Work and Prayer
You may have heard the Benedictine motto: “Ora et Labora” which means “Pray and Work!” I am a Lay Carmelite and we Carmelites refer to that balancing act as "Action and Contemplation (Actio et Contemplatio)." Peace requires the right balance of that blend, and it isn't easy!
Sts. Martha (known for her hard work) and Mary (known for her devoted prayer life) came to this fullness only as a result of being disciples of Jesus and ordering their lives to serve him through their work and prayer, each in the right measure.
Doing All the Things (In Christ Who Gives You Strength)
Can you really have it all? You hear of others going on retreats or starting their day with the Liturgy of the Hours, and you wonder why God gave them more hours in the day than you. Fact is, He didn't! You may be in a different season of life, but wherever you are you CAN learn to balance your time to allow for more prayer. You can start small but it will be meaningful! I can help!
As a busy Catholic, your scale probably often feels tipped a lot more towards work than prayer.
There's someone else who felt your pain, and even though she lived centuries ago, she faced the same struggle with balance that you do today.
Run to Jesus
"Martha was distracted with much serving...But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion..."
The common takeaway from this story is that we need to be more like Mary and less like Martha. However, it's not that simple. Jesus is not refuting the importance of work; rather, it just shouldn't be the thing about which we are anxious. God's ultimate plan for us is rest in Him, and our toil should lead to that end.
A lesser-known Bible story illustrates Martha embracing this concept when she runs to meet Jesus after Lazarus’ death. This time it is Martha who abandons the household hospitality to her sister, balancing actio et contemplatio in that moment as she uses her zealous energy and rich faith to order activity towards Christ.
You are anxious and troubled about many things.
It’s as if the Lord is speaking right to you. But the piles of laundry, dozens of unread emails, and never-ending schedule leaves you wondering, “How am I NOT supposed to worry about all of this, Lord?”
What if Jesus is calling us to be like Sts. Mary and Martha? Like Martha, run to Jesus in your everyday work, speaking to Him and giving Him glory through it. Likewise, following Mary's example, carve out space in your life, even for a few moments daily, to approach Jesus totally and fully present.
How to Find Balance
That's all nice in theory, but is it really possible to achieve a sacred balance between work and rest, activity and prayer?
I've been there. As a professor, author, poet, speaker, and coach (plus a wife and mother), I know the struggle to do all the things and attempt to find pockets of time for prayer and quiet. But the more I've studied the House of Bethany, the more I've achieved that seemingly elusive balance.
The Bethany Plan isn't just a theoretical concept; it's a plan for life! As a Catholic life coach, I work with clients to chart a path out of chaos and into balance and joy. Let's work together to achieve that for you!