A Monastery Is More than a Business: Spiritual Foundations of the Rule of St. Benedict for the ‘Oikonomia’ of a Monastery
This chapter describes how specific the monastic context is. Work plays an important role in such a community: Work is participating in God’s creation. Work is serving the needy and is a remedy for indolence. Benedictine monasteries are obligated to be largely economically self-sufficient. A monastic community’s economic activities should provide for its maintenance. In addition, the proceeds of this work should also care for the needy and the poor. The Benedictines as such are not only active in spiritual and pastoral fields, but also in cultural, charitable, and economic areas. Nevertheless, monasteries were not established as industrial enterprises. Benedictines should not favour anything above divine worship, not even work. The search for God transpires during prayer and work, and the reading of Scripture nourishes this search (“ora et labora et lege”). Monks do not need to aspire to the greatest possible efficiency and effectiveness. Earning something is fine, and the available skills also should be put to good use. However, the aim is not to accumulate wealth or acquire property, but profound growth, in the love of each other and of God.