There's a monastery of Poor Clare Nuns less than two miles from our house. Unfortunately, their semi-public Mass is at the same time as our Morning Prayer, so I rarely get to go. But today I was out of the house early to drop off a brother at a doctor's appointment, so I was able to attend Mass at the monastery.
They really are something to see. All of these women, young and old, living an enclosed, secret life. They don't do or accomplish anything by the world's standards. But we almost instinctively recognize the holiness of their hidden life.
It's important for us who live in the world (though hopefully not of the world!) to remember the contemplatives, the recluses, the hermits. Many who don't understand our faith learn to appreciate us Christians from what we do. We work on the side of the poor. We seek non-violence and a more humane world. And there's nothing wrong with this; Jesus himself warned us that we could recognize true and false disciples by their fruits.
But we must remember that our Christianity, our faithfulness does not depend on what we do or what we accomplish. If we allow ourselves to absorb the world's standards of visible results and productivity, our religion will turn into what one of my theology professors called a "grim activism." Social justice is important, but it is not the standard by which everything else is measured.
Christianity is not, in the first place, about what we do, but about what God has accomplished and continues to do. God has adopted us into the life of the Trinity through the humanity of Christ. Whatever good works we do in response to this great gift, great. But just to appreciate the gift full time is enough for those who have enough love.