About Us

Who We Are

Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus is a Roman Catholic community of vowed and promised women who have been called by the Holy Spirit to ‘devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.’ We are contemplatives in action. Our charism is incarnational. Our mission is evangelistic. Our perspective is Spirit-filled, and our spirituality is Byzantine.

  1. We welcome into professed membership Catholic women of diverse ages and backgrounds, but especially widows and women of mature age who, having many treasures yet to share, wish to answer God’s call to a life of prayer and service to the Kingdom of God through the profession of vows or promises.
  2. Vowed members profess poverty, chastity, obedience and fidelity. 
  3. Promised members profess simplicity, purity, and humility. 
  4. Our vows and promises are renewed annually on Pentecost Sunday.
     


What We Do

Prayer is the living source of the spiritual life of MHJ. Through intimate communion with God we become immersed in his transforming grace. We open ourselves more fully to Christ and in so doing begin to take on his nature. As Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus we are also called by God to carry out the work of evangelization. We understand evangelization to be the process of bringing people into an experience of and an ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ, through whom they come to apprehend and encounter the unfathomable love of our Father. As members of the Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus we strive by our life and ministry to ‘pray without ceasing’ and to proclaim Christ and his Kingdom everywhere so that all people may experience the hesed, the steadfast love of our Father.
 


How We Live

We base ourselves on the models of Jesus and his disciples, and the early Church, who lived together, prayed together, ministered together, and supported one another. Vowed members ordinarily embrace a cenobitic, or common life. Some vowed members, however, may be called to live as anchorites or hermits in a more monastic life of prayer and asceticism. Each anchorite, though living in her own home, must be associated with a local community and share regularly in times of prayer, community meetings and meals, etc. Promised members retain their customary lifestyles, whether single or married, but commit themselves to share in the charism, the apostolates, the activities and the spirit of MHJ.
 


Our Charism

Our charism is incarnational. Because Christ took on human nature in the incarnation, we are now able, through grace, to take on the Divine Nature in a process called theosis. Having been made in the image of God, we are being made in his likeness. The whole of our spiritual journey is aimed toward this very transformation. As we die to self and live to Christ we, like Paul, can someday say, “It is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me.” “The incarnation is the key to our understanding of the Christian life. Christ is not simply the perfect Man who shows us what could be done, but He actually communicates (Divine) life to us. He is God who became one of us so that we could bear God within, so that the likeness of God could be restored in us…” Catechism of the Byzantine Catholic Churches.
 


Spirituality

Our community is especially enriched and nourished by the Eastern Rites. This is reflected in our worship, our prayer forms, our religious art, our formation, our manner of life and our relationship to the Holy Spirit. Our spirituality is particularly influenced by the East in that we are, as individuals and as a community, seeking to be transformed into ‘other Christs.’ It is his life, his love, his heart, his very being that we seek to incarnate, to make present to others. The core of our spirituality is our total integration into the life of Christ so that Christ can be made manifest through us. We are the voice, but he is the Word. We are the lamp, but he is the Light. We are the womb. He is the Life within. We are ‘ministers and stewards of the glorious riches of that mystery, hidden for ages and generations, but now revealed to the saints: Christ in us, the hope of glory.’ Col. 1:25-27

As co-operators with the grace of God (synergy), the rhythm of our lives includes:

Participation in the Divine Mysteries.
We enter into the Divine Mysteries with deep faith knowing that through our participation in the Liturgy of the Word and Eucharist we receive ‘great grace’, transforming grace.

Contemplative and communal prayer.
Our days and nights are ordered around intimate dialog with God. Prayer precedes all that we do, and all that we do proceeds from it. Understanding that we become what we behold, our highest priority is communion with God, listening to him, interceding for others, and being transformed by his Presence. “And, we who with unveiled faces all contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory…” 2Cor. 4:4

Practice of the ancient disciplines of prayer, repentance, fasting and alms-giving.
The Church Fathers and Mothers taught us the ancient disciplines of repentance, prayer, fasting and alms-giving as a way to theosis. The Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus deems the practice of these spiritual disciplines as indispensable to our aim: progression on the path of divinization (theosis) so that Christ may be made truly present to others.

Reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
We seek always to be lead by and empowered by the Spirit so that the Kingdom of God can be both declared and demonstrated. (cf.1Cor. 2:1-5) We depend upon the gifts of the Spirit as expressed in Isaiah and First Corinthians to inspire us in prayer and empower us in mission. When the Gospel is exclaimed it is also exemplified. We can expect to see confirming signs and wonders (cf. Acts 4:29-30) which give convicting power to the Word and serve to accomplish the Father’s will especially the deepest of all his desires—the restoration of the human family’s relationship with him through faith in Jesus Christ.

 


Our Emphases

A belief in our call to be divinized (theosis) through a lifestyle of:

  • Union with God through the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments)
  • A ‘public’ life of fellowship, service and proclamation of the Gospel (kerygma)
  • A ‘secret’ life of prayer, fasting, repentance and almsgiving (kenosis or self-emptying)
  • The necessity of engaging in spiritual warfare
  • Reliance upon the Holy Spirit (charismata)
  • Cooperation with the Grace of God (synergy)
  • Transformation through complete conversion in Christ (metanoia)
  • Expression of the steadfast love of our Father (hesed)

 


Our Priorities

  • While we are especially called to prayer and evangelization, we hold a particular concern for widows and orphans. Therefore, we direct significant energies and resources to their care. “This is religion that is pure and undefiled before God: to care for widows an orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself unblemished from the world.”
  • Laughter is both medicine for the soul, and the melody of a happy heart. We pray that our communities will be filled with the cheerfulness, humor, and mirth which so thrive in an atmosphere of love, and which so marvelously give witness to the total joy of knowing Jesus.
  • We are looking toward a day when a community of professed brothers will be established as a part of our community.
  • We are committed to fostering ecumenical relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ: The Lord of Ages… has been rousing divided Christians to remorse over their divisions and to a longing for unity. Everywhere large numbers have felt the impulse of this grace and among our separated brethren also there increases from day to day the movement, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration of unity among all Christians.  This movement toward unity is called "ecumenical." The Sacred Council gladly notes all this…and now, moved by a desire for the restoration of unity among all the followers of Christ, wishes to set before all Catholics the ways and means by which they too can respond to this grace and to this divine call. Decree on Ecumenism 

    "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you , that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me."
    Jesus

 

 


Membership

A pre-candidate is closely associated with the community for a minimum of one year after which time she may apply for admission to MHJ as either a promised member, or as a candidate for vowed life.

Candidacy for vowed life extends for no less than one year, and may be extended for up to three years with consent of the Moderator General and her Council.

The novitiate is ordinarily a two year process, and may be extended for one year with consent of the Moderator General and her Council. During this period a woman begins to more intensely discern her vocation, more thoroughly internalize the charism of MHJ, and more completely give herself to Christ.

Temporary profession extends for three years and may be renewed for up to five years with the consent of the Moderator General and her Council.

Upon profession of temporary vows a sister will declare her intention to enter either the cenobitic or eremitic (anchoritic) life.

Though renewed annually, we understand our final profession of vows to be perpetual.

Promised members may profess perpetual promises (fidelity) after three years with the consent of the Moderator and her Council.

Promised members:
This category of membership has been carefully fashioned to address and respond to the unique types of vocations emerging in the Church. Promised members do not profess the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. They make, instead, binding promises to God through MHJ and with MHJ to live with simplicity in this world, with purity in their state of life, and with humility toward God and others. Promised members are those whose hearts resonate with the charism, the spirituality and mission of MHJ, but because they maintain responsibilities for work, or elderly family members, or dependent children are unable to incorporate into the community in as comprehensive a manner as do the vowed sisters. They simply can not in their present circumstances and with their present responsibilities make the modifications to their lifestyles that living a vowed life requires. By providing them an opportunity to become promised members we are recognizing the limits of those circumstances, while also honoring and treasuring their vocations. Both single and married women may be promised members of MHJ. 

 

 

 


Vowed Members

Vowed members profess the evangelical counsels of Gospel poverty, consecrated chastity and attentive obedience. We also take a fourth vow of fidelity. By virtue of these vows, we accept God’s invitation to live in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Following a one year period of pre-candidacy, a woman who wishes to pursue vowed life may request admission into MHJ as a candidate. Candidacy for vowed life extends for no less than one year, and may be continued for up to three years with consent of the Moderator General and her Council.

The novitiate is ordinarily a two year process, and may be extended for one year with consent of the Moderator General and her Council. During this period a woman begins to more intensely discern her vocation, more thoroughly internalize the charism of MHJ, and more completely give herself to Christ.

Temporary profession extends for three years and may be renewed for up to five years with the consent of the Moderator General and her Council.

Upon profession of temporary vows a sister will declare her intention to enter either the cenobitic or anchoritic life.

Though renewed annually, we understand our final profession of vows to be perpetual.

Nature of our vocations: Vowed members live our lives as celibates, a state of being in which all of our relationships, including our friendships, are contoured by the exclusivity and primacy of our relationship with Jesus.  We follow the Lord in his poverty by living in great simplicity and by significantly limiting our personal possessions. The desire to obtain things, as well as the fear of not having them is inconsistent with our vow of poverty. We acquire little and we require little. The origin of the word ‘obey’ means ‘to listen.’  By our vow of obedience to the Lord we surrender ourselves to the life long process of listening for our Shepherd’s voice and following him in ever increasing abandonment to our Father’s will.
Promised members profess simplicity, purity and humility. By these professions we embrace Christ’s call to be in the world, but not of the world. We commit ourselves to holiness in all of our relationships, and we “put on” Christ in his meekness, his gentleness and his self abandonment.

Source of our identity: All members of MHJ make our vows and promises to God, through the community. By them we are professing our intent to enter into a covenant both with God, and with the MHJ community. For vowed members that covenant is perpetual. While never losing our individuality, we choose to exchange our individualism and independence for a shared identity and a shared disposition. As members of the MHJ community we transition from being one in a crowd to being in one accord. At a most basic level of our self understanding and self expression our “me” becomes “we”, and our “I” becomes “us.” As vowed and promised women we take on a new identity. We are consecrated (set apart) and we are community (set in).

Our lifestyle: Vowed members of MHJ may live as cenobites within a community, or as anchorites living independently. Those members who live separately, as anchorites, must be united with a local community and be active participants in that community’s routine of prayer, mission and spiritual life. Vowed members are capable, in accordance with our proper law, of acquiring, possessing, administering and disposing of temporal goods.
Promised members of MHJ outwardly retain their customary lifestyles, whether single or married, but inwardly the process of metanoia or complete conversion in Christ intensifies. For both promised and vowed members prayer becomes imperative, transformation becomes essential, and Jesus becomes the object of all desire.

Responsibility, involvement and support:  The relationship between MHJ and our members is one of reciprocal faithfulness and mutual support. Each member accepts spiritual, developmental, financial, and social responsibility for her own local community and for MHJ as a whole. We direct our resources, our energies, our efforts and our hearts toward seeking and doing those things which are of greatest benefit to each member as well as to the spirit, mission and charism of the Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus.

 

 


The Rule of MHJ

  1. Treat everyone as you would the Lord, for it is the Lord Himself you encounter.
  2. Love each other deeply. Prefer one another. Think more highly of others than you do of yourselves. Utter no unkind word against anyone. Purge your hearts quickly of envy toward another for “it is because of envy that they crucified the Lord of Glory.”
  3. Pray together often and earnestly and set aside ample time for contemplative prayer. Prayer will draw you and keep you in the Presence of God.
     
  4. Learn to have a quiet spirit so that you may hear Him Who is Wisdom. Be quick to listen and slow to speak, giving your attention to others rather than seeking it from them.
  5. Be diligent but inconspicuous in your work, and be willing to assist others in theirs. Learn what it means to be the leaven and not the loaf.
  6. Each day prayerfully read the Scriptures. By them you will be inspired and transformed. Be careful to avoid the temptation of simply increasing your knowledge of Scripture for God did not call us to be knowers of truth, but rather lovers of truth.
  7. In all things give thanks knowing that God’s Providence is in all and over all. By this you will walk faithfully and humbly with the Lord. Gratitude attests to your abiding trust in God whether He gives you a crown or a cross.
  8. Pray for the grace of generosity. Guard your hearts against greed, materialism and stinginess. Live simply. Give lavishly. Generosity is the evidence of love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son….”
  9. Take care that the good you do be done in secret. This will glorify God, insure your heavenly rewards, and protect you against pride.
  10. Bless those who curse you. Pray for your enemies. Forgive any who have harmed you. Do this daily; hourly if necessary.
  11. Remember the poor, the orphans, the elderly, and those in prison, for God’s heart is particularly touched by their condition.
  12. Obedience plumbs the depths of our faith; gratitude expresses the heights of our hope, and generosity demonstrates the breadth of our love. “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love.”

 

 


Our Community Symbol

The Double Hearts: In our Christian journey we are becoming so completely immersed in Christ and he in us that we come to share, in effect, one heart. The heart, speaking of the very core of our being, becomes completely hidden in Christ. We ultimately live not our own lives, but his. "It is no longer I who live; it is Christ who lives in me..."
The Faceless Christ: He is the savior of the world; every tribe, every people group, every race, and every nation.  As our lives become more and more hidden in him, as we are more conformed to his image, we become less noticeable. Then, and only then, can others truly see him, experience him, and encounter him through us.
The Three Bars on the Cross: The Trinity. The relationship of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the manifestation of perfect love. It is both the basis of our faith, as well as the model for our own relationships with God and others.
The Resurrected Christ: It is the Paschal mystery, his suffering, death and resurrection that gives us Divine life.
The Folds in His Garment: Made in God's image, we too are triune beings. In Christ our spirits were made alive, our souls are being renewed, and bodies will be glorified.
The Shepherd's Crook: He is the Good Shepherd who seeks and saves those who are lost. He calls us to be and do the same.

Frequently Asked Questions