An Oblate Reflects on “Ora et Labora”

Nathaniel Joseph Marshall, Obl.S.B. – “Instead of Becoming a Pastor, I Minister as a Plumber” – Published in _Christianity Today_, 1 September 2022

[Image: illustration by Sr. Bernarda Seferovich, O.Cist. (nun of Valley of Our Lady, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin) of the chapter on “Work” in _Monastic Practices_ (1986), by Charles Cummings, O.C.S.O.]

[Nathaniel Joseph Marshall, Obl.S.B., is a licensed journeyman plumber, a Benedictine oblate, and worships at Christ the King Anglican Church in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife and two daughters.

He has published a reflection on work and prayer, the full text of which can be read here, that draws connections with the rules of Saints Basil and Benedict as well as his own invaluable experience.]

An excerpt:

“Over the past decade as a blue-collar worker, I have accidentally found a way of life that, far from keeping prayer at bay and hindering me from being with God because of my duties, has put me in the middle of a centuries-long, devout experiment that teaches me at least these two things: In Christ, I am praying precisely because I am working, and I am becoming better at being a pray-er because I am a worker.

“My hands participate in the work of bringing order to the world around me, and they thumb through theological works; they bring peace between homeowners and their homes, and they build the kingdom; they’ve learned to turn wrenches, and they’re learning to pray without ceasing.

“I’ve discovered that practicing being in God’s presence and growing in the Christian life is something any of us can do in virtually any line of work, not just as pastors or church leaders. My plumbing vocation certainly isn’t the life I expected, but it’s turning out to be the life for which I prayed.”


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