Faith at Work XII

July 2005

Someone said to me at the Science Park the other day that work for him was entirely separate from family and leisure time, and from religious things too for that matter.  It got me thinking about the connections between all the different aspects of our lives and, in particular, why we work.  Work is a useful thing, of course, in serving our clients or customers and also in creating the funds for our own life outside work … but can it be really separate?  Do we live to work or work to live or can we find some way of making it all fit together as our zip fastener did when we thought about that a couple of months ago.

I don’t know if any of you saw the series on BBC2 back in May called "The Monastery", where five people from various walks of life came to live for 40 days and 40 nights in community with the monks at Worth Abbey, living the Rule of Benedict written 1500 years ago, working, praying and studying in a productive, orderly and balanced way.  Even though they hadn't "chosen" each other or the individuals within the community that they joined, they were there long enough for it to matter that they shared life together fully, played their part in the daily rhythm and eventually learned how to love themselves as well as one another in spite of all the tensions.

Work in this case wasn't the problem – it was easy to join in as was expected; worshipping formally six times a day took a bit of getting used to but it was the living and studying together that took its toll.  The issues that arose, aided by the monks' challenging questions, took them deep inside themselves and there was no escape; tempers flared when they weren't sufficiently open with each other – a much more meaningful encounter than is often found in "reality" TV shows because it was dealing with life itself rather than some artificial situation.  For some, it was unexpectedly life changing, and for the better.

On 11th July in the church's calendar, we remember the life of Benedict of Nursia, the Father of Western Monasticism and the founding Abbot at Monte Cassino.  Our new Pope has affirmed the value of Benedict's insights and wisdom by taking on his name as Benedict XVI.   Part of Benedict's wisdom is that life needs to be balanced as an integrated whole and is of much greater worth than the sum of its parts, a limit we impose if we confine everything to separate compartments.  It is summed up in the prayer that we use on Benedict's day:

Eternal God,
who made Benedict a wise Master in the school of your service and a guide to many called into community to follow the rule of Christ, grant that we may put your love before all else and seek with joy the way of your commandments.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2005-06-10

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