Vatican Council II reminded us that the Gospel is the common rule of all religious orders. In the beginning, there existed only the great contemplative vocations; the nineteenth century, on the other hand, responded to the needs of the times in a very special way by giving birth to the active vocations – to the ministry of the word and to the ministry of love.
Ultimately, all of these are ministries, for even – and even precisely – those leading a life of contemplation and total commitment to the Gospel do not simply abandon other people; on the contrary, by placing themselves at the center of the Faith, by taking their place in the heart of the word, they go forth from Jesus Christ to their fellow men in a way that could never be achieved by an external approach.
When we look at the life of St. Therese of Lisieux, for example, we become aware, in a particularly convincing and impressive way, of that internal “ability-to-be-present” in spirit to the active life and its needs that is the product of a life led in the spirit of the Gospel. Nevertheless, it is also true that there is a direct ministry to mankind, to the sick, to the suffering, that is not simply and not primarily a paid job that one can later abandon to return to one’s private life but is rather the content and law of life itself, which, in such a sharing with the other and his needs, finds its own freedom and fulfillment.
From: Ordinariatskorrespondenz, no. 31, September 28, 1978