In the course of its history the spiritual life of the community has been marked by particular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The novitiate was formally dedicated to the Sacred Heart in 1883, and a statue was erected on the front mound of the Motherhouse in 1910, in honor of the community’s Golden Jubilee. The completion of the Motherhouse construction and renovation in 2006 became the occasion for renewal of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart at the Motherhouse. (Ceremonial and Customary of St. Cecilia Congregation)
As Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, we testify to the primacy of Christ’s love for us by community devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This recognition of and gratitude for Christ’s love for us, particularly in the Sacraments of the Church, is sown in the spirit of every young sister and cultivated throughout her religious life. It is Christ’s love for us that draws us to Him; our response to this abundant charity joins our hearts to His. Various images of the Sacred Heart found throughout the convent serve to remind us of the love with which Christ draws us to Himself.
Upon arriving at the Motherhouse, visitors and sisters alike are welcomed by the eight foot marble statue of Christ in the front of the convent. One hand reaches toward us and the other points at his open heart. Gazing prayerfully at Christ’s heart depicted on this statue enables one to gain a deeper understanding of Christ’s love.“For this reason I kneel before the Father…to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:14, 19). Meditating upon the Sacred Heart offers us a glimpse of some of the characteristics of God’s love for us.
The iconography associated with the Sacred Heart of Jesus holds particular significance for us as religious women. Ablaze with the intensity of Christ’s love, the Sacred Heart represents the “gracious love of God” by which we are drawn to offer our lives as a “genuine holocaust” through religious consecration (Vita Consecrata 17). Crowned not with jewels but with thorns, the Sacred Heart invites us to “count all else as loss” (Philippians 3:8) and adorn our souls with the beauty of self-sacrifice. As his Heart was pierced so that his love might flow on all, we must let our own hearts be open to love with totality and offer all our love for the good of Christ’s Body, the Church.
Every vocation begins and ends in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Young women seeking to join our community spend four years in formation in the Sacred Heart Novitiate. Called the “school of love,” the novitiate is the community in which we conform our hearts to that of Christ and learn to live more deeply the great commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Even after leaving the novitiate, the sisters cultivate a fervent love for the Sacred Heart through weekly, monthly, and annual devotions. Each Friday our Mass at the Motherhouse is offered in honor of the Sacred Heart in thanksgiving for the graces won for us through the Sacred Heart. On the First Friday of every month, the community participates in all-day adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in honor of the Sacred Heart. The community annually celebrates with great fervor the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.