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Spouse of the Lord

Angela’s Charism as Spouse of the Lord

Spouse of the LordWhat is Angela’s charism? What is our charism, as Ursulines? Many persons have already inquired: Franciscans have their charism of poverty; Benedictines, that of liturgical prayer and work: “Ora et Labora”, Carmelites that of prayer and penance. And you, Ursulines, what is your charism? Different answers have already been given to this question. About 40 years ago, after Vatican II, Sr Teresa Ledóchowska, searched for the deep, specific charism of Angela and the Ursulines; she found it in availability to the Holy Spirit; others, in union between contemplation and action, so typical of Ursuline life throughout the ages. The Central Province of the United States took it up as its motto: Contemplatives in mission.

However, if we look for Angela’s deep, personal vocation, the one she handed on to her daughters, on the level of her being and not of her actions, her charism was clearly that of loving union with her Spouse, the Son of God. The new life, which she led intensely and proposed to her daughters, is that of a spousal union with the Son of God. Angela mentioned this 12 times: six times in her Rule, twice in the Counsels and four times in the Testament.

Of course, this spousal spirituality was not unknown in the tradition of the Church. Already during the third century, Tertulian called the Christian virgin a “spouse of Christ”. During the fourth century, Saint Ambrose developed this theme in three treatises on virginity. During the same century, Saint Athanasius, Saint Jerome, Saint Gregory of Nissa, all called the consecrated virgin, a “spouse of Christ”. During the first centuries of Christianity, this expression was already widespread in the Eastern and Western Church as well.

During the Renaissance period, when a large number of congregations were declining because of families forcing young women to enter religious life for merely human reasons, Angela, through her example and her writings, gave new life in Brescia and in the Church to a form of consecration to Christ as Spouse. In our first section, we shall study Angela’s union with Christ, her Spouse, in her personal life, and in the second one, the meaning she gave to this union in her Writings.

I. Angela, Spouse of Christ

Spouse of the Lord

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