40th Anniversary: Remembering, Transforming and Recommitting
Realize then, the importance of community.
For that reason
long for it, search for it, struggle to attain it.
Live it and hold onto it with all your strength.
If all of you are living community
you will be like the city on a mountaintop,
a tower of strength.
Ninth Counsel of St. Angela Merici
The Counsels of Saint Angela: A Meditative Approach
Angela Merici, our Ursuline foundress, was in many ways a both/and spiritual leader. No example is more stunning, perhaps, than the way in which she both respected each individual person, and longed for community; that “city on a mountaintop” where unity of heart and will flourishes. We might ask, why does she use mountain imagery to depict Christian community? I suspect that her choice was informed through her Italian Alpine landscape and knowledge of Scripture.
First of all, Angela lived, prayed and served inspired by mountainous beauty. In her 16thcentury Italy she may have understood “cities on mountaintops” as strong, visible communities offering both protection and a sense of shared identity. The city raised above the hills was seen as a beacon, a light of hope for others near and far.
Then too, mountains in Scripture may have sparked her imagination. Heights like Sinai and Mount Tabor provided settings where the presence of God was tangible. Here prophets proclaimed the word of God and communities received guidance. As places of encounter with the holy covenant relationships and prophets were fashioned on mountaintops, revealing God’s glory and will. The prophetic charism demonstrated by St. Angela in her own lifetime must have been stirred as she listened to such Scriptural accounts, and then responded by climbing the heights of Italy, and those of her own soul.
Let’s pray daily for and ask God’s blessing upon ourselves and those communities to which we belong; family, local, global and Earth communities. May we as disciples of Christ and friends of St. Angela honor the both/and reality that respects the dignity of each person even as we search for, struggle to attain, live and hold onto a loving community that is as strong as a tower, and as visible as a city on a mountaintop!