"We have the deep conviction that our spirituality does not belong only to us. It is a gift to be shared, a treasure others help us to discover." (General chapter 1994, p.28) There are different ways of sharing our spirituality. At this time, we see the Associates as one of the means of responding in a particular way to the spirit of the Chapter. It is an expression for today of the fourth means given to us by Madeleine Sophie in the 1815 Constitutions.
Who are the Associates? Associates of the Society of the Sacred Heart are women and men who desire to deepen their baptismal consecration and are attracted to the charisma and spirituality of the Society. It is a response to the needs of lay people and sisters and offers mutual support for the enrichment of our spirituality and ministry in the world. They are part of the family of the Sacred Heart.
Aims of the Associates
- Through personal reading and reflection and meetings for mutual support, the Associates explore ways of living the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus according to the spirit of the Society.
- Through a deepening of their sense of Christian ministry in their own life and work, and a familiarity with the Society's ministries, they share a common mission with the Society of making known the love of God.
- Through regular personal prayer and faith sharing among Religious and Associates, they continue to search out a faith that gives meaning and pattern to life.
- Through a commitment to build communion within their personal and work relationships and a growing awareness of the needs of the poor of our society, they stand in solidarity with and service to a suffering world.
Relationships between the Associates and Religious of the Sacred Heart
The Associates commit themselves to:
- regular personal prayer,
- mutual support and attendance at group meetings of the Associates,
- exploring ways of living the spirituality of the Heart in their own context,
- maintaining contact with the local community and/or the co-ordinator,
- becoming aware of areas of need, both locally and worldwide and, moved by compassion, responding to the sufferings and hopes of our world.The Religious of the Sacred Heart commit themselves:
- as disciples, to live the Gospel in a spirit of mutual encouragement and leaning with the Associates,
- to pray for Associates and share with them the charisma and mission of the Society,
- to welcome Associates for times of prayer, of formation and certain celebrations within the community,
- to share our life of faith and offer accompaniments on their journey of faith.
Each province will see how to organise with flexibility the way to accompany the Associates. For now we want to create links among RSCJ co-ordinators of Associates to share information and experiences and to offer mutual support.