Our Spirituality includes all the ways we meet God and God meets us:
in prayer and silence, in relationships and solitude, in joys and struggles, in peak moments and ordinary routines, in worship and work.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton adapted Vincent and Louise’s spirituality and way of service to the early 19th century Catholic Church in America. She founded the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland, in 1809 to offer “every service in their power” to meet the spiritual and material needs of those living in poverty. From the first pioneering schools, orphanages and hospitals, many other ministries have grown in response to the needs of today.
Integrated and Focused on Mission
“The Charity of Christ impels us!” (2 Cor. 5:14) Our founders were people of passion. They gave us a rich spiritual heritage that integrates prayer and action, contemplation and apostolic service.
We live an active, apostolic religious life. That means that we do not hold ourselves apart from our world, but rather we learn to find God in the midst of it, especially in the person in need. St. Vincent advised us to “leave God for God,” when the mission of charity requires.
The first Rule followed by the Sisters of Charity in America taught them to choose “no other monastery than the houses of the sick or the school rooms, no other cell than a hired room, no other chapel than the parish churches, no cloister but public streets or hospital rooms, no enclosure but obedience, no grate but the fear of God, no veil but that of holy modesty.” “Rule of 1812”
Charity Spirituality is “incarnational,” meaning practical, flesh-and-blood, expressed in concrete deeds. It emphasizes both affective and effective love, compassion and competence, prayer and service.
We can only learn to see with the eyes of Christ by fostering a reflective, contemplative stance toward life. We deepen our understanding of who God is and how God acts by daily reflection on our experience of life and ministry. Our reflection, in turn, moves us to ever more courageous and creative efforts on behalf of God’s people. Prayer draws on ministry; ministry draws on prayer.
“We must pray literally without ceasing …in every occurrence of our lives, you know I mean that prayer of the heart which is independent of place or situation. It is a habit of lifting up the heart to God, as in a constant communication with him.” – St. Elizabeth Seton
Our Spirituality Focuses on:
- Christ – The model of all charity, evangelizer of the poor, who invites us to share his mission.
- God, in ordinary experience – We seek to discover God’s presence and love in every aspect of our lives, even the most ordinary.
- God’s Providence – We trust that the present and future are in the hands of God who will give us what we need to do what must be done.
- Community – We are called to cherish each other, and we seek to meet with respect every person and every created being on Earth, our common home. We welcome diversity among us and beyond us as we widen the circle of belonging, making room at God’s table for everyone.
- Our role in the Church – We desire to participate actively, with all the baptized, in the life of Christ’s Body, the Church. We are convinced that women have a significant role in the church and in our world.
- Eucharist – We seek to embody Jesus’ model of self-giving love and presence in the Eucharist as central to our spirituality
These virtues or power mark our Charity spirituality:
- Humility – We seek to live in the truth that all we have and all we are is God’s gift.
- Simplicity – We seek to live unburdened by material possessions, keeping focused on what matters most: God’s love, Christ’s mission, and the needs of our time.
- Charity – We seek to embrace every person, especially the one who lives in poverty, as our neighbor, with a love that is “affective and effective.”
“What then is the spirit of the Sisters of Charity? It is the love of our Lord Jesus Christ; it is to love our Lord steadfastly and tenderly, and not only tenderly but effectively, because you serve the poor in body and soul.…The spirit of your community is to love our Lord and serve Him in a spirit of simplicity and humility.” St. Vincent de Paul