The Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus are members of the Chevalier Family because Fr. Jules Chevalier founded the order in accordance with his own charism. His deepest intentions and original dream grew to become the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and the Lay Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
As explained in his book titled Jules Chevalier’s Charism and the Identity of the Chevalier Family, Fr. Hans Kwakman, MSC shares the common characteristics of the three congregations: “a deep concern for humanity; a belief in the love of God revealed in Christ as an answer to people’s deeper needs; and a mission to give witness to this love to all people, through the practice of charity.”
The word charism is a direct reference to the spirit of a congregation’s founder. As such it is different from spirituality in that charism requires that the founder’s “spirit and aim should be faithfully accepted and retained” in perpetuity by its congregation.
According to Chevalier, God is “the ocean that embraces everything…God does not create from a distance, sending existence to us like the sun its rays. He is in us, in our most intimate depths, more present to us than we are to ourselves.” The MSC charism professes that God’s ultimate presence among us is in the Heart of Jesus Christ, the Christ who told Margaret Mary, “This is the Heart that has loved humankind so much.”
Chevalier sees the Heart as the central point of Jesus’ divine humanity, as “the organ for the thanksgiving of the universe.” Through the Eucharist and the Church, Jesus fulfills his ultimate desire to stay with us always: “Impelled by his Heart, burning with love for us, [Jesus] instituted a sacrament to communicate familiarly with us, to give himself to us without reserve. The Holy Eucharist is the masterpiece and the ultimate limit of the love of the Heart of Jesus for us. It comes from his Heart like a river from its source.”
Chevalier’s contemplation of the symbolic power of Christ’s pierced heart leads Kwakman to conclude that “his pierced heart, his broken heart – a heart wounded by rejection and violence, emphasizes Chevalier’s belief in Jesus as ‘the one who will restore all things’, including a broken world.”
Chevalier’s revelation is that the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of God are one: “God is love itself. This infinite love…has enclosed itself in a human heart, the Heart of Jesus…his living sacrament…The Heart of Jesus is the Heart of God, the center of divine love.”
In light of the suffering and struggles of society, Chevalier’s response to this revelation
is to find hope in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to participate in the mission of Jesus “by all means available.” This devotion to the Sacred Heart and attention to continuing Jesus’ mission eventually lead to the founding of the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Today, the charism of Fr. Jules Chevalier is alive through the Chevalier Family, and specifically through the mission and lives of the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC). Chevalier’s vision that openness and response to God’s love known through the Sacred Heart – the human heart of Jesus – is a remedy for all the evils of the day, continues to fuel the mission of the MSC Sisters whose Charism Statement reflects this vision: Being graced by the love of Christ, we, the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart, are called to respond to His love and to make that love present to everyone, everywhere – without limit.
Living Our Charism Creates Our Identity by Nick Harnan
In one of his books entitled “A New Heart and a New Spirit”, Fr Cuskelly explains what he means by a Charism. The word “charism” comes from the Greek and means “Gift”. Therefore when used in connection with Fr Chevalier or with any of the Founders and Foundresses of Religious Congregations it means a Special Gift of Grace which enables the person to see Jesus in his Life and Ministry from a particular angle or aspect. We all follow Jesus in the Gospels and are aware of his life and teachings. But sometimes it is necessary to concentrate on one particular aspect of Jesus’ Life and Teachings. This becomes very necessary if the Church, the World or we, ourselves, are in danger of forgetting some aspect of Jesus which needs to be kept fresh in our memories and awareness. For example, if we or the Church generally concentrate too much on sin and failures then we could easily forget that Jesus constantly offered forgiveness, compassion and a loving understanding of our human weakness. Therefore A Charism always has a profound PROPHETIC DIMENSION. That is to say that the Charism will challenge the Church and the World to return to an awareness and practice of some important aspect of Jesus’ Life and/or Teaching. To illustrate this topic further let me tell you a story:
On the eve of his Ascension into Heaven Jesus became very worried. While after His Ascension he would still be very much with us in his Spirit and dwelling in our hearts, nevertheless, He realized that He would now be INVISIBLE. “What will happen when I remove my visible presence from the world? Will the people or even the Church, soon forget some of my most important teachings and examples? “To prevent this happening Jesus came up with a very good idea. He decided to make available Special Graces for certain people who would take up some particular aspect of his legacy and keep it before our eyes. All he needed were Volunteers who were prepared to do this.
Jesus said; “During my earthly life I regularly withdrew from my busy ministries and went aside to quiet and peaceful places to spend my nights in prayer. Who will come forward to take up this practice of mine and hold it up to the Church and to the World?” St. Benedic came forward and agreed to do just this. He agreed to gather around him a family of Religious and Lay People to keep this Memory alive. So they received the Charism of a Monastic and Contemplative Vocation which continues into our times.
Then Jesus said; “During my earthly life I devoted much of my time to preaching the Good News and even offended many powerful people by my fidelity to the Truth. Who will come forward to defend my ministry of Preaching and Fidelity to the Truth?” St. Dominic came forward and said that he would gather round him a family of men and women, religious and lay, who would dedicate themselves to defending and proclaiming the Truth of Jesus. So the Dominican family received the Charism to protect the Truth of Jesus.
Jesus also said; “During my earthly life I paid a heavy price for my fidelity to the Truth and for my fidelity to People. I suffered a painful Death because of my love for the People. Who will remind the Church and the World of my Passion and Death?” St. Paul of the Cross came forward and said that he would gather around him a family of religious and lay who would constantly proclaim the Passion and Death of Jesus and make sure that this aspect of Jesus’ life would never be forgotten. So he and his family called Passionists received the Special Chaism which empowers them to be faithful to this truth.
Jesus then said; “During my earthly life I lived a life of Simplicity, Poverty and Hospitality. Who will come forward to hold up this aspect of my Life to the Church and to the World?” Sts. Francis and Clare came forward and agreed to gather around them a family of Women and Men, Lay and Religious, who would keep this Inspiring Memory alive. So the Franciscan Family have received a Special Charism which enables them to do this.
Jesus again said; “During my life I sometimes actually lived physically among the poor and the outcasts. Who will remind the Church and the World of how close I am to the poor and outcasts?” Then Mother Theresa of Calcutta came forward and said that she would gather around her a group of religious women and lay helpers who would actually live amongst the poor and the outcasts in order to keep this beautiful memory alive. So Mother Theresa and her family received the Grace to carry out this powerful example of Jesus.
Then Jesus said;” During my earthly life I was able to offer the people the best Good News possible. I was able to tell them and demonstrate to them that God in me LOVES THEM WITH A HUMAN HEART, A HEART FULL OF COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS AND TENDERNESS. Who will now give witness to this truth and keep it before the attention of the Church and the World? Who will embody this love in a Way of Life which will create a New World built on My Love?” Fr Chevalier came forward and said that with the help of Mother Louise Hartzer and Fr Hubert Linkens he would gather around him a family of Priests, Sisters, Brothers, Lay People and Diocesan Priests who would devote their lives to giving witness to and proclaiming this wonderful truth and work towards building a New World Built on Love (Paradigm of Compassion.)
Jesus said; “You and all your family will indeed receive this Special Charism and it will empower you to witness to my tender love for all people but especially the poor, marginalised and oppressed. You will also be empowered to build the world of love that I came to establish and already enshrined in the Reign of God. Since this Mission is so important to me I will show you three very special means which will ensure that you are faithful to your Charism. Firstly, be faithful to the Eucharist. There you will receive a special outpouring of my Love and Forgiveness. Secondly, stay close to the People. There you will find me in the ordinary struggles and experiences of daily life. In the hearts of people, especial those who suffer or who are rejected, you will hear my call to greater Love and Service. Thirdly, stay close to my Mother, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She formed my physical Heart in her womb. She also formed my whole human identity and taught me how to be Compassionate and Understanding towards the Human Struggle. As she was for me so she will be for you A FORMATOR for the Mission you have accepted from me. With My Grace (Charism) and with these three special helps you CANNOT FAIL.