God became flesh in our humanity so that we might share his divinity. 'O wonderful exchange!'
The Bible and the mystics saw in the Incarnation the mystery of the marriage of God with humanity, of the Creator with his creature, the realization of his plan for all eternity made before the foundation of the world.
Angela Merici, urged by the Spirit of God, gave to her daughters this mission, not to do this or that, but to BE living icons of the mystery of this covenant at the heart of the Church.
We have expressed our vision for our common journey in an image: a flame issuing from the Word of God and catching up all the aspects of the Chapter Message and Decisions as tongues of flame overlap and unite.
As we meditate on and contemplate the Word of God, little by little it becomes incarnate (takes flesh) in our lives, it transforms and changes us, it burns and pushes us beyond our borders, to reach out to our sisters in our community, to be in communion and reconciliation with them and with those we encounter in our mission, with hope and solidarity.
Before the Chapter* we prayed in the EGC** prayer "Enflame our hearts" and our scripture icon for the chapter led us along the Emmaus road with the disciples. We asked ourselves "Were not our hearts burning within us?" That flame continues to burn - that flame burns in us as the Word sets us on fire to bring reconciliation, communion, solidarity and hope to our world.
In the following prayer, which many of us have prayed in preparation for some important meetings, we can see summarized Saint Angela’s spirituality which we have inherited and continue to live today.
"St. Angela, Mother of our Order, in your love for us who are your daughters beg for us a spirit like your own, of deep prayer, personal love of Jesus Christ, realistic knowledge of ourselves, and devotedness towards those we serve. Obtain for us the light and courage we need to understand and fulfill the work which has been given to us in the Church, and ask God's blessing on the efforts of our Order and our Communities. Amen."
Four important characteristics of Saint Angela mark this prayer:
Personal love of Jesus Christ
Realistic knowledge of ourselves
Devotedness toward those we serve
We learn from Angela’s life and writings that our most important “activity” is prayer. It is in prayer that we come to listen to and to love Jesus, that we come to a practical sense and realistic knowledge of who we are before God, and it is from this wellspring of love and knowledge that we draw the spark that we need to fan into the flame of devotion in serving others. Only through prayer will we have the light and courage we need to serve God’s people well.
*”Chapter” is an ecclesial term for a governance meeting that encompasses the evaluation of our lives since the last Chapter, and decisions on the life, ongoing mission, and ministry of a religious group. Chapters normally take place at set intervals; for the Roman Union of Ursulines, this period is six years.
**”EGC” is “Enlarged General Council,” a meeting that may take place as interim to Chapters in which the leaders in our provinces from around the world meet together with the General Council (overall governing body) with an interim agenda
Last Updated on Sunday, 22 July 2012 08:01
This painting dates from 1535 or soon after. In the foreground are the Virgin and Child with St Catherine kneeling before them. Behind the Virgin Mary are St Ursula, holding a standard, and St Angela, kneeling in prayer. Girolamo Romanino (ca. 1484 - ca. 1566), Brooks Memoral Art Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Romanino was a Brescian artist who was contemporaneous with St. Angela and could even have been acquainted with her. It is no accident that he brings together in this painting the mystic espousal of St. Catherine and the figures of Angela and Ursula. The founding of the Company of Saint Ursula by St. Angela took place on 25 November 1535, St. Catherine's feast day. Hence, in this painting we may be looking at the closest image to what she actually looked like outside of her well-known death mask reproductions. The painting itself may even be a deliberate commemoration of the founding of the Company.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 07:52