NOVICE:

One earns one’s daily bread through work. This work takes many forms, from simple physical labour to intellectual and artistic pursuits. The attitude to work also extends to laziness and drudgery, work being approached from various points of view. In certain circumstances work has either been despised (e.g. slavery) or praised too highly (all power to work!). St. Paul announced to the Christians: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Work is of great importance in monastic life. As elsewhere this work also varies according to individual monasteries, depending on which spirituality a monastery belongs to and what duties the Church expects from its monks.  Those religious congregations oriented towards charitable work are dedicated to a different type of work than those concentrating on education. St. Benedict anticipated for coenobitic monks a harmony and balance of both work and prayer. The motto “ora et labora” is therefore a simplified recapitulation of his Rule.  Although he gives precedence to prayer, he still allots a large part of the Rule to work. Since idleness is the enemy of the soul, he placed a lot of importance on the fact that monks should never be without work, even if they are weak or sick: “But if anyone should be so careless and slothful that he will not or cannot meditate or read, let some work be given him to do, that he may not be idle. Let such work or charge be given to the weak and the sickly brethren, that they are neither idle, nor so wearied with the strain of work that they are driven away.”  In normal circumstances each monk is better devoted to working on tasks in which they have a particular talent. If circumstances however require it, each monk has to do any work that has to be done. The abbot has to take care that everything is carried out in fraternal harmony.

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