Ongoing Formation Session 4

Opening prayer: Creator God, the spirituality of Saint Angela Merici is at once inspiring and challenging. She is contemplative yet always in service where needed. Her life is a witness to her deep relationship with God and conviction of God’s love for her. Help me to have that same conviction of knowing God loves me. For, if I know God’s love, I will be open and eager to act out of that love in service to and with others. Teach me to love in the spirit of Saint Angela that I may acquire the art of accompaniment in simple and unexpected ways. Amen.

Leader: Associates and Sisters Day 2018 called us to “Explore Personal Growth in the Spirit of Angela Merici.” This fourth session will focus upon Scripture and the WRITINGS of Saint Angela, translated by a team of Ursulines of the Roman Union from the manuscript in the Trivulzian Library, Milan, Italy, 1995, and another resource: Reflections and Meditations on Ursuline Spirituality, © Ursuline Nuns of Cleveland, 1995.

Reader 1: The contemplative heart has a special way of being in the world. It is a connection between the Reign of God which already exists and the promise to be fulfilled. Contemplation is the answer to the suffering world not because it can change or eradicate the pain of being human, but because it opens our hearts to a fuller presence of life’s meaning in God. Angela was a true contemplative in her Renaissance world. She sought to open the heart of her suffering world to God, to bring meaning to the lives of those she met. She was so clearly a reflection of God’s life that the presence and promise of God’s reign were made visible through her. Many people came to her to see as she saw. (Reflections and Meditations on Ursuline Spirituality)

Reader 2: “Act, move, believe, strive, hope, cry out to God with all your heart, for without doubt you will see marvelous things, if you direct everything to the praise and glory of his Majesty and the good of souls.” (Prologue to the Counsels, 17-18)

Reader 3: “…exult and rejoice, for in heaven a new crown of glory and joy is prepared for you. …have Jesus Christ as your only treasure, for there also will be love.” (Counsels 5/25;43)

Leader: To see the similarity between the Scriptures and Saint Angela’s words, consider these Scripture verses.

SCRIPTURE:

            Jesus on Prayer                                             Accounts on Jesus’ Prayer in the Garden

            Matthew 6:5-18; 7:7-10                                  Mark 14:32-42

            Luke 11                                                              Luke 22: 39-46

            Luke 6: 12-49

Leader: Discuss these questions at your table or with the entire group.

  1. How clearly do I reflect God’s reign to those with whom I live or with those to whom I minister?
  2. How do we, as contemplatives, witness to God’s promise in our world?

Action:  What are the signs of the times that disturb me?

In relationship to my brothers and sisters nearby (my workplace, neighborhood, etc.), what disturbs me?

Reader 4: We know the Franciscans enhanced Angela’s spiritual formation. Franciscan spirituality intertwines deeply with the Scriptures. Franciscans witnessed by word and deed the lessons passed on to them by their founder, Francis of Assisi, who was a lover of all of creation. Angela caught this spirit that recognized the Divine Presence dwelling in the hearts of the poor and lowly. She reached out to those who were struggling and searching. She was a counselor of hearts as well as one who met the physical needs of others. She saw them as the suffering Body of Christ and responded. (Reflections and Meditations on Ursuline Spirituality)

Reader 5: “We exhort each one to embrace poverty…and to place all her wealth, and love, and delight…in God alone. God wants nothing for you but only your good and joy.”

(Rule, Chapter 10: On Poverty: 1, 9-13, 18.) “Be gentle and compassionate towards your daughters.” (Second Counsel, 1)

Leader: To see the similarity between the Scriptures and Saint Angela’s words, consider these Scripture verses.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 5:3, John 15:17, 1 John 3:11, John 13: 34-35

Prayer of Saint Francis (Traditional)

Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy.

O divine master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Leader: Discuss these questions at your table or with the entire group.

  1. Do I allow myself to be moved by the pain of others? When have I ached for the life of others?
  2. Am I able to empathize with migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.?
  3. Have I ever received a gift from one who seems to have less than I?

How did I receive it?

 

Action: How am I ministering to those whom the world does not want to see?

How might I share my resources (personal, professional, etc.) with others?

Closing prayer: God, plant the spirit of your servant, Angela, into my heart. Teach me, as you taught Angela how to increase my capacity to love others. Help me see with a Gospel vision how to “live in harmony united in one heart and one will.” Let the inspirations and actions of the Holy Spirit spark within me the desire to love as both Jesus and Angela did with fidelity and courage. I give you thanks for your love, O God, my lover and the lover of us all. Amen.