Prayer and Work = 1

Dec 28, 2011

by Jose Ares

INHERITED from the old dichotomy of the spiritual and the material world, there appears a to be a prevalent perception that prayer and work are distinct from each other. Thus, in a worker’s life weekdays days are different from Sundays. Prayers are reserved only for Sundays. But this is not so. In prayer, all days are Sundays.

Perhaps it would be too simplistic to say that the RULE OF LIFE of the Benedictine monks can be summed up from the words of its founder, St. Benedict of Necia in the year 500 A.D.: “ ORA ET LABORA” which translated to English means Pray and Work.

Contrary to the notion that hard and perspiring work is only for the poor and the slaves, to Saint Benedict, work is for everybody: rich or poor, freeman or slaves alike. For him, striving for simplicity and holiness rest on earnest work because in work man finds fulfillment of the purpose of life.

And laziness is the greatest obstacle to this effort; Hence, it is not surprising that in Benedictine monasteries, sights of monks plowing the fields, planting, gardening, harvesting, pitching water, cleaning rooms and toilets and then at the end of the day PRAYING , are normal. It’s their life!

“ORA” is integral to “LABORA”. In my mind, when work is offered to God, it becomes an act of worship to the Source and Lord of work. Thus, WORK BECOMES A PRAYER.

In fact, this is exemplified by the life of St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers. His work in plowing fields is always offered to God and that a story is told that Angels are seen assisting him while he was working.

Fr. Frank Chapman SSC once said “A person who is industrious is occupied with the things of God while the lazy finds joy in playing with the devil. A worker who considers his work as a prayer guards himself from temptations because temptations come so easily to those who work without faith.”

The work-place as DOMESTIC CHURCH. The gospel values of friendship, kindness, honesty, patience, charity and brotherly love can be made alive in the work-place. The call to love a neighbor is right there! And the neighbor is no one else but the co-worker. An office can become a holy ground; it is the best place for doing well. Why? Because the act of goodness is not publicly known except by the ONE in heaven. The work-place can bring a worker so near to God.

The CALL TO HOLINESS. It is often thought that the lives of saints are spent in hard and astringent life to the point even of physical pain and suffering. Not quite so. Rather, their simplicity and by doing the most menial task prayerfully God keeps an eye on them. Consequently, they are given the previledge of experiencing God while at work.

A worker does not need to do elaborate things in work to be holy but to simply do his task well. When asked to report early, he does not complain because punctuality is required. And in times when the boss is not around, he works diligently because there is trust. Temptations like a man’s shadows are always at the back but when that time comes to a prayerful worker, his family is always THE PRIORITY. He, who glorifies God through his work, works for his family.

A prayerful worker is aware that his work is a vocation; hence, the realization that he is also called to a holy life.

(to be continued)

Ps: written is a simple reflection of the writer. Please feel free to write me your thoughts,

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