Holy Work

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Slides from morning portion of a retreat for the Oblates of St. Paul's Monastery, St. Paul, MN

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Holy Work

  1. 1. Holy Work and Holy Leisure Oblate Retreat Saint Paul’s Monastery 29 September 2007 Sister Edith Bogue, OSB
  2. 2. Work Work done in the Benedictine tradition is supposed to be regular; it is supposed to be productive, it is supposed to be worthwhile, but it is not supposed to be impossible. Joan Chittister
  3. 3. Why Work? <ul><li>God works. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>God’s work never ends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We are made in God’s image </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jesus rested in order to go out in ministry </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We work to survive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Food and shelter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comfort and joy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To learn and grow </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Hobbes Index
  5. 5. We Work In and For Community <ul><li>For most of human history, parents and children worked side by side, building their common fate and future. </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond our own needs, we work to be able to give </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our joy in giving is an echo of the divine in ourselves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Almsgiving awakens our hearts to a needy world </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We work for the common good </li></ul>
  6. 6. Distraction <ul><li>Complexity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work and family </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work and church </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work and recreation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expanding demands of work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The reach of work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Salaried work lacks the boundaries of hours </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cell phone, text message, e-mail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Telecommuting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture (p. 66) </li></ul>
  7. 8. <ul><li>Work productivity has increased many times </li></ul><ul><li>Predicted outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fewer working hours </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More vacation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stable incomes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Actual outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Longer working hours </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two jobs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rising incomes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Juliet Schor, The Overworked American </li></ul>Over-work
  8. 9. Procrastination <ul><li>Fatigued </li></ul><ul><li>Overwhelmed </li></ul><ul><li>Confused </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of starting </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of failure </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of success </li></ul><ul><li>Needing to play </li></ul><ul><li>Self-blame </li></ul><ul><li>Self-loathing </li></ul><ul><li>Manual Labor – p. 20 - Silvanus </li></ul>
  9. 10. Identity <ul><li>Human doings, not human beings. </li></ul><ul><li>Careers before family. </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis in retirement or unemployment </li></ul><ul><li>Self-image as worker </li></ul><ul><li>Who am I, without my job? </li></ul><ul><li>This is not how God designed our work. </li></ul>
  10. 11. What in my work brings life to me and to the community? What in my work brings stress or distress to me, the community, or the larger world?
  11. 12. Holy Work
  12. 13. Scripture <ul><li>Work is mentioned hundreds of times </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gods work is mentioned as often as human work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building, farming, restoring what was pillaged </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion is work: pilgrimage, sacrifice, prayer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Jesus’ parables often include work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Workers entrusted with masters’ goods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women working in the home </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Honest and dishonest workers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Work is not directed to wealth. </li></ul><ul><li>Martha is “distracted” by her work. </li></ul>
  13. 15. The Holy Rule <ul><li>Most of The Rule is about doing work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opus Dei , the work of prayer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hospitality, table service, mutual & community service Some ask, where is the spirituality of The Rule ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The works of the monastic life are the tools of the spiritual craft (Ch. 4) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Christ’s presence so permeates the world that the Benedictine encounters Christ dozens of times each day – and can serve him. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Work is assigned based on personality (cellarer, porter), skills (reader, artistans) & strength (sick) </li></ul><ul><li>Work of hospitality, and to “speak of holy things” (Saint Scholastica) </li></ul>
  14. 17. Spiritual Tradition <ul><li>Abbas and Ammas of the desert tradition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Manual labor + prayer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work the sign of the monk </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Works of mercy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Foundation of many orders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focal point of many Christian organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Work of witness & mission </li></ul>
  15. 18. Working for Peace <ul><li>Seek peace, and pursue it. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grumbling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make peace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show genuine love </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Seek interior peace </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conversatio , conversion of life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peace in doing good, not outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Peace is a gift we can seek, but not win. </li></ul>
  16. 19. Work of God <ul><li>First work is prayer: Opus Dei </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Liturgy – the work of the people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Eucharist – giving thanks and praise </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Vocation – called by God </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Early Protestants developed the concept of calling in the lay life (not only religious or clerics) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The work that is in front of you is the work that God has given you this day. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gifts are given for the good of all (1 Cor. 12) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discernment: who and what does God call you to be through this work? </li></ul>
  17. 20. Working with a Whole Heart “ Are you hastening toward your heavenly home? Then, with Christ’s help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners. After that, you can set out for the loftier summits of the teaching and virtues mentioned above, and under God’s protection, you will reach them. Amen.” Rule, Chapter 73

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