a Benedictine Spirituality of Work

On a course today led by Fr Dermot Tredget OSB of Douai Abbey. Using the Rule of St Benedict we drew insights into the meaning and purpose of work in our lives. One of my problems is work v life and the balance between the two. Or one, in actual fact. Where is my life? I need to find a new hobby that is so completely un-work-like that I can switch off. Something that I wouldn’t pray whilst doing it, or give thanks to God after it. Something so secular that your guardian angel may ask for the night off. That kind of hobby. Any ideas?

Then after lunch we looked at leadership styles and responsibilities. I think my style might be Autocratic/Hierarchical in which the Leader dictates by exercising power over others using coercive force and threatening with punishment. The rest of my table didn’t seem to think this was a good thing.  But we had great numbers at Easter remember. And if I hadn’t told them on Palm Sunday that they wouldn’t get in on Easter day if they didn’t attend something in Holy Week, would that have been the case? I think not! Force and the threat of punishment does it every time.

And just for the record… the Laissez Faire/Therapeutic style (the non-leader) who listens, supports, affirms and clarifies would drive me up the wall screaming like a banshee.

Interesting mix of people there. Probably about 20% have never worked in their lives, another 30% were retired and a good proportion of the rest of us worked in the church. That’s all I’m saying.

15 thoughts on “a Benedictine Spirituality of Work

  1. “Probably about 20% have never worked in their lives, another 30% were retired and a good proportion of the rest of us worked in the church”. Obviously. The rest of us don’t have time to swan around on Saturdays.

    For the hobby I first of all thought Sex, but mostly people do pray during it and thank God after it.

  2. ‘Swan around’? Heh, this was hard work. You never been on a course on a Saturday? Set on a Sat so those who work Mon-Fri could attend.

    Yeh, sex is going to work with a celibate. Thanks.

  3. You’ve confused me now – you said/implied there weren’t many working people there. So the having it on Saturday didn’t help with the Mon-Fri thing, which is what I was saying.
    And I do have to think very hard about attending stuff on Saturdays and rarely am I able to do it.

  4. A brief patrol of my hobbies reveals that the only one not involving prayer is watching light weight movies. Most relaxing hobby I think is gardening, but it is inherently prayerful.

  5. Mother K, with a smile and humour. I hope. Of course I may not be getting away with it at all and the bishop could be inundated every morning with piles of complaining emails and letters and just be too polite to say anything. Possibly.

  6. Agatha, no implications intended. It just seemed a bit daft of retired and non-workers to even attend such a course with the title of ‘Spirituality of Work’, subtitled ‘what kind of manager are you?’ The usual church course that the usual suspects attend. And all the people in secular employment who might have benefited stayed away. That’s all I’m saying.

  7. Good points. Some church people turn up to the opening of a prayer book, because they think they should. For the working population perhaps the course would be better broken up into chunks which could be studied in the evenings – or at work in the lunch hour with fellow Christians.

  8. I’d love to go on a course on the spirituality of work! I’ve now acquired enough of what might be called “management” responsibilities to justify attending the one you’ve just described, and I suppose dealing with students is a kind of “management”, but given the limited extent to which work issues are addressed at church at all (though your mileage may vary), it seems a pity to restrict it in this way.


  9. Other media than face to face are available… Or do monks take vows against using DVDs along with poverty, celibacy etc. At my home group and work group we have used DVDs and CD courses, together with the traditional workbooks.

  10. I had booked a place on this event but unfortunately couldn’t make it on account of being ‘stranded’ overseas on account of the volcanic ash. I’m surprised that more working – and non-clergy – people weren’t there. A pity: congrats to all involved for their time in organising such an interesting day – good events discussing the relationship between faith and work are always welcome.

  11. It was good and I’m sure it will be offered again, Justin.
    Robin, you would have been very welcome. Check out Adventures in Faith syllabus on the Diocese of Edinburgh’s website and you will see all there is on offer.

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