Proclaiming Jesus through education and Christian formation.

Formation Sessions

Journey with Angela Prayer Day

April 22, 2017

Remember Angela Flyer 2017 

 

2015-2016 Formation Sessions

Formation 1

Formation 2

Jesus, Lover of Us All, 2014-2015 Session

Session 1

  • Session One: Another Way

    • Opening Prayer
    • Lord, that as we seek to grow in your love and deepen our spirituality, we recognize daily that you are truly the Lover of Us All. Let us take that confidence with us as we begin each day anew.
    • Leader
    • Legend has it that Saint Angela went to Rome in 1525 and visited Pope Clement VII. She heard that he was g oing to ask her to stay in Rome, but through prayer and reflection, she knew God wanted her to return to Brescia. To avoid the conflict, Angela returned to Brescia during the night. Whether this story is true or not, it illustrates one of the staples of Angela’s ministry, which was to find another way to solve a dilemma rather than do what had been done in the past.
    • As discussed in Chapter Two of Sister Martha Buser’s book “Lover Of Us All,” Angela’s lesson for us is to be attuned to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Sometimes, listening to the Spirit will guide us in a direction we’ve never gone before.
    • Reader One
    • In John Bell’s beautiful hymn “The Summons,” we are asked this question in the first verse:
    • Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
    • Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
    • Discuss at your table: Can you think of a time when you were facing a difficult decision and you felt guided by the Holy Spirit to choose another way?
    • Leader
    • (Would anyone like to share what they discussed with the entire group?)
    • In Angela’s time, women had little influence in society and had two choices for their future. They could marry, or enter a cloistered convent. Angela created another way – she would dedicate herself to God while remaining in the world, needing neither the protection of a man nor a wall. She gathered young women to form her company of Saint Ursula, who today are our Ursuline Sisters.
    • Reader Two
    • In the movie “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” Starfleet cadets must face the Kobayashi Maru test. They have two choices to make, but both of them are no-win situations. The goal of the test is to see how they react to a no-win situation. Captain Kirk is the only person to ever successfully win this test, because he chose a third way no one else had discovered.
    • Discuss at your table: When your only choices seem like bad ones, how do you go about looking for a new solution? How do you let the Holy Spirit take over?
    • Leader
    • (Would anyone like to share what they discussed with the entire group?)
    • Angela lived in difficult times and certainly faced many worries, but rather than be shaped by the anger and violence around her, she made her decisions in love and peace. Sister Martha Buser urges us to look for another way to solve our problems and to keep two guiding principles in mind: to be nonviolent and to be loving.
    • Reader Three
    • “If we act this way lightly, without grasping on to our own ego, we may realize another way, one of love and peace. To live as Angela lived calls for a contemplative spirit, a spirit that reflects on reality and learns to see God’s way in our own lives. This way of life brings challenges, but also peace.” Sister Martha Buser, “Lover Of Us All.”
    • Reflection to take home with you: How can I have a contemplative spirit, one that helps me to see God’s presence and guidance in whatever challenges I face today?
    • Closing prayer
    • Saint Angela, let your words continue to light up our lives and show us the way to a closer relationship with our Eternal Father and our savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Session 2

  • Session 2: Wisdom

    • Opening prayer: Loving God, send us your gift of Wisdom and open our hearts to all that you desire for us. Fill us with joy and hope and keep us from sadness and depression. May we always reflect your presence in all that we say and do. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lover of Us All, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
    • Leader: In Chapter 4 of Sister Martha Buser’s book “Lover Of Us All,” she cites three virtues lived to a heroic degree by Saint Angela, as cited in her decree of canonization – wisdom, prophecy and discernment of spirits. This session will focus on wisdom.
    • Wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, along with knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord. Angela was seen as wise, but not because of schooling. Sister Martha suspects that Angela was seen as wise because she reflected on her experiences — not interpreting them, but not ignoring them either.
    • Reader one: “Above all … obey counsels and inspirations which the Holy Spirit unceasingly sends into our hearts. He whose voice we shall hear all the more clearly as we have our conscience more purified and clean. For the Holy Spirit is the one who (as Jesus Christ says), teaches us all truth.”
    • Saint Angela Merici, Rule, Chapter VIII
    • Discuss at your table: Who are some people in your life you see as wise, whose counsel you seek? What qualities do they have that attract you?
    • Leader:
    • (Would anyone like to share what they discussed with the entire group?)
    • Sister Martha says, “Wisdom is a taste, a relish, for what is right and just. When we relish something, we take delight in it and enjoy it. Angela was seen as a happy woman. She expected her daughters to be happy and not find life burdensome. Her joy radiated from her and lifted up the spirits of others. She spoke of hope and trust in God often.”
    • Reader two: “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. … But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.”
    • James 3:13-18
    • Discuss at your table: Are you seen as a wise person by others, someone who listens first? In what ways could you use your experiences to offer wisdom to others?
    • Leader:
    • (Would anyone like to share what they discussed with the entire group?)
    • Angela’s times were difficult, just as ours often are. We don’t know whether she did anything to directly confront the evils of her time, but she was certainly not defined by them. This made her attractive to people of all walks of life, rich and poor. She gives us a model of how to live in our world.
    • Reader three: “Sometimes we look for signs of hope in our day. We seem to find only the bleak realities: war, famine, hatred and their companions. Hope refuses to be defined by these realities because wisdom tells us that they do not have the final word. Angela found hope for herself and for us in the fidelity of God. Wisdom leads us to hope in God, not in anything else.”
    • Sister Martha Buser, Lover Of Us All
    • Reflection to take home with you: What is one action, prayer or intention you could incorporate into your day that would strengthen your fidelity to place all your hope in God?
    • Closing prayer: Jesus, Lover of Us All, we trust in the fidelity of God as we seek to relish all that is right and good. Help us to be understanding servants, free from jealousy and selfish ambition. Set our eyes and heart on God and help us to pursue those things Jesus tells us to do as we listen with a great and eager hearts. Amen.

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Session 3

  • Session Three: Prophecy

    • Opening prayer: Loving God, we gather at this time to reflect on the gift of Prophecy. Give us eyes to see as you see and hearts open to the lessons you want us to learn. Teach us, O God, and we will be well taught.
    • Leader: In Chapter 4 of Sister Martha Buser’s book “Lover Of Us All,” she cites three virtues lived to a heroic degree by Saint Angela, as cited in her decree of canonization – wisdom, prophecy and discernment of spirits. This session will focus on prophecy.
    • Prophecy has less to do with seeing the future and more about seeing what God sees. Prophecy completes wisdom, by speaking what wisdom has taught.
    • Reader one: “There cannot be another more worthy than to be guardians of the spouses of the Most High. So also, you must consider in what manner you must esteem (our sisters), for the more you esteem them, the more you will love them; the more you love them, the more you will care for and watch over them. And it will be impossible for you not to cherish them day and night, and to have them all engraved in your heart, one by one, for this is how real love acts and works.”
      Saint Angela Merici, Introduction to the Counsels
    • Leader: Our image of God is important to relationships. Angela’s image of God was love. She called God the “Lover of Us All.” Angela had a passionate, devoted love for God. It led her to love others as well. But having a particular love for each person is demanding. Angela saw as God saw, and that revealed each person’s goodness and worthiness.
    • Discuss at your table: We all find some people difficult to love. If you asked Angela how to love these seemingly unlovable people, what advice do you think she would give?
    • Leader:
    • (Would anyone like to share what they discussed with the entire group?)
    • Prophets we know from the Old Testament most often saw themselves as unworthy – too young, too old or too poor as public speakers. They needed to go through some purification before submitting to God’s will. We don’t know what Angela thought of herself, but she seemed to live with a confidence based on her belief that God loved her. Her sureness in God enabled her to act in a way that was against the grain of her society and she led others to do the same.
    • Reader two: “The word of the Lord came to me: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. “Ah, Lord God!” I said, “I do not know how to speak. I am too young!” But the Lord answered me, Do not say, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you — oracle of the Lord. Then the Lord extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me, See, I place my words in your mouth. Today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.”
    • Jeremiah 1:4-10
    • Discuss at your table: When are times you or someone you know has acted in a way that is not favored by society because of a sureness of what God wanted? How can we be purified so that we know we are doing God’s will and not our own?
    • Leader:
    • (Would anyone like to share what they discussed with the entire group?)
    • Angela’s world was violent, filled with war, hatred and injustice, just as our world is today. Angela’s faith allowed her to choose to love her world rather than flee from it, and to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
    • Reader three: “A mystic is one who sees the in-breaking of God, and the prophet reflects the heart of the community. The two seem to go together in Angela. She recognized the in-breaking of the Spirit at the time of her vision. The vision changed her and gave her a heart that loved others and allowed her to reflect the heart of the community.”
    • Sister Martha Buser, Lover Of Us All
    • Reflection to take home with you: Because she reflected the heart of the community, Angela was open to the needs of those around her. How do we practice prophecy today? How do our words and actions reflect the wisdom God has given us for ourselves and for others?
    • Closing prayer: O God, we often fail to see ourselves as you see us. You give us the gift of Prophecy to empower us to see wisely and rightly. Help us to accept ourselves and all those you put in our lives as beloved and cherished by God. Purify our hearts that we may always do your holy will and reflect the wisdom you have planted in the heart of each of us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Lover of us All. Amen.

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Session 4

  • Session 4: Discernment of Spirits

    • Opening prayer: Loving God, as we gather to reflect on the discernment of spirits we ask for the discipline to put aside all the noise that will distract us from what is important and the grace to listen deeply to what you would have us hear.
    • Leader: In Chapter 4 of Sister Martha Buser’s book “Lover Of Us All,” she cites three virtues lived to a heroic degree by Saint Angela, as cited in her decree of canonization – wisdom, prophecy and discernment of spirits. Our final session will focus on discernment of spirits.
    • Decisions are for an occasion. Discernment is a way of life. It allows us to recognize which spirit moves us to action. If we think of discernment as hearing, we can recognize that our own egos are often the noise that obstructs us from hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.
    • Reader one: “Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the person that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God — because Truth, Light — knows nothing about him. And to be unknown to God is altogether too much privacy. … To be a saint means to be my true self. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I truly am and of discovering my true self, my essence or core.”
    • Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
    • Discuss at your table: What sort of “noise” appears when you try discerning what the Holy Spirit wants to say to you?
    • Leader:
    • (Would anyone like to share what they discussed with the entire group?)
    • Angela was able to see and hear better when she was focused on her Lover, the one who loves us all. When we are focused on our loved ones, we are aware of their needs and are stirred to action. It is said that a parent in a room with 50 children can still hear his or her child’s cry. How do we keep our focus on the Holy Spirit?
    • Reader two: “But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
    • John 16:5-14
    • Discuss at your table: Are we observant of what is leading us today? How can we make sure we are allowing the Holy Spirit to take the lead?
    • Leader:
    • (Would anyone like to share what they discussed with the entire group?)
    • Jesus speaks frequently about eyes that see, ears that hear and hearts that understand. Angela says we will hear what the Holy Spirit says in our hearts.
    • Reader three: “When we know what is leading us, we can choose. If I see that I am led to criticize another and I recognize that I am doing so because I fear my gifts are not as important as that other person’s, I can then choose more freely how to act. If I am observant of my choices and my actions, I can be freer to choose for the good.”
    • Sister Martha Buser, Lover Of Us All
    • Reflection to take home with you: We are all called to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and lead a life of ongoing discernment. What are some tangible ways you can make sure your heart remains open to hear?
    • Closing prayer: Gracious God, we are your daughters and sons who seek to follow the gospel in the spirit of Saint Angela Merici. May we always stay firmly focused on Jesus so that we may have the courage to die to our false self and to have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to understand. As we strive to make discernment a way of life, may our greatest desire be to please you in all that we do. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lover of Us All. Amen

Session 4: Discernment of Spirits Printer Friendly Version