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Chapter 4

Ora et Labora


The first end I propose in our daily work is
to do the Will of God;
secondly, to do it in the manner He wills it;
and thirdly, to do it because it is His Will.
—St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


The Holy Spirit blows where He will like the wind.  So is everyone born-again. (John 3:8)  We also know that the Holy Spirit is given to all who obey God. (Acts 5:32)  God always does His part by blowing our soul in the right direction with correction and love, opening and closing doors, inspiring good ideas and desires, or warning us that something is not right, out of order, spiritually suffocating or misleading us away from God’s will.  But do we do our part by obeying His Word and go with the flow of humility and true love, avoiding unnecessary entanglements, practicing prayer and virtue and not give in to spiritual laziness or acedia, anger or self-pity, lustful thoughts or desires, prideful self-importance, restless greed or gnawing covetousness?

Jesus is there, always drawing us into a deeper relationship with God, calling us to follow Him.  We respond to this loving and peaceful invitation with our cooperation—we “pray and work” (“ora et labora”)—according to God’s will. (Benedictine Motto)

In prayer, we experience God’s presence and come to know Him in a personal way.  We pray for what we need, and we thank God for everything.  In work, we love God in action by fulfilling our daily duties in order to please Him and out of love for others.  Mary and Martha (prayer and work) must be blended and balanced in such a way as to lift our mind and heart to God during the day.  Like the two wings of a dove, we pray during the day as we work for God and others and are lifted up above our lower nature into the air of divine love.  We need both wings of the dove (prayer and work) to be successful.  If either one is missing, we will not rise above the world but will crawl on the ground like inchworms.  Fly into the sky with the help of the Holy Spirit by praying during the day in your own way as you do God’s will in your work.  God will not do everything (that is the lie of Quietism) because He respects our free will and human reason and expects us to use them.  We cannot do everything (that is the heresy of Pelagianism) because union with God is our goal and only He can lift us up to union with Him.  Teamwork is what we need—God and us working together for the human and spiritual betterment of ourselves and others—all for the honor and glory of God and the salvation of souls.  We can always win the battle against sin, practice prayer and virtue, and love God and our neighbor—with God on our side (and we on His).


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