Secular and Spiritual: Contradiction in Terms?

Not for St. Angela Merici in 1535, when she founded the Company of St. Ursula. She spoke (in Italian) of the “secolo”: the ordinary circumstances of lay life.

Not for Pope Pius XII on February 2, 1947, when he issued the document that gave “secular institutes” this title and recognized their place in the Church as a form of consecrated life.

Réjeanne (right) receives the first consecration of Muguette.

“The fullness of life that I wanted to live and that I felt myself called to,” is how Réjeanne, the leader of the Company of Canada, describes her vocation. She found a path of “full consecration of my life according to the evangelical counsels, with a full responsibility of active presence in the world, to live this Gospel dynamic close to the people of my milieu.”

“Immersed in the life of the world,” is where Thérèse, another Canadian secular Ursuline, was drawn to give herself to God as a “lay woman in today’s missionary evangelization.” She lets herself be guided by God through the “signs of the times, in their complexity,” and finds encouragement in the “profound riches hidden in the daily life of the people around me.”

Elena, a new member, thought that she would be limping along in ill-fitting shoes if she tried to follow Jesus. To her surprise, “My shoes fit!  They are the shoes of a bride, made for walking through the world, right next to Jesus, hand in hand, with so many other holy souls.”
They share Saint Angela’s recognition of the sacred in the secular world, where

  • God’s creative action continues,
  • Jesus’ mission unfolds,
  • the laity are the Church at work, and
  • we secular Ursulines follow our particular path in fidelity to the Baptismal vocation shared by all Christians.

The US Conference of Secular Institutes (USCSI): Your Consecration Scene Investigation starts here

The Company of St. Ursula is the original secular institute. ( St. Angela led the way! In 1947 the rest of the Church caught up with her. We celebrate this 70th anniversary in gratitude for her spirit, her teaching, and her example.







One Response to “Secular and Spiritual: Contradiction in Terms?”

  1. (See English translation below.) Merci Mary Cabrini pour cette belle initiative.
    Pour y répondre, nous devons prendre conscience de notre vocation en retournant en arrière pour en venir jusqu’à exprimer les motivations profondes de notre engagement.– Et de voir que notre motivation s’est vérifiée maintenant dans le temps et qu’elle dure toujours, m’a fait prendre conscience de la grandeur de ce don et m’a apporté beaucoup de joie,
    Pour moi, la “Sécularité” n’est qu’un mot pour dire une réalité qui nous distingue des Instituts religieux.Pour se comprendre dans cette distinction, disons que les prêtres, autrefois déclaraient qu’ils faisaient partie soit du clergé “régulier” ou soit du clergé ” séculier”( qui n’appartient à aucun ordre.) – N’empêche que les uns comme les autres s’étaient consacrés entièrement à Jésus-Christ. – Le Seigneur Jésus-Christ, lui, fut envoyé par le Père en plein monde et Marie sa Mère a continué d’être la Servante du seigneur en plein monde.- Il n’y a donc pas de contradiction entre
    “sécularité ” et “spiritualité”.
    J’ai apprécié beaucoup le commentaire d’Elena, pour sa fraîcheur et celui de Thérèse avec sa franchise et la grande expérience qui la caractérise.

    Translation: Thank you for starting this worthwhile discussion.
    In response: We should be aware of our vocation as we look back to express the deep motivations of our commitment. Seeing that our original motivation has been confirmed over time and always endures makes me aware of the grandeur of this gift. That recognition brings me great joy.
    For me, “secular” is only a word to speak of a reality that distinguishes secular institutes from religious institutes. Similarly, we speak of priests as being part of the “regular” clergy [in a religious order] or of the “secular” clergy (diocesan, not belonging to a religious order). – The difference does not prevent their belonging entirely to Jesus Christ. – The Lord Jesus Christ was sent by the Father fully into the world, and Mary his mother continued to be the handmaid of the Lord, fully in the world. – There is no contradiction between “secular” and “spiritual.”
    I really appreciate Elena’s comment for its freshness and Thérèse’s for its honesty and long experience.

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