May 22, 2017
 
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DR#: 16 Spirituality of the Heart of Christ in the Brothers’ Rule of Life

Introduction

André Coindre dedicated the religious communities that he founded to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary because he wanted his followers to be animated, enlightened, and guided by the spirituality of these hearts.  For disciples of Father Coindre this means that a spirituality of kindness, gentleness, compassion, and mercy will inform everything that they do in their lives together as a community of religious educators and in their educational centers and other apostolic works.  The current Rule of Life, approved and published in 2007, articulates the spirituality of the Heart of Christ in Chapter VIII and in many other articles scattered throughout the text.  These articles tell how the spirituality of the Sacred Heart can be lived out by disciples of Coindre in their daily lives and in their apostolic works.

Both Article 112 and Article 119 of the Rule of Life speak of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In neither case does this term refer to the devotion to the Sacred Heart as popularly understood from the sixteenth century through most of the twentieth which included prayers and other pious practices meant to honor Jesus.  Although such practices are capable of nourishing spirituality, they do not constitute it.  Followers of André Coindre are challenged to deepen within themselves the spirituality of the Heart of Christ as expressed in the current Rule of Life.  They are further challenged to share this spirituality with their coworkers in the apostolate of religious education and to meditate on its implications for community and apostolic life. 

At CIAC in July of 1996, Brother René Sanctorum gave a talk entitled The Spirituality of the Sacred Heart in André Coindre, Brother Polycarp, and the Rule of Life.  He highlighted contemplation, community life, and apostolic work as three elements of this spirituality.  He also attempted to show how these three elements are linked among themselves and depend on each other. (Brother René Sanctorum, Talk, p. 5-7)

Through this reading, the participant will:

  • gain a better understanding of the spirituality of the Heart of Christ as expressed in the Rule of Life;
  • more clearly understand the spirituality of the Institute;
  • get a deeper appreciation of community life and apostolic work as elements of this spirituality.
Readings
  • Talk by Brother René Sanctorum:  “The Spirituality of the Sacred Heart in André Coindre, Brother Polycarp, and the Rule of Life"

Contemplation p. 5 (Starting with “3 - The Rule of Life…” and ending on  p. 6, “…the active apostolate.”)

Community Life p. 6 (Starting with “(2) The identification with Christ…” and ending on p. 7 with “…for who he is.”

Apostolic work p. 7 (Starting with “(3) Concerning apostolic activity…” to the end.

Options for Additional Readings
  1. Rule of Life, Chapter VIII, The Heart of Christ

Talk by Brother René Sanctorum, “Spirituality,” Pages 1 – 5
Talk by Brother René Sanctorum, “The Spirituality of the Heart of Jesus,” pages 1 – 16
Talk by Brother René Sanctorum, “The Spirituality of the Sacred Heart in André Coindre, Brother Polycarp, and the Rule of Life, pages 1 - 7

Suggestions for Journal Reflection
  1. Read Rule of Life, Article 14.  In contemplating the pierced side of Christ which of the suffering young persons with whom you work in the apostolate do you recognize?  Which of your suffering coworkers can you identify?  Do you respond to them in the manner of Christ, gentle and humble?
     
  2. Read Rule of Life, Article 15.  How would you rewrite this article so that it applies to all followers of André Coindre to and not just to vowed religious, Brothers of the Sacred Heart?  What practical means do you take to develop family spirit and to make your coworkers feel loved for who they are?
     
  3. Read Rule of Life, Article 118.  What modification would you make in this article so that it speaks to all who embrace the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart?    What concrete means do you hope that you and your coworkers would use in order that their dedication to the students and to one another are signs of the compassion of Christ?
Prayer

Sacred Heart of Jesus, thank you for my call to be a disciple of André Coindre and for inviting me to contemplate you on the cross, your side pierced with a lance.  Your wound is a window through which I look and recognize the young women and men with whom I work in the apostolate of education.  So many of them are from broken homes, have low self esteem, are humiliated by their own failings, and are afraid to love because they do not feel loved by those who should care.  Grant me the grace to treat them with gentleness and humility so that they will recognize that they are loved.

And grant me the grace to recognize my suffering coworkers in the apostolate of education, those who give their all for our students to the extent that they sometimes have little left for themselves and their families.  Grant me the grace to be sympathetic and compassionate toward them so that they feel my understanding, my support, and my love.  May we all live together as an Institute marked by a spirit of love expressed by simplicity, acceptance, and mutual support.  May we develop a family spirit that makes all of us feel loved for who we are rather than for what we do.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, may your love for us inflame our own hearts and excite our zeal so that we disciples of André Coindre may love one another and the young persons in our care.  May the respect, kindness, and concern that we have for others be a sign of your compassionate love for all.

Amen.

Readings

“THE SPIRITUALITY OF THE SACRED HEART IN ANDRÉ COINDRE, BROTHER POLYCARP, AND THE RULE OF LIFE”

by Brother René Sanctorum, S.C.

Contemplation, pp. 7-9

III. The Rule of Life.

Our Rule of Life has, since 1982, a chapter on the Sacred Heart, but, on the one hand, it was not necessary to wait for this date to live and even consign to the rules a certain spirituality of the Sacred Heart; on the other hand, not everything that concerns the spirituality of the Sacred Heart is found solely in the chapter specially dedicated to the Sacred Heart.  An attentive reading of the Rule of Life will clearly show us that the Heart of Jesus is found at the very core of every page.  What I would like to highlight is the way in which the various elements of this spirituality are connected, how they depend on each other.  I was very much inspired for the following section by the research of Brother Armand Boisvert, when he was a general councilor and member of the Commission on the Spirituality of the Sacred Heart. 

We could summarize this reflection by a schema that presents the whole subject as a tree (Sch. 1). 

a) Underground, as foundation, that is to say the roots of the tree, we could put the image of the contemplation of Christ on the cross with his heart opened by the lance (Sch. 2).  We may remember that this was also the starting point for the spirituality of the Sacred Heart in Father André Coindre.  Article 14 of the Rule of Life presents it as the basis of our whole spirituality: “The spirituality of the Institute flows from contemplating Christ, whose open heart is a sign and a revelation of the Trinitarian love of God for all”....

b) Resting on these roots is the base of the tree: from the look (contemplation) we move on to recognition and adherence, that is, to faith (Sch.3), which is what articles 13 and 1 of the Rule of Life express: “To belong to the Institute today is to believe in God's love, to live it, and to spread it.…”  “God is love.” (1 Jn 4:6)  Out of love he created the world and made us in his image.  The Father sent his beloved Son among us so that all might be saved.  Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6)  Through his incarnation, he accomplishes his Father’s plan to establish the kingdom of heaven.”

c) With the trunk of the tree, we go still further: The mystery of Christ with his open heart, contemplated and recognized in faith, spreads out to pervade our entire being (Sch. 4).  We are totally impregnated with the love of Christ: nothing in our life - physical or spiritual, prayer or action, sentiments or desires, personal life or community life – nothing escapes the hold of the love of Christ on us.  “Our founders,” states Article 112 of the Rule of Life, “made us heirs of their devotion {we must say: spirituality} to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  And so Christ, in his mystery of love, holds first place in our life as Brothers of the Sacred Heart.  He is our reference point and the center of our motivations, just as he is the very principle of our total self-offering and of our apostolic action.”  Article 12 uses similar terms: “Brother Polycarp, Brother Xavier, and our other predecessors followed in the footsteps of our founder, in gentleness and humility, growing in sanctity as they lived out our motto and shared hope: Ametur Cor Jesu!  They made love the center of their lives and the inspiration of their apostolic and missionary activity.”

d) Impregnated with the love of Christ, recognized and contemplated on the cross, we become identified with Christ himself: it is the place where branches spring out (Sch. 5), as expressed, much too feebly in my opinion, in article 121 of the Constitutions: “The Brothers learn from Jesus the fundamental virtues of his heart: humility, gentleness and compassion.” 

e) Having become Jesus Christ in his mystery of love – the tree’s foliage which grows out of the three larger branches (Sch. 6) – we produce leaves, flowers, and fruit in the sphere of prayer, community life, and apostolic action.  But these three manifestations of our life interact, influence each other, enrich each other.  This point has to be strongly stressed.  You will remark, moreover, that certain articles of the Rule of Life are taken up in two parts, proof of the connection among the three dimensions of our religious life, expressing well our spirituality: for instance, article 113, consecration and community life; article 64, apostolic activity and community life. 

* 1. Identified with Christ, we let ourselves be consecrated by the Father who wants us to be his sons: “The Heart of Jesus bears and reveals the everlasting love with which God traced the whole history of humanity.  His heart also expresses the intense divine and human affection which Jesus experienced through his incarnation to the point of offering his life so that we might all become sons of the Father.” (Rule of Life, 113)  “Our consecration to the exclusive service of Christ’s love contributes to the growth of the Church and hastens the coming of the kingdom of love.  Yet love is not always accepted; refusals and delays are part of our lives.  That is why, in a spirit of reparation, we make up in our bodies what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.…”  (Rule of Life, 117).  Here, we again find the notion of reparation so often repeated in the prayer of Claudine Thévenet and in the article of the Rules of Father Coindre, of which we have seen an excerpt, as well as the idea of total self-giving: “our dedication to the exclusive service of Christ’s love,” that we especially brought out in the consecration of Claudine. 

This aspect is found again in the very beautiful article 61: “Religious consecration leads us to offer ourselves completely to the Lord.  United to the offering of the Son, we wish to clothe ourselves with the sentiments of his heart.”  Article 161 intimately associates the sick brothers with Christ on the cross: “The brothers who are sick fulfill a special mission.  By enduring their trials in a spirit of surrender and communion with the sufferings of Jesus, they are a profound source of strength within the Institute.  By their serenity and courage in sickness as well as by their prayer, they become a grace for the brothers in the active apostolate.”

“THE SPIRITUALITY OF THE SACRED HEART IN ANDRÉ COINDRE, BROTHER POLYCARP, AND THE RULE OF LIFE”

by Brother René Sanctorum, S.C.

Community Life, p. 9

* 2. The identification with Christ whose love is recognized in the open side is also manifested in our community life.  Article 113, of which we have quoted the beginning, continues as follows: “In our everyday lives, Christ continues to lavish this love on us by his presence and by the attention, friendship, and affection we receive from our brothers.”  And article 64 states: “Uniting us to himself in the Institute, the Lord gathers us together into a fraternal and apostolic community {...}. Our life bears witness to the ‘spirit of the Beatitudes’ (L G 31) and to the compassion of the Heart of Jesus for the world.”  This article is interesting because it makes no distinction between community and apostolate: “fraternal and apostolic community {...} which witnesses {...} to the compassion of the Heart of Jesus for the world.”  There is no better way than this to say that community life is apostolic in itself and that our activity cannot but be communal.  We could in addition quote article 15 of the Rule of Life, which is less explicit: “The Institute is marked by a spirit of love expressed through simplicity, acceptance, and brotherhood.  As true brothers, we share our life and our apostolate.  We develop a family spirit which makes each brother feel loved for who he is.”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

“THE SPIRITUALITY OF THE SACRED HEART IN ANDRÉ COINDRE, BROTHER POLYCARP, AND THE RULE OF LIFE”

by Brother René Sanctorum, S.C.

Apostolic Life, p. 10

* 3. The Rule of Life also shows apostolic activity as flowing from the spirituality of the Sacred Heart.  I will not repeat article 64, but article 118 is also very clear: “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already.” (Lk 12:49)  {André Coindre had used this same quotation as the basis for the article of the Rules that we have seen.}  The ardent desire of Jesus can only inflame our hearts and excite our zeal.  The love of our brothers and of the young people in our care is rooted in the love that Jesus has for us.  Our dedication to others, marked by respect, kindness and concern, will be a sign of the compassion of Christ towards others.”  Let us also quote article 127: “The Brothers are apostles of the Sacred Heart...,” and 152: “Our apostolate roots us in the hidden but powerful action of God...{...} (“roots” in French is “nous livre” {gives us over to}, a very powerful expression).  Our unselfish and dedicated concern can reveal to others the compassionate face of the Lord and draw them to him;” art. 50: “The brothers actively support the interests of the poor, the oppressed, and the neglected;” and 126: “The Brothers manifest great kindness in their dealings with others.  They have a special affection for the lowly, the poor, the oppressed, and the unloved;” in 155: “{...} Among the diverse calls which reach us, we give preference to deprived children and to less developed regions{...}”  All these articles express concrete ways of living actively the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus. 

It seems to me that the first conclusion of this limited research is that the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus is at the very core of our religious being.  It inspires our most secret interior life as well as its exterior manifestations, in the community or in activities.  By this fact, all that we think, feel, and do, whether individually or together, is profoundly unified.  The Heart of Christ is the focal point of our lives.  In him we are one within ourselves and one in community.  What fullness, what strength, what happiness result from such a unification of being! 

Furthermore, we have remarked that the Rule of Life comes directly from Father André Coindre, Brother Polycarp, and all our ancestors in the Institute; it is the same life which inspires us that we hand on to those whom the Lord will place in our path.  Let us give thanks to God. 

Brother René Sanctorum Ly170697
Translated by Brother Denis Bessette;
revised by Brother Marcel Rivière Ly130398

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