rr sacred heart fire and world

“A Spirituality of the Heart is a way of being in the world. It is a journey to be travelled with others. It is an energy that sustains and moves us, a dance in which we are participating. It is a way of being in the world, in relationship to self, others and God: a way of coming to rest within ourselves, at our deepest centre”                        James Maher MSC


“Spirituality of the Heart is first and foremost something to be lived rather than understood. It demands that I first overcome divisions in my own thinking that create a sense of separation from self, from others, from God. This same separateness divides the body from the spirit, the human from the divine. It is no wonder we struggle to embody the mystery of God’s incarnation in Jesus, in our own lives and in actions”

                                    Chris Chaplin MSC

It is a missionary spirituality that is without limits - everywhere - at every level of society. Religious, diocesan priests and laity are called to share this spirituality. The laity are indispensable to carry our spirituality of the heart.”

Jules Chevalier

SPIRITUALITY OF THE HEART: spirituality for everyone

Fr Jules Chevalier MSC firmly believed that Devotion to the Sacred Heart was the solution to all the world’s problems. His invocation, “May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved – Forever” captures a key aspect of Chevalier’s spirituality and of his vision.

While each of the words in this invocation invite commentary I will focus on the word “everywhere”.  It is clear that Chevalier understood “everywhere” in its geographical and social dimensions. So, not only would the devotion spread to every place on earth but it would also find a home into every strata of society from home to work place to religious communities, presbyteries etc – that is, this devotion was for everyone, everywhere.

In order to achieve this vision Chevalier understood that lay people as well as religious and clerics needed to be included in the society that he founded. Lay people then, are invited to discover ways to live this spirituality in their day to day lives and not simply in that aspect of their life that may be connected to the men and women religious who claim Chevalier as their founder. Just as religious men and women strive to find ways to express and live this spirituality in community so lay men and women need to strive to find ways to live and give expression to this spirituality in their life as single or married people in their homes, work places and beyond.

The key aspects of this spirituality will be similar for everyone. It begins with a journey to one’s own heart; in this we recognize the need we all have for quiet, still awareness, to be in touch with our inner self. In this inner journey we pay attention to the multitude of feelings and thoughts that are known only in solitude.  In that place we intentionally open ourselves to the compassionate, loving heart of Jesus.

So spiritualty of the heart has this contemplative dimension. It also invites us to make the journey outwards from our own heart, to the hearts of others. And once again, in every person we meet, in whatever situation we find ourselves, we open ourselves to the abiding presence of the compassionate, loving heart of Jesus.

Spirituality of the heart invites us to make the inner journey to our own heart and the outer journey to the hearts of others in the belief that it is there that we encounter the compassionate, loving heart of Jesus. As we live this spirituality we become ever more sensitized to this compassionate, loving presence that manifests itself everywhere, in all dimensions of life. Living a spirituality of the heart gives witness and expression to this presence.

It is spirituality for everyone, everywhere.

P. Fitzgerald November 2015


Spirituality of the Heart – A Description

The quality that most describes an MSC is kindness. The MSC Constitutions describe and prescribe the MSC way: the Spirit of our society is one of love and kindness, humility and simplicity.

Jules Chevalier, Le Sacre Coeur

A Spirituality of the Heart is foundationally about love – not a soft sentimental love but a love which challenges and yet comforts … that is courageous and yet humble … that is hopeful and yet not blind to the problems of our world. It is a love that is strong and determined but does not crush the bruised reed … that is faithful and generous. Like Christ, it is compassionate, tender and merciful.

Fr Bob Irwin msc  (2004)

‘To live,’ wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery ‘ is to be slowly born.’ The fact is that coming to be fully alive is the task of a lifetime. There’s so much in each of us that we’ve never touched, so much beauty we’re steeped in that we’ve overlooked. Consciousness is what lifts the ordinary to the sublime.

The ordinary is what reveals to us little by little, inch by inch, the holiness of life – we wait for retreats, liturgies, grand gatherings to take us to God, and indeed they can and do; yet God is with us all the while – most especially in the routine parts of life, the dull parts of the day, which are the gifts of space – time for consciousness and reflection, time to continue being slowly born.

From: Joan Chittister osb – Listen with the Heart – Sacred Moments in Everyday Life  (2003)


Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


Your beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

1 Peter 3: 3 – 4

I used to think that holiness meant keeping the rules. Now I know that it means knowing the self. When I really know myself, I know what I must do to be the best I can become. Then, it becomes impossible for me to judge another. Holiness lies more in forgiving the other than in not sinning. (1)

It is one thing to forgive for the sake of civility. It is another to forgive from the heart. Civility urges us to maintain the connections we have for the sake of our own advantage. The heart urges us to go beyond the hurt to the place where freedom lies and learning happens and trust is possible again.(2)

From Joan Chittister osb (1) Becoming Fully Human – The Greatest Glory of God (2005) and (2) God’s Tender Mercy  - Reflections on Forgiveness (2010)


The Church mystics of ancient times knew that we only become whole, and radically holy, when we learn to integrate our spiritual, transcendent self with our personal, human and fleshly self. Their exceptional and rounded balance of expression and description of centred holiness, their freedom in the use of sensuous images and physical feelings regarding union with God, all combine to delight us with a sense of embodied wisdom, love and power.

From: Daniel O’Leary Travelling Light – Your Journey to Wholeness (2001)