July 29, 2016
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
I love the mystery of Bethany. The pious family of the house in Bethany was dear to the Heart of Jesus. St. John says, “Jesus loved Martha, her sister Mary, and Lazarus” [cf. John 11:5]. How happy we would be if we could say that of ourselves—that the Heart of Jesus loves us!
At Bethany, our Lord found his rest and consolation. He returned there in the evening, after his preaching in the Temple, and he was surrounded with care. Martha was thoroughly devoted and [Mary] Magdalene was filled with an ardent love because she had been forgiven. Martha and Mary are both loving, but they show their love differently.
Mary places herself next to Jesus totally absorbed in contemplation of him. Martha busies herself with lavishing a thousand small attentions on the Savior. Martha is active and Mary is contemplative. Both are our models, we must always unite contemplation and action. Lazarus was young and as gentle and loving as David was. Our Lord loved him as he loved St. John. Uniting myself to them I offer our Lord all the care and friendship that they gave him.
Like Magdalene I have been forgiven, like Lazarus I have been resurrected, like them I desire to be burning with love for our Lord. The Master is good to his friends at Bethany. “If anyone opens the door to me I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me” [Revelation 3:20]. May he also be able to find his joy, his consolation, and his rest among us!
The Year with the Sacred Heart, July 22 and 29; Daily Notes, January 1, 1925; and Braisne Retreat Notes, November 2, 1893
Heart of Jesus: Fr. Dehon's favored image of God's loving concern for all creation
“We should be like the friends in Bethany among whom Jesus relaxes,” Leo John Dehon wrote to the Priests of the Sacred Heart concerning reparative adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. “It is our daily royal audience. It is our vocation. We must adhere to it faithfully.”
For Fr. Dehon, contemplating the mystery of the Eucharist, particularly in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, is contemplating the mystery of being united to Jesus’ Heart. In the mosaic in the lower left, the artist depicts Jesus as “King and Center of All Hearts” by alluding to the look of a traditional monstrance holding the consecrated host. The rays of light, simultaneously emanating from his Heart and drawing people to his Heart portray Jesus as over all yet in the midst of all.
For Dehon, contemplating this mystery necessarily involves the ebb and flow of daily experience. “To pour out my heart, to take advice, to be consoled in my sufferings, and to enjoy friendship, I will go to the tabernacle and I will go often. This will be my best joy.”
“At Bethany,” Dehon observes, “Jesus consoles and instructs his friends.” They, in turn, aware of Jesus’ ministry, which was often frustrating, seemingly fruitless, and fraught with danger, “share the joys and pains of Jesus, offer him their consolations, and surround him with care.” Clearly, the work of reparation, ritualized in a time of Eucharistic adoration, touches not only the Heart of Jesus, but also the hearts of believers and the heart of the world.
While admonishing every Priest of the Sacred Heart to “spend at least his half-hour with our Lord,” Leo John Dehon renews his own resolutions for silence and contemplation. “I understand that the prize is union with Jesus. Come, O my beloved, your servant listens to you. Speak to my heart. I'm thirsty to understand your gentle instruction. O my Savior, give me the grace to provide you with a house of true reparatory adoration, a Bethany, where you will be loved, consoled, and served with intensity!”
Circular Letter #39, March 14, 1912; Spiritual Directory, Part Six, “The Virtues Proper to Our Vocation: Simplicity; The Year with the Sacred Heart, June 14 and 25; and Braisne Retreat Notes, October 20, 1893
Image: “King and Center of All Hearts,” mosaic in the SCJ chapel in Bologna, Italy
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
What can you do to be like the friends in Bethany, among whom Jesus relaxes?
The work of reparation is ritualized in a time of Eucharistic adoration. To what does this ritual point in the remainder of your day?
What sentiments would you experience if you were able to pour out your heart, to take advice, to be consoled in your sufferings, and to enjoy friendship with the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus?
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
For the Priests of the Sacred Heart, July 29 is the Memorial of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer those who partner with Jesus in building up the reign of God. You may find helpful the following prayer.
we believe that your gift of life
continues to transform the world.
Like Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,
your friends in Bethany,
we want to be a part of your company
and of the building up of your reign on earth.
With the inevitable setbacks
involved in repairing a world
that is often selfish and destructive,
we need to spend time with you
in mutual support, care, and consolation.
Having been refreshed,
let us once again go forth together
to serve a wounded world
and to love it into the reign of God.
Each week reflections and prayers based in the Dehonian charism are published on the Dehonian Spirituality page of the U.S. Province website of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. This is an email version of that update.
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