keep him company.
15. Dress according to the regulations: without any variation or display, taking no notice of anything that may be said about this, and remembering that •all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
16. When you attend services in church always wear your cassock.
17. Always be assiduous at these functions, behaving very devoutly. By so doing you will prove in yourself the truth of that saying: ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”