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Spirituality and Charism

Interior Life and Prayer

Way of Life




Spirituality and Charism

Our charism is to glorify the Heart of Jesus, the Love of God made visible in the Incarnate Word, by means of the sanctification of ourselves and others. Through prayer and the development of the interior life, we strive to conform ourselves to Christ and then, through the instruction of the youth, to radiate that love to others.

Everything can be synthesized in the expression "devotion to the Heart of Christ." According to our Holy Mother Foundress, the two words spouse and devotion are synonymous. A spouse is one who loves without measure, with an undivided love, one who lives only for her Spouse, who looks only for His presence, His glory, His honor, and who disappears in His shadow, ready to empty herself, so that He alone attracts souls and receives all possible glory. This spousal love is adoration, and such is the devotion to the Heart of Christ according to Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat.

Interior Life and Prayer

Orientation of our Life

Contemplation and a profound study of the Heart of Christ is the form of our prayer; our gaze fixed on Him is the goal of our perfection; purity of adoration, fervor of love and fullness of oblation are the form of our interior life; union with his zeal for the souls that He loves so tenderly, is the form of our apostolic and redemptive life.

The spirit of this religious family is essentially founded on prayer and the interior life, because it is not possible to glorify the Heart of Christ without studying His interior dispositions in order to unite and conform ourselves to them. For this reason we must pray unceasingly according to the command of Our Lord "It is necessary to pray always" (Lk 18:1). The religious carries in her heart the anguish and hope, the joy and pain of all men. Her prayer, assuming the destiny of the human race, must be a school of love. With the very Heart of Christ she loves God and each of her "brothers and sisters." With her prayer united to that of the Heart of Christ, in a universal and ecclesiastical dimension, she becomes an effective instrument in the realization of the Mystery of salvation.
The interior life is the constant attention we show to the Divine Guest present in us. This becomes a form of unceasing prayer and the indispensible union we must live with God. The only reality that can sanctify souls and save the world is Divine Life, and nothing for us, neither prayer, nor work, nor suffering, nor apostolate, has any value outside of this union with Jesus Christ living in us.

Essential Moments of Community Prayer

  • An hour of meditation
  • Liturgical prayer in community:
    the Holy Mass and the singing of
    Matins, Lauds, Sext, Vespers, and Compline
  • Spiritual reading and Lectio Divina
  • Examination of conscience twice a day
  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
  • Recitation of the Rosary
  • Spiritual conferences
  • Annual eight day retreat

Spiritual Motherhood

Our title of "Mother" is given to us in virtue of our calling to be co-redeemers of souls in union with Our Lord; by generating and forming souls in Him, repairing for their coldness, supplying for their lack of love, and praying that grace acts in them. It is thus that we live the fullness of our spousal relationship and our motherhood. It is true love that enables us to be mothers, and the more we live our maternal vocation faithfully, the more we forget ourselves, are purified, and begin to love with the very Heart of Jesus.

...such was the vision of our Mother Foundress of the spousal relationship between the Sacred Heart and His consecrated religious. One cannot be a true spouse of the Heart of Jesus if she does not embrace with Him the state of victim which He assumed in His Incarnation and retained in the Eucharist. The notion of victim speaks of the nature itself of the union between the religious and the Heart of Jesus crucified; reassuming it, synthesizing it, and expressing the essence of her consecration.

Way of Life

Community Life

The Heart of Christ is Itself the source of the Charity with which the religious must love one another, creating in the community a welcoming atmosphere of acceptance in which each religious can fully be herself: an atmosphere of trust and sincere openness to the gifts and capacities of each, so that every religious can reach her full potential and develop as a person in every aspect; an atmosphere where the grace of union of minds and hearts is revealed by harmony; an atmosphere of joy and happiness owing to the consecretion lived in community (Statutes Ch 5,38). We must never forget that our first apostolate is that within our own community.

The Cloister

The cloister, according to our Mother Foundress, is the necessary condition for a profound life of prayer which allows the religious to truly dwell in the Heart of Christ. The religious are not the ones that must go out of the convent, but rather it is the immense Love of the Heart of Christ that He has entrusted to us which must radiate and transform all those who come in contact with us. The love and the understanding of the cloister are an integral part of the spirit of our vocation as the cloister itself is a part of the constitution of our Society. The interior life, soul of the Society, will be protected and defended against the advancement of the spirit of the world and of an apostolic activity that circumstances sometimes threaten to render feverish and excessive (XXII, XXIV Congresses). If the spirit of the Society, based on the interior life, is lost, it will have gone by the open door of the cloister (Mother General Vicente, XXII Congress).


In silence man finds God, finds himself anew, and prepares to meet God in others. Perfection for a religious consists in her union with the Heart of Christ, however, she will never achieve this greatly desired union if she does not detach herself from a dissipation of heart and spirit and try to habitually recollect herself and become a truly interior person. Because silence is the soul of this interior life, "the religious will never speak without real necessity." (Constitutions 2, II, XXVI) The observance of silence, however, is not an obstacle to charity; instead according to the spirit of the Constitutions, silence favours the joyful simplicity with which every religious tries to understand what her sisters have at heart. Silence therefore helps to strengthen the union of spirit, authentic friendships, fraternal collaboration in the same apostolate, and also offers a support to the community dimension of a life chosen for the greater service of Christ. (Statutes Ch 4,31)

The Holy Rule

Everything is oriented to cultivate an interior life and maintain oneself in constant union with Our Lord. The suces of God's work depends on the exact observance of the Rules and COnstitutions; and, indeed it is only by this constant fidelity that union of mind and heart in the love of Jesus Christ can be maintained between all the members of the Society; that union without which there will be soon division trouble and desolation; that union, too, which stamps upon each member the characcter of disciple and spouse of Jesus Christ, and puts upon the whole body the seal of God's work; that union which is most pleasing in the sight of Our Lord, will draw down His blessing, will be a subject of edification o our neighbor, a sweet and powerful attraction to young persons living in the world, and a source of peace and of consolation to all the members of the Society, from which they will derive invincible strength and courage (Summary of Constitutions XXVI). The Constitutions and Rules indicate the way for the religious to reach this union with Christ, however, one must always remember that they are a means to achieve the goal; never should they become the principle "end" of the religious life.

      Typical Daily Schedule

4:40     Rising
5:10     Office of Readings (Matins)
5:35     Hour Meditation
6:35     Morning Prayer (Lauds)
7:00     Holy Mass
7:30     Morning Meal
8:00     Work, Study or Apostolate
12:00    Midday Prayer (Sext)
12:15    Midday Meal
13:00    Work, Study or Apostolate
15:00    Afternoon Adoration,
             Spiritual Reading and Rosary
16:00    Work, Study or Apostolate
17:35    Evening Prayer (Vespers)
18:00    Community Meeting
18:30    Work, Study or Apostolate
19:30     Evening Meal
20:00    Work, Study or Apostolate
21:00    Night Prayer (Compline)
22:00    Ripose


Although we are a strongly contemplative, monastic community, we are at the same time dedicated to the education of the youth which is considered our primary means of glorifying the Heart of Christ. For us, there is no distinction between the "active" and "contemplative" life. Consecrated life must always be a unity of the two aspects: if we do not live in profound communion with Our Lord in order to assimilate His sentiments and love with His Heart, any form of apostolate becomes a form of pure "activism." On the other hand, a life of sweet union with God in prayer and the seeking of self-perfection, in which the zeal to save souls has no place, would be nothing but pure selfishness and illusion. Our Constitutions remind us that we must see all souls as children of God, ransomed by the Blood of Jesus Christ and destined to reign eternally with Him; we must consider them as the most precious treasure confided to our care by the Love of God; we must love them with a truly maternal love, but always a pure and sacrificial love drawn from the Heart of our Divine Spouse.


The vocation of every Christian is to become a saint; we are all called to holiness.
However, a consecrated religious gives her heart totally to God in a more radical way,
witnessing with her life the reality of the union between Christ and His Bride the Church.

The Lord is a Spouse who lovingly calls His brides to follow Him completely "sola con il Solo" (alone with the Alone). The road is at times full of joys and consolations, at other times it is a road of pure faith and abandonment: He permits everything so that His spouse may have a soul, transparent as crystal without any shadows, so that she may be a lamp that burns with His Light. When a person carries Jesus in her heart, her very life becomes a miracle and despite the difficulties, the trials, and all the evil that man, left to himself, brings into this world, she is able to see the marvels of the Lord's Love.

A vocation is a gift received, a calling to a life, that alone, relying on our own strength, we cannot live. It is the Lord who places in our hearts a love so great that nothing can overcome it. If you feel in the depths of your heart that Jesus wants you all for Himself, do not make Him wait, do not debate with the "pros" and "cons." Any vocation must be embraced with generosity and abnegation; it is an adventure that one lives day by day with the Lord.


The Society of the Sacred Heart was founded in Paris in 1800 by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. The Holy Mother Foundress was born at Joigny, France, on December 12, 1779, the daughter of a cooper, she was educated by her older brother Louis, who later became a priest. Father Varin, a friend of Father Louis Barat's, had received a mission from his brother priest Father de Tournely before the death of the later, to form an institute of women consecrated to the Heart of Jesus and dedicated to the formation of young girls. Upon meeting the little sister of Father Barat, Father Varin knew that God had shown him the founding stone of this new religious order. St. Madeleine Sophie accepted the will of God and was received with three other companions by Fr. Varin into the religious life in 1800, thus founding the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They established their first convent and school at Amiens the following year, and in 1802, Madeleine, though the youngest member of the group, was appointed Superior; a position she would hold for the next sixty-three years until her death in 1865. The Society spread throughout France, absorbed a community of Visitation nuns at Grenoble in 1804 (among whom was St. Rose Phillipine Duchesne, who was to bring the Society to the United States in 1818), and received formal approval from Pope Leo XII in 1826. By the time of her death in Paris on May 25, she had opened more than 100 houses and schools in twelve countries. She was canonized in 1925. Her feast day is May 25th.
After Vatican II, the Society of the Sacred Heart began to fundamentally change its spirit and orientation. The community of the house of Florence, under the guidance of the Church, maintained their original charism and style of life while faithfully carrying out the recommendations of Perfectae Caritatis.
In 1992, the Church recognized the Community of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Florence as a house, "sui iuris" of Pontifical Right.

The Document that established the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Florence
as a Community sui iuris of Pontifical Right

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