A well known saying among Benedictine monks is Laborare est orare. Translated from the Latin, it means “to work is to pray.” It aptly summarizes part of the sixth century Rule of St. Benedict that still governs their lives together. But what does that mean? Tony Hendra relates the following explanation from a monk known to his friends as Father Joe:
“The work itself is prayer. Work done as well as possible. Work done for others first and yourself second. Work you are thankful for. Work you enjoy, that uplifts you. Work that celebrates existence, whether it’s growing grain in the fields or using God-given skills—like yours. All this is prayer that binds us together and therefore to God.” — Dom Joseph Warrilow (as quoted by Tony Hendra in “Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul).
I thought this was a timely quote given last Sunday’s sermon. It gets at one of the points I was trying to make: honest work, done well, can and should be seen as a gift from God.