Suburban Hermit apologizes for the lack of postings over the last week. To be honest, Christmas has taken a toll and the hermit was weary. Now the batteries are charged I hope to continue building this blog and I rely on you to help attract more readers by sharing and liking posts.
In the frenetic and frantic world in which we live nothing is more important for the spiritual life than the virtue of stability.
St Benedict considered stability to be so important that he made it one of the three monastic vows along with obedience and conversion of life.
The three vows of stability, obedience and conversion of life are built, brick by brick through a life of reading, work and prayer. Stability is especially constructed by a focus on these three elements held in balance. I will try to write on these three and how they relate to stability this week.
Work contributes to stability because it grounds our life and confirms our usefulness. Without work we can drift into idleness which often leads to sin, or we can drift towards the seduction of mere entertainment. While there is nothing wrong with proper relaxation and entertainment, they should be planned and structured so we get the most out of them.
Along with reading and prayer, work is the thing which grounds us, cultivates our common sense, renews our sense of reality and responsibility. If the work is drudgery, then that too contributes to our growth in humility and simplicity. Through work we get our hands dirty. We solve problems. We get our head out of the clouds and we stop being “so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.”
Work keeps us sane. Earning our daily bread is honest, simple and good. It has dignity.
The problem with work in our modern society is that we too often lack balance. Either we work too much or we do not work enough. We are either workaholics or lazy. Even worse, we work for the wrong purpose. We are supposed to work to provide for our daily needs. But instead we work harder to achieve worldly success, to achieve prestige or fame or power or excess wealth. These motivations twist work from being simple, dignified and righteous thing into something which causes stress, anger and resentment.
The Benedictine life addresses this by advising a balance between work, prayer and reading. It is good to remember that “balance” does not mean we spend an equal amount of time in all three pursuits. The balance may be achieved through quality time in prayer, work or reading. In other words, an hour of reading and study might we worth three hours of work. Three hours of work might be balanced by a half hour of prayer.
Work therefore contributes to stability because, for any accomplishment in the field of work we need perseverance, planning, continuity and the ability to follow through and stick with the job. To do that we need to stop flitting around from one thing to another and get focussed, and with that focus and concentration comes stability of heart and mind, and within that stability, that focus ad that concentration we will also be able to pray better and pay closer attention to God–who is always present and waiting for us.