On June 21, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI made an interesting comment on the relationship between prayer and good works. I thought the Pope’s comment helped clarify how prayer empowers working in the world. In my extension of the Pope’s idea, I can see how the Pope’s words could also mean that the contemplative life does not create an “either/or” separation with an active life of service.
Listening to Jesus Christ and seeking God are the best fuel for work.
Pope Benedict XVI made his comments in the homily for the Mass celebrated in front of the church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina(1) in Italy.
The Pope spoke about St. Pio's work to relieve suffering of the sick:
"In the first place came prayer. ... His days were a living Rosary, a continuous meditation upon, and assimilation of, the mysteries of Christ, in spiritual union with the Virgin Mary. This explains the unique simultaneous presence in him of supernatural gifts and of concrete human qualities. And the culmination of everything came in the celebration of Mass. ... From prayer, as from an endless font, arose charity. The love he carried in his heart and transmitted to others was full of tenderness, ever attentive to the real situations in which individuals and families lived. Towards the sick and suffering he nourished the predilection of the Heart of Christ, and it was from here that the idea for a great social project dedicated to the 'relief of suffering' was born and took shape. We cannot adequately interpret or understand this institution if we separate it from the source that inspired it: evangelical charity animated ... by prayer.__________________________
“Yet ‘the risks of activism and secularization are ever present’, warned Benedict XVI. ‘Many of you, religious and lay people, are so absorbed by your many obligations in serving pilgrims or the sick in hospital, that you run the risk of neglecting what is truly important: listening to Christ and accomplishing the will of God. When you realize that you are close to running this risk look to Padre Pio, to his example, to his sufferings, and invoke his intercession that he may obtain from the Lord the light and strength you need to continue his mission, imbued with love for God and fraternal charity.’” emphasis supplied
From PV-ITALY/MASS/SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO VIS 090622 (630)
(1) From the Padre Pio web site: “Padre Pio, [born May 25, 1887 died September 23, 1968] a humble Capuchin priest from San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, was blessed by God in many wonderful and mysterious ways. The most dramatic was the stigmata. Padre Pio bore the wounds of Christ for fifty years. Among his other gifts were perfume, bilocation, prophecy, conversion, reading of souls, and miraculous cures. People are still being cured through his intercession in ways that cannot be explained by medicine or science.” Padre Pio was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II.