In our Student Handbook, the mission of Nashotah House is expressed in seven commitments:
Some of those commitments are obviously outward, visible and measurable; others are inward, spiritual and impossible to quantify, but they are all thoroughly Benedictine. The Benedictine spirituality which connects outward and visible disciplines with inward and spiritual realities is emphatically incarnational.
This is the spirituality whose end—whose purpose, whose telos—is doxology. Its most obvious discipline, then, is that of worship, but at Nashotah House, the Benedictine disciplines of work and study are also vital to our common life.
The Rule of St. Benedict says that the members of the community must learn to serve each other, “and no one should be excused from kitchen duty except for sickness or because he is more usefully engaged elsewhere; because through this service we gain increased charity.” This why each of our students is assigned to a work crew, which devotes two hours of labor each week to the care, maintenance or cleaning of a part of our campus and physical plant. Obviously, our work crews significantly reduce the seminary’s overhead costs and enrich the hospitality we are able to offer visitors, but the discipline of physical labor has powerful inward effects as well. It is essential to a balanced life, contributes to the good of the community, and strengthens the bond of charity among those who work together. Work, then, is an act of love, embodied.
In the same way, academic study at Nashotah House is meant to gain our students something more than a body of abstract knowledge. In Benedictine spirituality, study is a spiritual discipline, whose end is to transform us through the renewal of our minds. It is also a discipline of charity, which trains us to honor our authorities, to honor the wisdom of those who came before us, and to honor our fellow students as we participate in their education.
This is why worship, work and classroom attendance are mandatory at Nashotah House. In our tradition, the practice of ministry is not a profession but a vocation—vocare means to call out. Benedict says that we “must not love our own will nor take pleasure in carrying out our desires, but rather by our actions to imitate the Lord in saying, ‘I came not to do my own will, but that of him who sent me.’” The daily practice of study, work, and prayer, forms our students for a ministry disciplined by study, work, and prayer, and distinguished by love.
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