Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Manual Labor

The Cistercians were formed back in the 12th century because they thought the Benedictines did not do enough manual labor.  Manual labor, grunt work, was part of the Benedictine Rule.  I spend lots of time in a Cistercian Monastery.  Manual Labor was in part to make money for the monastery by producing something on a ranch or farm.  And in part it was to immolate the body.  BUT, most of the people who came to monasteries then and through much of the last century, were people who were already used to manual labor, from farms, factories and house chores.  No more.  Young people do not grow up doing house chores, work in factories or on farms.  If they grow up poor, they sure don't want to join a monastery that keeps them poor, as in the "simple life."  The poor today want to be out of being poor.  If they grow up middle to upper income people they have school and after school activities to keep them busy. If they work at all, and few do, it is seen as temporary manual labor to pay for school.  So to survive and get new blood monasteries try to come up with less manual labor and more skill ways of making a living through work.  Become tech servers for businesses.  Learn a trade skill such as woodworking that is not monotonous.  Monasteries that emphasize manual labor, rather than have it as a small part of the overall day, might be doomed.  We will see.

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