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Way to Holiness

Angela’s way to holiness

When Angela founded the Company of Saint Ursula, she had only one goal in mind, that of guiding her daughters on their way to holiness. In each of her Writings, this call is a primary one : place all wealth, and love, and delight in God alone and in his gentle and ineffable Providence (R 10:9,12), in God alone and not in any living person (Couns, 5:22). And to the Superiors she points out : Strive, with the help of God, to grasp and keep in yourselves such conviction and good sentiment that you are moved in this care and government by the sole love of God and by the sole zeal for the salvation of souls (T 1 ; 2-3).

Her counsels meet those given by Pope Francis, especially in his Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate : We must first belong to God, offering ourselves to him who was there first, and entrusting to him our abilities, our efforts, our struggle against evil and our creativity, so that his free gift may grow and develop within us : “I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1) (G.E. 56).
Three keys are found in Angela’s writings for advancing towards true holiness : an unwavering attachment to Jesus Christ, a deep life of prayer, and charity lived in union and communion.

I. AN UNWAVERING ATTACHMENT TO JESUS CHRIST

In the chapter on poverty in her Rule, Angela mentions the renunciations to all self-seeking we need to avoid in order to direct our lives to God alone : We exhort each one to embrace… the true spirit of poverty of spirit by which one strips hrt heart of all affection and longing for created things, and of her very self, and in God have all hrt wealth (R 10:1-6).

She adds details on the different ways of living this renunciation : …place all one’s love and delight, not in goods, not in food and gluttony, not in relatives and friends, not in herself and in her own resources and knowledge, but in God alone and in his gentle and ineffable Providence alone… because God wants nothing for you ; but only your good and your joy (R 10:8-13,18).

Her practical advise follows the same goal : Let them eat and drink, not for pleasure and to satisfy their appetite, but only out of the need to sustain nature in order to serve God better. Let them be moderate also in sleep, sleeping only as much as necessity requires. Similarly in laughing, let them be reserved and moderate. In listening not taking pleasure except in hearing modest and licit, and necessary things. In speaking, let their words be wise and reserved, not harsh, not rude, but compassionate and leading to concord and charity (Couns 5:8-12). Let all our words, actions and behavior always be for the instruction and edification of those who have dealings with us, always having charity burning in our hearts (R 9:21-22).

Way to Holiness

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