What is a rightly ordered life?


I’m mainly talking about externals that aren’t really connected to virtue, like, let’s say, having a clean house. God obviously wants us to be good stewards of the possessions He’s given us, but we have a lot of wiggle room about what that looks like. God wants us to take care of our bodies, so that we don’t sin against the 5th commandment, but some people go to the gym everyday and never eat junk food, most people don’t live up to that standard. SOme people floss after every meal, others never do.

If we want to please God, how should we live? What rule or principal can we go by to rightly order our lives? It seems that Our Lady would have a lot to say about this too, but I can’t find anything really concrete.

I know God gives us freedom in the non-essentials, but I want to please Him especially in every aspect of my life. I’ve looked into living by a rule, like the Confraternity of Penitents, but I don’t think I could pull that off (never go to the movies? :eek:)

This kind of stuff is constantly bugging me, because I feel like I’m falling short, but I don’t really know how to live a rightly ordered life, or what that is.

PS - Happy Easter everyone! He is risen!


As you have noticed, there is no one way to live a good life that is pleasing to God. I used to worry about that sort of thing, but finally gave it up.

If I am able to take care of my duties the best I can, help others the best I can, and try to learn something about God or his creation every day and how to serve him, I think I’m doing all right. My life may not be “rightly ordered” according to the opinions of others, but God hasn’t taken me to task for it. :slight_smile:


A rightly ordered life is one in which the priorities are set correctly.

First God, then one’s state in life.

So everything should be ordered to God–i read that our week should be so structured as to *culminate *at Mass on Sunday.

But we do the above within the structure imposed by our state in life. A son caring for an elderly parent would not pray as much as a contemplative nun, for example.

And something I have found helpful is the Jesuit First Principle and Foundation:
The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so, to save his or her soul.

All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created.

It follows from this that one must use other created things, in so far as they help towards one’s end, and free oneself from them, in so far as they are obstacles to one’s end.

To do this, we need to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, provided the matter is subject to our free choice and there is no other prohibition.

Thus, as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.

And I am just so stunned by this video of Jim Cazeviel discussing his role in the Passion that I am including it here as an example of how sometimes our or society’s idea of a well-ordered life is totally different from God’s idea.

ETA: i included this because sometimes we think of taking care if our bodies as being something that God mandates in and if itself. He does not want us to treat our bodies badly, and we are certainly supposed to care for the bodies of others (not selfishly keep them off medical treatment and the like) and avoid vice wrt to our bodies, like foolhardiness which might damage us (jumping off a roof on a dare, not swimming out to rescue someone). But there is no sin in doing things which many regard as bad for the body, like St Terese of Lisieux’s not asking for an extra blanket, provided it is for a proportionate reason.


Thank you! Good food for thought.


Loving God first and foremost, then comes our love of others as ourselves.

This is not easily accomplished spirituality, and it takes a lot of introspection. We must be made aware of our dependency on God, and see the miserable wretches we are without Him.


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