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The originality of a spiritual synthesis

Living a life of “contemplation through action” means combining the desire for a radical following of the Lord with diligent commitment in every area of life.

The expression “contemplation through action”, written for the first time in Elena’s Diary in 1911, encapsulates the deepest yearning of her life: to remain in adoring contemplation of the Lord Jesus while maintaining intimacy with Him even when carrying out her wide variety of commitments and responsibilities.

The relationship with the Lord Jesus, precisely because it is intensely experienced, commits us to renewed action within reality. It transforms everyday action, making it authentic.

For centuries, a distinction had been made in the Church between “contemplative” and “active” vocations, between Martha and Mary, the two sisters who, according to the Gospel of Luke, welcome the Teacher Jesus into their home. Marta is completely caught up with the many tasks required to serve him, while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus intent on listening to his word. Contemplation and action have often been considered to be opposed, with contemplation and separation from the world, for the most part, being considered “the better of the two”.

When Elena realises the possibility of uniting contemplation and action, of living a life of “contemplation through action”, the Church itself struggled to accept this synthesis, even if this formulation was not entirely new in the history of Christian spirituality.

However, Elena arrives at this truth through her own personal insight, which is consistent with her own spiritual journey. She would go on to defend her insight even when she was called to justify it in order to obtain the approval for a new “way”, which she had experienced in her own life and was proposing as a way of living to others. Thus, she explained to the Archbishop of Trent, in 1931:


“The concept that I wanted to express with contemplation through action is carrying out activities that are entirely permeated with the contemplation of and union with God; activities performed with our gaze fixed upon God... as Saint Bernard expressed it with that beautiful image: Work with one hand, lean on Beloved God with the other.”


Thanks to her lived experience and her resolute proposal, “contemplation through action in the service of our brothers and sisters”, has become the spiritual synthesis and the fundamental characteristic of the Daughters of the Queen of the Apostles.

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