Monday, July 11, 2011

Ora et Labora

     Marie attended an Agribusiness/Entrepreneurship course at a local community college. She was worried about the days away from her Nubian milk goats but Susanna jumped right in to take-over farm chores and Marie was able to make the break. About a dozen students from three or four counties participated. Marie said the course was quite informative and inspiring. Each student had an idea for his or her own business and was required to present a business plan at the end of the week to a panel of judges.

     Marie’s business plan was entitled “The Abbey Girl Goat Farm” and detailed the first few years of a small-scale dairy farm. To our surprise and pride, she won first place. She’s been buzzing ever since. Marie is aware of her time constraints and the difficulty involved with starting and running a small business. She knows that college has to be factored into the plan in two years. Nonetheless, she has a realistic, yet hopeful excitement. She has been working like a horse and praying a lot about her plans.

     “Ora et Labora.” Pray and Work. Today is the Feast Day of St. Benedict of Nursia.  He is considered the Father of Western Monasticism. As a young man in the fifth century he was educated in Rome and became offended by the worldliness he witnessed. He retreated to a remote place. For a few years he lived a hermit’s life in which he prayed and fasted and grew closer to God. Later, he founded the Order of St. Benedict and a code or “Rule” to live by. That “Rule of St. Benedict” is followed to this day by thousands of men living a Monastic life.

     In the mid-1800’s, Benedictine Monks came to the United States from Germany. By the late-1800’a a group of them made their way to Kansas. They built a Monastery and founded a college. The Abbey Farm was started by these same Monks and Brothers. Farm Managers were later hired and lived here with their families. Our children are certainly not the first to be raised here, to pick dandelions, to turn over rocks in search of night crawlers, to wade in the pond, to raise livestock.

     Whether or not we know it, we are all called to a life of prayer and work. In an age where the created is celebrated in absence of its Creator, many are offended by the worldliness and self-centeredness of our culture--where people are treated like things and things are valued more than people. We don’t have to become hermits, or to move to a farm to reverse the trend. Wherever we are, in whatever occupation we can make a difference. There is dignity in the most menial of work. There is sanctity in the weakest of lives.

Seek God. Love His creation as He does. Ora et Labora.


The Abbey Farm

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