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Q & A with Father Anthony



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Is a contemplative lifestyle selfish and self-absorbed like I have been told?

Mary asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I spoke to a parish priest whom I have known for a long time. When I explained that I was trying to discern between a contemplative or a more active apostolate, he told me that he thought that a strictly contemplative lifestyle was selfish and self absorbed, and that I needed to get out among the people to do anything of value. I reminded him that many of the great Saints were cloistered contemplatives. But he thought that these are different times which call for people to use their voices and their skills out in society. I suppose that many people do not see the value of the cloistered contemplative lifestyle. I still feel a pull in both directions, on a given day I think that I would be perfectly content to worship God in a contemplative lifestyle. Then on the following day when I am reminded (e.g.- by listening to the slanted viewpoints on the evening News) of the very serious moral problems present in our society, I feel that maybe God needs more people to do something active.

Dear Mary,

Don't worry, the contemplative vocation is not only a valid way to give your life to God, today it is of especially vital importance for the Church. You don't have to have a contemplative vocation to know and appreciate that.

The active vocation is necessary today not because it is more important than the contemplative, but because the Church is a body, and each member has a different function to fulfill. Each member needs all the other members. Lay people need religious, the actives need contemplatives, and the contemplatives need actives so that their prayer will have an instrument to make it bear fruit.

Continue as you are going, putting everything in God's hands, and doing all that depends on you so that his grace will have something to work with.
The search will purify you, and will allow him to speak to you more clearly. He knows what he wants you to do.

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