Ora et labora

St. Benedict summarizes the lifestyle he teaches to his monks in these three words, which mean "pray and work." This formula comes from his Rule, which he wrote in the 6th century for his community at Montecassino in Italy. For Benedictines, the two attitudes aren’t opposed, but related. Wisdom of the heart consists in bringing the two together in deep harmony. prayer must remain the first priority, for it is from contemplation that the ability to live fully is born. Taking a break during the day to pray allows us to return to everyday things with more serenity and efficiency.

Serve others by making God present

“Happy is he who would love a sick brother who is unable to do him a service, as much as a healthy brother who can be useful to him," St. Francis said in Admonitions. Wisdom of the heart invites us to serve others with humility and simplicity, under the gaze of God. It’s by being attentive to others that we make God present. Jesus said. Serving others means seeing for the blind, walking with the lame, and bearing witness to the love Jesus has for every person.

Be fully present to others

Jesus himself said: "I am in the midst of you as one who serves" (Lk 22:27). Wisdom of the heart requires us to dedicate ourselves completely to others. The time we spend with a sick relative, or the time we take to prepare a meal for the whole family, is sacred. It's a way of praising God. Being present to others is a source of joy, but works of service or charity must never be detached from the main source of all action: listening to the Word of the Lord. Each task, even the most banal, is thus transformed into prayer.

Get out of yourself

"It’s better to enlighten than to shine, just as it is better to give others the fruits of your contemplation than simply to contemplate," writes St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica. Praying and coming out of oneself and going towards the other is where wisdom of the heart resides. It requires leaving aside our frenetic activity or the race to succeed in order to open ourselves to an essential priority: that of gratitude that leads us to God, in response to the gratuitousness of God's absolute gift of Himself. For one of the greatest Catholic thinkers in history, the key to a better life is to place God at the center of our lives.

Act with solidarity

"True happiness (...) does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we can obtain only if we are pure of heart and mind," wrote Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati in a letter addressed to young Italian Catholics. True charity comes from the heart. Without judging, without calculating, without counting. It is totally free of charge, like God's act of solidarity in the sacrifice of his Son. Wisdom of the heart responds with loving solidarity to the trials of life that touch our loved ones.

Truly obey

"Continually preaching, discussing, reprimanding, building, being available to all: that is a considerable burden, a heavy burden, an endless sorrow.” This is how St. Augustine described his mission, at a time when he understood that his dream of contemplative life had vanished. He understood that the great philosophical work he wanted to write would remain forever unwritten ... Instead, he would teach everyone something more precious: the Gospel translated into the language of daily life. Wisdom of the heart means obeying God’s will, not our own. It means being there for all, and giving our life so that others can find Him, who is true life.

Don't let yourself be overwhelmed

The essential thing in life is not to do the greatest possible number of things, but only what God asks. The purpose of action is not the action itself, but God. "Our mission is not only to give medicines, but to give God to the poor. We need silence in order to touch souls. All our words are useless if they do not come from within ... What matters is not what we say, but what God tells us and what he says through us," St. Teresa of Calcutta said. Wisdom of the heart teaches us that it’s essential to pray and reflect before acting. The more we do, the more we need to pray. Prayer is the oxygen of action. Without it, we risk losing sight of the meaning of our lives. Action without prayer is quickly reduced to meaningless hustle and bustle.


Wisdom of the heart cannot be acquired by knowledge, talent, or skill alone. It comes to us when we accept the mystery of God and gradually let ourselves be imbued by his justice. Without the wisdom that teaches us to distinguish good from evil, we are nothing. It is that which leads to holiness and justice, because it allows us to go beyond appearances and to perceive the deepest meaning of life, John Paul II explained at the general audience on January 29, 2003. Asking God for the gift of wisdom to discern good from evil, as Solomon does in the Bible, is the essential key to enlightening our hearts and minds.

Pray with love

Praying with love means putting yourself in the presence of God. It means listening to him, so that "the heart speaks to the heart,” according to the expression of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. Every person is endowed with this deep part of the heart where God dwells permanently. It is the place of our true identity, our uniqueness, our soul. Wisdom of the heart allows us to dive deeply into this intimate region of the heart by ridding it of all that clogs it. This spiritual "organ" allows us to enter into a relationship with God, to contemplate him and hear his very personal call to each of us.

Surrendering to God leads to better action

On the last page of her notebook, one can read this note from St. Therese of the Child Jesus: "Is it not from prayer that Saints Paul, Augustine, John of the Cross, Thomas Aquinas, Francis, Dominic, and so many other illustrious friends of God, have drawn this divine knowledge that delights the greatest geniuses? The Almighty has given Himself and Him alone as a point of support. For leverage: the prayer that ignites with love, and that is how they saved the world.” Contemplative prayer reminds us that everything is in God's hands. Wisdom of the heart means knowing that He wants to do nothing without us, and that we can do nothing without Him. It means entrusting to Him our commitments, knowing that they will be fruitful in one way or another. This is the source of our inner peace.