Ora et Labora!! Prayer and work are the rhythm of the monastery. St. Benedict was a wise leader in recognizing we need both in our lives. Prayer is the thread that carries us throughout the day. Benedict and his monks stopped to pray seven times a day, starting at sunrise and ending at sunset. Their lives revolved around an agricultural schedule and each monk was encouraged to pray, read, study and do manual work. Between the gardens and the scriptorium their day was filled and their work was an extension of their prayer.
Today we still need that rhythm of prayer and work. At our monastery we start every day with personal prayer and communal prayer. Our prayer is the food for our work and without the rhythm of prayer it is hard to stay in a state of love and peacefulness. Although we are not continuing the custom of prayer seven times a day, we do pray three times daily and participate in the Eucharist. Our longest prayer period is 45 minutes of communal prayer in the morning, with a short prayer at noon and praise in the evening.
For centuries we have been responsible for our livelihood. Although our ministries have changed from teaching in traditional schools, we still find ourselves teaching and educating in a number of ways. Our work is a very important way of expressing our mission and our creativity. I pray that your work is an extension of your prayer and a means of expressing your mission and creativity in the world, whether that means you are retired, a homemaker, or in the workforce.
Clare Carr, OSB