Work: Making Something Beautiful for God


Our annual summer silent retreat is underway, and we are going to share it with you.

You can make this retreat at home, if you wish, by reading each reflection and taking time to reflect, journal, sit in silence or walk quietly through a beautiful place.

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Monks “live by the labor of their hands” (RB 72).

In many ways, everyone does.

Whether you plow a farm field or fold towels at home, work contributes to your well being as well as the well being of your community.

And, as all work, it is part enjoyable, part disagreeable and always inevitable.

Here’s where Benedictines do it differently: We prioritize the Work of God (prayer). It is only after we pray Lauds together that we go to our jobs, or ministries. And in the evening we return to pray Vespers together before supper and leisure.

This rhythm of daily life creates a balance that helps us know not just what we are (as workers) but who we are (as seekers).

Work and prayer become an integrated, seamless whole.

When work is done with prayer, respect and care, it becomes holy. It sanctifies us and gives us an outlet for our energy.

We also have need for leisure.

Leisure in a monastery looks different from the recreation you see in our culture.

The point here is to create an interior space where God can touch us.

Leisure is not a diversion. It might be a walk in nature, listening to a piece of beautiful music, reading a moving book, conversing with a dear friend.

Leisure is Sabbath times.

In other words, the balance of prayer, work and leisure means Martha AND Mary: together they make a whole.

And through the balance, we work to make something beautiful for God.


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