Even though Father Jules Chevalier (1824-1907) talked in terms of devotions, from his life and his writings it is clear that the Heart of Christ was the vital core of his spirituality. For him “devotion to the Sacred Heart” was a vision that inspired his whole spirituality, his lifestyle and his mission. Since the time of his studies in the seminary he was concerned about the evils of his time, and he was convinced that the Heart of Christ was the remedy for those evils.
The evils of his time: rationalism, religious indifference, selfishness and anticlericalism were widespread in 19th century France. What struck Fr. Chevalier about the Heart of Christ was the fire of his love, a compassionate love for all who suffer. He saw the Heart of Christ as the incarnation and revelation of the compassionate love of the Father. That was his “charism”, his gift of the Spirit, his basic vision which inspired him to bear witness to the love and kindness of God our Saviour, to heal the wounded hearts of many.
The biblical doctrine about the human heart is very rich: it is mentioned more than 1100 times. In Scripture the heart refers to the interior of a person; we read about the heart of God, but mostly about the human heart. In Jeremiah 31,31-34; 32,37-41 and in Ezekiel 11,17-20; 36,24-27 God promises a new covenant which will be characterised by a new heart and a new spirit:
I shall 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.
I shall put my spirit in you… (Ez. 36, 26-27).
In the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 8, Christ is described as the mediator of the new covenant and Jeremiah 31,31-34 is applied to him. He is the one who writes the law of God on our hearts.
How does he do that? Well, the heart of Christ is the source of living water, that is, of the Spirit, (John 7,37-39). On Calvary his heart was pierced and blood and water flowed from it. The source of living water was opened, and, as became apparent on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out on us to renew the face of the earth. The paschal mystery is a Pentecostal mystery. The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us (Rom 5,5).
Since the Heart of Christ is the source of salvation for the world, together with our founder we see it as our mission to make this known to all. The motto that Jules Chevalier devised for his new Congregation was: “May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved.” We believe that also in our time people can find healing for their evils at this source. What a “new heart” really means can be seen in the life of Christ.
For more resources on Spirituality of the Heart visit the Seminar page of this website where you can access the text and audio from our month-long seminar in MSC Spirituality in February 2006.
Text courtesy of the Philippines Province