By Eddie Molina ‘23
As Catholics, prayer is one of the most important things in our lives as it is a way of communicating directly with God. Perhaps just as important as prayer, however, is the Catholic tradition of serving others—especially those who are less fortunate. The Rule of St. Benedict perfectly combines these two in the principle known as “Ora et Labora.”
Ora et Labora is Latin for “Prayer and Work.” It refers to the monastic practice of spending one’s day both working and praying in an effort to improve one’s relationship with God. Ora et Labora provides a certain balance to life by offering wisdom through both prayer and service.
St. Benedict believed that a combination of prayer and work was the secret to a fruitful journey through life. The principle of Ora et Labora is also important because it allows Christians and Catholics to heed the call to incorporate prayer into our daily existence.
The Woodworking Club, moderated by Fr. Garrett Long, S.M. ‘62, recognizes the importance of Ora et Labora. They look to not only focus on the creative aspects of woodworking, but to also incorporate service and prayer into their retreat’s regimen.
The club’s annual retreat, which took place this past October, embodied its commitment to work, prayer, and service.
Before heading to Founder’s Hollow, Chaminade’s retreat house located in Accord in upstate New York, the club members stopped by the Sisters of Life Annunciation Motherhouse in Montebello, Rockland County.
Fr. Garrett and a handful of students helped at the sisters’ orchard and farm by laying wood chips below the deer fence that surrounds the orchard. By doing this, they ensured that small animals and deer could not burrow under the fence.
Following their work with the sisters, the woodworkers left for Founder’s Hollow, which is particularly beautiful in autumn due to the upstate foliage that surrounds it. This makes it a perfect place to bond with friends and connect with God.
After unpacking their bags, they went to the chapel for an evening prayer service and shared a meal before finally going to bed, resting up for another service-filled day.
The next morning, the group left for St. Anthony’s Convent, which overlooks the Hudson River. There they helped landscape the property to enhance the view of the river.
After another fulfilling day, they returned to the retreat house to share a prayer and a meal before retiring to their rooms. After waking up and attending Mass the next morning, they were on their way back to Chaminade.
The work done on the Ora et Labora retreat goes a long way to aid in the Sisters of Life’s mission. By working and praying together, they also get to experience the life of a Benedictine and what a life of service and prayer means. This not only helps themselves become closer to God, but also helps others in that process.