As owners of a successful fruitcake company, the Trappist Monks at Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri, feed the souls and the bodies of men. Here, the bakery's manager, Father Anthony Sloan, 38, gives his perspective on his order's unique blend of business and faith:
"Business has the ability to consume us if we allow ourselves to get too caught up in it, especially the whole profit end of it. It's not bad to make money-we have to support ourselves-but we have to keep an eye on it so that making money doesn't become the driving factor in our daily life. Our business is important, yes-it's there to support us; but there's more to life than just running the business and making money.
"The monastic life has a rhythm to it, and the business fits that well. Monks have good insight into human nature. We spend a lot of time in prayer, reflection and solitude, so a monk is continually faced with his own person. I probably have a greater self-knowledge of why I'm doing something or what's behind my emotions, because I am confronted with it in a more intense way. But everybody can [create] a schedule where they take time out to disengage and do some self-reflection. Spend that time in solitude and do a spiritual exercise, whether that's some type of spiritual reading, personal prayer or just reflection on what is really important in your life. Just experiment and see if [self-reflection] really makes a difference in your life. Greater self-awareness will help you understand your business practices better."