Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Monastic Work

by Br. Francis Wagner, OSB


"Idleness is the enemy of the soul," St. Benedict says in the Rule (Ch. 48:1). So, along with prayer he prescribes work: "Then they are really monks."

Prayer is primary in Benedictine life and at Saint Meinrad, but whether we are serving one another or the wider Church and world, work is necessary to our lives, just as inhaling and exhaling are both necessary to the process of breathing. It is a symbiotic relationship, a rhythm of life in which intervals of communal and personal prayer, work, and our common life together as monks are interwoven into one continuous thread stretching to eternity.

To be sure, there is a lot of work to do at Saint Meinrad. Monks are involved with the Seminary and School of Theology, pastoral and parish ministry, our guesthouse and retreat programs, our secular oblate program, the Abbey Press, and our Development Office. Monks minister away from the Hill to youth, prisoners, other religious, military personnel, and students; they assist our lay co-workers in maintenance and repair of our facilities and grounds.

Our occupations, interests, and talents are diverse. We are teachers, administrators, writers, artists, psychologists, tailors, laborers, gardeners, students, health-care providers, retreat directors, spiritual guides, pastors, computer technicians, musicians, foresters, scholars, locksmiths, delivery persons, craftsmen, housekeepers, cooks, librarians, firefighters, and carpenters.

These are some of the things we do as monks of Saint Meinrad, and it is all work that is very important to us and to those whom we serve. However, none of these works in and of themselves makes us monks. We are not defined by what we do, but rather by the unique way of life we lead in seeking God.

We live our lives together here as monks primarily for two reasons: to do the hard work of personal conversion, and to be a collective witness to the world of that unity and integrity of life centered in prayer-all in service to the Church.

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.