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Feast of St. Angela Merici - January 27 - Active Mystic

Posted 12/30/2020

St. Angela Merici of Brescia, Italy, foundress of the Company of St. Ursula in 1535, was a mystic in the marketplace.

E. Allison Peers, a translator and biographer of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, says a mystic is “a person who has fallen in love with God.” Falling in love is like learning to dance – you have to learn the steps; it takes time, effort, practice, patience and commitment. Once you learn the steps you then begin to partner with someone – you take the steps together, stumble over each other’s feet, but you learn to step in rhythm and eventually become one in movement.

The statue in Desenzano of Angela has her looking heavenward, with her staff, with her hand over her heart and her left foot as if in motion, She was so much in touch with humanity that her time in prayer only brought her closer to the Divine, her Lover, or rather, the Lover of us all, as she says. Her “lover” was at the center of her life. The left foot in motion implies action and movement, not being stagnant.

Angela’s contemplation was a “loving look at the real.” From her encounters with God she could discover more of God’s creation and God’s people. She was realistic enough to know that in meeting God, she would meet with pain, war, poverty, failure, illness and death as well as delight and joy. Her prayer led her to facing reality.

In Angela’s chapter on prayer, we learn of four characteristics upon which she builds her prayer life:

1) Theme of darkness and light – she begins her prayer with these words: “My Lord, light up the darkness of my heart.” She recognizes the evil of sin, in her life, in the lives of her relatives, friends, and in the world.

2) Prayer is intertwined in all aspects of our lives.

3) Angela’s missionary zeal goes out to all the world. Prayer cannot be self-centered; it must reach out and embrace others.

4) Total self-offering – self-sacrifice for others and lived “My Lord, my only life and hope.”
St. Angela chose to have Jesus as her Spouse and Lover. Her relationship with God was built on a solid foundation of prayer, solitude, silence and action. Her union with God led her to be out and among the people who needed whatever she could give them.

The statue in Desenzano does not face the beautiful Lake Garda, she faces the marketplace where all the action and activity are… Angela was an active mystic who allowed herself to be caught by God and God’s love… Angela was a mystic…a mystic in the marketplace.

(taken from a presentation by Sr. Donna Frey, January 14, 2012, “Angela, an Active Mystic”)