Prayer and Work

When I see some persons very anxious about being attentive in prayer, and keeping their heads bowed while occupied in it, as if they did not dare to stir in the least, or to move even in thought, that the joy and sensible devotion they have may not leave them even in the slightest degree, — this shows me how little they understand the road which leads to union, while they imagine that the whole affair consists in keeping their thoughts fixed. No, no, the Lord desires works. Therefore, when things present themselves to be done, to which obedience or charity obliges you, do not at all regard losing that devotion and enjoyment of God, that you may give Him pleasure by doing these things; for they will lead you more quickly than the others to holy union. -St. Teresa

When St. Mary Magdalen di Pazzi was a novice, she sometimes had permission from the Mistress to spend in prayer the time which was allotted to her companions for work. But she did not accept this favor, saying that she was more willing to be occupied in any exercise of obedience, however laborious and humble, than in the very loftiest contemplation. When asked the reason, she replied: “Because in performing the duties of the Order and of obedience, I am sure of doing the will of God, of which I am not sure when I engage in prayer or other exercises, no matter how good and holy, which have been chosen by my own will.”

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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