" We appeal to these people in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly for their living."
Ora et labora : work and pray.
This adage sums up in two words the entire monastic life. In its own way, it appropriately expresses the important place work has on our life. Each day the monks spend long hours working at tasks which allow them to earn their living and to aid their neighbour. Idleness is the enemy of prayer : in our life, work helps to maintain a balance and keeps us rooted in daily reality with its harshness and its joys. By persevering in an ordinary and run-of-the-mill task, by bearing the weight and worry of material occupations, we obey the common law of work : You will earn your bread by the sweat of your brow. Work, lived out as far as possible in calm and peace, assumed in a spirit of solidarity and service, can transform itself into a simple, uncomplicated prayer beneath God's gaze.
At Orval, the work is very diversified. The best-known economic activities are those connected with food products. But a number of other sectors deserve mention : forestry work; maintenance of the historical site and buildings, without forgetting the multiple services and domestic chores which a stable community of about twenty men requires : kitchen, laundry, infirmary, library, accountancy ...
As is customary with Cistercians, the Community of Orval provides for itself by its activities : hospitality. The day-to-day functioning of the cheese-factory, as of the Brewery, is ensured by lay-workers from the local region, under the direct responsibility of the Community. As regards the beer, the ressources generated by the trade-mark are devoted both to various forms of social and charitable aids, and to the upkeep of the site.
Work is service, participation in human suffering.
Work transforms the person who gives himself to it,
makes that person open to the shared task
of building a more human world.
It is then that work can become joy.