Because it is an authentic way of love and follows in the footsteps of Christ, the Rule is fitting and can be adapted to every situation and condition of life:
If one is wealthy or in the throws of poverty;
If one is an ordained priest, a deacon, or lay minister;
married, with or without children, or a single parent;
If one lives in the midst of the gangs in the Back of the Yards of Chicago, in a gated community, on a farm in central Iowa, or in a high-rise in downtown Manhattan;
Whether a college student studying to become a doctor, a corporate CEO, self-employed, or a cashier at the local grocery store;
Someone who works three jobs to keep the electricity on or lives a comfortable, upper-middle class life;
If you are a politician, a construction worker, insurance salesman, entrepreneur, soldier, teacher, cashier or student;
Whatever your situation in life is and its particular demands may be, you can bear the fruit of the Rule by adapting it to meet your conditions.
Notice here that I do not say “To meet your needs,” or “To meet your convenience.” These adaptations are not mitigations or easements of the Rule; we know and understand that the Rule and the Way of Carmelite life remains wholly the Rule and the life that it represents, continuing to call us ever forward along that path of perfection. This is the first condition of the Rule, that if you choose for the Rule to be your guide in life, that like those who profess a vow of obedience within the Orders, you accept the Rule and all its dispositions and teachings as the rule for your life. Again, this acceptance is not an arbitrary imposition, nor is it a mere sign of membership in an exclusive club, but is the Rule’s own recognition that in order to accomplish the task and work which we have set out upon, to live a life in allegiance to Christ and share in the harvest of the Carmelite saints, the Rule provides the advice and direction necessary to gain these rewards. Accept the Rule, not because any of us are obligated to do so, but because it bears real wisdom and will lead us to a far greater and more intimate love with Christ. It is only in its whole and entirety that it will do so (but on this point we will address and discuss in greater detail at a later time.
Accept the Rule according to the conditions and situation of your life. Not all of us can attend daily mass, possibly because we have to be at work, or take our children to school, or ourselves attend school, or our parish may not even be able to provide mass daily. Yet we can all attend as our schedule allows. Some may even be able to change their work schedule or set appointments at times so that they can begin to attend, or find a neighbor who can take their child to school on certain days, or perhaps even lead an hour of adoration, or communion service on days when the local priest is not available to say mass. Similarly one may struggle to find regular times for silence or have to work at the discipline of saying daily prayers. We cannot buy homes and rent apartments only in places that are “suitable” to our chosen way of life, but more often we can bear this in mind when accepting jobs and careers, and all of us can choose to be around friends and spend our free-time in places that are “suitable.”
It remains that to gain the fullness of this life, we need to begin each day with the eucharist, but we still gain from attending however often we can, and by arranging those things in our life that we may have control or influence over, so that we can attend whenever possible and more frequently at times than at others. Similarly, it may not be possible to pray the full divine office; or observe grand silence from the closing of night prayer until morning prayer; or renounce ownership of all property; or to vow strict obedience to a prior. Yet it does remain in our grasps to pray as often as our life allows, to set aside times for silence, to own only what is necessary and to project the virtue of obedience. These are the dispositions of this Way of Life and our challenge, not being given the Grace and benefit of belonging to the Order, is to find the ways which are appropriate to our particular station and position in life.
In this way, if we desire to follow the Rule and reap from its bounty, we are to accept the Rule, each and every aspect, adapted to our particular circumstance and situation.