“…if it is true that only a contemplative disciple can hand on the Good News, then a life entirely devoted to contemplation is by its very nature evangelical.”
Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, OFM
From a speech given on Pro Orantibus Day 2013
On this day of Prayer Pro Orantibus, a day dedicated to all those who have chosen a wholly contemplative life and who live in the “retreat” of the cloister, I believe it is helpful, and indeed our duty, to ask ourselves: how can those who have chosen a life marked by the manifest difference of being “separate”, i.e. set apart for God alone, participate in the Church’s mission to evangelize? The question is a quite obvious one if we consider that many link mission to works, and evangelization to “strategies” of evangelization.
Cloistered religious, however, in opting for a “separate” and “hidden” life — which has nothing to do with being “isolated” or “absent” — separate themselves from everyone in order to be united more deeply to them, in order to walk in a “hidden”, but no less real way, with men and women of today and to “sit” next to them on the edge of the well, pointing out to them “the living water”, the only one that can satisfy man’s thirst for God. Precisely because cloistered religious do not live “absent” from the world, nothing that regards man can be foreign to them, particularly when it regards wounded and suffering humanity.
This is why the contemplative cloistered life “also has extraordinary apostolic and missionary efficacy”. If one thing characterizes the consecrated life, and in a special way the wholly contemplative life, it is the recognition of the living presence of the Lord in our lives and in our history, and if it is true that only a contemplative disciple can hand on the Good News, then a life entirely devoted to contemplation is by its very nature evangelical. Whoever has chosen a wholly contemplative life, by living in communion with Christ in a particularly profound way, shows us what we truly need in order to live a true, authentic and fulfilled life. Furthermore, the contemplative offers a response, rooted in spirituality, to our search for the sacred and for our longing for God, while he or she points out the path toward the transcendent. As cities built on a mountain and lights placed in a candelabra, those who devote themselves to a wholly contemplative, cloistered life visibly prefigure the goal and end towards which the entire community of the Church is journeying.