Ora et Labora

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fra_angelico_031St. Benedict gives us a remarkable example of discipline. His simple motto, Ora et labora—pray and work—is still relevant to our own lives, so many centuries after his death. We need both prayer and work in order to live a truly Christian life and finish the race. If we were to embrace prayer without also embracing the work that comes along with our calling, we would stagnate. God has given us the incredible gift of cooperating in our own salvation; He calls us to offer our daily work up to Him. We can’t just sit back and expect Him to fix all our problems; instead, we suffer, and we unite those sufferings to His sacrifice. When we are guided by His will, our labors bring us closer to God.

Likewise, our work loses its meaning if it is not grounded in prayer. We can’t pretend that everything in our lives is within our own control, that if we work hard enough, we can fix the problems before us and improve the state of our own souls. We cannot do anything except through the grace of God. Ultimately, our salvation will come from His mercy, not from our own efforts. Before we begin the work of His Kingdom, we must first turn to Him in prayer, knowing that He cares for us and that His will is beyond our understanding. Rooted in His love, we will be able to carry out His work.

Let us pray to St. Benedict that we might learn discipline, so as to stop making excuses and to stop settling for less than the glory to which we are called. May we acknowledge our weaknesses and temptations so that we can face them, and may we call upon God in prayer so that our efforts will be directed toward His will.


Image: Fra Angelico / PD-US

Erin Cain

Erin Cain

Erin Cain is a writer and editor living in New York City, drinking lots of Earl Grey tea, and attempting to grow in virtue and love. She writes at Work in Progress.

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  1. ” God has given us the incredible gift of cooperating in our own salvation;” AND in HIS reconciling all things (2 Cor. 5:19). When Jesus prayed on the Cross (or whenever) He was animated with truly infinite graces by His nature as True Man and True God. He always beheld the Beatific image (he always saw the entirety of God as we will if we get to heaven) and for this His human nature needed truly infinite help to see and by His divine nature He eternally possesses infinite power. Therefore, Jesus prays for every sinner, at every point of space and time, all at once, praying His Name, “Jesus”, since the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches at 2666, that:
    “But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. the divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity the Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWH saves.”16 The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. ”
    We should also remember that the CCC teaches at 2668, “The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases,19 but holds fast to the word and “brings forth fruit with patience.”20 This prayer is possible “at all times” because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.”
    And therefore the Name, “Jesus” contains the entire will of God for all time and space, for each second of time, and includes each person’s free will decisions. So to more perfectly cooperate with God’s eternal, changeless, infinite will, we should, according to CCC at 2741, remember that “Jesus also prays for us – in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father.32 If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.”
    Let us always (especially at Mass at the Consecration) “resolutely unite our prayer with” the infinite, eternal, changeless prayer of Jesus, praying His Name for each and every sinner, even those destined by their free will decisions for hell, and in this way cooperate with God as He reconciles all things, throwing ourselves completely on Divine providence and His infinite mercy.
    If we perfectly ask Jesus to pray in us, for us, for all sinners, through us (as Mary did at the foot of the cross which the Consecration makes us present at) then Jesus is praying through us, as He did through Mary and Joseph for thirty years, being the perfect embodiment of the Fourth Commandment, honoring St. Joseph as the spiritual head of the Family

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