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Catholic Dictionary




A principle or regular mode of action, prescribed by one in authority, for the well-being of those who are members of a society. It is in this sense that the organized methods of living the evangelical counsels are called rules, as the Rule of St. Augustine or St. Benedict. A rule may also be a customary standard that is not necessarily prescribed by authority, but voluntarily undertaken in order to regulate one's conduct for more effective moral living or more effective service of others. Finally rule may be distinguished from government, whether civil or ecclesiastical. Rule pertains to the possession or exercise of controlling power, wheras government refers more to actually causing another to obey one's will. (Etym. Latin regula, a rule; norm; measure.)