Contemplative Prayer and Apostolic Activity
This then will help us understand a second aspect of the example of Therese of Lisieux. From her love, rooted in contemplative prayer, springs forth an intense zeal for the salvation of souls.
Within the walls of her monastery, she becomes aware of the up-coming execution of a convicted criminal by the name of Henri Pranzini who was convicted for the murder of two women and a child. He was sentenced to be executed by the guillotine.
For a period of time she focuses in on the salvation of his soul through her daily life of prayer and penance because, according to the news reports that she became aware of, he showed no sign of repentance.
On September 1, 1887, as the executioner was about to put the convicted criminal's head on the block, Pranzini took the crucifix a priest had offered to him and kissed it three times.
Therese wept and was overwhelmed with joy that her prayer had been answered.
Finally, it is interesting to remember that Saint Therese of Lisieux and Saint Francis Xavier are co-patron saints of the missionary work of the Catholic Church.
Therese, a contemplative religious saving souls from within the four walls of her monastery and Francis Xavier, a Jesuit priest, saving souls in the mission lands of the Church.
Is there a conflict between contemplative prayer and apostolic activity?
The beautiful example of Saint Therese of Lisieux demonstrates the both/and of Catholicism.
As a contemplative nun she discovers that her vocation is love precisely because the most intense response of a person to this charism of love is contemplation. Moreover, her immersion into the gift of contemplative prayer nourishes her profound zeal for the salvation of souls.
Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: spirituality, year of faith, contemplative prayer, Therese of Lisiuex, franics xavier, apostolic zeal, apostolate, missionary work, love, religious lfie, father james farfaglia
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