In the seventh century, a great saint, St. Benedict of Nursia, founded the Benedictines. Benedict, in whose honor our current Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, has chosen his name, wanted his monks, even though they lived in a monastery praising God, to also work in order to earn their livelihood. They would worship God not only through prayer, but also through their work. In this way, the Benedictine monks helped improve society in Europe. Their monasteries expanded throughout Europe, giving it spiritual unity. They also taught agricultural techniques to the people and preserved the classical culture through their work copying the great Greek and Roman philosophical and artistic works.
This cultural and spiritual revolution was founded in a simple motto: “ora et labora,” pray and work. Since its beginnings then, the church and the Marianists have intimately linked these two activities: prayer and work.
For us Catholics, prayer is essential. St. Alphonsus Liguori used to say sharply: “He who doesn’t pray, won’t be saved.” With this phrase, the saint wanted to emphasize how important prayer is for our life. In the same way that work guarantees bodily food, prayer is the nourishment for the spirit. Without prayer, the soul dies, just like the body does when it is deprived of food and water.