Ongoing Formation Session 2

Act, Strive

Opening prayer: Saint Angela called on her followers to be people of action, who relied on God to help them persevere. Today, Lord, help us be people who rely on you to remain steadfast.

Leader: Our ongoing formation sessions in 2021-22 will incorporate Sister Larraine Lauter’s talk at Associates and Sisters Day, “Claiming Our Identity: Angela Merici and Her Original Vision for the Ursuline Family.” She reminded us that Saint Angela called the laity to play an important role. These sessions will focus on one of Angela’s most well-known directions from her Introduction to the Counsels – “Act, move, believe, strive, hope.” We will discuss them individually and in slightly different order. Our first session was “Believe.” This session is “Act and Strive.”

First reader: “Let all our words, actions and behavior always be for the instruction and edification of those who have dealings with us, always having charity burning in our hearts.”

Saint Angela Merici, Chapter IX of The Rule

Leader: Although prayer was always at the forefront of Angela’s life, she did not shy from urging her daughters to do something with the faith and belief they had. We as Associates should feel challenged to get out in the world where we live and make a difference. It shouldn’t be easy. To “strive” means to “try hard.”

Second reader: “Angela was a laywoman who emerged as a spiritual leader in a time and circumstance that the Church would rather forget. She was a woman who claimed and practiced spiritual authority with great confidence. She defined herself as a spouse of Christ, and she encouraged other lay women, even those of low birth, to do the same. In that self-definition, she claimed for herself a great spiritual status. Far from being the silent loyal handmaid, Angela was a woman of decisive action.”

Sister Larraine Lauter

Leader: Consider the following questions and discuss them with others in your group.

  • What are some examples of putting “faith into action” that have energized you in the past?
  • How can we become – or continue being – a “pilgrim people” who seek always to move forward in service to others?

Third reader: “Strive with all your might to remain as you are called by God, and to seek and desire all the ways and means necessary to persevere and make progress to the very end.”

Saint Angela Merici, Prologue to the Rule

Fourth reader: “At a very practical level, Gabriele Cozzano insists, Angela believed in the contemplative life lived in the active world as the church’s greatest need for renewal.”

Sister Larraine Lauter

Fifth reader: “We must speak to them with our hands by giving, before we try to speak to them with our lips.”

Saint Peter Claver

Leader: Consider the following questions and discuss them with others in your group.

  • Modeling one’s faith is a hallmark of the Catholic Church. Can you think of someone you know who humbly goes about living the Gospel through their actions?
  • Prayer and action go hand in hand. What are some ways Associates and Sisters can put their prayers into action to serve those in need?

Sixth reader: “So, persevere faithfully and joyfully in the work you have begun. And take care, take care I say, not to lose your fervor, for every promise that I make to you will be fulfilled for you beyond measure.”

Saint Angela Merici, Last Legacy: Final Farewell

Seventh reader: “Gabriele Cozzano, dear Associates, is one of you … perhaps we could say he is the first of you. He recognizes and loves the wise vision of this remarkable spiritual genius, Angela Merici. He supports her sense that the Church needs more women like her, women who can be the hearth for the fire that you and the entire Church and indeed the whole world so desperately need for these times. I suspect he might be entirely comfortable with the idea that something both new and old might be ready to be re-born from the ashes of our forgotten history. I suspect he might be entirely comfortable with many changes, even how we might define what it means to be Ursuline, so long as we do not tamper with one essential truth: it means to be contemplative in an active world.”

Sister Larraine Lauter

Leader: Consider these questions and discuss them with others in your group.

  • Starting something is exciting. Persevering, as Saint Angela encouraged her daughters, is more difficult. How can we be a people who persevere when times get tough?
  • Gabriele Cozzano called Angela a “hearth for the fire,” that person who others knew they could rely on to follow through. How can we become that “hearth for the fire” for our community?

Closing prayer: Lord, we live our lives in service to others, as Jesus calls us to do. Help us to be people of promise, to act and strive with joy in our hearts. Amen.