Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Ora et Labora is the motto of the Benedictine Order. To pray is the first work of the order, Opus Dei--God's work. Nothing is more important in the Rule of St. Benedict.
Why is prayer called work? A Benedictine priest in his article in the Kyeongyang magazine tells the readers when you are called seven times during the day to pray, you can call it work. Sometimes you go without emotion as you go to the workplace, often in a trance.
Life of a monk according to the rule of St. Benedict is prayer, work, and study. Those who enter the monastery at times find work difficult and find ways to avoid it. When they are not the subject of the work they do it as slaves and without joy. The Benedictine Monastery to which the writer belongs has a large tract of land set aside as a pear orchard and the work is difficult.
Work always gives way to prayer. When the work is difficult and takes too much time prayer is given the place of honor even if it means less income, the expenditures are decreased. In #48 of the rule: "Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading" (1). "When they live by the labor of their hands, as our fathers and the apostles did, then they are really monks" (8).
"If anyone is so remiss and indolent that he is unwilling or unable to study or to read, he is to be given some work in order that he may not be idle" (23). Brothers who are sick or weak should be given a type of work or craft that will keep them busy without overwhelming them or drive them away" (24). All this is to help in the search for God, (Quaerere Deum).
Prayer and work are a cause of grumbling at times. Too little is as bad as too much. The monks last year attended the demonstrations in Seoul, monks who only knew prayer and work. The monastery life did suffer but they were all united in wanting the president impeached. Why are the monks joining the demonstration? Isn't that going a little bit too far? The writer does see the reason for the surprise but thinks it was a good thing to have the monks leave the monastery for the occasion.
Since the monks have only been concerned with the prophetic calling in a conceptual way they have now experienced it on the front lines. The results were that the bond to the community became stronger, work and prayer also improved. They have also attended a festival where they were involved in fishing which was thoroughly enjoyed. They cooked and ate the raw fish with a glass of Korean vodka. The era of prayer and work has passed and we have prayer and play.
When the monks joined the demonstrations there were those who saw them as followers of the North, leftist and now the writer says those in the future will come and say monks are to work and pray why are they playing? We are a family who in God do not know the world and enjoy play and living happily as a family.