"Tradition tells us that Anne de Xainctonge asked her superior and friend, Claudine de Boisset, to burn her personal writings after her death. As a result, the only writings that have been passed down to us are those that concern the entire group. These writings insist on discussions among the members of the group. And so it is, that the only written words of Anne de Xainctonge that we have today tell us to speak, to communicate with one another, and pass on the message."
-Marie-Amelie le Bourgeois, SU
Go Out To Serve: The Company of Saint Ursula of Anne de Xainctonge
Our Spiritual Rootedness
Our SU spirituality is both Incarnational and Trinitarian. It is deeply rooted in our relationship with Jesus Christ who reveals himself to us through the Eucharist, Scripture and one another. We grow in our knowledge and love of Christ by contemplating him in his humanity, walking on the roads of our world. It is through the witness of our lives consecrated to Jesus Christ that we desire to make him known and loved.
For Anne there was a spirit of openness, a readiness to move into fields afar. "By nature my birthplace is Dijon, by grace I belong to the church which is one throughout the world. The whole world is my home." (Binet) "Fields afar" for us is our work with and among people, especially the poor. It is the ever-present call to move beyond, to break down walls of exclusion and alienation through our persistent work for justice and peace. We are called to promote reverence and respect for all creation. It is our way of participating in God's boundless creativity. Fundamental values are not static. Non-cloister is our stance toward life.
Our lives are centered in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the privileged place of Communion where the many become one. As Ursules, we receive the gift of internationality. We find in the Eucharist our source of unity and strength as we are sent forth. It is the body and blood of Christ that creates the bond of our solidarity with one another in the midst of the diversity of our cultures and place. All other ways of sharing, of celebrating, of community life are means to enter into this communion beyond borders.
Each sister, as a full member of the Society, shares in the responsibility for the quality of our life together in whatever form it may be. Our lives are marked by simplicity: lifestyle, celebrations, leisure, and mutual sharing. In a world imbued with consumerism, we must be discerning in our choices. Anne thought of life in community as a life always at the service of the apostolic vocation. (Constitutions 47) Community makes possible apostolic spirituality and service but not merely in a functional or practical sense. It is apostolic in the deeper sense that the common sharing of our apostolic commitment forms and interiorly energizes the community.
Our Way of Being
Recognizing the uniqueness of every person, we desire to accept and respect each one. This requires being attentive to meet people where they are and to be respectful of their own rhythm. A spirit of hospitality permeating the quality of our presence invites the other to feel "at home." Human warmth and a confidence in others, which helps them to grow, are a part of our heritage as Sisters of St. Ursula.
We see education as vital, dynamic, and a significant part of our charism. We will not be sisters of Anne de Xainctonge without it. Our manner of educating enables a person to appreciate and desire the deep values of life. We want to educate to freedom, to interior liberty, and to greater responsibility. We educate ourselves in order to educate others and thus carry on the charism of Anne. "You cannot enter the debate unless you have the language."
The Word in Art
The arts (literature, music, painting, dance, sculpture, photography, etc.) are primary transmitters of culture. It is the Word perceived in the eye and the ear reaching the heart that transforms us. Artistic creations express the depth and the oneness of our humanity. While art is ethnic by definition, when real it transcends all boundaries. The creations of the artistic imagination bring joy to life and evoke a deep spiritual authenticity. The Word is indeed made flesh.
Attachment to the church is one of the gifts of our charism. We care for and love the church for we recognize that "The Church is today the sacrament of salvation." (Constitutions 41) We also recognize that, as women, we must continue to strive to find our authentic voice in the church.
In The Path of Anne
We are called to live lives of discernment, we are called to find God in all things, we are called to manifest the "magis" in every aspect of our lives. Ignatius did not want to be a model, Anne did not want to be a model but she feminized Ignatian spirituality for us. We live an ongoing commitment to wanting what God wants, to welcome God's will with confidence each day of our lives.
Love of Mary
Mary always held a special place in the hearts of the sisters of Anne de Xainctonge. We look to Mary, as Anne did, with filial confidence and trust.
And so the message has been passed on! The old oak of our Society, which took root in the heart of a young woman in Dole, has grown and spread its branches across time, across continents and cultures. It is the same oak that has weathered the scars of age and is now sprouting leaves of hope and renewal into the third millennium.