A 16th-Century Rule of Life

Above all things love God with thy heart.

Desire his honour more than the health of thine own soul.

Take heed with all diligence to purge
and cleanse thy mind with oft confession,
and raise thy desire or lust from earthly things.
Be you houseled with entire devotion.

Repute not thyself better than any other persons,
be they never so great sinners,
but rather judge and esteem yourself most simplest.
Judge the best.

Use much silence,
but when thou hast necessary cause to speak…

Banish from thee all grudging and distraction,
and especially from thy tongue. And pray often…

Resort to God every hour…

Show thyself a sore enemy to vice,
and sharply reprove all vile and reprobrious words
and deeds that be not honest.

Be not partial for favour, lucre, not malice,
but according to troth, equity, justice and reason.

Be pitiful unto poor folk and help them to thy power,
for there you shall greatly please God.

Give fair language to all persons
and especially to the poor and needy.
Also be easy and diligent in giving of alms.
In prosperity be meek of heart and in adversity patient.

And pray continually to God
that you may do that which is his pleasure.

Also apply diligently the inspirations of the Holy Ghost,
whatsoever thou have therein to do.
Pray for perseverance.
Continue in dread and ever have God afore thine eye.

Renew every day thy good purpose.
What thou hast to do, do it diligently.
Stablish thyself alway in well-doing.

If by chance you fall into sin, despair not,
and if you keep these precepts
the Holy Ghost will strengthen thee
in all other things necessary,
and this doing you shall be with Christ in heaven,
to whom be given laud, praise and honour everlasting.

from the Rule of Life collected by Bl Adrian Fortescue. Bl Adrian, a member of the Lay Fraternity of St Dominic at Oxford, died a martyr at the Tower of London on 8 or 9 July 1539.