“They are monks in truth… If they live by the work of their hands as did our forefathers and the Apostles” Rule of St Benedict, chapter 48.
The old adage “Ora and labora” brings out the importance nuns attach to manual work, whether it is done (carried out) in solitude or in a common workroom, in the garden or in the guesthouse, whether they are sewing or computerising. “Hands at work, heart with God” Father Guillaume. “Working is the easiest way to renouce one’s own will for God’s will” Geneviève Gallois.
A nun’s work means taking part in spiritual activities in a fraternal way but it is also a means of sharing the human condition of all mankind, It is self-sacrifice and participation in the divine work of creation while providing for the community with some work meant to be beautiful, done with care and generous self-forgetfulness until it is completed. “It is love in action lived in the humblest daily tasks”. It is work carried out peacefully : “Do not endeavour to do everything, only do something and no doubt you will do much” St Francis de Sales.
Thus only will a person’s abilities be used to the service of God, and the right balance between body and soul be achieved.
So, what is the message conveyed by monasticism and contemplative life ?
“To repeat endlessly that the primacy of God gives human
life fullness of meaning and joy
for man is made for God and he will not find rest as long as he does not rest in God “
St John-Paul II (quoting St Augustine).
Origin of monastic life
The other pillars of monastic life :