Material That Might Be Helpful For MSC Chapter Reflections
Koinoia or Communio
Fr Chevalier Constitutions
The Heart of Jesus,
infinitely holy, perfectly pure, wants an irreproachable chastity in his
priests. The virginity of Mary gave
this adorable Heart to the world; the purity of
The vow of Chastity (1)
The Missionaries of our Society, by the vow of chastity, strive to keep their body and mind in angelic purity. Those who glory in the wonderful name of Missionaries of the most sacred and pure Heart of Jesus must neglect nothing in order to preserve this excellent virtue in its integrity before God and the world. Let them therefore carefully flee idleness, cultivate temperance in food and sobriety in drink, chastise their body and bring it into subjection, control their senses, especially their eyes. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. 2, n. 11; Formula Instituti Par. W, II, n. 11)
The vow of chastity (2)
All and sundry are earnestly requested and begged in the Lord, whose most sacred Heart shone with a divine purity, to make every effort that no one incur not only any stain of the contrary vice, but even the slightest suspicion of a stain. For such a suspicion, even if unjust, is more an obstacle to the Society and to its holy ministries . than any other crimes falsely imputed to us. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. 2, n. 4; Formula Instituti Par IV, II, n. 4)
CHAPTER VII. THE VOW AND VIRTUE OF CHASTITY.
64. By the vow of chastity a professed member binds himself to observe celibacy, and also, by a new obligation, namely, that of the vow itself, to abstain from every act contrary to chastity.
65. Those who rejoice in the glorious name of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus should leave nothing undone in order to keep this excellent virtue in its integrity before God and men.
66. In order to attain this more easily, let
them contemplate the most pure Heart of Jesus, have constant recourse to
prayer, and humbly beg the aid, especially of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, and
67. Let them be careful to avoid idleness, practise temperance in food and drink, chastise their body and bring it into subjection, and curb all their senses, particularly their eyes.
68. Ever diffident of their own strength, let them avoid the company of women, abstain from all familiarity with them, guard against their useless visits, and frivolous conversations, taking account especially of the circumstances of place and time. To receive them, there should be, outside the cloister, a common parlour which can be seen into from without.
69. The members are absolutely forbidden to employ women in their workrooms, gardens, or domestic service of any kind, or to receive them within the house.
70. Each and all are entreated in the Lord, Whose Most Sacred Heart shines with Divine Purity, to avoid, with all their strength, contracting not only any blemish of the contrary vice, but even the slightest suspicion of such a blemish.
71. In order that such an evil may be
absolutely warded off, the members must strive by every means, even
extraordinary ones if necessary. Therefore, if anything, no matter how good
and holy it may be, is likely, according to the judgment of the
42. To build up the body of Christ, the Spirit enriches the Church with different charisms. Through a gift of the Spirit, we are called to follow Jesus in his mission and to live that form of love which is consecrated celibacy.
43. By professing celibacy, we consecrate ourselves to God in order to love him with a free and undivided heart, and to love our brothers and sisters as Jesus did. By this vow, we bind ourselves, for the sake of the Kingdom, to forgo marriage and to observe perfect chastity.
44. Our consecrated celibacy is a commitment to grow in emotional maturity towards the perfection of love found in the Heart of Christ. Mindful that celibacy touches the depths of the human person, each member will recognize that he needs prudence and self-discipline, a deepening faith and prayer life, if he is to remain faithful to the commitment he has made.
45. The community will strive to create an atmosphere in which each member can give himself more generously to the Lord in celibate love, for the building up of his Kingdom both within the community and among the people he serves. Community life, commitment to mission and a healthy asceticism will help us to live celibacy fruitfully and honestly.
Convinced of the love of Jesus, we will not be afraid to live this form of solitude which God alone can fill.
Fr Chevalier Constitutions
The vow of obedience (2)
In honour of the obedience that Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us when he willed to be subject to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and to dignitaries and authorities, whomsoever they might be, both the good and the difficult, we will obey exactly each and everyone placed over us, seeing them in the Lord and the Lord in them. By this vow each promises full submission of himself to his superiors for the sake of God. whose representative they are. In order that obedience be perfect: in our heart, it should be humble and without reserve; in our intellect, simple and in a certain sense blind; in execution, prompt, joyful, thorough. Perfect obedience should always be ready to obey not only in things that oblige in conscience but in everything, even the smallest things, especially those that distress nature and oppose one's own judgement and self-will, provided no sin is apparent in them. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. 3, n. 4; Formula Instituti Par. W, III, n. 1)
The vow of obedience (3)
Those who enter our Society may perhaps suffer others to surpass them in learning, in mortification, in poverty, however they will not allow themselves to be outdone by anybody in obedience and mutual charity. In that way they will show themselves to be genuine sons of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, who submitted himself with remarkable humility to all with whom he lived and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, although he was God and King of Kings. He is no way possesses this genuine obedience who far from seeking to conform his will to his Superior's tries, on the contrary, either directly or indirectly, to bring the Superior to will what he wills; this is to invert the order of divine Wisdom and to delude oneself. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. 3, nn. 71; Formula Instituti Par. IV, III, n. 4fJ
The vow of obedience (4)
When a subject
judges before God that the command of a
CHAPTER VIII. THE VOW AND THE VIRTUE OF OBEDIENCE.
72. By the vow of obedience the members take
upon themselves the obligation of obeying their lawful
73. They are obliged to obey by virtue of
their vow when a lawful
74. Rarely, cautiously, and prudently, and
only for a grave reason, with a view to the particular or general good,
should Superiors command in virtue of holy obedience. It is expedient at
times to communicate this formal precept in writing or in the presence of two
witnesses. Moreover, this is necessary in order that the command may be
enforced judicially, and retain its force even when the
75. Bearing in mind the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who became obedient unto to death for us, let all, heartily and willingly, commit themselves to the will of Superiors who have dominative power over their subjects, and let them obey as Christ, Our Lord, not only Superiors, but also officials of every rank in all things pertaining to their office,
76. In order that this obedience may be perfect, it should be humble and simple; prompt in carrying out orders; cheerful and complete; and ever intent on obeying, not only in those matters which oblige in conscience, but also in other matters, especially those which are burdensome and contrary to one's own judgment and self will, provided they contain nothing sinful.
77. All should be convinced that one cannot be said to be .truly obedient, if, in order to suit his own convenience, he endeavours either directly or indirectly to conform the Superior's will to his own, for by this way of acting, order is entirely upset, and man is wont to deceive himself.
78. If, however, a subject should judge before God, that the command of his Superior rests upon a false supposition, and should prudently fear that the carrying out of the command would prove harmful, let him humbly and with a pure intention inform his Superior, being disposed at the same time to abide by his decision, leaving all to God, Whose place the Superiors hold.
79. When anyone is refused a request by his
80. In order that the Society may advance more easily and more rapidly in perfection, let each member be content with his office and place; let him be slow to ask,' and ever ready to serve; shunning all complaint, let him, if he thinks anything necessary, inform the Superiors with simplicity.
81. Let no one leave or hand over to another
the care of anything or any office entrusted to him, nor interfere with the
duties of others, nor presume to enter a place reserved for the work of
another without the permission of the
82. The letters which the members either
write or receive must be given to the
83. The Superiors may not permit their subjects to live outside a house of the Society except for a grave and just reason, and then only for the time that is necessary. If absence is extended beyond six months, except in the case of studies, permission of the Holy See is required.
84. Travelling should be regulated in accordance with both poverty and obedience as regards time, conveyance and route. When travelling, members should avoid, as far as possible, staying with lay people.
85. Let no one leave the house without
permission of the
86. The members are to have nothing printed without the permission of Major Superiors. Those who write or translate books may not publish them without the express approbation and permission of the Ordinary and Provincial Superior.
38. Jesus became obedient out of love; he even gave his life to accomplish his Father's will. We profess obedience to share in his spirit of obedience, that we may serve better our brothers and share more deeply in the mission of our Society and the Church.
39. By professing
obedience, we commit ourselves to seek and accept the will of God in the life
and mission of the Society. By this vow, we bind
ourselves to obey the orders of our lawful Superiors in all that concerns the
Constitutions. We are bound in a special way when a
40. It is in communion with our brothers that we seek to discover the will of God. We bind ourselves to live and act always within that communion and to practice obedience in mutual charity. We bring into the community whatever gifts nature and grace have given us, and put them at the service of Christ and the People of God.
41. The community will endeavour, to the best of its ability, to strengthen each member in his response to God's will for him, both in what he should personally become and in what he should do for God and for his brothers.
98. The Society needs clear norms of government to accomplish its mission and to help each member grow in his vocation. These norms should enable all members to exercise their responsibility for promoting the life and mission of the Society.
99. Authority in the Society should be understood in the light of our charism and spirit. Consequently government and structures should promote unity and a sense of belonging to the Society. Superiors and all who share in authority should support the spiritual and human growth of the members so that the Society can carry out its mission effectively. Each member, imitating him who came to serve and not to be served, should be mindful of his responsibility as an individual and as a member of community. Finally, all should be convinced of the need for open and fraternal dialogue, putting into practice the principles of subsidarity and co-responsibility.
100. S. Authority in our communities recognizes that each member brings his particular talents and gifts to be placed at the service of others and of the mission of the Society. Hence, authority will be exercised in the light of the following general principles.
101. S. Subsidiarity: A higher authority allows subordinate authorities to act freely within the sphere of their competence. This ensures that decisions are taken on the level where they can be made in a responsible fashion. This also creates an atmosphere in which the members are enabled to accept and affirm the exercise of authority more readily. While always having an active, advisory and supporting function, a higher authority will intervene only when necessary. The higher authority, with the consent of his Council, has the right and the duty of judging when intervention is necessary and how it is to be done in an effective and supportive manner.
102. S. Co-responsibility: A genuine acceptance of subsidarity challenges members to assume responsibility for fostering the life and mission of the Society and for promoting common goals. This presumes that adequate means of communication exist to ensure a free flow of information concerning goals and objectives between authority and the members and vice versa. Authority should be exercised in such a way that this sense of co-responsibility is promoted. Superiors will foster dialogue and encourage members to be part of the decision making process, especially those directly affected by the decision. For their part, the members will enter into dialogue with sincerity, accepting responsibility for their contributions to the decisions. They will faithfully support and carry out the decisions taken,
103. S. Accountability: The notion of accountability is implied in the principles of subsidiarity and co-responsibility. In various ways, we are accountable to each other for the decisions and apostolic choices we make, for our use of material and community goods and for our fidelity to prayer and the spiritual life. Government too is accountable in various ways and degrees to those whom it serves. It will open itself to periodic review in order to ensure as great a unanimity of mind and heart as possible. Structures for such reviews will be established by Provincial Chapters.
104. S. To govern
means above all to give life and unity to a community. A close communion of
the various levels of government is necessary in order to animate and
coordinate our common life and mission, and to provide necessary
administration and services. An important aspect of the
General Structures of Authority
105. §1. All members share the same religious life and are dedicated to the same mission according to the gifts each has received from the Spirit. The Church has approved our evangelical lifestyle and our mission as an authentic expression of religious life. It has recognized us as a clerical Institute of pontifical right with true autonomy of life, especially of government.
Since we are dedicated in a special way to the service of God and of the universal Church, in the spirit of our Founder we accept the authority of the Holy Father, even in virtue of our vow of obedience.
Since the life and mission proper to the Society needs to be inserted into the local Church, we need when making decisions to take into account the proper authority of Bishops, in keeping with our Constitutions.
106. Superiors possess authority in the Society in accordance with Canon Law and the laws of the Society.
107. Superiors exercise their authority in three areas: the direction of our mission and apostolic works, the government of persons, and the administration of temporal goods.
108. Before taking
up his task, a
109. In order that a formal command of a Superior may be enforced juridically and retain its force even when the Superior who gave the command is no longer in office, it is to be communicated through letter by registered post or in the presence of two witnesses.
110. When a
Fr Chevalier Constitutions
The vow of poverty
Obliged by this vow not to use things as his private property, but only as things on loan, the use of which can be taken away from him at any moment by the Superior, the Missionary will detach his heart from all these possessions, and his delight will be in holy poverty, after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, his leader and model. With regard to clothing, let him avoid anything that gives an impression of expense, affectation and worldliness. (Regles 1855, p. 45)
The vow of poverty (1)
Let all love
poverty as a mother; use nothing as their own; and suffer willingly to be
given the worst things in the house. They shall not give away or receive,
loan or borrow anything, or make requests from outside, unless the
The vow of poverty (2)
That poverty might flourish in our Society let each diligently and attentively take care lest the least ambition enter his heart, and let him seek no church benefice or honour under whatever pretext. In the name of Jesus Christ, the King of the poor, let all practise poverty, as understood in our Society, sincerely and with utmost diligence. They will achieve this effectively if they keep in mind the great and innumerable benefits to be found in it, and how severely God will punish those who mitigate by legislation this bulwark of religious discipline without an Apostolic Indult, and open the way for every abuse and vice to invade the Society. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. I, n. 9f; Formula Instituti Par. IV, I, n. 9f)
Concerning temporal goods (1)
Although it would be desirable that the Society, devoid of temporal goods, should trust in divine Providence alone, nevertheless for several reasons, it has seemed in God that it should be allowed to have some possessions or certain fixed revenues for the upkeep of its members. But the members of the Institute must keep in mind that from a too great abundance of temporal goods and from a corrupt use of them, very often many of those evils arise which throughout history have plunged religious Societies, little by little, to their ruin. It is therefore supremely necessary that these goods be administered as they should be, wisely and in a religious spirit, according to the norms of charity and poverty. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. XI, n. 1f)
Concerning temporal goods (2)
In the administration of temporal goods the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart should always be mindful of what Society they belong to and be careful to edify, in word and deed, those with whom they do business. They should keep them on good terms with themselves and with the Society, for the greater glory of God and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If in business matters some difficulty should arise, either from relatives of some Missionary of the Sacred Heart or from others, whoever they may be, let them cede their rights rather than charity; for peace and a good reputation are worth more than gold. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Ch. XI, n. 3)
51. By the simple vow of poverty, the members renounce the right to dispose lawfully of any temporal thing without the permission of legitimate Superiors.
52. Before the profession of temporary vows, the novices must cede, for the whole period during which they will be bound by their vows, the administration of their property to whomsoever they wish, and dispose freely of its use and usufruct, even if they wish, in favour of the Society.
53. In the same manner the members can, and must, notwithstanding their profession, hand over the administration, and freely dispose of the use and usufruct of those goods which come to them by any lawful title after profession.
54. These acts cannot be revoked, or even changed, whilst the vows last, without the permission of the Superior General.
55. The transfer of administration and the disposal of the use and usufruct loses its force by departure from the Society.
56. The Professed retain radical ownership of their property and the capacity to acquire other property. They may not abdicate gratuitously the dominion over their property by a voluntary deed of conveyance (per actum inter vivos).
57. Before the first profession the Members shall freely dispose by will of all the property they actually possess or may subsequently possess. They may not change this will without the permission of the Holy See, or if the case be urgent and time does not admit of recourse to the Holy See, without the permission of the higher Superior, or if recourse cannot be had to him either, without the permission of the Local Superior.
58. After profession, whatever the religious, whether subjects or Superiors, receive by way of gift, or acquire by their own work, or on account of the Society, by virtue of, or on the occasion of, their ministry, they may not take or keep as a personal gift, but must add to the goods of the community for the benefit of the house or Society.
59. As regards furniture, food, and clothing, let all things in the Society be in common. It is fitting, however, that clothing of a strictly personal nature should be reserved for the use of each one.
60. As to those goods which are owned by the
Society, and which are destined for the use of the members, let them take
nothing as their own, use nothing as their own, injure or destroy nothing.
Let no one receive anything for himself from others, or give anything to
others, or transfer anything with him from one house to another without the
permission of the
61. Whatever the members use should be in keeping with poverty; hence they should have nothing superfluous, nothing that savours of luxury as regards dwelling, food, clothing, travelling and such like.
62. In order to strive after more perfect poverty, let the members sincerely love this virtue, keep their hearts free from all inordinate desire of earthly things, be quite satisfied with what is necessary, refrain from seeking their own comfort, and bear at least patiently with whatever inconveniences poverty may entail.
63. In the name of Jesus Christ, Who, being rich, became poor for our sakes, let all practise most faithfully this great virtue, and often ponder upon the great benefits it affords, and how severely the Lord will punish those who pull down this bulwark of religious discipline and make a breach through which every abuse and vice can invade the Society.
6. With our Founder, we contemplate Jesus Christ, united to his Father with bonds of love and trust. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave thanks to his Father for having revealed himself to little ones; for he was his Servant, deeply involved with the poor and with sinners. In the words of Father Chevalier, "He was happy to pour out the tenderness of his Heart on little ones and on the poor, on those who suffer and on sinners, on all the miseries of humanity. The sight of any misfortune moved his Heart with compassion."
7. In Jesus we see the Good Shepherd who goes in search of those who are lost, who knows his own and gives his life to save them. He shows us the Father's deep concern for those who are considered unimportant and whose rights are disregarded.
We learn from him who is gentle and humble of heart, who eases our burdens and gives us rest. He also makes demands and speaks with authority. To those who come to him, he gives his own strength and courage to help them live and work for justice and peace.
Jesus obeyed his Father's will and became the servant of his brothers and sisters, even dying for them; but his death was his victory. Through it, God made him Lord, the first-born of a new People. He is the Risen One, who casts out fear in order to deepen our faith and love.
9. When he laid down his life, when his side was opened, he gave us his Spirit, who pours love into our hearts and gives us the will to serve. Looking on him who was pierced, we see the new Heart that God has given us, an inexhaustible source of life.
10. As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, we live our faith in the Father's love revealed in the Heart of Christ.
We want to be like Jesus who loved with a human heart; we want to love through him and with him, and to proclaim his love to the world.
11. Jesus is the perfect model of our consecrated life; his love is our inspiration and driving force. Therefore, our life and apostolate will be marked by a sincere and fervent love of the Incarnate Word. This love will urge us constantly to share the sentiments of the Heart of Christ.
12. Following the example of Jesus, we will strive to lead others to God with kindness and gentleness, to unite them to him by love and to free them from fear. Trusting in God's grace, we will be ready, if necessary, to lay down our lives for them.
13. The spirit of our Society is one of love and kindness, humility and simplicity; it is, above all, one of love for justice and concern for all, especially the very poor.
14. As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, we must be convinced of the necessity of a deep interior life that is open to the Holy Spirit, so that we may grow in faith and knowledge of the mystery revealed in the Heart of Christ. This will give us the strength to remain faithful to the mission and spirit of the Society.
15. The pierced Heart of Christ is the sign of the incarnate love of God. For this reason, devotion to the Sacred Heart, as understood by the Church, is devotion to the love with which God has loved us in Jesus Christ. At the same time, it expresses our love for God and for our neighbour. Faithful to the spirit of our Founder, we will give this devotion a special place in our spirituality and in Our apostolate.
16. We believe in God's love offered to the world but so often rejected by sin. By offering our lives with Jesus, we share in his redemptive work and we complete in ourselves what is lacking in his sufferings on behalf of his body, the Church.
17. In and through the Eucharist, God renews his Covenant with us and we renew the gift of ourselves to him. Faithful to our tradition, we acknowledge that this sacrament is central to our life of faith. It is the source of fraternal love and of apostolic life.
18. Because Mary is intimately united to the mystery of her Son's Heart, we pray to her, as our Founder did, using the title, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She has known the unfathomable riches of Christ; her whole being was filled with his love; she leads us to him, pointing to his Heart, the source of boundless love that gives birth to a new world.
19. We also honour
(Nico Tromp, msc)
Our New Constitutions and the Return to Scripture (Jan G. Bovenmars, msc)
Ubique Terrarum: The New Heart in Every Place (Frank Fletcher, msc)
THE SPIRIT OF THE MSC
The Spirit of the Congregation.
"Spirit" in this context refers to the mentality which is the source of our efforts,
the inspiration that urges us on,
the motor that keeps us moving.
"The love of Christ does not leave us in peace",
or more actively: "The love of Christ urges us" (2Cor 5:14).
A comparison of this chapter about the spirit of the congregation in the Constitutions of 1923 (=I)
and those of 1984 (=II)
may help us discover how the legislative body of that time
and the recent one understood that spirit.
Both in I and II the first chapter treats the Name and Purpose of the congregation;
the second chapter treats its Spirit.
The place remains the same;
the opinions about the function of the spirit remain the same:
there is a close connection between the purpose
and the spirit in which we strive after that purpose.
The activities are carried by the spirit;
the spirit is incanated in the activities.
Size and presentation
The first striking difference between the two chapters is their size.
In 1923 the second chapter covers numbers 6-11 in two pages;
in 1984 it covers numbers 6-19 in almost five pages.
This is not fully explained by the difference in the way the text is presented:
the lines of the 1923 text cover the whole space between the two margins,
while those of 1984 are presented as
short units of thought or breath. Actually
II does this only in Part One: Spirit, Life and
not in Part Two, called "Members".
It is difficult to describe the difference between these two parts.
Part One clearly belongs in the first place
and is more fundamental.
It presents statements of principle,
which are the basis of the whole institution.
Part II is more practical.
We could say that the first part is somewhat poetical:
it presents deep thoughts and should be read out in a stately manner,
in short phrases.
Each word counts and has its full significance.
The 1923 version does not have that difference;
its Part II is not called "Members" as in 1984,
but "About the Govemment of the Society",
and from the beginning to the end it is prose.
In version II the graphic form of Part One suggests a quiet balance;
its presentation in short units leaves more white in the printing area of each page
and hence suggests that there is space, space to breathe, space to rest,
space to contemplate, space for personal thoughts.
Its presentation is not dictated by utility and businesslike functionalism
but rather by silence which is a form of openness and respectful gravity.
The text does not look like a coercive bodice
but like a space in which a person can unfold.
A new approach
A second difference is that the new Constitutions offer accompanying texts,
quotation from the gospel of
another from his first letter,
and four statements from the writings of Father Chevalier.
Without entering into the content of these texts we can say
that this fact is in line with what we just said.
Version II is more contemplative,
it is more an inspiring kind of text;
it invites to meditation and thus becomes a book of life;
it does not merely give information
but serves also as an inspiring guide.
Version I goes straight to the point:
the title of Chapter II announces that this is a chapter about the spirit of the Society
and so it speaks immediately about that theme.
This spirit is described as our own characteristic,
as a property which distinguishes the members of this community from others.
It determines the form of our life and is proper to it.
"Quasi propria nora distinguatur et informetur (vita sodalium)":
differentiation and determination of the form.
Version II is different.
It starts with four paragraphs in which Jesus is central.
It presents a kind of spiritual biography of our Lord,
thus clearly expressing after whom the spirit of our congregation
In this spirituality a living person is the beginning and the end.
"I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end" (Apoc 21:6).
This approach is lacking in version I
but is well developed in version II.
It runs from number 6 to 9, thus comprising four paragraphs.
Jesus is seen first of all in his relationship with the Father and the Spirit.
He is "united to his Father" to whom he "gave thanks",
and "filled with the Holy Spirit".
Both are mentioned again, respectively in number 8
where Jesus "obeyed his Father's will",
and 9, where it is said that Jesus "gave us his Spirit".
This trinitarian dimension is not found in the older version;
in version 11 it is treated in the context of the person of Jesus (n. 6)
and of his relationship to us (n. 8-9;
"We live our faith in the Father's love revealed in the Heart of Christ", n. 10).
In this way the central dogma of the holy triune God
is succinctly expressed.
The personality of Jesus himself is characterized by a few titles.
He is the "servant" of the Father,
a title which makes us think of the servant of whom second Isaiah speaks;
he is called the "servant of his brothers and sisters" (n. 8; cf. Mark 10:45)
in a context in which he is presented as "the good shepherd" (n. 7+8),
in line with Jn 10.
He is the "Risen One"
for whom we should not look among the dead (Luke 24:5).
From our side contact with him is made
by "contemplation" (n. 6),
by "leaming from him" (n. 7)
and by "looking on him" (n. 9).
In the second part of this chapter
these cognitive activities result in imitation.
Imitation is expressed by the words
"We want to be like Jesus" (n. 10);
"Jesus is the perfect model (n. 11);
"Following the example of Jesus" (n. 12).
The theme of imitation is common to both version I and II.
The old Constitutions express the idea in n. 6 with the words:
love moves us "ad sensus... Sacratissimi Cordis induendos",
"to put on the sentiments of the Sacred Heart".
In that sense Jesus is called "perfectionis exemplar" in n. 7,
and we do our utmost to live as his "true disciples",
"boni Pastoris vestigia sequentes" (n. 8).
In our way of living the Sacred Heart devotion
the accent is clearly on imitation
rather than on adoration or reparation.
In that sense our Sacred Heart devotion has a practical-apostolic character.
By putting the same accent
the new Constitutions clearly remain faithful to the spirit of the earlier tradition;
we clearly find here an essential dimension of the existence of the Congregation.
The main difference is that version II
starts with a detailed image of the personality of Jesus as found in Matthew 11
and in the fourth gospel.
In version I, as we said,
we find practically nothing that corresponds to it.
Of the titles we mentioned we find here
only the "good shepherd" in whose track we should follow (n. 8),
and further the titles "Salvator" (n. 8)
and "Christus Dominus", "Christ the Lord" (n. 7; 8; 9).
Here we find an interesting point.
Text II calls Jesus once the servant of the Father
and once "servant of his brothers and sisters",
but never "Lord".
Thus we are reminded of what Jesus said after the washing of the feet:
"You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am.
If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet,
you should wash each other's feet." (Jn 13: 130.
Text I puts the accent on Jesus as Lord;
text II avoids this title and stresses Jesus' service.
This is, of course, a difference of accent.
In version I Jesus is "meek and humble of heart" (8),
the good Shepherd (8);
in version II
he occupies a unique place in the relationship
between the triune God and humankind.
That the new text,
more clearly than the old one,
shows Jesus in his humanity,
in his nearness to us,
should be clear by now.
Authority and obedience
The old text presents Jesus as the one who has divine authority
and this idea is then further applied to other human leaders:
"Omnibus, tum ecclesiasticis tum civilibus praepositis .... subditi erunt" (n. 9).
Number 10 develops this idea especially with regard to the Bishop of Rome.
To him we owe "the highest respect and obedience",
for he is "the Vicar of Christ the Lord on earth".
Number 11 prescribes the same attitude with regard to the bishops.
In this chapter of the new version
we do not find a word about obedience to authority figures;
our duty to obey the Pope and the bishops is treated
in Part III, "Organization", n. 105.
The bishops keep of course their place in the Church,
but we note two changes.
Firstly, authority is not treated any more in the chapter
about the spirit of the Congregation;
it is no longer treated as an aspect of the basic attitude
which characterizes the MSC
and distinguishes us from others;
it is not considered any more
as a source of inspiration and engagement.
Secondly, ecclesiastical authority is presented in more sober language,
This change must be seen in the context of the new view of the meaning
of authority in church and society;
it is a theme by itself.
The poor and justice
Maybe we could say that this new appreciation of authority
finds its counterpart in the new attention for the poor.
The poor are prominent in the text.
In n. 6 they are called "the little ones", "the poor and the sinners";
n. 7 speaks of "those who are considered unimportant and whose rights are disregarded";
n. 23:"the very poor".
This attention for the poor, also called "a preferential option",
became common in the church during the days after Vatican II
and is certainly a fruit of the theology of liberation.
In this context the Constitutions take up again the reference to Jn 10:15
where Jesus as good shepherd declares that he even gives his life for his flock.
Version I made a reference to the good shepherd
to underline the readiness to give one's life for the sheep (n. 8).
Version II refers to this theme in n. 7;
in n. 8 where Jesus is the servant, "dying for his brothers and sisters";
in n. 9 "when he laid down his life",
while n. 12 applies it to the MSC:
"We will be ready, if necessary, to lay down our lives for them".
At the time of the General Chapter during which this text was written
the authors were actually thinking of our confreres
literally gave their lives for the liberation of the poor in
Gaspar Garcia Laviana and others.
The connection with the theology of liberation is clear.
That is why the text does not merely speak of the traditional mercy (II:6),
but also of "justice".
First in II: 7 which must be quoted entirely:
"To those who come to him, he gives his own strength and courage
to help them live and work for justice and peace".
It is to be noted that here the poor
become the subjects of their own liberation.
They take themselves seriously
and thereby already stand for their own rights.
For that is what it is about;
about people '"whose rights are disregarded" (II:7).
A second time justice is mentioned where it is said:
"The spirit of our Society is one... of love for justice and concern for all,
especially the very poor" (II: 13).
Another new phenomenon in version II
not merely related to the situation of
but also to the problems of the rich west:
In a time of division, uncertainty and threats
fear has taken hold of many of us
and this leads to seeking security and certainty.
Fear is the great theme of the work of a man like Eugen Drewermann.
In connection with Matthew 8:18-27 he wrote:
"When Soren Kierkegaard read this
(i.e. that notwithstanding the storm Jesus was asleep in the boat)
he wrote in his joumal with trembling fingers:
'Only children and animals can do that: sleep in their fear.
And the Son of God can do it too. What about us?'
We may add: 'And whom do we call Son of God?'
Exactly the one who can do this.
He forgets all fear, apparently he does not know any fear.
He sleeps, in a boat during a violent storm.
He is surrounded by the hands of God and by nothing else."
And in another place:
"What else does faith mean than to walk on the water of fear and death,
the eyes fixed on the Lord?"
The Constitutions refer to "the Risen One, who casts out fear" (n. 8)
and mention as our task, "to free them from fear" (n. 12).
This accent was inspired by words of John: "In love there can be no fear"(1Jn 4:18) but those words were known also in 1923.
The fact that they were quoted in 1984
reflects something of the spiritual climate of those days,
both in the third world and in the rich west.
The key texts
The elements that express the continuity in the congregation
are clearly marked.
In the old text eight words are printed in italics; only eight, no more.
That marks them as the deepest core of what the MSC congregation wants to be.
These words are: sincera semperque ferventi dilectione erga Cor Verbi Incanati (6).
In 1984 this was expressed as follows:
"Our life and apostolate will be marked
by a sincere and fervent love of the Incanate Word" (n. 11).
And both versions add
that this love will move us to share the sentiments of that Heart.
In the short text of version these words leap to the eye,
also because they are printed in italics,
more so than in the longer text of version II.
On the other hand the massive conformity of the two versions in this case
is all the more striking because in general
version II greatly differs from version I.
The second close resemblance is found in 1:8.
We read there that we want to live as disciples of him
who declared to be meek and humble of heart
and that "we should convince people
that the yoke of the loving Saviour is easy and his burden light."
The text continues saying that we will follow the example of the Good Shepherd
by attracting his sheep with goodness and draw them with bonds of love.
Number 7 of version II starts with the image of Jesus as the good shepherd
and continues as follows: "We leam from him who is gentle and humble of heart,
who eases our burdens and gives us rest".
To avoid any resemblance of softness and woolliness
the text adds that he "speaks with authority".
But here too we find subtle differences.
The new version not only avoids capitals,
both in the case of personal pronouns
and in the case of titles such as 'the good shepherd',
and omits titles like 'amantissimi Salvatoris';
but also as to its content it puts different accents.
One important difference of accent should be further investigated.
Though version II is quite long
it did not adopt much from n. 7 of the old text.
That number stresses renunciation of the world
and of one's own glory.
This attitude is not presented as conducive to apostolate,
almost to the contrary:
"Though they must always be ready for any ministry
they should wish to remain unknown and as it were hidden in the world".
This poverty, modesty, simplicity, this contempt of the world
are rather presented as a form of glorifying God:
"soli Deo placere studebunt".
It is difficult to make a statement
about something that is not said by the new Constitutions
but apparently the renunciation of the world has been replaced
by acceptance of the world.
This positive attitude,
a grateful acceptance of God's gifts,
can equally well be a form of giving glory to God.
In practice, the earlier attitude was lived sometimes
in a way which did not benefit the people
nor their engagement for the sake of the kingdom.
The idea that academic degrees detracted from the glory due to God
did certainly not influence the work of our confreres positively.
between the renunciation of the world and of one's own glory
and the social development of the Catholics.
Since the middle of this century studies at a university
are no longer seen as something exceptional,
and this is also a form of democratisation.
It is striking that the new version
does not have a counterpart of the old text about renunciation of the world
and of one's own glory.
Equally striking is the fact that when humility and simplicity are mentioned,
it is in a pastoral context (II: 13).
The importance of this number is clear from the opening words:
"The spirit of our Society". We read there:
"The spirit of our Society
is one of love and kindness, humility and simplicity;
it is, above all, one of love for justice
and concern for all, especially the poor."
The new text is clearly more inspired by the bible than the old one.
In version I that inspiration is most clear in n. 8
which alludes to Matthew 11 (gentle and humble; the easy yoke),
to Jn 10 (the good shepherd who gives his life)
and to Hosea 11 (the strings of love).
As to 1:7 we can state that the bible does not speak of renouncing the world;
it does refer to the dangers of worldly desires (Lk 8:14)
and the relativity of terrestrial values is mentioned
("But because of Christ, I have come to consider
all these advantages that I had as disadvantages", Phil 3:7).
On the other hand, from Psalm 104:15
we have leamed to accept bread and wine gratefully;
as I Tm 4:4 puts it:
"Everything God has created is good, and no food is to be rejected,
provided grace is said for it".
And we realize that the earth has been entrusted to us to cultivate it and take care of it (Gensis 2)
creation is to be taken seriously,
the world is to be christianized and humanized, society needs salt and light.
The bible certainly does not encourage us to seek our own glory
("wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting", Mt 6: 18;
"nor have we ever looked for any special flattery from men" 1Ths 2:6).
But massive statements as in 1:7 are not found in Scripture.
The text of 1984 contains more or less explicit quotations
from Isaiah 53 (the Servant),
from Hosea 11:4 (the strings of love, n. 12);
from Mt 11:25-30 (including the poor and the little ones),
Jn 7:39 and 19:34.37 (the pierced heart, source of living water, of the Spirit;
looking on the one they have pierced);
Jn 10:11 (the good shepherd who gives his life);
2Cor 5:14 ("The love of Christ is our driving force", II: 11;
Phil 2 ("In your minds you must be the same.."; "the condition of the servant";
"obedient unto death");
I Jn 4:16 ("We have put our faith in God's love", II:16)
I Jn 4:18 ("In love there can be no fear", II:8.12).
The fact that the central statements of the older version,
those about love and about imitation,
are quoted almost literally in the new version
proves that a comparison between the two texts is not only possible
but even necessary.
For this conformity shows that
the new text was consciously made similar to the old one;
the two versions are in dialogue with each other,
hence we can discover not only the similarities
but also the differences.
And via the differences
we can find out the meaning of the new text.
The comparison presented here has of course its limitations
and should not be considered as an exhaustive analysis.
Still some important lines became visible
which give us some insight into the meaning of the new text of 1984.
A striking difference is the fact that
in the new text the chapter about the spirit
opens with a detailed sketch of the life of Jesus Christ;
which has the character of a program.
It is significant that not our attitudes occupy the first place,
that not some abstract ideal is presented
but a living Person.
Jesus is seen in his relationship with the Father and the Spirit.
And he is shown in this chapter about the spirit of the institute.
In other words we are inspired by him,
he is the inspiring factor in our life as MSC.
How can we let ourselves be inspired by him?
The answer is:
by contemplation and imitation.
Imitation was mentioned also in version I, n. 6,
in the words about appropriating the sentiments of Jesus' heart,
and in n. 8:
"boni Pastoris vestigia sequentes",
but this aspect has been further elaborated in version II
and the personality of Jesus is presented in the first place
and in a more explicit way.
This suggests that all initiative comes from Him.
"Prior dilexit nos", "He loved us first" (IJn 4: 10.19);
"You did not choose me, no, I chose you" (Jn 15: 16).
The words of 1:6 about the sincere and always fervent love to Jesus' Heart
are adopted by II: 11,
but after the detailed portrait of Jesus in nn. 6-9
they appear in a different light;
now they sound more clear and concrete.
They are now more convincing.
So we see that the basic motives of version I are found again in version II
but they sound differently after the sketch of Jesus' life.
The ecclesiastical authorities as representatives of the Lord
withdraw into the background in the context of the spirit;
their place is taken by Jesus himself
and by those with whom he identifies himself in Mt 25,
the little ones and the poor whom he calls his brothers and sisters.
They were not mentioned in version I,
but in version II several times.
This means that Jesus is less seen at a distance;
he comes nearer to us.
The same is suggested by a more sober use of capitals
and by toning down the old, exuberant terms
('Sacratissimi Cordis sensus'; 'amantissimi Salvatoris iugum';
This difference of accent
could be connected with the theology of liberation
which makes itself felt in the attention for justice,
in the option for the poor
and in the readiness to defend them at the expense of one's own life.
Also the fact that fear/anxiety is mentioned
reveals sensitivity for the evils of our time.
That the apostolate plays another role than in the past
is shown by the way the content of I:7 has been translated in the new text;
humility and simplicity are mentioned
but in a way fitting in with the apostolic virtues,
while renunciation of the world
and of one's own glory for the sake of the glory of God
is simply not mentioned anymore.
The biblical inspiration,
which is of essential importance in the presentation of the image of Jesus,
is carried on in this positive approach towards terrestrial things,
which is typical especially of the Old Testament.
It shows also in a greater interest for the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is also characteristic for the ecclesial-sacramental thinking of our time
that the Holy Eucharist,
which was formerly one of the many "exercitia pietatis",
is now given a paragraph of its own in this second chapter.
Mary and Joseph, finally, moved from the first chapter
to that about the spirit.
They were formerly treated, together with the feast of the Sacred Heart, in a single paragraph;
now both Mary and Joseph receive a paragraph of their own.
The old text called for a special cult for both;
the new text stresses more their special link with Jesus and his Heart.
All in all the new version
proves to be obedient to the voice of tradition
but also to be sensitive to the voice of the time in which we live.
"Times are changing and we change with them."
Jan G. Bovenmars, msc
1. General exhortations to live and work with the Scriptures
2. Biblical references regarding our spirituality and mission
3. Following Christ: the evangelical counsels
a. Sharing Jesus' obedience
b. Consecrated celibacy
c. Sharing Jesus' poverty
4. The service of authority
5. The biblical quotations in italics
In this century we have witnessed a marvellous development of biblical studies in the Catholic Church,
so that we can speak of 'a biblical movement'.
This has contributed much to the renewal of the liturgy, of theology, of spirituality.
Vatican II has benefited from this movement,
and, at the same time, endorsed it vigorously,
especially in the "Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation", Dei Verbum, chapters III-VI.
The 'study of the sacred page' should be the very soul of sacred theology (ibid, 24).
"The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly
so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's Word"
(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 51).
The chapter on Our Lady (Lumen Gentium, chapter VIII)
is a good example of a theology renewed by a closer contact with the Scriptures.
Also the renewal of religious life must be inspired by a return to the Scriptures.
The "Decree on the up-to-date renewal of religious life", Perfectae Caritatis,
indicates as its first principle of renewal in n. 2a:
"Since the final norm of religious life is the following of Christ
as it is put before us in the Gospel, this must be taken by all
institutes as the supreme rule."
Consequently, it is not surprising that the return to the Scriptures
can be felt also in the text of our Documents of Renewal (DR) of 1969,
and more clearly in the new Constitutions of 1984.
The new Constitutions not only add a list of 29 biblical quotations in italics,
but are themselves also written in a more biblical language,
and refer implicitly to many biblical texts.
In this article I would like to investigate this in greater detail.
By way of introduction I will quote a few texts of the DR;
in the rest of the article I will focus on the new Constitutions.
In the first chapter, on the nature, spirit and mission of the Society,
the DR 12 state: "To renew our spirit constantly
we meet Christ faithfully in his word, his Eucharist,
and in personal and community prayer."
DR 25: "As every christian is, we are called to follow Christ in faith and fidelity to the Gospel.
However, the particular form of life which we choose
has, in accord with the Gospel, its own demands."
DR 17: "If we want to renew our religious life according to the 'signs of the times'
we must take into account the demands of the gospel message."
And DR 17a: "Faith in the same Christ who invites us to follow him calls us together,
challenges us by his word, unites us in his Eucharist
and sends us towards our brothers."
We may hope to measure up to the expectations of those who may wish to join our ranks,
by creating community groups where, among other things,
"sincere reflection on the gospel message" is a living value (DR 67).
And DR 74,5 state: "It is by putting his own life and the Word of God face to face
that the religious discovers, little by little, the face of Christ."
Regarding our mission, DR 16 state: "Religious want their life to be an apostolic service
and an unequivocal witness to the Gospel."
To obtain this, religious life is a precious help,
for "it favours a total commitment to the service of the Gospel",
"it is a help to the whole Church to be faithful to the spirit of the Gospel.
To safeguard the renewal, the General Administration has the following role:
"They will assist the communities and provinces in evaluating their lives and apostolates
in the light of the Gospel." (DR 133,2).
Both the Decree of Vatican II and the DR refer to "the Gospel."
It may be useful to mention that "the Gospel" is not only found in the four gospels,
also in the letters of
The text of the new Constitutions, towards which we now tun,
embodies itself already a retum to the Scriptures,
but this does not dispense us
from "putting our own life and the Word of God face to face" (DR 74,5).
1. General exhortations to live and work with the Scriptures.
The result of a return to the Scriptures in our new Constitutions of 1984 is most obvious
by the fact that the language used is more biblical.
Before working this out in some detail
I would like to list a few general references to the Scriptures.
Our religious communities "need to be built up each day into a community of faith and love
by listening to and sharing the Word of God" (CS 33).
This is done, in the first place, in the Eucharist.
Maybe that part of the office is prayed together.
But there are also other possibilities of reflecting together on the Word of God,
in community meetings and in para-liturgical services.
To grow as MSC,
all members "will receive a solid spiritual and ascetical formation
according to the spirit of the Gospel and of our Society" (CS 74).
In the preparation of those who are to enter Sacred Orders,
"due importance will be attached to philosophical, theological,
scriptural and pastoral studies" CS 91,
in accordance with the directives of the Church.
Regarding our mission,
'"we are sent into the world to proclaim the Good News" (CS 4),
and we are to discern what our response to suffering in the world will be
"by following the light of the Gospel" (CS 21).
Our first contribution to the apostolate is our religious life itself,
for "consecrated life gives an effective witness to the values of the Gospel.
It is a privileged means of evangelizing and transforming the world
in the spirit of the Beatitudes" (CS 36).
Regarding further ministerial tasks,
"this apostolic and religious spirit requires
that each community, in the light of the Gospel and of our charism,
constantly evaluate the apostolic works ..... "(CS 145 par. 3).
Here we should also refer to the appropriate citation of 2 Tim 3:16ff, found on CS page 42:
"All Scripture is inspired and is useful for teaching
- for reproof, correction, and training in holiness,
so that the man of God may be fully competent
and equipped for every good work."
The same page 42 gives us three quotations from our Founder
which reveal his love for the Scriptures
and in which he tells 'our missionaries'
that they should study the Bible 'devoutly and lovingly',
the letters of
"The writings of
2. Biblical references regarding our spirituality and mission
In every section of the new Constitutions we notice
an effort to give our life a more biblical foundation.
This is clear in the way religious life is presented,
with its components of community life, the vows, authority,
and in the description of our own spirituality and mission.
The text refers often explicitly to Christ personally,
or implicitly to some biblical text,
and frequently it uses biblical terms.
The General Chapter of 1981 decided not to indicate the implicitly quoted texts in the margin,
so as to let everybody free to discover them personally.
For this reason I will not tun to the acts of the Chapter,
but I will just look at the text myself
Three times our life is referred
to as "evangelical life" (CS 105 par. 1; 133; 156).
Religious life is seen
as an evangelical life.
It is also called four times a "consecrated life" (CS 11.36; 145 par.1; 283).
Number 2 describes the vows as a consecration to the Lord.
This term reminds us of jn 17:17-19,
where Christ says that he 'consecrates' himself for our sake
and where he prays that we too may be consecrated in' truth,
that is, consecrated to God's worship in spirit and in truth.
This text is quoted in italics on page 4.
The term 'consecrated life' has become common to refer, with one phrase,
both to the religious
and to the members of secular institutes.
The Constitutions use the term 'consecrated' or 'consecration' 14 times.
We enter this life in response to 'a call' from God (CS 2 and 22).
In the New Testament not only the apostles were called by Christ,
speaks also of the election (Eph 1: 4)
and vocation (Eph 4: 1) of each Christian.
In fact, we have been called to an "apostolic life" (CS 17; 75 par.2; 199 par.3; 199.6).
Regarding our spirituality and mission
it is noteworthy that the three biblical terms that are used most often are
'love' (47 times),
'heart' (46 times)
and 'mission' (39 times).
Here we have the core of our Constitutions, the core of our life,
and this core is biblical.
The term 'heart' is found 17 times as part of our name MSC,
4 times as part of the title "Our Lady of the Sacred Heart",
20 times to refer to the Heart of Christ
and 5 times to refer to our hearts (CS 22; 43; 49; 73; 139. 2).
The term 'love' refers 12 times to the love of God,
13 times to the love of Christ
and 22 times to our love.
The term 'charity' is used 5 times.
occurs 44 times in Part One (Spirit, Life and
3 times in Part Two (Members).
It is not used in Part Three (Organization),
but that section is saved by mentioning 'the conversion of heart' (CS 139).
To refer to our spirituality' a gift of the Holy Spirit,
the Constitutions use 5 times the word 'charism'.
Once it is said that the Spirit enriches the Church with charisms (CS 42),
an implicit reference to 1 Cor 12: 1-11 and 14: 1-5).
Once the text refers to 'the charism of our Founder' (CS 72)
and 3 times the text speaks of 'our' charism (CS 99; 145 par.3; 1995).
Our charism is clearly seen as a sharing in the gift our Founder received (CS 4).
The term 'charism' highlights the role of the Holy Spirit in our life.
To describe our spirituality in greater detail,
perhaps most revealing
is the way the Constitutions present Christ to whom we are consecrated,
whose sentiments we are to make our own,
and in whose mission we share.
As we may expect, Christ is seen primarily in his interiority.
Like our Founder we look at "the Heart whom is revealed
the compassionate love of the Father" (3)
It is in this compassionate love that Father Founder
saw the remedy for the ills of the world" (CS 3).
The love of the Heart of our Lord is the golden thread that
runs through the chapters on our spirit and mission.
Father Chevalier founded the Society "inspired by that love" (CS 3).
We, in turn, inspired by that same gift,
live our faith in the compassionate love of the Lord,
and it is that love we are sent to proclaim (CS 4).
In reference to GS 22,
our Constitutions affirm that Christ loved "with a human heart" (CS 10).
That human heart, pierced on the cross,
"is the sign of the incarnate love of God" (CS 15).
In line with Haurietis Aquas, this no 15 gives a confining definition
of devotion to the Sacred Heart":
"For this reason, devotion the Sacred Heart, as understood by the Church,
is devotion to love with which God has loved us in Jesus Christ."
Luckily, the Constitutions as a whole take this instruction in an affirmative,
and not in an exclusive sense.
We also like to contemplate Christ "united to his Father
with bonds of love and trust" (CS 6),
and of that love to Jesus' Heart is 'the sign'.
Frequently our attention is drawn to various 'sentiments' of Jesus' Heart:
Jesus is gentle and humble of heart (CS 7 and 12), a clear reference to Mt 11:29.
"In a constant effort to share in the sentiments of the Heart of Christ
we will be attentive to all human needs and aspirations .... "(CS 24; 11).
But it is true that the redemptive love,
with which God has loved us in Jesus Christ,
is central in our Constitutions.
In this context we should treat Jesus' titles 'Servant' and 'Good Shepherd'.
"He was his Servant, deeply involved with the poor and with sinners" (CS 6).
He cane to serve and not to be served (CS 99 in reference to Mt 20:28).
Living in total dependence on the Father, he identified himself with the poor (CS 46),
as solemnly proclaimed in Mt 25:35ff.
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus goes in search of those who are lost,
knows his own, and gives his life to save them (CS 7).
Here we feel affinity with the spirituality of the Combonian Fathers,
for whom "the pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd" is central.
The spirituality of the Heart of Christ as described in the Constitutions has trinitarian dimensions.
Many times Jesus is presented in his relations with the Father
(CS 3; 4; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 15; 38; 47),
and a few times in his relations with the Holy Spirit (CS 6 and 9).
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (of. Luke 10:21);
his Heart source of living water, was the home of the Spirit.
"When his side was opened, he gave us his Spirit, who pours love into our hearts" (CS 9).
The Holy Spirit is Jesus' paschal gift whereby we are transformed into his likeness.
Consequently, "looking on him who was pierced, we see the new Heart that God has given us" (CS 9).
This is an implicit reference to the texts of Jeremiah 32:37-41 & Ezechiel 11:17-20 [16:24-28]
texts about Yahweh's great promise of the new heart.
Here we have an important part of the theology of Christ's Heart:
the promise of the new heart;
its first fulfillment in Christ.
The objective theology of the Fathers of the Church about the Heart of Christ
as source of life, source of the Spirit, is thus shortly indicated.
"The mystery revealed in the Heart of Christ" (CS 14)
is also a paschal and pentecostal mystery.
Through his Spirit, Christ renews our hearts
and brings about the new earth.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
who knew the mystery of her Son's Heart intimately,
leads us to him,
"pointing to his Heart, the source of boundless love
that gives birth to a new world" (CS 18).
This new world is a reference to texts like Apoc. 21:1
about the new heaven and the new earth.
The centre of Jesus' preaching, the great theme of the Kingdom,
is referred to several times (CS 27; 31; 35; 43; 45; 47).
In number 45 the Kingdom is referred to as "his Kingdom",
By our community life (CS 13) and our vows (CS 35),
we are at the service of the Kingdom.
The profession formula, added as Appendix on page 130,
shows again the concern to provide a more biblical foundation to our life.
The added phrase is thoroughly biblical:
"and called, through the gift of your Spirit, to follow and serve you,
so that the world may come to know your love for the Father and for all,
and so that your Kingdom may come."
In addition to texts about the gifts of the Spirit and about 'follow me',
we can think here especially of Jn 17:23 and of Matthew 6:10.
In describing the Sacred Heart devotion
we mentioned traditionally the dimension of
consecration, reparation, imitation and participation in Jesus' mission.
These four aspects are clearly expressed in the new Constitutions,
though often in other words,
"Religious profession consecrates us to Christ and his mission" (CS 20).
"We give ourselves generously to the Lord" (CS 45);
"our life and apostolate will be marked by a sincere and fervent love of the Incanate Word.
This love will urge us constantly to share the sentiments of the Heart of Jesus" (CS 11).
These sentences sufficiently express our gift of self to Christ,
and our desire to imitate him.
Sharing his mission too is a frequent theme (CS 12; 16; 22; 24; 29 ..... ),
but the idea of 'reparation' created some difficulty.
Number 16 was eventually added.
In Miserentissimus Redemptor Pius XI had already widened the practice of 'reparation'
as conceived by St. Margaret Mary,
by including in it,
not only expiatory love offered to Christ, but also,
in line with Col 1:24, our sharing in Jesus' redemptive work
and our sufferings on behalf of his body, the Church.
It does strike us that God's love is "so often rejected by sin" (CS 16);
contemporary theology pays much attention to "the suffering of God",
and the idea starts to be accepted.
But since that suffering is caused by the disorder in the world,
the real 'reparation' consists in our commitment to work, with Christ,
for the Kingdom,
to bring about a new world in which justice dwells.
When we look at it that way,
our Constitutions have much to say on 'the real reparation',
even though the word is not mentioned.
With our Founder we believe that God's compassionate love
is the remedy for the ills of the world.
Love is healing, and it is this love we want to live and to proclaim (CS 4)
'Reparation' is not a biblical term;
our Constitutions prefer to express the healing and redeeming aspect of love
in biblical terms, like 'compassion' (CS 3; 4; 6, 22; 32);
'casting out fear' (CS 8 and 12),
an expression that calls to mind I Jn 4: 18:
“In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love."
We can point further to expressions like
'change of hearts' (CS 22);
'offering to God their prayers, sufferings and infirmities' (CS 25);
'mutual forgiveness' (CS 32);
'strengthening one another' (CS 41; 120).
These are all biblical recommendations.
Further there are terms like 'solidarity' (CS 49)
and 'sense of social justice' (CS 127).
The sentiments of Jesus' Heart
are traced back to God himself
"the compassionate love of the Father" (CS 3; err. CS 4; 10; 15; 16; 20; 34; 87,1);
the kindness of God (CS 4);
"Jesus gave thanks to his Father for having revealed himself to little ones" (CS 6,
cfr Mt 11:25).
The beautiful biblical expression "faithfulness and mercy" (heset we emet'),
applied to Jesus in Jn 1:14,
is applied to God in CS 37, in line with Ex 34:6.
Special attention is given to Jesus' compassion for the poor,
for the sinners, for those who suffer (CS 6; 7; 20; 22; 46; 49).
Thus Jesus' love is qualified as merciful love,
something clearly in line with the picture of Jesus presented by the Gospels.
Having sketched the image of Jesus Christ presented by the Constitutions,
it is easy to sketch our spirituality,
for it consists in entering into Jesus' Heart as presented here,
or in other words, in letting Jesus, in the Spirit, enter into our hearts,
to give us a share in his life and in his mission.
Our lives too must bear witness to the compassionate love of the Lord (CS 4);
through us the people are to experience the love of God.
"His Spirit .... pours love into our hearts and gives us the will to serve" (CS 9).
"We want to be like Jesus who loved with a human heart ..... "(CS 10).
"His love is our inspiration and driving force.
Therefore, our life and apostolate will be marked
by a sincere and fervent love of the Incanate Word.
This love will urge us constantly,
to share the sentiments of the Heart of Christ" (CS 11; Phil 2:5).
Hence "we will strive to lead others to God with kindness and gentleness,
to unite them to him by love" (CS 12).
Following the example of the Good Shepherd, we will be ready, if necessary,
to lay down our lives for them' (CS 12; cfr. I Jn 3:16).
Our love too goes out especially to those who suffer,
for "the Spirit of our Society is one of love and kindness, humility and simplicity;
it is above all one of love for justice and concern for all, especially the very poor"
13; 7; 21; 22; 24; 49
Number 48 mentions that our commitment,
according to the spirit of our Society,
implies a preferential option for the poor,
and our life-style should reveal that option.
Traditionally, the spirituality of the Heart of Christ
had also a Eucharistic dimension,
and this too receives attention in our new Constitutions in number 17.
But in line with the liturgical developments of our time,
Eucharist is not merely seen as real presence,
but also as a covenant celebration whereby God binds himself to us
and we bind ourselves to him.
As covenant celebration it makes us one in love,
and this should lead to apostolic action.
In Scripture, the covenant aspect is mentioned
in the very words of the institution on this sacrament:
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood" (Lk 22:20).
The adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, prescribed in number 13 9, 1
will be qualified too by this deepened vision of the Eucharist:
Christ is present in this sacrament
as the one who offers himself to us as food and drink;
as the High Priest of the new and etemal covenant
who draws us into his offering.
The Eucharist must be seen as a paschal mystery,
and the remaining presence must not be isolated
from the basic meaning of the sacramental action.
Basically, the Eucharist is a sacrificial covenant's meal.
The community dimension of our life is treated twice in the new Constitutions:
once in Part 1 chapter 3 as a dimension of our mission
and once in Part 3 chapter 1 as to its organization.
Prayer life is treated also in Part 3, numbers 137-144.
This place is somewhat surprising.
In previous drafts the part on prayer was presented
as a distinct chapter like mission.
In n. 28 we find the important biblical term ‘communion',
used also in numbers 4; 27 and twice in number 40.
In Scripture it is used to describe the fellowship of Christians,
brought about by the revelation of Christ (I Jn 1:3),
by the Eucharist (Acts 2:42)
and by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:13).
Our communities must be signs of that communion of the Church
and must give witness to it.
This is a basic aspect of our mission.
The variety of ministries, present in the Church,
should be reflected too in our communities (CS 29).
Here we can think of I Cor 12:4-30.
In previous Constitutions we found a reference
to 'the cor unum et anima una' of Acts 4:32.
The same idea is now expressed in n. 30:
"All of us will strive to remain united in spirit and dedicated to the same goals".
The reference now is to Phil 2:2.
Fratemal charity, the great commandment of the Lord,
is the supreme rule of the community (CS 31).
The description of the growth of the community in 33
implies a reference to Acts 2:42-47.
3. Following Christ: the evangelical counsels
The three religious vows are presented in the new Constitutions
as constituting an 'evangelical life'.
They are treated under the heading 'Following Christ';
they are called 'evangelical counsels',
and in the treatment of each one of them,
the example of Christ is referred to.
The relevance of the terms 'consecration' and 'Kingdom'
has been indicated above.
Number 34 places our religious profession
in the context of our MSC spirituality.
The expression 'our belief in the love that God has shown us .... '
makes us think of I Jn 4:16 (credidimus caritati),
while "he has first loved us" is a quotation from I Jn 4: 19.
Number 35 states that our religious consecration
deepens our baptismal initiation into the mystery of Christ.
Rom 6:3-11 describes how by baptism
we enter into the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection;
by baptism we are 'plunged' into the paschal mystery
and we should be freed from the slavery of sin.
Religious consecration deepens this entry into the paschal mystery,
hence the title of this article.
By the vows our freedom increases,
and this detachment means a deeper death of the old self,
and at the same time it implies
a further entry into the life of Christ,
at the service of the Kingdom.
These ideals were subsequently worked out more fully by Pope John Paul II
in Redemptionis Donum (1984), numbers 7-8.
a. Sharing Jesus' obedience
Many texts in Scripture speak of Jesus' obedience;
it seems that number 38 hints at Fil 2:8.
Some further biblical texts about Jesus' obedience are:
Ps 40:6-8, quoted in Hebr 10:5-7; Jn 4:34; 6:38; Hebr 5:7-8; Rom 5: 19; Lk 22:39-46.
Our vow of obedience is presented as a way
of following Christ more closely
and of serving our brothers better.
b. Consecrated celibacy
As the new Constitutions stress the link between obedience and fratemal charity,
so they present consecrated celibacy as a 'form of love' (CS 42).
It is meant to be the love of an 'undivided heart' (CS 43),
an expression inspired by ICor 7:35.
We take this vow "for the sake of the Kingdom" (Mt 19: 12).
c. Sharing Jesus 'poverty
- Jesus chose a poor and simple life for himself: 2Cor 8:9; Lk 9:57-58.
- Jesus calls us to live in the same way: Lk 18:22; 18:2829; Mt 6:33-34; Lk 6:20; 14:33; Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35.
- Jesus loves the poor and the little ones: Mt 11:28-30.
- We submit ourselves to the common law of work: 2Thes 3:10.
4. The service of authority
Part Three - Organization - presents authority as 'service'
and that is an important aspect of the return to Scripture.
Let us have a closer look at this term 'service'.
Twice Jesus is called 'the Servant', in numbers 6 and 8.
Number 99 states that each member of the Society
should imitate him who came to serve and not to be served.
This is a reference to Mt 20:28.
The term 'service' or 'to serve' occurs 15 times in the Constitutions.
The Spirit of Christ, who pours love into our hearts, gives us the will to serve (CS 9).
"We bring into the community whatever gifts nature and grace have given us,
and put them at the service of Christ and the People of God"
(CS 40; compare CS 23; 24; 35; 38; 75; 99; 100; 105 par. 2; 120; 199; ).
In all these texts 'service' refers to the 'ministry'
and the tasks expected of all members of the Society.
That leaves only number 104S,
where the term 'service' is applied twice
specifically to Superiors:
"the service of higher authority".
Thus authority is presented as one way of serving.
This is an important point, solemnly made by Christ in Mt 20:24-28.
His followers must exercise authority,
not in an 'authoritarian' way, but in a spirit of service.
The service expected of our Superiors
is that they "should support the spiritual and human growth of the members
so that the Society can carry out its mission effectively" (CS 99).
Part Three uses several other biblical terms,
but they have been treated above:
'consecration' (CS 73; 139; 283);
'charism' (CS 199);
'gifts of the Spirit' (CS 105).
The last phrase of the Constitutions is truly biblical:
“through the witness of our consecrated life,
we may proclaim to the world the unfathomable riches of Christ"
ICS 283 in reference to Eph 3:17 fl).
5. The biblical quotations in italics
The biblical quotations in italics "are not part of the official text" (page IX).
Still, the addition of some quotations from Scripture
and from the works of our Founder
is a real enrichment.
Our Constitutions and Statutes page 150 lists 28 biblical texts, quoted in italics.
To this list should be added Mt 11:28 ff, quoted in italics on page 48.
The only text quoted from the Old Testament is Ezekiel 36:26.28:
"I shall give you a new heart .... " (page (IV).
To understand the biblical theology of the heart, this text is essential.
Since the theme of the promise of the new heart is not treated in the Constitutions,
this quotation enriches the contents of the Constitutions.
The other quotations illustrate themes treated in the Constitutions text,
in line with the main themes:
MSC spirituality and mission;
growth in Christ; and organization.
Often these quotations were hinted at or implicitly quoted
somewhere in the Constitutions.
Frank Fletcher, msc
3. The refusal
4. Heart and earth
5. Heart as passion
6. The servant
"Looking on him who was pierced. we see the new Heart d~at God has given us." (CS 9)
I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed,' I shah cleanse you of all your defilement and all. your idols; I shah give .you a new heart and put a new spirit in .you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. (Ezelciel 36:25-27)
Times of failure and of crisis are also moments of grace.
was at the time of
that the prophetic word of Ezekiel announced the promise of the new heart.
failures had brought many in
that a merely outward service of God was not enough.
Humans need an inner transformation
if they are to be capable of a truly just social, cultural and religious order.
However deeply we yean for such a just order,
it is beyond mere humanity.
It must be given to us.
Given from where?
answer lies in
that Jesus Christ is the mystery hidden before all ages in God (Eph 3)
- in him the world will become what it was created to be from the beginning.
The MSC Constitutions affirm that the new heart,
the mystery hidden before all ages,
into view at the piercing of Jesus' side on
The MSC call is to communion with that heart
and to participation in its mission.
Even to grasp a little of what this call means will require our meditating
on some of the earliest scriptural understandings of Christ Jesus.
For we must begin to understand Jesus of Nazareth
not as an individual Master and Lord
but as the mystery of communion and participation.
Spirituality is the way we jouney to awareness of the Christ mystery among us
and leam to participate in its working.
To this end each religious congregation offers a spirituality;
each one, to a certain degree, distinctive.
Yet all the spiritual ways within the Church
serve its participation in the mystery of Christ
across the variety of peoples, cultures and places.
By a great grace I have for 10 years ministered as an MSC priest
among the Australian Aboriginal people.
From them I have learnt not only the other side of the colonialist story
but also much that has lifted my heart to a more real experience of Christ
as a mystery of communion and participation.
A distinctiveness of Jules Chevalier's spiritual way
was his insight that the pierced heart of Jesus
empowers us to face the systemic injustices and suffering of the modern world.
The Aborigines also insist on a way of the heart
and at the same time they expose the falsity and injustice of the historical situation.
I will offer six learnings I have got from them.
I will show how each of these illuminates the gift of the new heart.
The divine mystery hidden before the ages, present in all creation,
worked within the way of Jesus' life and death.
that mystery is still living in us
because we Christians believe that the risen Jesus is present in us
and that we are mysteriously united together with him.
But do we believe in this Communion?
To the NT writers, their union in Christ and with Christ
was the experience in their conversion.
In his historical life Jesus' way was characterised by his regular table fellowship
with outcasts such as tax collectors and prostitutes.
Another feature of Jesus' way, his practice of healings and of exorcism,
was also to restore fellowship to those excluded by society.
And this openness to outcasts was also preached in his parables:
as in the shepherd who risked everything to pursue one lost sheep:
The rich man was condemned because he did not care for the beggar at his gate, Lazarus his brother
it is a Samaritan, a despised alien, who cared for a wounded Jew as his brother.
The Church began at Pentecost when the disciples felt inspired by the Spirit
to recognise others, some from very different places and histories,
as brothers and sisters.
This sense of a communion in Christ across boundaries
was the first Christian experience.
Paul the apostle spoke of the way of faith in Christ
as lived out in a communion of brothers and sisters
so close knit that he called it a body,
each one a member of each other.
In contact with the Aborigines Jesus' way has become more 'real' for me.
Some of them are people who, like Jesus, live and create communion;
who have extraordinary forbearance for those with addictions,
those mentally ill, those in and out of jail.
They reach out, beyond family and clan, to others as brothers and sisters.
And these others respond to them, calling them uncle, auntie, even mother.
Some of these uncles and aunties live in a compassionate and relational manner
that most westemers could not long sustain.
They live with others and for others.
These people, surely, are something like Jesus.
That was why he drew people;
it is why he is still doing so as the head of the body.
To know such a Jesus is to be filled with a feeling for others
as our brothers and sisters.
Perhaps we could say that by this faith
the warmth of Jesus is lived in us.
Christ Jesus is communion.
In and with him we are one bread, one body.
The Constitutions on Communion
Chapter Two, 'Spirit of the Society' begins:
with our Founder we contemplate Jesus Christ
in his relationship with the Father and with the Holy Spirit.
From that interrelationship comes his mission to the poor and to sinners.
All are his brothers and sisters (CS 6).
Christ risen from death constitutes, with his followers, a new people (CS 8).
By religious consecration we MSC
are more deeply initiated into this mystery of Christ (CS 34).
Our vocation makes us an expression of the Church
a communion of faith, love and worship
where all are brothers and sisters in Christ (CS 28).
MSC, therefore, are to be brothers given to one another (CS 31)
as in a familv (CS 32).
It is in this communion with our brothers that we seek to find the way (CS 40)
and to live our faith (CS 4).
In Jesus we see the Good Shepherd bearing the Father's concern for the marginalized (CS 7).
We MSC want to be like Jesus, we want to love through him and with him (CS 10),
we want to share his sentiments (CS ID, his kindness and gentleness (CS 12),
his love, humility, simplicity, 1ove for justice
and concern especially for the very poor CS 13
his attentiveness to all human needs and aspirations (CS 24).
Aboriginal tribes tell of a Woman, a spiritual figure, who sings the song
which holds all of creation together.
whose dance lies behind the flowing movement of time and events.
there is a dream dreaming us.
To the western literal mind
this kind of talk is nonsense: a song, a dance, a dream?
What are they talking about?
They are uttering something that words cannot express in a literal way.
Those cosmic symbols evoke the mystery that permeates creation,
a mystery in which we humans are only participants.
Yet there is also a sensing that we can enter into the movement of the whole.
Indigenous peoples have creation dances
in which they move with the flow and energy of creation.
The dance, along with sacred stories, embodies a hidden wisdom to be trusted, followed.
Hebrew Scriptures are grounded
in the creation religion of
that divine wisdom which fills creation was 'made flesh' in Jesus:
that divine wisdom that gives meaning to creation
was lived out in Jesus' way of living and dying.
Jesus was and still is the divine figure who leads the dance,
sings the song, dreams the dream.
we can participate in the story of Jesus' way: it is still happening in us.
He participates in the harsh lives of the poor and the suffering.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me" Gal2:20
In the Eucharist we celebrate our participation in Jesus' offering of himself even to death
and his participation in our lives and in the lives around us.
"Abide in me and I in you" (Jn 14:4). Christian life is participation.
The Constitutions on Participation
Within the Heart of Christ is revealed to us the love of the Father (CS I 0).
Jesus identified himself with the poor (CS 46),
so we MSC discover the face of Christ in the poor, the little ones
and in all victims of injustice and violence (CS 22).
are to bring his love into their lives (CS 22).
By offering our lives with Jesus we MSC participate in his redemptive work (CS 16)
and we complete in ourselves what is lacking in his sufferings on behalf of his body (CS 16).
The cosmic sense of participation is
indicated in the 1993 General Chapter's document on
which spoke of Jesus as the tree of life offering "life within the struggles of all peoples
in a cosmos within which we are deeply interconnected".
(Acts of the General Chapter 1993, p. 23).
During the time of their exile in
that they had brought their degradation upon themselves.
They had refused to remember their Covenant with YHWH.
So they knew that Ezekiel spoke prophetic truth:
they needed an inner cleansing, their hearts were cold like stone.
We cannot accept our need of the New Heart
till we remember how cold our own hearts have been
and how we have refused the mystery of communion and participation
by compromising with the way of sin.
Only if we acknowledge this refusal will we understand
that Jesus is so different from us.
Again and again Jesus shook the complacency of his disciples
by setting a little child before them:
"Unless you become as a little child
you will not enter the
The Kingdom is the way of communion and participation.
Jesus was communion
because he was the innocent one, the pure of heart, younger than sin.
His heart refused no one.
"Jesus was like us in all things except sin" (cfr. Hebr 4:15).
Jesus is what being human truly is in accord with the Divine Creative Wisdom.
His is the communion and participation for humanity.
Jesus' innocence and open-heartedness exposes the way of sin,
the refusal of communion and participation.
Jesus told us to remember his willingness to die for the communion of all.
Willingness to remember and openness of heart (like a child)
are conditions for
They enable us to withstand the systemic refusal of communion
which is the dominating regime of the world.
St Francis called out of people their innate sense of communion and mutual care
as brothers under God.
The Constitutions on the Refusal
We believe in God's' love offered to the world, but so often rejected by sin (CS 16).
Father Jules Chevalier was deeply moved bv the evils that afflicted the people of his time.
As he contemplated the Heart of Christ,
in whom is revealed the compassionate love of the Father,
he discovered there the remedy for the ills of the world (CS 3).
The systemic injustice of the historical situation is strongly stressed.
we MSC will show compassion toward victims of injustice
by working to guarantee human rights CS 22
We will seek to identify the causes of suffering and to discern a response (CS 2D.
We, as consecrated witnesses to the Gospel, must seek to transform the world
and protest the abuse of God's gifts to humanity (CS 36)
Devotion to the Sacred Heart is understood as the exchange of love:
God's love for us, our love for God (CS 15).
Chevalier considered this Heart to heart exchange
as the place from which we would be empowered to reverse the refusal
to re-direct the cultural and socio-economic political orders to follow this covenant.
the Church and society have no hope except in the Heart of Christ.
Heart and earth
The Aboriginal people speak readily of heart, of heart experience.
They insist that heart is not something you can lean about from the outside.
Heart, for them, is simply experienced: it is as Aboriginal as participation within the land.
Indeed heart and land go together.
Traditional Aborigines have an extraordinary capacity to sit still upon the land.
letting the heart be still and open to the deep springs within us and around us
Jesus too went off into the wilderness and lonely places to be still and pray.
It is necessary for us to reflect upon Jesus as a long-time contemplative of creation.
Only when we have drunk of his contemplative way
are we ready to understand the inner source of his public ministry
and his way of the cross.
The Constitutions on Heart and Earth
We MSC want to be like Jesus who loved with a human heart (CS I0).
Through coming to know Jesus' gentle and humble heart
we are brought to peace in our own hearts CS 7
When Jesus' side was pierced, the Spirit poured love into our hearts.
Then, 'looking on him who was pierced we see the new Heart that God has given us (CS 9).
We must be convinced of the necessity of the interior life or contemplation
so as to grow in faith and in knowledge of the mystery revealed in the Heart of Christ (CS I 4).
Heart as passion
A common Aboriginal complaint about white people is that they are cold and calculating.
If a friend is dying far away, first calculate: do I have the money to travel etc.
The Aborigine says, if my friend is dying, nothing else matters.
I don't have the money, the time, a place to stay, but I must go.
Heart before practicalities!
western culture prefers containment, restraint of the passionate.
The first letter of John expressed the saving power of this breakthrough:
we lave passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters.
Love given in foolish disregard of self gives life.
Jesus lived out this yearning of all creation: he gave himself over passionately to it.
He trusted in mysterious action as it unfolded:
something of the Spirit and of his dear ABBA
was seeking to happen through him, within him,
for all the peoples.
So Jesus had to offer himself, foolishly,
without calculation, his heart undefended.
The Constitutions on Heart as Passion
Jesus pours out the tenderness of his Heart. ..... on all the miseries of humanity.
The sight of any misfortune moved his Heart with compassion (CS 6).
Ubique terrarum: the new heart in every place 77
We MSC live our faith in the compassionate love of the Lord (CS 4).
In Jesus we see the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the lost (CS 7).
His love inspires us and drives us (CS 11) even to the ultimate foolishness (CS 12).
By offering our lives with Jesus we share in his redemptive work (CS
Jules Chevalier's experience of Jesus was of a heart on fire. This fitted with his contemplation of the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.
I would suggest that in reading the Constitutions we sometimes substitute the word passion for love:
Thus, we believe in God's passionate love (CS 16);
we want to proclaim his passion to the world (CS 10)
his passion for justice and concern for all, especially the poor (CS 13).
The resilience of spirit of some Aborigines
despite sequences of family tragedies, personal illness, collapse of hopes,
calls to mind the stories of Jeremiah and Job
and the figure of the suffering servant, fulfilled in Jesus.
Jeremiah's trials inspired the songs of the suffering servant of YHWH in Second Isaiah.
The servant is willing to pay a painful price for his faithfulness.
But it seems that such generosity of spirit is wasted
because the people's hearts remain stony.
However through his apparently useless suffering the servant
fact 'carries' the sins of the people of
The early Christians understood Jesus as the fulfilment of the figure of the servant;
By the communion of all peoples with him
the New Israel becomes the universal people of God.
As the MSC Constitutions suggest,
the piercing of the side of Jesus was the moment
when the New Heart for all humanity became manifest.
all the world can come into communion with the heart of the servant.
As MSC we pray to become empowered to be willing to follow Jesus
in his undefended openness of heart.
We admit our own stony hearts.
However we trust in his passionate love and his contemplative spirit to carry us.
We believe in the communion of Him in us and of us in Him.
We are in the New Heart and the New Heart is in ours.
Constitutions on the Servant
Jesus is called the servant twice in Chapter two (CS 6 and CS 8).
The suffering servant of Second Isaiah is implied in these two references.
We MSC, by God's grace (love), share in Christ's redemptive work
in so far as we offer ourselves to serve (cf CS 16 and CS 17).
For "when his side was pierced. he gave us his spirit who pours love into our hearts
and gives us the will to serve" (CS 9).
the majority of you who are in our MSC novitiates, seminaries
are Asian, African, Pacific people and Latin American.
if of a non-western tradition you may make connections with your traditions.
Heart and earth are linked, our MSC spirituality is meant to be inculturated.
We are an international Society who welcome a cultural diversity within our unity.
OUR CHARISM PREPARES US FOR ANY GOOD WORK (Joseph Ruddy, msc)
" .... Any good work"
How then can we say that our charism prepares us for any good work?
Our compassion will express itself in genuine love
a. A freeing love
b. A faithful, serving love
c. A love based on justice
d. An enthusiastic love
e. Love with a human heart
f. An understanding heart
g. A love of kindness and humility
h. A sense of humor
Gutierrez, Drink from your own well
a "fountain of water which purifies, eliminate the inertias and wrinkles of our way of being christian
and, at the same time, becomes a source of life and energy".
as MSCs we are invited to drink from our own well,
which is the charism of the Society
and which can become for us a constant source of renewal and vitality.
Charism has been described as
a particular angle of looking at Jesus in the Gospels,
a special stress or emphasis upon a certain way of following him
and a certain way of serving him in other people”
Dennis Murphy: it is "not merely a thing; for example, an attitude, an approach to life or to mission;
it is the Spirit of God himself active in us, an experience of he Spirit.''
The two approaches complement each other.
MSC charism: "Our apostolate will be marked by a sincere and fervent love of the Word Incarnate.
This love will urge us constantly to share the sentiments of the Heart of Christ."
An important insight of post-Vatican II theology is
that the charism of a religious community
is to be distinguished from its appropriate works.
These latter can change according to the age,
whereas the charism, as the underlying driving force of the religious community,
Vatican II encouraged religious to return to their charism,
to the original inspiration given to the Founder.4
Dennis Murphy links charism to mission,
Father Chevalier's experience of the Spirit was his perceiving the inner sickness of society
which had to be set alight by an appropriate counterforce
(Devotion to the Sacred Heart, rightly understood)
and hence he saw his mission
as the regeneration of society through this counterforce.
The charism/mission which is, above all, a way of living
would find expression in the apostolic works.
But our identity as MSCs is to be found in the charism/mission, not in the works.
How then can we say that our charism prepares us for any good work?
It offers the members the possibility of developing
"a deep interior life that is open to the Spirit" (CS 14).
Without this, we lack the strength to remain faithful to the mission and spirit of the Society,
or, work becomes "no more than a social service
- an important one, perhaps –
but not sufficient to express the richness of our service
which springs from the experience of being loved by God
and of the love God has for our brethren."
Our charism affords a lived experience of the love of God
as a basis for our apostolate.
Psychology today speaks of a need for an adequate sense of self-worth
in order to function properly.
While this is primarily the product of the attitudes of "significant others", especially in childhood,
nevertheless, a consciousness of being the object of God's unconditional love
can contribute greatly to a genuine sense of selfesteern
and have a healing effect on deficiencies in this area
which remain over from one's younger days.
2. Spirituality of the heart - an invitation to contemplation:
Before confusing "contemplation" with flights of mysticism,
we have to remember that the word has different meanings.
Here: "reflection with an open-minded interest which leads to compassionate love."
a. We first reflect on Christ in the Gospels.
What does this reflect?
Jesus is the sacrament of the Father.
By his teachings (e.g. the parable of the prodigal son),
and actions (mixing with sinners and socially undesirables, healing and forgiving)
he reveals to us what God is like.
"Jesus shows us a new face of God."
"Looking on Him whom they have pierced, we see the new heart that God has given us ....
we live in the Father's love revealed in the Heart of Christ." (CS 9;10).
"When we study the Gospels, we find that the central core and inner dynamism of Jesus' life
rests in a disposition to be for the sake of his Father and for the sake of humankind.
His public life ..... is a total commitment of himself for the Father and for humanity,
unreservedly and unconditionally.''
These attitudes of Jesus, revelatory of the Father,
serve as inspiration for us in our apostolate.
"We want to like Jesus who loved with a human heart.
We want to live through him and with him,
and to proclaim his love to the world" (CS 10).
“Our Founder saw in the Heart of Jesus the solution for human ills.
This has led me to present Jesus as the one who can transform our lives
and I have had the satisfying experience in my ministry of seeing
how people's lives have changed when they open their hearts to him."
b. Contemplation - contact with our fellow human beings, especially those who suffer and are in need.
"As he stepped ashore, he saw a large crowd;
and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd
and he began to teach them at some length"
(Mk 6:34; see also Mt 9:36; Lk 7:13; 15:20; Jn 11:33).
Like Jesus, our contact with the needy should elicit in us a response of compassion.
"In the poor and the little ones, in all the victims of injustice and violence
we will discover the face of Christ
..... in answer to his call, we will show our compassion" (CS 22).
By "compassion" we mean a genuine self-emptying commitment towards others.
In the Greek New Testament the word for "compassion" is ‘splangchna’ (bowels).
They were thought to be the source of people's most intense feelings and reactions,
like in the phrase "the bowels of mercy".
The word is related to the Hebrew word ‘rachamin’ which refers to the womb.
So it has been suggested that christian compassion
is a movement of the womb of God,
one that seeks to give new life in the suffering person who has evoked it.
A confrere has said "the charism has trained me to see the person of Christ
in the anxieties of my fellow human beings",
and also "I have to remember that there are different types of suffering in the world.
Apart from material poverty
there is also loneliness, oppression, false hopes".
Another confrere says:
"The charism pushes me to be a messenger of hope for people without hope".
Our compassion will express itself in genuine love
One of the criticisms levelled at the traditional Devotion to the Sacred Heart
was that it portrayed (in pictures, statues and devotional prayers)
a sugary, effeminate image of Christ
thus reducing christian love to a mawkish tenderness, a sentimental, superficial affection
towards God and others.
This approach has little appeal to people of the present age.
Genuine love must not be confused with saccharine sentimentality,
which is, being in love with the idea of compassion
and the feelings associated with it,
without becoming involved with the person who is suffering.
Tolstoy spoke of society women who would weep to see the sufferings of others
as depicted in the theatre
while leaving their coachman to wait in the freezing cold outside.
Compassion without action is sentimentality.
Action without compassion is condescension.
But compassion expressed in action is Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Genuine love is
thinking good of,
speaking well of,
doing good to others.
Anything less is superficial sham.
a. A freeing love
It is a love that liberates.
First from the various obsessions
(e.g., with sex and material things),
traumas which can cripple us.
Cuskelly stresses also a freedom from the law
in the sense that having internalized the charism,
having allowed it to penetrate into the depths of our being,
our motivation comes from within us
and is not merely sustained by external rules and regulations.
b. A faithful serving love
CS 12 speaks of "laying down one's life for others".
This is much more difficult in an age
where there has been a swing from altruism
to a stress on self-development.
Attention to the latter was indeed necessary and useful.
But can we incorporate the intuitions of contemporary psychology
while at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of narcissism?
Our charism encourages us to work for "a cause greater than our own";
a love that has a sense of service
is faithful, constant, enduring and ever kind.
c. A love based on justice
As already mentioned, our charism leads us to have a compassionate love of others.
In our apostolate to the needy, there is room, at times,
for immediate, individual, once-off responses to human problems.
But no 21 of our Constitutions is careful to point out that what are termed "band-aid" efforts
are not an adequate response to the serious problems of society.
"We will be attentive to those who suffer ....
and seek to identify the causes of their suffering
and to discern what our response will be by following the light of the Gospel
And in number 22"
.... in all the victims of injustice and violence,
we will discover the face of Christ
and we will show our compassion to them by working courageously
to guarantee their human rights
and to change the hearts of their oppressors."
For us MSCs, our spirituality of a compassionate heart
should be characterized by that willingness
to live and work with other christians and religious groups
who promote the people's struggle for the attainment
of a true human and christian dignified existence
and of social transformation.
d. An enthusiastic love
"Enthusiasm is one sign that we have really heard
what the Spirit is saying to us.
The Greek etymology of the word "enthusiasm" means
to be possessed by a god,
possessed by a power greater than our own limitations and frailties.
To share in Father Chevalier's own "experience of Spirit",
is to be given the gift to rediscover today his enthusiasm,
an enthusiasm capable of carrying a person
through extraordinary difficulties and disappointments-''
Dennis Murphy goes on to say
that such enthusiasm is necessary to revitalize the Congregation.
It is also necessary to give life to our apostolate.
e. Love with a human heart
As E.J. Cuskelly points out,
a human heart is conscious of its weakness, its struggles, its inconsistencies.
It is not precisely with our weakness that we help others.
We need strength to be of assistance to others.
(we have to have a heart strong for the struggle).
But it is the consciousness of our own weakness
that gives us a compassionate understanding.
"We have not a High Priest who cannot have compassion on our weakness
but one tried like ourselves in everything except sin."
(Heb 4:16; also Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-34).
It enables us to love
with a heart that is humble and purified,
like that of Peter, through failure and regret.
f. An understanding heart
Christians should be more concerned
about an understanding, caring love
Jesus loved sinners unconditionally (Mt 9:10-13).
His Church has as her mission to proclaim the same unconditional love.
While upholding values, her mission is not to condemn as sinners
those who do not live up to these values.
She knows that every man and woman must love with a human heart,
human in its desire to love
but human too in its weakness
and caught up in the complicated realities of human situations.
g. A love of kindness and humility
We live in an assertive, competitive age.
People appreciate the quality of gentleness
but at the same time many see simplicity, humility, modesty
as expressions of weakness,
partially owing to a misunderstanding of what these virtues mean.
It has to be admitted that what is sometimes perceived as humility and gentleness
can originate in fear or a desire to please.
as the CS in the chapters on "Spirit" and "
genuine simplicity (freedom from cunning and duplicity),
kindness (friendliness, generosity, benevolence),
gentleness (tenderness, absence of harshness),
and humility (Cuskelly links this to the spirit of the "Anawim",
that is, consciousness of one's need of God
and with a consequent sense of gratefulness)
are fruits of the Spirit.
Related to the quality of gentleness,
a confrere remarked how he found inspiration in this regard in the life of Father Chevalier.
"I have a bad temper.
I fly off the handle easily.
But I find encouragement in the fact
that Father Chevalier also had a bad temper in his youth,
in fact he punched a couple of companions in the face!''
But he realized the need to control his temper
and managed to channel his energy
to fight against the difficulties confronting the congregation."
h. A sense of humour
Number 32 points out that one of the elements of our Spirit is a sense of humour.
A sense of humour has been described as the ability "to laugh at oneself and smile at others."
Humour helps us stand off from reality and judge it objectively,
especially to take a dispassionate view of ourselves,
recognizing mixed motives and hidden agendas
which lurk behind our well-constructed rationalizations.
Prayer should give us a sense of humour,
providing, as it goes, the vantage point
from which we see life from another perspective
the perspective of the Reign of God,
a viewpoint which helps us see
the relative value of activities, relationships, things.
To drink from any well,
we have to let down our receptacle in order to draw the water.
Those who are committed to the MSC community and its mission
are invited to look seriously at the charism,
with its rich spirituality of the heart,
take it on board and make it the principal energizing force in their lives.
Two versions compared
(Nico Tromp, msc)
Devotion has its time
A new feeling for life; new ways of relating
The role of remembering
The imperative mood
The gifts of the heart
(I) Remember, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
the ineffable power which your divine Son
has given you over his adorable heart.
Full of confidence in your merits,
we now implore your protection.
O heavenly treasurer of the heart of Jesus,
of that heart which is the inexhaustible
source of all graces,
and which you may open when you please
in order to distribute among us
all the treasures of love and mercy,
of light and salvation which it contains.
Grant us, we beseech you,
the favours we solicit.
No! We cannot meet with a refusal;
and since you are our Mother,
Our lady of the Sacred Heart,
favourably hear and grant our prayers. Amen.
(II) Remember, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
the great things the Lord has done for you[
He chose you for his mother.
He wanted you close to his cross.
He gives you a share in his glory.
He listens to your prayer.
Offer him our prayers of praise and
thanksgiving; present our petitions to him.
Let us live like you in the love of your Son
so that his Kingdom may come.
Lead us to the source of living water
that flows from his heart,
spreading over the world hope and salvation
justice and peace.
See our trust in you; answer our prayer.
Show yourself always our Mother.
1. Which are the differences between formula I and II in the opening words, in the formulation and in the mentality?
2. What is the meaning of the title Our Lady?
3. What does Mary have to remember in I and in II? What does that difference imply regarding our Lady?
4. What is the attitude towards our Lady of those who say this prayer?
5. For what reason does Mary have to remember? Differences between I and Il.
6. What does the reference to Mary beneath the cross mean?
7. To which passages in the gospel do the "miracles" and the reference to Mary's prayer refer?
8. What is the meaning of the reference to her glory?
9. Compare the petitions of I and Il. In what perspective are our needs considered in II?
10. How is Jesus' Heart considered in I and in II? Which passage of the gospel is relevant here?
11. Compare the four gifts asked for from the Sacred Heart in version I and II; what is their biblical background?
12. What is the basis referred to at the end to support the prayer?
The prayer Souviens-toi (Remember II) is offered to replace the Souvenez-vous (Remember I).
The new version wants to carry out the same function as the Remember I,
in the spirit of a new spiritual theology.
A few characteristic terms are common to both versions:
the word Remember,
the title Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
the Heart of Jesus as "source"
and Mary as "our mother".
Starting from these clear similarities we can line up the differences.
Linguistics teaches that from difference meaning springs.
Hence a comparison between Remember I and Remember II offers a key to the meaning of both.
Devotion has its time
The first word of the French version is right away to the point.
Remember I starts with Souvenez-vous,
hence it addresses Mary in the form of politeness
which underlines the distance between those who pray and Mary.
Their attitude is one of respect, based on the fact that Mary is the Domina, Our Lady.
That title characterizes her as a woman of note,
as a woman with authority.
Those who pray to her recognize this by addressing her with respect and awe.
Formula II maintains Mary's title
but she is addressed in the second person singular:
notwithstanding Mary's highness those who pray to her
address her in a familiar way.
This approach stresses nearness,
the closeness between her and those who venerate her.
In the French version I
the title is preceded by the word '0',
an indication of the form of address;
in version II
it is omitted.
This shows that the rhetorical language of the past
has made place for the more sober style of our time.
The old eloquence characterizes Remember I:
it speaks of 'ineffable' power,
of the 'divine' Son
and his 'adorable' Heart,
of the 'heavenly treasurer'
and we find the cumbersome lines 'of the heart of Jesus,
of that Heart which is the inexhaustible source' etc.
This style strikes people of our time as pompous and pathetic.
It disappears in the new version
which is a more direct and sober prayer to Mary,
reflecting the piety of a new age.
The title Our Lady ('Notre Dame')
indicates that the devotees recognize Mary
as a person with authority.
She has authority with regard to us: 'our' Lady.
When we ask what is the basis of this authority
we find the title 'our mother' which is found in both versions,
towards the end of the prayer.
As mother Mary has a special relationship with us,
she is intimately related to our life:
she gives it and protects it.
We recognize her unique place in the order of salvation;
since she is Jesus' mother she is also our mother.
She gives us Jesus, our life.
Jesus became our brother,
we are brothers and sisters and,
in that sense,
children of the same mother.
We invoke her because of her motherhood,
because of the love and responsibility which flow from it.
She is called: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
because we see her in her relationship with the loving person Jesus Christ.
This places her authority in a mild light.
We seek the protection of someone who unites power with love.
By using this title we put some pressure on Mary,
the confidence that we here express should touch her.
Version I is more exuberant here than version II.
Remember I speaks of the ineffable power she has over the heart of her son.
We would feel that the maternal relationship between Mary and Jesus,
between mother and son,
is not well characterized by the word 'power'.
A mother does not exercise power over her child;
she has 'influence' on her son because she is his mother.
Because of their intimate relationship
she can obtain many things from him.
The new version appeals
to this maternal relationship between her and Jesus:
"He chose you for his mother".
This relationship is not just a pious image nor an exaggeration;
it is a consequence of the incarnation of God's Son.
The unique role of Mary in Jesus' life
implies that he has an intimate relationship with her.
She has a heart for us
and her son has a heart for her.
Her 'power' over him does not compete with his power
nor does it lessen his power.
Her mediation is not necessary;
it is simply implied in the relationship of mother and son.
She can illuminate the way of salvation for us
and this makes her intercession valuable.
A new feeling for life; new ways of relating
In Remember I
the distance between the one who prays and Mary is stressed.
This is done not merely by the polite, formal way of addressing Mary with 'Vous',
but also by the baroque qualifications 'ineffable', 'divine' and 'adorable'.
Here we find a reflection of the authority relations of a past age.
Over against the higher we find the lower;
over against the person with authority
we find the subject.
In that kind of society the class distinctions are stressed
and this holds also for the relationship parents-children.
The distance is stressed more than closeness,
politeness more than intimacy.
For our feeling the petitioner of Remember I
adopts a dependent, almost servile attitude.
Modern children address their parents in French with "tu";
in their relationship with their children
the parents stress more the closeness and familiarity
than the distance and the authority.
This makes the child and the subject more independent;
the relationships become more democratic.
Both sides consider one another as full-fledged partners;
the children are not merely subordinate and dependent;
they are serious counterparts of their father and mother,
and do not merely expect something
but have also something to offer.
Something like that we see in Remember 11.
Version I goes straight to the point by putting all stress on Mary's power
already in the very first sentence,
thus underlining the distance.
The one praying in Version II is more independent.
He takes the one to whom he prays seriously
by reminding her of her election;
he does not think right away of her power
which he wants to mobilize for himself.
He has attention for the excellence
he sees and appreciates in Mary.
He speaks to her in a human and respectful manner
by reminding her of her marvellous gifts,
her election, her glory, the hearing she gets from Jesus.
All this is so well developed
that it becomes a little biography
which expresses our admiration for Mary.
The forms of the verbs show subtle differences in the French text.
Two verbs are in the passe defini:
fit and voulut,
has done and wanted.
They express an action accomplished in the past.
Jesus has done miracles for Mary
which are facts that can not be made undone.
He wants her close to the cross:
that too is an undeniable fact.
These are pages from Mary's life.
There is one passe indefini:
il t'a choisi pour mere (he chose you for his mother).
The effects of this choice still continue.
This special relationship between mother and son
remains and the one who prays hopes to profit from it.
The role of remembering
Both versions start with the word "Remember".
This activity can be expressed in different languages by different words.
We meet some significant terms:
in Latin: 'recordari', return to the heart;
in English: 'call to nind';
in Dutch: 'her-inneren': bring back to one's interior or 'gedenken': pay attention to.
In the bible the term is often used in prayers of supplication in the imperative form,
We ask God to remember the misery of those who pray,
to be mindful of his own promise, his goodness and fidelity.
That is to say that God must take to heart this misery, this promise,
and draw the practical conclusions.
In Remember I those who pray remind Mary
of her power over Jesus' heart;
they desire that Mary will make use of it for their benefit.
Remember II is in no such hurry
but starts with an expression of respect for Mary.
We remind her that the Lord has done great things for her.
At this stage the text does not yet specify which great things are meant
but the following sentence mentions two of them:
her election as mother,
and this makes us think of the annunciation of the angel
when she gave her consent to her vocation as mother of Jesus.
We remember also that Elisabeth called her "the mother of my Lord".
Secondly mention is made of her presence beneath the cross.
This passage too is related to her motherhood.
Jesus' word: "Woman, this is your son"
makes us understand that Mary's motherly care and service
will henceforth be extended to the sisters and brothers of Jesus,
represented by the beloved disciple.
He is purposely indicated as "the beloved disciple",
a title that is applicable to all who follow Jesus.
If he had been called "John",
Jesus' word would have been restricted to this particular disciple only.
As it is it refers to Mary's motherly responsibility for the whole Christ.
It is meaningful to refer to this in a prayer to Mary.
The one praying hopes to experience that Mary intercedes for him or for her.
In this light the words "He chose you for (his) mother" (French: "Il t 'a choisi pour Mere") have a wider significance.
They mean also that Jesus chose Mary to be our mother,
and also as such she stood beneath the cross.
Meanwhile among "the great things"
may think also of the miracle at
where her faith opened the door for Jesus' meaningful sign.
Her intervention makes us think of an expression liked by Father Jules Chevalier:
she is the 'omnipotentia supplex ',
by her faith that moves mountains.
There are still two verbs in the present tense
that express Jesus' work regarding Mary:
"He gives you a share in his glory,
He listens to your prayer."
By her assumption into heaven Mary entered her completion;
she is with God.
She is so fully attuned to him that her prayers are irresistible.
She wants what God wants.
This opens deep perspectives for us;
it also refers to the belief
in the mystery of being heard by God.
This short biography of Mary is given in the context of remembering.
Literally the "Remember" is addressed to Mary.
The remembrance of the great things done for her
precede the petitions we address to her.
We refer to them as factors that are connected with our needs.
Mary has a unique place in God's plan of salvation.
We mention them as grounds of our confidence.
Mary will make her unique position count.
What happened to her encourages us.
Meanwhile by these words of praise
we also express our respect to Mary.
Now the prayer of petition follows.
The imperative mood
The verb is put constantly in the imperative:
"Offer him.., present him..., let us live..., lead us...,
see our trust and answer our prayer, show yourself our Mother".
Seven verbs in the imperative,
but the concrete intentions are very different.
In Remember I we find only three imperatives:
grant us..., hear and grant our prayers".
This does not mean that Remember I is less petitionary.
On the contrary, everything is massively geared towards petition,
passages of praise like "0 heavenly treasurer..."
as well as expressions of confidence like "No! We cannot meet with a refusal".
Moreover the content of the petitions in II are very different from those in I.
Version I is heavily orientated towards concrete requests
that concern the petitioner personally.
Even the gifts from Jesus' heart are mentioned (in the French text)
in one breath with the personal needs.
In version II they are mentioned in different sentences.
The only thing directly asked for in version I is
"Grant us...the favours we solicit."
Remember II does not hide either the fact
that people come to Mary with their concrete needs:
"present our petitions to him".
But this is preceded by the petition
"Offer him our prayers of praise and thanksgiving".
Here we find again the element of respect and appreciation
that we found also in the first part.
This makes the whole prayer sound differently
and helps to avoid that it exclusively aims
at the personal interests of the petitioner.
Mary is not merely appreciated as the ideal intercessor to obtain gifts for us.
The one who prays does not merely think of his own needs.
He wishes also that justice be done to Jesus' heart
and for that purpose too he calls on Mary's assistance:
In version I we find nothing that corresponds to this petition,
nor to the third petition of version II:
"Let us live like you in the love of your Son so that his Kingdom may come."
Mary lived in the love of her son.
This means: she opened herself for that beneficial and creative power,
and she let herself be moved by that love
so that she blossomed by the holy Spirit.
By that love she devoted herself to her son and to his mission,
so that she was at his side even under the cross.
When that love moves us
a new humanity comes into being
That is what this petition intends:
that for which Christ lived,
the coming of the kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace,
of justice, love and peace.
The prayer to Mary tums into the prayer of the Lord
and shows thereby its authentic force.
The gifts of the Heart
Remember II takes up again a perspective found also in the first version:
the gifts of Jesus' heart are destined to be poured out
on all mankind, on the world.
And the abundance of gifts which this heart promises
is described in terms of an overflowing source.
This suggests also that basically they are gifts of life.
Mary is asked to show people of our time
the way to this source of life.
Remember I mentions as gifts of the loving Lord:
love and mercy, light and salvation.
The first two are qualities of Jesus from which the other two gifts originate.
"Light and salvation" could refer respectively
to the light of life here on earth
and to the blessed life in the world to come.
Remember 11 also asks for four gifts,
but they are not exactly the same.
It mentions "hope and salvation, justice and peace."
It is remarkable that of the older version mercy only has been retained.
And it is not clear what exactly moved the author of the prayer to ask for these four.
Maybe we could say that "hope and salvation"
express the perspective of the future.
Hope is then the sustaining power in this life
while salvation is the perspective for the future.
These two concepts are found together in Romans 8:24:
In hope we already have salvation.
This means that we are saved already
but we must still wait for the completion of redemption.
We trust that it will become a reality.
The hope for the fullness of redemption
is a gift of the loving Lord.
Together with "the hope of salvation"
we pray for "justice and peace".
These two concepts too are closely connected.
The combination of the two is found in Isaiah 32: 17:
Justice will bring peace.
It reminds us also of the papal movement for peace
Justitia et Pax
and of the motto of Pius XII:
Opus justitiae pax - Peace is a work of justice.
The two pairs together refer
on the one hand to individual,
on the other hand to collective salvation.
And what we hope is beyond our control:
salvation is a gift of God,
not just our own product.
Peace, on the other hand,
is the fruit of justice,
and justice is something people must do.
But this does not prevent us to pray,
not only for hope and salvation,
but also for justice and peace.
Where Remember 11 mentions Mary beneath the cross
it refers in fact to John 19.
Both versions allude to that same chapter where they refer to the heart
as a source of living water.
One of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance
and immediately there cane out blood and water (19:34).
We think that blood here refers to the life that Jesus offers by his death
and that the water refers to the life as communicated to the believer
by the Spirit.
In this context we are reminded also of the words spoken during the feast of tabemacles:
If any man is thirsty, let him come to me!
Let the man come and drink who believes in me!
As scripture says, From his breast shall flow fountains of living water.
He was speaking of the Spirit... (Jn 7:37-39).
Remember I ends
with an assurance of confidence
and a repeated request to be heard.
Remember II repeats the expression of confidence,
asks for a response
and concludes with the words
Show yourself always our Mother.
That crowns all.
In Remember II her matemity was already mentioned in reference to Jesus:
He chose you for his mother.
We have already explained that Jesus on the cross
entrusted Mary to his beloved disciple;
in the light of that tender love
we can read also the concluding words of Remember 11.
This word synthesizes everything:
Mary watches over us with motherly care
but without tutelage;
as adult persons we feel secure with her with childlike confidence.
She leads us to the heart of Jesus
"from which a new world emerges,
made present on earth by the Spirit till the end of time" (Jules Chevalier).
Ave admirabile cor
From gift to surrender
1. AVE ADMIRABILE COR JESU
Hail admirable Heart of Jesus
2. te laudatnus
we praise you
3. te benedicimus
we bless you
4. te glorificatnus
we glorify you
5. Tibi gratlas agimus
We give you thanks
6. tibi cor nostrum offerimus
8. et consecramus
we consecrate our hearts to you
10. et posside illud totum
and maintain entire possession of them
13. et sanctifica
and sanctify them
14. ut in ipso vivas
that within them you may live
16. in perpetuum.
01. "Hail": What does this word mean; which function does it have?
02. In the presentation given above some blocks are placed in opposition to others: 5-6, 9-10 and 14-15. What is the basis of this division; in what respect do the blocks agree with each other?
03. Lines 2-4: of which liturgical prayer do these lines remind us? What is the difference between that text and this one as to the number of verbs and their order (in the Latin text)? What could that mean?
04. Try to explain "praise, bless and glorify".
05. Lines 5-6: in which way do these two lines agree with each other and not with lines 2-4?
Is there still similarity with the well known liturgical prayer? Try to give an explanation.
05. For what are we giving thanks? Compare with the liturgical prayer.
06. In which sense does the offering of our hearts belong to what follows (Accept...)?
07. How do the forms of the verbs in lines 9-13 agree with each other?
08. In what way do lines 2-8 agree with each other in opposition to lines 9-137
09. Which activity dominates in lines 9-15? What are these prayers really about?
10. How many activities do the singers undertake in this song? What are they doing afterwards?
11. What is proper and common in the verbs that do not express an activity of the singers?
12. Which three classical stages of spiritual life are mentioned in lines 11-13? Try to describe them. Where is the third stage, the union?
13. To which activity of the singers does the threefold activity of Jesus correspond?
14. Who brings the gift of self by the singers to completion?
15. What is the final result of the process?
16. Which way does this prayer go from the beginning to the end?
17. Synthesize this hymn with a word of the gospel or with some word of your own.
Ave verum corpus, Ave crux spes unica, Ave maris stella:
in religious language "Hail" is a much used beginning of a prayer.
We find it already in the New Testament,
in the words addressed by Elisabeth to her niece Mary.
The Ave admirabile, therefore, is in good company.
At the same time it is dated.
Nowadays we do not say "Hail" when we meet each other
or when we try to make contact.
In written language equivalent formulas are used:
we end our letters with expressions like
"With cordial greetings", "with sincere greetings" etc.
Greeting someone apparently means:
to wish him well;
it is a sign of our good intentions when making contact.
When you pass someone without greeting him or her
you show that you do not want to have anything to do with that person,
that he or she does not exist for you.
Greeting someone is a sign that you feel kinship with each other:
cyclists greet cyclists
and walkers greet walkers.
How people get alienated from each other
when they co-exist in big conglomerations
is proved by the dumbness with
which they pass and ignore each other in a big city.
Greeting is a form of acknowledgement.
Ave admirabile cor
The song opens with the well known greeting Ave, Hail admirable Heart of Jesus.
Three statements follow:
Te laudamus, we praise you,
Te benedicimus, we bless you,
Te glorificanus, we glorify you.
In Latin they have in common that the personal pronoun Te (you) is always put in front.
This must have been done intentionally.
This becomes even more apparent when we notice
that the author has been inspired by the great liturgical prayer Gloria,
where we read: Laudamus Te, benedicimus Te, adoramus Te, glorificanus Te.
The Ave admirabile differs from this text
because the order of the words has been changed:
the personal pronoun "Te" has been placed in front.
Those who say this prayer want to praise the heart of the Lord
and nobody else.
They acknowledge Jesus with his heart
and nobody or nothing else that might compete with him:
like the gods of our time,
lovelessness, injustice, hatred, egoism, violence, insolent power, pride. he cult of Jesus' heart recognizes a set of specific values.
It is hard to define the specific meaning of the three verbs.
They are as common as they are worn out,
as venerable as they are antiquated.
From daily language they have practically disappeared.
They have in common that
all three are a form of acknowledgement.
The person using them expresses that he wants to do justice to the other,
that in word and deed he wants to let the other
be who he is.
He who praises God or Jesus with his heart,
acknowledges them in their transcendence and immanence,