Ever since the beginning of Christianity, certain men and women have been called to offer themselves entirely to God, leaving the world to dedicate themselves exclusively to prayer, fasting and penance in intimacy with the Lord. Many obtained such a fame of sanctity that they ended up attracting the multitudes, and their example awakened in many others the desire of imitating their lives of perfection. Small communities thus originated, the starting point for the great religious orders of the future.
Regrettably, it is not unusual for some people who lack supernatural vision to consider this holy isolation as some kind of egoistic cowardice. They fail to understand the value of the oblation of contemplative souls in sustaining the evangelizing action of the Church. The Church knows very well that the inaction of a missionary would be just as culpable as the abandonment of the contemplative life on the part of those called to such a vocation.
In light of these principles, can certain generalized statements that strike a blow to the contemplative life be reasonable, helpful, or even desirable?
Then there is chastity, as a precious charism that broadens the freedom of our gift to God and to others, with tenderness, mercy, closeness to Christ. […] But, please, let it be a “fruitful” chastity which generates spiritual children in the Church. The consecrated woman is a mother, she must be a mother, not a “spinster”! Excuse me for speaking like this, but motherhood in the consecrated life is important, this fruitfulness! May this joy of spiritual fecundity motivate your life; be mothers, as a figure of Mary, Mother, and of Mother Church. It is impossible to understand Mary without her motherhood; it is impossible to understand the Church apart from her motherhood and you are icons of Mary and the Church. (Address to the participants in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, May 8, 2013)
Enter the various parts of our study
I – Supremacy of the contemplative life over the active Life
II – The significance of contemplative life for the apostolate