Laudato Si 126: Ora et Labora

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. From Francis and Charles de Foucauld in section 125, the Holy Father considers the tradition of ora et labora:

126. We can also look to the great tradition of monasticism. Originally, it was a kind of flight from the world, an escape from the decadence of the cities. The monks sought the desert, convinced that it was the best place for encountering the presence of God.

That “best place” was also the experience of Moses, Elijah, and of course, Jesus when he sought solitude with his Father.

Later, Saint Benedict of Norcia proposed that his monks live in community, combining prayer and spiritual reading with manual labor (ora et labora). Seeing manual labor as spiritually meaningful proved revolutionary. Personal growth and sanctification came to be sought in the interplay of recollection and work. This way of experiencing work makes us more protective and respectful of the environment; it imbues our relationship to the world with a healthy sobriety.

If the monastic ideal of manual labor was revolutionary in its founding days, it certainly remains countercultural in the modern era.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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