St. Benedict lived at the turn of the sixth century and is honored as the founder of what would become medieval monasticism. He started a monastery at Monte Cassino in Italy, where the community lived by the values of “The Rule of St. Benedict.” Benedict’s rule for living emphasized prayer, stable community, and honest work; it gave advice both on living as a Christian monk and on the administration of a Christian monastery. The day in the life of a Benedictine monk included (and still includes today, after 1,500 years) regular periods for the communal praying of the Liturgy of the Hours, sleep, solitary spiritual reading, and manual labor in support of the community’s needs. Benedict was known for advocating a moderate spirit of asceticism and a balanced way of living in a Christian community. When Benedict died, he was buried beside his sister, St. Scholastica, who led a community of monastic women. His feast day is July 11.
“Ora et labora!”… “Pray and Work! — Benedictine motto
Questions for Reflection
The church has a long tradition of honoring the spiritual value of work (even small, tedious, ordinary tasks). When have you felt spiritually sustained by the work you did? Have you ever worked hard at something and seen it as a way of giving glory to God?