Work, especially manual work, has always enjoyed a special esteem in the Cistercian tradition since it gives the monks the opportunity of sharing in the divine work of creation and restoration, and of following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. (Constitutions and Statutes C. 26) This hard and redeeming work gives balance to the monk’s life, and it expresses solidarity with all workers and the poor. Moreover character is built through simple work, and from which the monk gives generously to the Church and society. These spiritual gains are earned exponentially faster, in a pure and simple way, when he is free from the complications and distractions that arise when working solely for personal financial reward. By working the monks can also reflect on the lives of the Apostles, many of whom worked for a living such as Peter, a fisherman, and Paul a tent maker.
“The worksite where we are to do the hard work of building our character is within the grounds of the monastery, committed to the community.” – adapted from the Rule of Saint Benedict 4.78
The Prayer of St Joseph the Worker
Glorious St. Joseph,
model of all those who are devoted to labour,
obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously,
putting the call of duty above my many sins;
to work with thankfulness and joy,
considering it an honour to employ and develop,
by means of labour,
the gifts received from God;
to work with order,
peace, prudence and patience,
never surrendering to weariness or difficulties;
to work, above all,
with purity of intention,
and with detachment from self,
having always death before my eyes
and the account which I must render of time lost,
of talents wasted,
of good omitted,
of vain complacency in success
so fatal to the work of God.
All for Jesus,
all for Mary,
all after your example,
O Patriarch Joseph.
Such shall be my motto in life and death.