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Reflective Moments with Angela

By Sister Michele Morek

December 2023

I was mulling over what the theme of this reflection should be: gratitude, for Thanksgiving season? Awe for the upcoming Advent and our celebration of the Incarnation? But when I read through some of Saint Angela’s writings I found a quote I had never noticed before: Receive my every thought, word, and deed, finally everything of mine – interior as well as exterior. (Rule, Chapter 5, 40-41)

Suddenly I was transported back into my recent 30-day retreat (the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises) and both the themes of Gratitude and Awe seemed to fit right in: the first week of the Exercises deals with the goodness of God and all of God’s gifts to me (plus how ungrateful I am through sin!), and the second week considers the best gift the gift of Godself in the Incarnation.

Oh, I thought, we’re moving right along! Then when I re-examined the quote from Angela, I was struck by its similarity to the Suscipe prayer of Ignatius. Probably not surprising Angela and Ignatius were contemporaries, founding their congregations just five years apart (Ursulines in 1535 and Jesuits in 1540) and probably were shaped by very similar theologies and religious practices.

But I am ashamed to admit this here is a secret: I have never been able to say the Suscipe and really mean it (dreading that God might take me up on my offer). One of my fears has always been of “losing my mind!” Now just read this prayer and you will see what I mean:

Suscipe (Traditional) by Ignatius of Loyola

Take, Lord, receive all my liberty,

my memory, my understanding,

and my entire will,

all I have and call my own.

 

You have given all to me,

To you Lord, I return it.

 

Everything is yours, do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace,

That is enough for me.

 

See what I mean?
But wait, what about the Gratitude and Awe you were promised in the first paragraph?

Well, speaking of gifts from God: I am grateful for what was probably the greatest grace of that retreat: in the last week I was finally able to say the Suscipe – and really mean it. And this is an awe-some truth: it’s never too late for any of us!

How about you? What do you think Angela is saying to you in her message from her Rule, or through the message of the Suscipe prayer? It never hurts to think about giving God a Christmas gift…

Happy Advent and Christmas to you all!

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