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Ora Et Labora

By Danny Jost

Ora Et Labora

Integrating the Rule of St. Benedict in Your Household

On July 11, we celebrate St. Benedict of Nursia, whose monastic rule is one of the most influential in Christianity.

It’s no secret that our world is polluted with noise. It doesn’t feel like there’s enough time in a day, and for many of us, we find that our prayer life and the priority of our spiritual health can be pushed to the backburner.

Thankfully, there is a traditional method of living that we, as lay people, can imitate to some degree in our everyday: the Benedictine way.

I’m not saying that all of us should don black habits and chant in Latin seven times daily, but we can apply small lifestyle changes to strengthen our relationship with Christ. This in turn can help us live out our vocations for the greater glory of God, aided by his grace.

FIND TIME FOR SILENCE

Humanity was endowed with reason, and in many ways, one of the greatest ways to imitate our creator is by using this faculty in the act of contemplation. In the first book of Kings, we are reminded that God most often reveals himself to us in a still, small voice — the silence of an open heart. Benedictine brothers and sisters around the world make time for silence every day, and so should we! We can utilize a commute to work, the early hours of the day or certain mealtimes to immerse ourselves in even a few minutes of silence, giving us a new opportunity to converse with the one we are meant to know, love and serve.

TURN WORK INTO PRAYER

Ora et labora, or pray and work, is the creed of the Benedictine way. We all have responsibilities, tasks that we complete everyday to live fulfilling lives and provide for our needs. Whether we work a traditional 9-5, are responsible for the care of others, or even on vacation, we can offer up the “have to” moments in our lives as a prayer. Using our talents to enrich the lives of our brothers and sisters can itself be a form of prayer.

EXERCISE AND FAST

As body-soul composites, exercise is incredibly effective at increasing focus, reducing stress and preventing disease. The body is the temple of the soul, and as stewards of our bodies, we are called to keep it healthy and strong. Overcoming physical obstacles and denying ourselves unhealthy foods can help us better persevere against bodily temptations.

CREATE A BROTHERHOOD OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Ask a friend, a family member or your spouse to join you in your spiritual journey of growth. It’s much easier to stay consistent if you have a partner to give you feedback. Find a priest that has been influential in your life and start receiving spiritual direction. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are here to help us just as much as we are to help them!

The Rule of Benedict was intended for beginners in spiritual life. However, because of its emphasis on the balance of work and prayer, it can help those of us in a complicated, saturated world to remember the simple ways we can work toward godliness in all things.


Daniel Jost is the public relations specialist for the diocesan Secretariat of Communications & Public Affairs. Email him at djost@charlestondiocese.org.