I must say that today, I observe with great fondness this feast of St. Benedict, abbot, and father of western monasticism. My Benedictine roots stem from my college days at Benedictine University in Lisle (then called Illinois Benedictine College), and I have a deep fondness for the monks of St. Procopius Abbey, who staffed the college, and in whose monastery I made several retreats. I have also on occasion celebrated Mass at Sacred Heart Monastery, praying with the sisters who were so influential to me during those college days.
Saint Benedict’s motto is Ora et Labora – Pray and Work — and it’s a constant reminder of the balance we are called to have in life. A lot of people want to say that their work is a prayer, and yes, that may in fact be true, but it’s not supposed to be the only prayer we make. Saint Benedict points out the complete necessity of taking time for prayer throughout the day, in order to sanctify the day and to be joined as one in Christ.
A wonderful source of inspiration to me while I was working in the corporate world was a daily reading from The Rule of St. Benedict, which is a great reflection on the balance we are called to in life. You can easily read and reflect on a chapter in five minutes, making it a perfect break-time devotion. Some of it obviously pertains specifically to monastic life, but an awful lot of it applies to all of us. What greatly edifies me about the Rule is its acknowledgment that community life is necessary to lead us to the communal life we call heaven.
And so, as Saint Benedict instructs toward the end of the Rule, “Let [us] prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.” (RSB, 72)