Ongoing Formation Session 1

Identity

Opening prayer: Saint Angela told her daughters that she was always with them, along with Jesus, whom she called the “Lover of us all.” Angela calls us to be people who love others, just as Jesus loves us.

Leader: The four topics for our formation sessions in the coming year will be built from Father Larry Hostetter’s talk on Caritas during Associates and Sisters Day 2022. Our first session is on Identity.

Father Larry said Caritas – the Latin word for “love” – asks us three questions. The first is, “Who am I, as a loved person, who is someone called to love?”

First Reader: Father Larry told the story of La Nonna, a street person he interacted with in Rome while he was studying there. She was mean and none of the priests wanted to deal with her. He learned later that she had been a famous ballerina who had lost a child. She was desperate to hide her humanity. Father Larry said he had allowed himself to forget her humanity.

Second Reader: “Be gentle and compassionate toward your dear daughters. And strive to act solely out of the sole love of God and out of the sole zeal for souls when you admonish and advise them or exhort them to some good, and dissuade them from some evil. For you will achieve more with kindness and gentleness than with harshness and sharp rebukes.”

Saint Angela Merici, Second Counsel

Leader: Consider these questions and share with others in your group:

  • Why is it important to remember someone’s humanity, even if you don’t know the person?
  • Everyone is dealing with something heavy, often unseen. How can we do better to consider the burdens of others before forming opinions?

Third Reader: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

Fourth Reader: “I beg you that you willingly hold in consideration and have engraved on your mind and heart all your dear daughters, one by one. Not only their names, but also their condition, and character, and every situation and state. This will not be difficult for you if you embrace them with ardent charity.”

Saint Angela Merici, Second Legacy

Leader: Jesus calls us to love one another. He doesn’t offer any excuses not to love. Saint Angela, in her reading above, seems to know that her own daughters might seem at times difficult to love, given their situation. Yet she calls on us to be charitable with others despite their condition.

Leader: Consider these questions and share with others in your group:

  • Can you think of an example in which you changed your mind about someone once you learned more about him or her?
  • What are the obstacles we face that prevent us from offering compassionate love to people we meet?

Fifth Reader: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Sixth Reader: “Not being welcome is your greatest fear. It connects with your birth fear, your fear of not being welcome in this life, and your death fear, your fear of not being welcome in the life after this.”

Henri Nouwen

Seventh Reader: “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”

Saint John Paul II

Leader: Father Larry said the three-legged stool of Caritas reflected the last three popes. Pope John Paul II was all about “who are we as Catholics?” He could have just as easily asked, “Who are we as a people called to love?”

Consider these questions and share with others in your group:

  • Can you recall a time when a stranger made you feel welcome? How did that change you?
  • Greeting people with love is a bold step. What will embolden you to be a person who offers caritas to those you meet?

Closing prayer: Jesus and Saint Angela both tell us that we are loved. Only through knowing that we are loved, are we able to love others. We ask that, through the example of Saint Angela and her Company, and through the love Jesus gives us, that we learn to love each person we encounter and see their humanity. Amen.