Weekend 580.0

(1) Work and Monasticism (Imaginative Conservative)

“We find in St. Benedict’s Rule something of a tension between toil and rest. This tension is actually fundamental to the whole monastic life, and to the whole Christian life. Benedict speaks often in terms of urgency, even haste; certainly energy, purpose, determination in pursuing our heavenly goal. To his way of thinking, we don’t have much time in this life, and we need to make full use of the little we have been given. Yet, on the other hand, we need to be at rest in God’s presence. We need to have space and time to listen to his still, small voice. We need to be perfectly clear that we prefer nothing whatever to Christ. As later medieval writers would express it, the monastic life could even be defined as sanctum otium—a “holy leisure”; the life symbolised by Mary rather than her sister Martha (cf. Luke 10:41); an environment which provides for that freedom from the pressing business of this world, and from distraction, and from a divided heart, which St. Paul recommends for the unmarried (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:35, 34).”

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