Birthdays and Benedict — Ora et labora

This space has been quiet due to much family fun. My father turns 70 today, and his 7 children and their families have been getting together and celebrating with much gusto. We are so blessed to have 5 of the siblings living close by to my parents. And the two “out-of-towners” came in for 2 weeks each with their children. I think by last count it’s 28 grandchildren, give or take a few. By and large we all get along and the cousins LOVE playing with each other. And how often can one say that we can discuss religion and politics and be almost always on the same page! Truly, truly blessed.

I have not been camera happy during these days. I am enjoying soaking in the moments together, visiting with my brothers and sisters, reminiscing, laughing, and sharing. I love watching how the cousins are getting along so well, enjoying every minute. My cup runneth over.

My husband has joked that this birthday celebration has been longer running than Cats. We have had many get togethers, and actually 6 “official” parties.

I must keep this short, because I’m off to more family fun, but a few thoughts on this day:

Today is Dad’s actual birthday, the Feast of St. Benedict. Because this is my father’s birthday and was our previous Holy Father’s name, I pay closer attention to this great saint.

I have been meditating a great deal on the dignity of Work. And of course, everyone has heard the summary of the Rule of St. Benedict is “Ora et Labora” — Pray and Work. Rich and meaty.

We are part of a culture that avoids work. Labor-saving devices are supposed to be a good thing. But work is part of man’s role on earth. It was a task given to us before the fall: Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.” After the Fall it became laden with blood, sweat and tears, but still labor is a holy endeavor. I love the writings of St. Josemaria on work. In fact the readings for his feast day are related to this Work of God. I also recommend a small pamphlet by Ade Bethune entitled Work. And a newer book published by Scepter, The Work of Children, by Esther Joos Esteban. Those are the ones that come to mind at first glance.

The liturgical year during the summer months is so rich with feasts that point us to this holy task of labor. We are in the season of Ordinary Time. The Church has been filled with the Holy Spirit and sent out to work, to spread the Good News. We have to work in the Vineyard, put out into the deep (Duc in altum). The Saints of Summertime are continually bringing this message home. The lazy days of summer does  not mean no work or vacation from your prayer life, but in fact this is a time to intensify all efforts.

I also see why the back to the land movement or agrarian lifestyle, while it is hard manual work, can be conducive for growth of the soul. There is a closeness to the natural seasons and also God’s nature, all of which are echoed in the Daily Liturgy. And doing manual labor can free our minds for personal prayer — being in the presence of God, dedicating our work. So often mental work, like reading and writing, computer work, is more of a distraction, because our minds our filled. Both are good, I’m just seeing that we need a balance of actual manual labor and studies.

And to bring it to the practical, I am asking for St. Benedict’s intercession for help in revamping my family routine, both our prayer schedule and our family chores. The routine needs an overhaul for both summer and when we get back into the school schedule.

St. Benedict, pray for us!

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One thought on “Birthdays and Benedict — Ora et labora

  1. Ora et Labora! The longer I’m a parent, and the older my children get the more I understand the importance of this. I’ve been raving (and ranting) to friends recently on the importance of Good Habits and Self- Discipline, but I think I like the Ora et Labora title better. We’re overhauling our routine next week too, be interested in hearing your plans. Ora et Labora, now I have a new ‘rant';)

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