We are called to be contemplatives in action and apostles in prayer. Like St. Vincent, the founders of almost all apostolic societies were incredibly active men and women. But were there any among them who were not also known by their contemporaries as persons of deep prayer?
Prayer and action go hand in hand in a healthy Vincentian spirituality. Divorced from action, prayer can turn to escapism – be lost in fantasy and creating illusions of holiness. Similarly, service divorced from prayer can become shallow. It can have a “driven” quality to it. It can become an addiction, an intoxicating lure. It can so dominate a person’s psychology that his or her sense of worth depends on being busy.
An apostolic spirituality is at its best when it holds prayer and action in tension with one another. The person who loves God “with the set of his brow and the strength of his arms” knows how to distinguish between theoretical thoughts about an abstract God and real personal contact with the living Lord contemplated and served in his suffering people.