wooden star

To really get things done in the world, we’re told, we need men and women of action. Modern Christianity has bought into this idea. Much of medieval Christianity, too, affirmed the dichotomy between “contemplation” and “service”; it just valued the former over the latter. Religious orders that had a charism of “contemplation” were thought to be following the example of Mary over Martha, choosing “the better part” (Luke 10:38–42).

But there are clues that this polarized way of understanding the Christian life is wrong. Some of those clues lie in the text of the New Testament itself. The Lord withdrew to pray before his great works: before the calling of the disciples and the Sermon on the Mount, before walking on the sea, before his Passion. Other clues lie in the lives of those who took Christ as their template, who sought to follow him with their whole selves.

Where have those who have been most effective in the world gotten their ability to carry on?