Decalogue for Daily Living

December 29, 2007 | 19 comments

I recently heard a priest refer to a “Decalogue for Daily Living” that Pope John XXIII created for himself based on the Beatitudes and the 10 Commandments. I looked it up to get the details, and have found it to be really helpful and inspiring. I’ve mentioned before that my faith and closeness to God increased profoundly after I worked on purifying my heart; I went through the motions of being loving, kind, charitable, etc., even when the emotions weren’t really there — and the results were dramatic.

Because of this experience I think that incorporating the points from this Decalogue for Daily Living can be really powerful. It offers practical, concrete actions we can take to purify our hearts to make room for God. In this season of new beginnings and fresh starts, I thought I’d post it in case anyone else finds it helpful.

Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII


  1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
  2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
  3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
  4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
  5. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
  6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
  7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and it my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.
  8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
  9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
  10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

As I attempt to incorporate each of these ten actions into daily life, I’ve found that that last part of #8 is particularly powerful: I’d never thought of “hastiness” and “indecision” as being all that bad…but now that it’s been called to my attention I realize that hastiness and indecision (particularly the latter) are largely responsible for my frequent feelings of being overwhelmed by household tasks.

Anyway, I hope that others might find these to be inspiring, helpful ideas for daily life!

Thanks to Lisa at Unexpected Journey for typing it up so I could just copy and paste it. ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. Melanie B

    Oh I want to print this out and stick it on my fridge; but can’t since I’m not at home. I’ll probably forget by the time we get back. Oh well.

    I especially like “only for today”. Too often I fail in my resolutions and then get discouraged and drop them altogether. I like the reminder to focus only on what I can do today and not worry about tomorrow.

  2. Anna

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Anna ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Veronica Mitchell

    That last line in #2 seems completely antithetical to parenting. I do not want to see what my family looks like if I refrain from disciplining my children.

  4. Rebekka

    Ooh, thank you, thank you.

  5. Jennifer F.

    Veronica –

    I agree. Since he wrote it for himself and he was not a parent, I don’t think it would be recommended that those of us with kids take that literally. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Lisa@UnexpectedJourney

    Hi Jennifer,
    I think these are great to try to practice in the new year.

  7. Jen

    I was just thinking the same thing about number 8. I am frequently guilty of hastiness and indecision, a product of poor planning on my part. And, like you, never considered them as an “evil” per say. Yet, something about them did cause my heart to be restless, probably signifying an underlying problem in my soul…trying to bring itself to my attention. Thanks SO much for posting this. I’m going to print it out and hang it on my fridge!

  8. Melora

    What a wonderful list. I printed it out for my ‘frige and will give it a try. I thought the same thing Veronica did about the last part of #2, but of course I’m sure you were right about it not being meant to apply to raising children (and it seems like otherwise very good advice when applied to adults).
    I’ve been meaning to thank you for your posts of December 10th and 17th. They were a real eye-opener for me, and I have been doing better with those issues since reading what you and St. Francis had to say.

  9. Ginny

    Thanks for posting this! I think I will copy and post to my blog as well as printing out a copy for myself.

  10. Terri

    Hmmm, just about all of these things I need to practice. Thanks for posting this.

  11. Therese

    Over the last week I have been reading fly ladies book. From reading this book and reading A mother’s rule of life a couple of years ago, I have been working on my new routine. This is going to be the icing on the cake for me I think. This will help me over the first couple of weeks in following my plan.


    God bless

  12. Willa

    I had a different take on the last part of #2. John was a Pope — a father in charge of a whole flock, so his job description was not too far from any parents. But the verb in the sentence is “claim”. We should not “claim” to discipline or improve anyone besides ourselves.

    It reminded me of what Jesus said about not proclaiming your fasting and sacrificing, because then you will already “have your reward.”

    To me, it also connected with what Jen said about focusing on purifying our own hearts. A lot of the disciplining of one’s children comes from the task of making oneself into a better mother or father.

    If I was a saint, my children would have a lot better chance of growing up well because my discipline for them would flow out of sanctity. So I thought he was making that point.

  13. JCPennylegion


    Thanks for posting this — I’m sure you know by now it’s being shared world-wide through emails and blog postings.

    You mentioned that you had to “look it up” — could you please cite your source for this?


  14. Abigail

    This is going in my “try in 2008” workbook!

  15. Jenny

    I used to have this hanging on my mirror so I’d see it first thing in the morning; I’m putting it back up.

    Numbers 1 and 4 really challenge me, I wonder if Pope John XXIII was somthing of a control freak in his pre-papal life…

  16. Jennifer F.

    You mentioned that you had to “look it up” — could you please cite your source for this?

    I originally heard about it from Fr. James Misko’s homily. Then I Googled around and found that Lisa had typed it up from the Magnificat here.

    So I guess the short answer is that it’s from the Magnificat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. ELC

    Could we actually find out the provenance of this list? I find it unlikely that a Catholic prelate (who, in his day, would have almost always worn either a simple cassock or, if anything more elaborate, only what would have been required by protocol and etiquette) would draw up rules for himself including to dress modestly. Also, the tone is strikingly similar to that of “Just for Today” by Pauline (Dear Abby) Phillips.

  18. Jennifer F.

    ELC –

    You may want to ask the blogger who I linked to in the post and in my previous comment. I heard it from a priest and Googled to find that she typed it up. I believe she said she got it from the Magnificat, perhaps she could tell you which issue.

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