A great development has taken place in the twentieth century as Christians everywhere become aware of the social dimensions of their religion. Christians see that to follow Christ they must resonate with the suffering of the world – with the poor and afflicted and distressed.
And if men and women are moving toward a sense of solidarity, those called to the mystical life cannot claim exemption. The authentic mystic can never flee from the world.
Active mystics who live in the hurly-burly enter into the same inner silence as those who live in the desert. They experience the inner fire and the inner love. Now the inner fire drives them – no longer to the wilderness but to the crowded marketplace and to the inner city. The living flame of love drives them to walk in peace marches, to denounce oppressive structures, to go to prison and to die. Like the mystics in the desert they pass through agonizing dark nights and come to profound enlightenment. The mystic in the silent desert and the mystic in the noisy city are alike in following one who emptied himself taking the form of a slave and was given a name that is above all names.
– William Johnston, from Mystical Theology (taken from A Maryknoll Book of Inspiration by Michael Leach and Doris Goodnough)