Work and Pray



The abbot reveals two important truisms for bringing about the restoration of Christendom. The first is that we must pray, and the second is that we must act.

The second finds its foundation in the first. If our actions do not flow from prayer, then failure awaits us. Christ alone offers us the grace necessary to restore Him as King of our society, King of our culture, and King of our political institutions. Thus the restoration of Christendom must begin with prayer.

In Life After God, generation-X commentator Douglas Coupland observes that ours is the first generation born “after God.” Coupland expresses the loneliness each of us feels when we are unable to communicate with God. This impoverishment comes from our parents’ failure to introduce an awareness of the Divine into our upbringing. The state can provide us with welfare and social programs, but it will never satisfy what Saint Augustine describes as our souls' restlessness for God. Unless we strive wholeheartedly for communion with God, we will rapidly slide into darkness and chaos.

Take violence in our schools. Every time a high school massacre happens, the media wonder how such a tragedy could take place in our nation. The irony is lost on these people. The media have spent the last forty years spouting situational ethics, secularist philosophies, and a relativist morality. They have created a public discourse in which freedom of speech entails the right to promote every moral perversion imaginable — but excluded from our schools is discourse with God.

When society removes prayer from its schools, God quickly becomes irrelevant to the moral education of our children. Violence in our schools is the logical outcome of not teaching our youth to pray. It is the inevitable result of replacing the family with contraception, moral responsibility with abortion, and prayer with pornography.

In the name of convenience, society aborts one-third of its population. Those who survive this pre-natal holocaust are functionally orphaned in day-care centers before their first birthday. Children now spend more time with the television than with their parents. How can we teach our children to bond with God, when, in the pursuit of our two-income lifestyle, we fail to bond with our children? Only in radically refocusing our lives on the centrality of Jesus Christ, and by living out His Gospel, collectively and individually, can Christians stem the tide of secularism and restore a true Christian social order.

Pope Paul VI recognized that the restoration of all things Christian begins with the Eucharist. In Mysterium Fidei, he states:

The Catholic Church has always devoutly guarded as a most precious treasure the mystery of faith, that is, the ineffable gift of the Eucharist which she received from Christ her Spouse as a pledge of His immense love, and during the Second Vatican Council in a new and solemn demonstration, she professed her faith and veneration for this mystery. When dealing with the restoration of the sacred liturgy, the Fathers of the Council, by reason of their pastoral concern for the whole Church, considered it of the highest importance to exhort the faithful to participate actively with sound faith and with the utmost devotion in the celebration of this Most Holy Mystery, to offer it with the priest to God as a sacrifice for their own salvation and for that of the whole world, and to find in it spiritual nourishment.

Paul VI placed the Eucharist at the center of our spiritual lives. Through our participation in this sacrament we grow in Christ and discern the call to political, cultural, and social action. From the Eucharist we receive the grace of the Holy Spirit to go forth and rebuild a Christian culture and civilization.

God is not detached from His creation. He is a loving Father who seeks a deeper relationship with us. With His Son Jesus Christ, He sends forth the Holy Spirit to transform our lives. Fr. Bob Bedard is the founder of the Companions of the Cross — one of Canada’s fastest-growing priestly institutes. As Fr. Bedard often says: “By the power of the Holy Spirit, God moves beyond simply being a spectator in our lives, to becoming an active participant. Daily, we must give Him permission to work through us and touch the lives of others.”

Our new pope has taken the name Benedict. This is no coincidence. Beginning in the 7th century, the sons of Saint Benedict set out with apostolic zeal to evangelize Western Europe, which had been devastated by wave after wave of barbarian invaders. Wherever they settled, these communities of black monks, as they were called, taught neighboring peoples how to cultivate the land productively, how to create true beauty, how to read from the book of Scriptures, and how to live together in harmony with God, man, and nature.

The simple Benedictine motto “Ora et Labora” — Prayer and Work — became the blueprint of an entirely new social order that was to be the hallmark of Catholic Europe for centuries. Perhaps now more than ever a “Benedictine” moment has come. For some 1500 years, the Rule of Saint Benedict has inspired generations of saints, poets, peasants, priests, popes, and kings. It has brought light and hope to society more than once during times of darkness and despair.

Today is no different. Let us learn again to pray and work for God and His Kingdom. With Benedict XVI leading the way, we can take the offensive for Christ and His Church.

Onward Christendom’s soldiers!

© Copyright 2005 Catholic Exchange

Pete Vere is a canon lawyer and a Catholic author. He recently co-authored Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law (Servant Books) with Michael Trueman and More Catholic Than the Pope (Our Sunday Visitor) with Patrick Madrid. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada.

Raymond Levesque is a life-long Catholic and a retired high-school language teacher. He writes from North Bay, Canada. In his spare time he listens to Gregorian Chant and translates articles on the Catholic faith.

This article originally appeared in Challenge magazine and is used by permission of the authors.

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