Saint Angela’s Fifth Counsel
Opening prayer: Loving God, we take our refuge at the feet of Jesus, as Saint Angela directed. May we always encourage each other, pray for each other and be united in heart and will, as we strive to follow Jesus in our everyday life. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Leader: Our ongoing formation in 2020-21 will relate the words of Saint Angela’s Fifth Counsel to how each of us can more closely follow Jesus and the mission of the Ursuline Sisters. Angela’s Counsels can still speak to us today if we let them. Our first session dealt with Angela’s desires for her Colonelle to visit and encourage the Sisters, to urge them to put their trust in Jesus and not the world, and to be united with one another.
Reader 1: “Tell them that, wherever they are, they should give good example. And be to all a good odor of virtue.” Saint Angela Merici.
Reader 2: Perhaps it’s the smell of a towel that’s been drying in the breeze. Maybe it’s the scent of a fireplace, or bacon frying, or freshly cut grass. There are scents that take us back to a moment in our lives that were more innocent and fuller of joy than perhaps we’ve felt in years. Scholars have even suggested that there truly are odors that make us more virtuous. But what Saint Angela was really saying was, “help people to feel better by your presence.” Be the person God calls you to be and people will be blessed by you being with them.
Leader: Discuss these questions that deal with being a good example.
- Who is someone you know who always seems to make the day a bit brighter and your worries a bit lighter? How do they achieve that?
- Can you think of some examples when you’ve called on these words of Angela’s or similar words that helped you get beyond your concerns and be a good example for others?
Reader 3: “Seek to spread peace and concord where they are. And above all let them be humble and gentle.” Saint Angela Merici
Reader 4: Does it seem difficult to remember when people tried to spread peace and concord? Can you recall when humility and gentleness were viewed as a person’s strength, rather than a perceived weakness? Among all the shouting at each other we’ve lived through the past year, it’s very clear what the Bible tells us to do. Here are just a few reminders.
Reader 5: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” James 4:6
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Psalm 25-9
Leader: Consider these questions about humility and peace.
- What are some small examples of when you or someone you know took the first step to bring peace to a situation or helped someone who was troubled find clarity?
- In our “look what I can do” society, when can you recall someone standing out because of the humility she or he exhibited?
- We all know to be gentle with an infant. We don’t always remember to be gentle with adults. What are some ways we can do better at being gentle with others, especially strangers?
Reader 5: “And let all their behavior, their actions and their words be with charity; and let them bear everything with patience, for with these two virtues especially, one crushes the head of the devil.” Saint Angela Merici
Reader 6: The word “charity” derives from the 12th century. Similar words that came from the same root include “cherish” and “caress.” Rather than looking at “charity” as donating or perhaps having pity on someone, it really means to care deeply, especially for those who do not feel loved. Angela tells us that whatever we do, always do it with great love and patience.
Reader 7: Angela was a gentle woman, surely affected by the violence she witnessed while living in Brescia. And yet she uses a vivid image of charity and patience “crushing the head of the devil.” She is encouraging us not to violence, but to use all the tools at our disposal to combat the evil in the world. The tools that will never wear out are love and patience. Yet, aren’t these sometimes what we struggle with the most?
Leader: Consider these questions concerning charity and patience.
- Perhaps no command Jesus gave us is more difficult than to love our enemies. What are some ways we can do a better job of taking our frustrations with people to the feet of Jesus?
- What is an activity you could organize – perhaps with your Associate group or your parish family – that would put Angela’s words about charity to others into action?
Closing Prayer: Good and gracious God, help us to care deeply for all the people around us, especially those who feel insecure, unlovable and who are tempted to violence. Calm the violent, God; reassure the insecure and cherish all those who feel unloved and unlovable. We pray in the name of Jesus, our risen savior. Amen.