Opus dei

Leisure is not the basis of Christian culture, but rather, prayer.

And leisure is not the aim of work, rather it is our work that gives meaning. Leisure is rest from meaningful creation (a la Genesis)

The Great Resignation shows a dissatisfaction with the culture of work. We do not need more rest, we need better work. A better understanding of, theology of, and culture of work.

Artist Cohort at Mount Saviour Monastery

I spent a week at Mount Saviour Monastery in July, and this is what I learned:

I was part of the first post-pandemic cohort of artists at Orein Arts Residency. 13 artists from across the country spent a week in residence at Mt. Saviour Monastery in New York’s Southern Tier.

My primary goal was to spend the week working on a first draft of a play. But Mt. Saviour Monastery transformed the way I thought and experienced my work as a writer and artist. The life of the monastery opens up if you enter into its rhythm of prayer. If you dip your toes into the stream of prayer that powers the monks’ life, you begin to see their world–and yours–anew.

So I made my goal primarily to live with the rhythm of a monk for a week. When the church bell rang for prayer, I learned that I can’t squeeze in yet another task and make it to the prayer on time–when the bell rings, put your work down, wash your hands, and go. Benedictines call the liturgy of the hours they pray seven times a day the “opus dei” or work of God. This work of praising, of gathering together to offer gratitude, is the most important work they do, the main mission of the monastery.

I found by prioritizing the hours of prayer, I was more energized and focused on my work when I left prayer. In many ways, the interruptions of the hours came at natural intervals – when my attention was about to wander, taking me to Twitter, I would be pulled back into the rhythm of the day by the bell. By making the chief work of the day praise of the Creator, all my work and all my labor became an extension of that praise.

From Catholic Artist Connection Issue #318

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