Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ora et Labora

A recent issue of Restoration (Vol. 68 #6) published by the Madonna House Community in Combermere, Canada, included these intriguing titles: “God in the Nitty-Gritty,”  “Give Wings to your Work,” and “The Adventure of Washing Dishes.” Do these titles not indicate a theme attractive to our spirits but not always easy to accomplish? Or as a friend puts the question: “How does one find God in the chaos and busyness of life?” or in the words of Catherine Doherty, foundress of Madonna House, “What can a person do who tries to love God tremendously?”

Each of the articles mentioned seeks to respond to those questions . . . which in my opinion have much to say to our Labor Day celebration … and musings! Catherine herself says: “It never occurs to me that I can possibly separate anything from love. For example, I will speak of washing dishes. If I have the attitude that this is a beautiful thing that I can give to God, then washing a cup becomes an adventure.”

Teresa Davis couches her response within a question. “And what is our Father’s business? To live the Gospel without compromise. To do the duty of the moment. To do little things well out of love. … Love raises everything from the natural order to the divine order.”

And finally Pope John Paul II, who addressed Italian workers in 1980, challenging them to let the famous Benedictine dual concept of ora et labora (work and prayer) be for them an inexhaustible source of true wisdom, of sure equilibrium, and of human perfection. He pleaded with them to respect human beings and not to allow technical progress to diminish or impoverish humanity’s spiritual interior lives. John Paul II ended his address to laborers—and to us, I’d say--with the words:  “May prayer give wings to your work, purify your intentions, and defend you from the perils of boredom and carelessness; and may your work, after your exertions, allow you to re-discover the invigorating force of the encounter with God, in whom we once more recover our true, great stature.  Ora et Labora!”

A refreshing Labor Day consideration for each of us!

Renée Domeier, OSB

Photo: S. Elaine Schroeder, Director of Liturgy and one of our gardeners. For our sister-gardeners, tending the earth and growing produce is a way to pray.

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