This week’s guest post is written by Beau Pruitt, Director of Student Ministries
Dear Christ Church,
Some of you may be familiar with the Latin phrase, Ora et labora, as made famous by St. Benedict of Nursia from the late 5th/early 6th century. This phrase and the spiritual tradition it connotes has developed and expanded in the subsequent years since St. Benedict’s death, but for those unfamiliar with this tradition, this phrase can be quite puzzling. Ora et labora, translated plainly as “pray and work,” poses for readers an ideological dilemma, for these actions are often, sadly, pitted against each other, with prayer being understood by some as spiritually positive (looking to God for help), while work is understood derogatively as a form of legalism (looking to ourselves for help). Within the Benedictine tradition, however, work is prayer, and even, worship.
This past month, our High Schoolers at Christ Church gathered together for three days to pray and work, not far away at some remote location, but in our geographical parish within the 78702 zip code. Each day, we prayed the Daily Office, served our neighborhood in some capacity, and also had fun together, rebelling against the despair often brought about by the Texas heat and the start of school.
We had the privilege of picking up trash in unclaimed alleyways around church, making Summer care packages with water and sunscreen for our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and even serving our friend, Chris King, down 2nd street at the Baptist Community Center by mowing lawns, organizing clothing, and prepping surfaces to paint. Unsurprisingly, in three days, the Christ Church youth group did not in fact exhaustively rid Austin of trash and pollution, nor did we find all solutions pertaining to helping serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Goodness, we did not even exhaust every need at the Baptist Community Center!
So, was it all a waste then? Surely not! Our work was also our prayer: “Heavenly Father, heal your world of all pollution and misuse. Lord, heal your world of all brokenness, dehumanization, and harm done to those made in your image. Lord, bless the ministry of your faithful servants at the Baptist Community Center who seek to be your hands and feet in East Austin.” This is what we prayed with our bodies, and God hears our prayer, and in the fullness of time, I believe that we, with our bodies, will experience and enjoy the reality of these prayers made complete in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.