Cor Unum multitude

On this day in 1800 four young women - among them St Madeleine Sophie Barat - made vows in a clandestine Mass in an attic in Paris. And thus was born the Society of the Sacred Heart, though it would not be called this for some time. The women who comprised this fledgling community were fervent and idealistic, dreamers of dreams much bigger and wider than their immediate context, even with its many needs. Sophie's original longing, rooted in her experience of a devastating, desecrating Revolution, had been to raise up a multitude of adorers from all the nations, to the very ends of the earth... bold and audacious ideals at any time, but especially for a precarious community of women in post-Revolutionary France.

But I wonder... even in their wildest and biggest dreams, could the women ever have foreseen the gatherings of this month...? The Society is currently in the middle of a Special Chapter, being conducted entirely via Zoom: RSCJ have been invited to join the morning prayers, and the entire Sacred Heart family has thus far been able to celebrate two Masses together, at the Chapter's opening ten days ago and then today, feast of Christ the King and our 221st birthday. And so we have gathered, across continents and time zones and languages, united as - and in - the Body of Christ, broken and shared to give life and love and hope to our world. Both times, in addition to those watching via YouTube and Facebook, there have been over three hundred participants on Zoom - though as quite a few of those comprised roomfuls of communities, the number of actual participants must be over five hundred. 

Truly a multitude from all the nations, to the very ends of the earth!

After Mass ended, and as microphones were unmuted, a multitude of greetings ensued; a joyous, exuberant cacophony of languages and names being called out. We greeted much-loved sisters with whom we had shared community and mission, and particular times of formation; good friends met at events or via social media; people in countries we have lived in, or who have been significant in our lives. But really, in the elation and huge, beaming smiles, I could see we were greeting and celebrating something much stronger and more profound: our Cor Unum love for each other, and lives which are inextricably intertwined, rooted in a common call and mission, though in a diversity of contexts and expressions. 

In her opening address at the Chapter's beginning our Superior General called on us to truly enter into the dispositions of the Heart of Jesus, to experience ourselves as Religious of the Sacred Heart, women of the gospel, who live among our people and, at the same time, are gathered together as a global community. Let us feel our spiritual presence with each other, connected in a heart way, united with Mary, whose Heart was both joy-filled and pierced, courageous and questioning. Mary, who helps us enter the space of love in the pierced Heart of her Son, who invites us to be women who live love deeply and daily...

And so we are, and so we are becoming... And may Sophie and our RSCJ foremothers pray for and inspire us all, as we seek to discern how God is calling us to be the Love of his Heart in and for the world of 2021 and beyond...