A NEW VISION: Activity and Contemplation: A Single Way
At Carmel, absorbed in prayer and silence, Sr. Petra came to understand that God was not calling her to live a cloistered life removed from the world. Rather she was being moved by a strong interior experience which called her to leave the Carmelite convent and be available for a new task from God. She began to accept that she was given a vision to unite the active Franciscan life with the Carmelite contemplation in some way. This is what she wrote:
“I was praying in the choir in the forenoon and saw something, to me hitherto strange. In spirit I beheld two mountains rise. These two mountains stood in line with each other. The mountain rising on the right was higher than the other and had some sort of gradations. On its summit, I believe I saw St. Elijah in rather indistinct form; farther down I also saw St. Teresa. The other mountain was not so high, probably because it was not so old. In the one I recognized Carmel; in the other, Alverno, on which St. Francis was standing with a cross in his hand. Both mountains arched themselves into one, the higher mountain arching and inclining toward the other from about the pace where St. Teresa stood…
The call which I received before or after this vision, and which came to me because I would not comprehend why the Lord wished me to lead me out of Carmel again, sounded like this: ‘To unite the active life with the contemplative.’
Perhaps this will shed light on what I saw. Carmel may represent prayer, Alverno, activity, Both prayer and work have received new shouts in the course of centuries, which have frequently misrepresented the sublimity of the one and the necessity of the other. In the one Order one often fails to understand the prayer of work; in the other, the work of prayer.
Prayer and work must go hand in hand and like twin sisters, strive to remedy the spiritual and social misery of humankind, teaching it again what it means to pray and work.”