“For if it is Jesus who directs and teaches you, you will be well taught.” – Angela Merici
Our spirituality remains rooted in that of our foundress,St. Angela Merici. Angela was a reformer and innovator and left her mark on the history of the church. As the guiding spirit of her religious order, she continues to challenge and motivate women and men to radical Christian living.
As a Franciscan tertiary (a member of a Franciscan Third Order), Angela’s spirituality has definite Franciscan elements, namely: Christ-centeredness, poverty, family spirit and reconciliation. Christ was the center of life for both Angela and Francis. For Francis, his way of living was an imitation of Jesus’ early life; for Angela, it was living as spouse of the crucified. For both, a treasure motif was important. Angela sums up what it means for her sisters saying… “they have Jesus Christ for their one and only treasure.” This is also her most powerful poverty statement. In it, she acknowledges where her heart, and consequently, where her attachments are.
Her written words were the expression of her lived, personalized experience of poverty: “Have confidence and strong faith that God will assist you in everything.” And, she counsels her followers: “You must be convinced that God will never fail to provide for all your needs, material and spiritual alike… They will never be abandoned in their needs.”
Though information is limited concerning Angela’s early life, it is noteworthy that the strength of family ties predominates. Because she was orphaned as an adolescent, Angela turned to God for the protection, care and love that normally would have been supplied in her natural family. In total abandonment she staked her life on God’s fidelity to her. The family spirit that Angela nurtured in her daughters overflowed into an apostolate that was also family-centered.
Angela’s bold new plan was to reform society through the Christian influence of women on family life. Her approach was unique — to begin with the family and from there to extend it to the whole of society. Angela was cognizant of the strength and power of women as the primary formative influences on the future members of society. Her plan was to harness this power and channel it to Christian ends.
The formative influences of Christocentricity, poverty and family spirit naturally usher in a specific type of ministry — that of reconciliation. Mediation was seen at the core of Angela’s apostolic activity. In her own alienated society, Angela stood as a healing presence. Through her, Jesus worked reconciliation. Together they reached out to touch and heal others. Angela quickly earned the reputation as peacemaker of Brescia. She felt the way to renew society of her day was through the Christian influence of family life, affected through the wives and mothers of her time. So, she gathered women in their homes and showed them how to do this, positively influencing the factions of her day.
Today, we strive to bring Angela’s spirituality to our lives and ministries, living and serving as Christ-centered women, rooted in simplicity and unity, and bringing reconciliation to those in our midst.