Friday, December 29, 2006

Joy in work

"There can be no joy in living without joy in work." - Thomas Aquinas

We live in a generation where work is considered a "necessary evil", a means to an end, and an avenue to secure wealth and provision for the "real life" that occurs outside of work time. The wisdom from the wealth of Christian thought on this speak of another reality: Work as a way to imitate God, as a kind of occupational therapy and a God-given blessing. The Desert Fathers and Mothers in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries understood something of this therapeutic nature of God-given work. It is said in the Philokalia (the collection fo writings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, literally called "The Beautiful Writings") that one of the Fathers, called Abba Paul "proved that without working with his hands a monk cannot endure to abide in his place, nor can he climb any nearer the summit of holiness." This perspective finally gave place later to Benedict's monastic maxim of "Ora et Labora" (work and prayer) that reminds all of us that these two activities work together and are complimentary dimensions of a "whole and holy life".