Drawn by devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus which flourished in the Church of her time, Clelia Merloni made Jesus the King and Center of her heart. Like the first Apostles, she wanted to express in her own life and in her apostolate that deep faith in and love for Jesus which inflamed her and which drew her to love Him even to the cross.
Mother Clelia's spirituality was rooted in contemplation of the Paschal Mystery, symbolized by the pierced Heart, mystery of life and death, sign of love and salvation. It took form in an ardent search for God and for souls, in a constant desire to transcend self in order to conform to Christ even to the total sacrifice of self. It manifested itself in an unquenchable fire of love and zeal to make the Heart of Jesus known and loved.
God alone was the motivating force of Mother Clelia's life. She felt drawn to make reparation for the ingratitude Jesus received from so many people. Her loving fidelity, especially through Eucharistic adoration, was the passionate expression of this reparation. Because of her own intimate union with God she wanted to awaken in all people a deep desire for God and to help bring them to an understanding of His goodness, mercy, and compassion.
To a world torn by hatred and indifference toward God and His Church, a world in which people sought false images of salvation and happiness, Mother Clelia presented the Heart of Christ — "which has so loved us..." - as the fulfillment of all expectations, the fountain of life, the source of happiness and salvation. Mother Clelia entrusted this legacy to her spiritual daughters, the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Through the years this charism continues to characterize the spirituality of the Congregation which is invigorated by the patrimony of its Foundress, is nourished by the vitality of the Church, is embodied in sound traditions, and is made more precious by the holiness of its members. Today, as a hundred years ago, the Apostles seek to be increasingly what God intends us to be in the Church: witnesses of faith, signs of hope, evangelizers through service.
In the measure to which we Apostles creatively develop the gifts of grace and virtue entrusted to us, we reveal our identity as faithful spiritual daughters of Mother Clelia and become:
- Apostles like the first Apostles,
- Apostles of love,
- Apostles of reparation.
The Congregation strives to imitate the first Apostles. The Apostle of the Sacred Heart is called to live in the world in order to build the Body of Christ. She is called to consecrate her life to the love of the Heart of Jesus, and to diffuse that love to her neighbor.
Mother Clelia felt drawn to the urban poor who suffered greatly during the time of the Industrial Revolution in northern Italy. Requesting a blessing from the bishop of Como, Italy, Mother Clelia stated that she and the sisters wanted to "dedicate ourselves to the active religious life, gathering orphans and poor, abandoned and underprivileged girls."
Today's challenges are different from those of Clelia's time: the fast pace of life, the lack of supportive extended family, ethical questions in science and technology. Yet, some are strangely the same: bodily and spiritual hunger, the search for meaningful living, the need to be loved and appreciated.
Through our ministries we strive to "promote a spirituality of communion" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 43) whereby the joys or sufferings of another become our own. Our devotion to the Heart of Christ prompts us to give a human face to the love of God. We hope in this way that divine goodness, mercy, and compassion may bring healing and comfort to the entire human family.
As the Spirit directs and inspires, we pray to respond openly to the present and future needs of the Church with the courage and foresight of our foundress. Our greatest challenge, however, is to become more conformed to Christ so that we are better able to serve Him in others. By our profession of the evangelical counsels—poverty, chastity and obedience—we can follow Christ with the total gift of our hearts, bodies, and spirits. By our consecration we are witnesses to the present wonders of God's redemptive love and the future glories of the promised kingdom.