Opening prayer: Saint Angela told her daughters in her Prologue to the Rule, “For it is not enough to begin, if one does not also persevere.” We ask the Lord this day to open our hearts to give us the courage to move with the Spirit. Amen.
Leader: Our ongoing formation sessions in 2021-22 incorporate Sister Larraine Lauter’s talk at Associates and Sisters Day, “Claiming Our Identity: Angela Merici and Her Original Vision for the Ursuline Family,” reminding 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.” Our third session is on “Move.”
First reader: “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
Leader: Angela calls us to allow God to change our hearts. She asks us to be willing to move from our current beliefs into something even more loving and open to possibility. She challenges us to let our actions move us to a deeper place.
Second reader: “Multiple forms of communal, spirited life in the Gospel … were complemented by a great number of lay movements. We find a good view in our imaginations if we think about lay movements today; for example, the Koinonia movement and similar parish weekend retreat movements. Along with inspired lay leaders, sisters and priests got involved … not leaving their congregations or diocesan affiliations, but simply drawn into the spirited sense of community and service that arises from these dynamic, inspired lay movements.”
Sister Larraine Lauter
Leader: Consider the following questions and discuss them with others in your group.
- Have you participated in starting a new ministry at your parish or a service project in your community? What were the benefits? What were the obstacles?
- What are some ways we can avoid “losing our fervor” when trying new ways to serve?
Third reader: “Angela is advocating for contemplative life lived outside monastic walls, contemplative life lived by layfolk in an active world.”
Sister Larraine Lauter
Fourth reader: “Christian life is not a life divided between times for action and times for contemplation. No. Real social action is a way of contemplation, and real contemplation is the core of social action.”
Father Henri Nouwen
Fifth reader: “The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not ‘What a lovely sermon,’ but,’ I will do something!’”
Saint Francis DeSales
Leader: Scholars suspect that Angela was 61 years old when she began her company. No one would have blamed her if she didn’t want to start such a major undertaking at that age. And yet none of us would be here if she hadn’t. Consider the following questions and discuss them with others in your group.
- Sometimes it feels like there is an anchor around our necks if we attempt to get out of our comfort zone. What is a way you’ve found the faith to step into action?
- Has the pandemic awakened in you new needs in your community? What are those needs?
Sixth reader: “What good is it if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?”
Seventh reader: “The greater the value of what is undertaken, the greater the labor and danger which one can be expected. For there is no kind of evil which will not try to stand in the way, seeing that here (on earth) we are placed in the midst of snares and perils.”
Saint Angela Merici, Prologue to the Rule
Leader: Consider these questions and discuss them with others in your group.
- Angela urges us to persevere in the face of obstacles. Are you ready to let God move you where God needs you?
- How do you feel called to serve others? How could our Associates and Sisters join you in that ministry?
Closing prayer: Let us pray with the words of Saint John Henry Newman: “Help me Lord to spread your fragrance everywhere I go – let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by my example – by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you. Amen.”