The charism (gift of the Spirit, driving energy) of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville is to live what may appear to be two mutually exclusive ways of life: the way of action and the way of contemplation. By following the examples of Jesus and Saint Angela Merici, the Ursuline Sisters have discovered that rather than being mutually exclusive, they are necessary to one another. Contemplation is a natural, ordinary human experience. There is nothing mysterious or other-worldly about it. It is so simple even a child can do it. Actually, children are more easily contemplative than most adults. They have not yet lost the ability to see through eyes of wonder, possibility, acceptance and innocence.
The way of contemplation invites us to “take a long, loving look at the real” of our own lives, all of it, the wonderful, the painful, the sublime and the mundane. Choosing this way does not mean that we must live in monasteries or become hermits, but to live with intention, with our eyes wide open and with a slowness to judge ourselves and others. As we look at our lives with purpose and love, we eventually begin to notice traces of the One in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), the One who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:17).
Living contemplatively creates opportunities for us to experience unconditional love that transforms us into the person we are created to be. This deepening awareness of the Divine in our daily lives causes us to experience our true identity as the Beloved. We are no longer bound by all the voices within and around us that tell us how to live. We can now let go of them and hear the “still, small” voice that whispers out of our True Self, that spark of the Divine that dwells within each of us.
As we learn to listen to our True Self, we are free to make choices about how we live our lives, the way of action. This action is not grounded in our woundedness, greed or poor self-esteem. We no longer act out of a need to be needed, to please or rescue others or to escape pain or suffering. We are now free to act out of love. As an expression of our experience of being loved, we in turn love others and seek ways to meet the needs of others, to live simply and promote justice. In this, the dream of God for all humanity will be fulfilled “…on earth as it is in heaven.”