Writings from the Unabridged Rule of St Magdalene of Canossa

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Charity Towards God – Rule I

RULE I – Prayer

Prayer is the exercise by which the soul draws close to the Lord. By thus learning to know him in some way, she becomes ever more disposed, and enkindled with the desire, to love Him. Hence, in order to imitate Jesus Crucified who showed His love for the Fath­er in a special way by accepting death and death on the Cross, and in order to carry out more easily the first great Commandment of Charity, the Sisters are recommended the practice of Mental Prayer of the Heart, certainly not less than half an hour in the morn­ing and half an hour in the evening.

Saint Magdalene writes in the Preface to her Rule, “Since God Himself is Charity, being His Children, we owe Him a reverent, tender, filial love.” For her, this is the starting point for every Canossian Daughter of Charity, to come before the Lord in quiet prayer. She understood, if a Sister fails to spend time before the Lord, in prayer and contemplation of the love shown on the cross, “nothing would be achieved in our neighbors.” It is to this degree she saw the two precepts of charity – the love of God and love of neighbor – intertwined.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta confirms this need for prayer in her own experience of working with the poorest of the poor:  “Without prayer I could not work for even half an hour. I get my strength from God through prayer” (A Simple Path, M. Teresa of Calcutta, 1995).

Actually, Saint Magdalene wasn’t satisfied with the sisters having an hour of meditation a day; she thought the time was too little. She wanted her Daughters to have big hearts full of love, which comes from spending time before the King of Love. And only then, fueled by the Love found in prayer, is the Canossian properly ready to meet the needs of her brothers and sisters, loving them with the heart of Christ on the Cross.