Meister Eckhart, a 14th-century theologian and mystic, wrote, “What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.” A motto held by Benedictines expresses a similar sentiment: ora et labora—that is, our prayer and our work shape our lives. Prayer is the vehicle that opens our hearts to God and impels us to works of loving service to others. At the time of this writing, the people of both Ukraine and Russia are suffering unspeakable losses, Israel is at war with Hamas, and China is threatening to annex Taiwan. In face of this, most of us struggle to know how to pray and what we can do. Perhaps for now, ora et labora means that we carry the burdens of our sisters and brothers to our prayer, and we do the work of justice when we love one another on behalf of those most in need.
By Christian Morris, OSB