Ongoing Formation Session 4


Opening prayer: If there is one thing the world needs more of, it’s hope. If we’ve strengthened our beliefs, if we’ve put our faith into action, if we’ve allowed our hearts to change, then we should have little difficulty being people of hope.

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 have focused on one of Angela’s most well-known directions from her Introduction to the Counsels – “Act, move, believe, strive, hope.” Our fourth and final session is on “Hope.”

First reader: “I have this firm and unquestioning faith and hope in infinite divine goodness, that not only shall we easily overcome all dangers and adversities, but also, to our great glory and jubilation, we shall defeat them.”

Saint Angela Merici, Prologue to the Rule

Second reader: “(Angela) saw God within her contemplative heart, and that drew her to know God, present and active in the world around her, no matter how distressing it appeared. Her seeing, her remarkable vision, allowed her to believe in a radical renewal of contemplative Christ-Presence for the sake of the Kingdom, the same radical vision that powered and sustained the first followers, the early Church of the friends and family of Jesus. Just as they found themselves, through the Holy Spirit, embodying the presence of Christ, so too she found in herself and in those around her that same call. Does this not ring like a bell for us, Ursulines of every kind, watching for signs of hope in our own times?”

Sister Larraine Lauter

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

  • Angela was a woman of hope, even though she lived in a time of great upheaval. Where do you think she found her hope that our world would be better?
  • Who is someone you know who is a hopeful person?
  • What prevents you from being hopeful? How can you overcome those obstacles the way Angela did?

Third reader: “Tell them that now I am more alive than I was when they saw me in the flesh, and that now I see them and know them better. And can and want to help them more. And that I am continually among them with my Lover, or rather ours, the Lover of us all, provided they believe and do not lose heart and hope. … Let them set their hopes on high and not on earth. Let them have Jesus Christ for their only treasure, for there also will be love.”

Saint Angela Merici, Fifth Counsel

Fourth reader: “We cannot begin to know where we are going in the rough seas of these times. The signs often indicate stormy weather and unexpected destinations. But Angela gave us what we need: one another. Love is the boat for the journey. We can count on this; if we stay faithful to Angela’s vision, we will find the way forward together.”

Sister Larraine Lauter

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

  • Alone, we can accomplish little. Sister Larraine tells us Angela gave us one another. How can a community of believers help you give and share hope?
  • Many times, Angela urged her daughters not to lose hope. She must have known it would be a challenge. What words of Angela’s give you hope?

Fifth reader: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

Sixth reader: “Let them hold this as certain: that they will never be abandoned in their needs. God will provide for them wonderfully. They must not lose hope. How many lords, queens and other great persons there are who, with the many riches and possessions they have, will not be able to find true relief in some extreme need; and yet these little ones, poor as they are, will find consolation and comfort.”

Saint Angela Merici, Fifth Counsel

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

  • Psychologists tell us that a loss of connection causes people to lose hope. What are some ways we can help others feel connected to keep them from losing hope?
  • A lack of progress also causes people to lose hope. Covid has caused a lot of stagnation in people’s lives. How can we as Associates and Sisters help people make even incremental steps forward in their lives, so they can be people of hope?

Closing prayer: In her Fifth Counsel, Saint Angela says, “They should place their hope and love in God alone, and not in any living person. Comfort them, encourage them, let them go forward willingly.” Let us be people who offer comfort and encouragement to all those we meet. Amen.