“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:6 ESV).
The lives of those who have chosen to live in convents and monasteries has always fascinated me. I’m not Catholic in that I’ve gone through catechism and had my first communion. However, I do believe in the Catholicity of the gospel. Catholic is defined as “all embracing” or “including a wide variety of things.” In other words, Catholic is universal.
I’ve often thought that if life had turned out differently for me, and I had not met my wife and chose to have a family, I think that today I may be a dominican monk spending my days in contemplation and working at a university or in some school teaching young people.
Ora et Labora
Saint Benedict is the founder of Western Monasticism. He was born about the year 480 at Nursia near the Umbrian province in north central Italy. He “was renowned for handing on to his monks a balanced way of life – particularly with respect to contemplative prayer and active work, ora et labora” (http://www.dominicanajournal.org/oralabora/).
Ora et Labora is translated as Work and Prayer.
This is where I am most actively drawn to the lives of monks. They live their lives in contemplation while they go about their daily tasks. For some, the very thought of spending even 15 minutes in solitude and silence is frightening. But I think it sounds wonderful. Staying in contemplation of the goodness of God, thinking about the romance we have with Jesus, contemplating the whack! It seems like the perfect life. And to add work to that–to go about some laborious task like beer-making while contemplating the grace and salvation of God, would be best life ever status! The monks at St. Benedict in Italy, the birthplace of Saint Benedict, make Birra Nursia in order to support themselves.
Thus, everyday monasticism.
There’s no real reason to jump ship and join a monastery. You can, if you want. It’s a noble calling. There are obvious objections I’d have, objections over the religiosity of many of the practices, but it’s noble nonetheless.
God has already called us kings and priests. Revelation 1:6 is one place in scripture where we’re ordained into the holy priesthood. The Greek word used for priest in Revelation is hiereus.
In Revelation it’s used figuratively. Christians are called priests because we have offered Him spiritual sacrifices. We minister to the world, performing the sacred rite of telling others about the grace given to us through Christ. We are, therefore, priests who carry the whack!
As Song People living lives of active contemplation, we are blessed with the ability to live Ora et Labora each day. Saint Benedict taught his monks that their work was also a prayer since everything we do as Christians is to the glory of God.
You can work at a bank or teach a group of kids or work in a hospital or be a stay-at-home mom and make your everyday work an offering of prayer unto the Lord. We can walk the dog and be in contemplation about our engagement we have with Jesus. There is no need to jump into a religious life inside the walls of a convent or monastery in order to live a life of uninterrupted bliss with Jesus.
We are, therefore, everyday monastics. As John Crowder often says, “this is the drunkest day of your life.” You are an open heaven. You are a monk living a contemplative life in the glory of God. You are a nun of the order of whack! We are Christians living out a very Catholic gospel…the gospel that is for everybody, the gospel that is universal, the gospel where all are included in the life and resurrection of Jesus.