Ora et Labora. To pray and to work. Today as we celebrate a great saint. So much of what we experience in religious life today we owe to St. Benedict, whose holiness we acknowledge today. Work and prayer.
The Rule, the way a life of Benedictine community, forms the basis of community life even today. This fifth and sixth century saint, but the man who desired the quiet solitude of the deep spiritual relationship with God. This desire came at a time when the world wasn’t quite the difficult circumstance. There was war, the church was in disarray, and it would’ve been all too easy to give up in despair.
This was not Benedict’s course of action. He sought God, first by himself, and eventually community. His program for spiritual growth was certainly no easy thing. Some of his early followers left because they found them too strict. But eventually, the wisdom of Benedict became apparent.
His path of spiritual growth was quite simple. In order to support themselves, the monks needed to work. In order to grow in the face the monks needed to determine the meaning of their work, and to deepen their relationship with God. This required regular commitment to both communal and personal prayer.
In thinking about Benedict, we also need to think about our own pathway to spiritual holiness. Our work may not be producing tremendous liqueurs for which many Benedictine communities are known, but just the same our work needs to be sanctified. We do need to ask the question what work does God require of us to grow in holiness? How does the work that we do help us to become holy? Here the Benedictine motto can be of some assistance. To pray and to work. Our work becomes sanctified because we bring it to the Lord.
Seek spiritual assistance of St. Benedict. Ask them to help you to pray and to work.