Members of Catholic Secular Institutes are consecrated for love of the Church and for sanctification of the world. Yes, we are “in the world and not of the world, but for the world.” We live in whatever providential circumstances God gives us, but we wholly consecrate our lives to God through the evangelical counsels of poverty, obedience, and chastity. Many people do not seem to have much knowledge about Secular Institutes and so one could say that they are the newest vocation in the Catholic Church, and many also say they are the vocation of the new millennium.
Like all other Secular Institutes, there are founders and traditions, rules and lifestyles, periods of formation and ongoing animation. In the Company of St Ursula we bear the unique charism of St Angela Merici and we have been around since 1535 when our Foundress with 27 other single ladies wrote their names in a book at Mass and gave their lives to God. That day was 25 November. Today we are connected in the spirit and we can proudly say that we celebrate, where we are, our “communion” by annual retreats, meetings, common daily prayer, and friendships that evolve quite naturally from living a similar life in God despite differences in profession or work in the world. A web of connectedness grows over time, linking members to one another inextricably. For all of us consecrated seculars, the vocation undergirds all we undertake because it becomes the essence of what and who we are in God’s eye.
As the late Blessed John Paul II had said, in the light of modern day evangelisation, we all need to be real disciples of Christ. We need to be competent in our professional fields and we are charged to change the world from within. This was told to the church more than thirty years ago. We might then ask ourselves if we combine well the contemplative and the apostolic life while living in the world. Do we truly put God first in our lives and everything else second?
Our Lord Jesus has given us so many counsels. Do we put them into practice? To live simply (poverty), chastely (chastity)and discerningly (obedience). Do we bring the Good News of Christ everywhere? We are to share in the church’s task of evangelisation simply by a “life perfectly and entirely consecrated to… sanctification,” that is, to strive for holiness. As leaven in the world, we are to change from within. We begin with our own lives. We work with the power of love “to order temporal things according to God and inform the world with the power of the gospel.” (Pius XII, Provida Mater; cf. PC 11)