An Annual Celebration of Community

Ursuline Sisters, Members of the Company of St. Ursula and Associates throughout the world remember their “Mother” and Founder, St. Angela Merici on January 27th each year. In Youngstown, Ohio, the Spirit was alive and well as the entire Community of Sisters and Associates gathered for Mass and Dinner. After Sister Nancy Dawson’s challenging words to us, seven men and women came forward to enthusiastically announce their decision to be associated with the Ursuline Community. The Sisters proudly responded by expressing their intent to share their lives, their prayer and their ministries with the Associates. Angela was among us as we enjoyed each other with hospitality,encouragement and renewed energy.

To Be Tempted

It is said that certain items are “rust-proof.”  Other things are billed as either “dust-proof” or “spill-proof” or “bullet-proof” or “child-proof” or “scratch-proof.” But here’s something which no human being ever has been or ever will be: “temptation-proof.”

Temptations are luring. They present us with a seeming good we do not presently have but want. Without a lure, temptations do not exist. Temptations always lure us to a false good.

In our Gospel today, Jesus is faced with three perceived goods. And each temptation put to Jesus involved some misguided personal gain – power, prestige and possessions. By resisting the temptations, Jesus shows us that our true gain is not in satisfying ourselves but in something better – utter fidelity to God.

Temptations are not an indication of sin, rather, they are occasions for us to show that our lives are turned to God. In resisting temptations, we are choosing who we want to be – those who faithfully serve God by doing good for others.

Lent is a focused time to grow in holiness and transformation; it is a time to take the test of who we want to be.  We don’t have to go out to the desert to find temptation. But we do need God’s nearness to resist it. And that God has promised us.

Baptized by the Holy Spirit and Fire

In preparing adults to be received into the Catholic Church, we spend a great deal of time talking about the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Several years ago, one of our catechumens asked, “What, really, is the Holy Spirit’s fire?”

I answered, ” We have several expressions that might give us a hint: a coach works with a team to get them all fired up, your boss tries to light a fire under your staff to undertake a new project; someone intent on a mission has a fire in the belly.” “All these expressions,” I said, “point to commitment, intensity, energy, a drive toward a goal. Our baptism is meant to instill in us all this commitment, this energy as well.”

Our Gospel today tells us who we are and how we have been gifted. Our Baptism transforms us and confers on us a mission. By Baptism, we are The Body of Christ entrusted with cooperating with the Holy Spirit in making present God’s love by which the world is saved and renewed. We are missioned to a Gospel way of life.

Taking our Baptism seriously means that the ritual is just the beginning of a lifetime of living for God and for God’s people.

Angela Merici 475 Years of Spirit, Vision and Presence

Icon by Fabio Nones of Trent Italy

With the new year, the Ursulines usher in the 475th anniversary of our foundation by Angela Merici.

Angela founded her company in Brescia, Italy (more recently famous as the home town of Pope Paul VI) to enable women to live consecrated lives in their own homes and keeping their occupations. At a time when women were expected to choose between a husband or a cloistered life, it was a daring move! As the company required no dowry, it was open to women of all social backgrounds.

Today we give thanks for those who have gone before us and ask the blessings of the Holy Spirit on our future.

My Kingdom Does Not Belong to This World

Since most of us have never lived in a kingdom and have no experience of relating to a king, our notion of kings and kingdoms tends to be along the lines of Camelot. A grand dream for a kingdom of this world. This feast we celebrate today, and its readings, hardly take us to this kind of kingdom. The Gospel is part of a dialogue between Jesus and Pilate at Jesus’ trial. Hardly Camelot!

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we see that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. Nor is his kingdom a special place, but an interior identity defined by our relationship with Christ the King. This Sunday we celebrate a King whose presence and power we have experienced.

Jesus’ kingdom exists wherever we embody Jesus’ manner of acting and relating, whenever the Spirit of Jesus is the rule of life.  Our lives are totally about the good of the other. We enter into Jesus’  Kingdom when we proclaim, by word and service that Jesus is Lord of all. This kingdom does not belong to this world but it is meant to transform this world.

Send Me

We have a preschool connected to our Motherhouse. One day as I walked by our Kindergarten, I overheard the teacher asking the children what they wanted to do when they grew up. The answers came rather quickly- astronaut, president, doctor. Their answers leaned toward bigger than life careers. The ordinary and mundane were not part of their responses. Yet their teacher pursued the conversation and encouraged her students to remember, no matter what they did, they were to be of service to others.

In our Gospel, Jesus sends the disciples on mission, to be of service to those they meet and to take nothing extra on the way. All they needed for success was the grace Jesus offered them and His commission and authority.

We who are Jesus’ disciples today are sent in the same way. Traveling light, we carry with us the authority of Jesus to enable others to know his love and action in their life and to bring them to fullness of life.  By acting faithfully, we are God’s instruments bringing life and healing to others.