Dehonian Spirituality includes prayers and reflections based in spirituality of Fr. Leo John Dehon; it is published weekly by the US Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
View this email in your browser

February 26, 2016
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
Union with the Heart of Jesus is the principal goal of Fr. Dehon’s spirituality.  With the religious Congregation that he founded, Dehon nurtured this union by entering into specific mysteries of Jesus’ life.  “We have four meetings daily with the Heart of Jesus,” he explains in the Spiritual Directory.  “At nine o’clock we unite ourselves to the mystery of Nazareth.  At noon our station is Calvary.  At three o’clock it is again Calvary.  At eight o’clock we unite ourselves with the agonizing Savior and his great reparatory suffering.  With a truly contrite and repentant heart we pray for those who are in their last agony.”
These short prayers provided a regular opportunity for the Priests of the Sacred Heart, not only to consider Jesus’ actions and motivations, but also gradually to make them their own.  In a slightly different description of these four moments throughout the day, Dehon writes, “According to the counsels of our Directory, we shall make of our hearts a Nazareth in the morning, a Calvary in the afternoon, a Cenacle in the evening.  
“Let us work in the presence of the Child Jesus in the morning, as did Mary and Joseph at Nazareth.  In the afternoon let us remain on Calvary with Mary and St. John, and with Mary Magdalene.  In the evening, with St. John, we shall repose on the Heart of Jesus in the Cenacle, and we shall pray with Jesus at Gethsemane.”   
Of the morning meeting with the Heart of Jesus, Dehon elaborates, “The three holy Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are the models of the victims of love and immolation.  The sentiments that animated them at Nazareth should also be ours.  We should fathom their sentiments, their thoughts, desires, joys, sorrows, and wills, and constantly conform our thoughts, words, and actions, our whole life to them.”
For the afternoon meetings, Dehon advises, “Let us contemplate Jesus on Mt. Calvary; let us consider his Cross, his Blood, his Wounds, his Heart pierced with a lance.  Let us consider the bloody death of the Redeemer, the Heart of the dying Victim-Lamb wounded by grief and love.  This Sacred Heart has loved us beyond measure, and so to speak, even to foolishness.”  
Explaining the focus of the evening meeting with the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Dehon notes, “The interior passion of this divine Heart is certainly most dear to us, and it is in the scenes of the Garden of Gethsemane that we find it in its completeness.  The Divine Savior chose to endure interior desolation lest we think everything lost when our human nature rebels against that which is opposed to it, and also that he might teach us that we shall not be judged on the weakness of our flesh but on the disposition of our will.”
This ritual, which sent the Priests of the Sacred Heart to the chapel four times a day in addition to the times of morning and evening prayer, meditation, and Eucharist, was more suitable to monastic life than apostolic life.  Although this ritual is no longer practiced communally, its purpose is still valued.  In their Rule of Life, the Priests of the Sacred Heart state, “As disciples of Fr. Dehon, we want to make union with Christ in his love for the Father and for all the principle and center of our life.”
Surely it takes practice, but setting aside four distinct minutes throughout the day to recall the principal mysteries of Christ’s life is a doable discipline.  A moment—following the morning and afternoon coffee breaks, between hopping in your car and driving home from a day’s work, and after doing the supper dishes—is all that’s needed to meet the Heart of Jesus at Nazareth, Calvary, the Cenacle, and Gethsemane, and gradually to integrate as one’s own Jesus’ sentiments and actions.
There are, of course, other ways to maintain union with Christ, but this prayer is a favorite of Fr. Dehon, who highly recommends it to the friends of the Heart of Jesus.


Heart of Jesus: Fr. Dehon's favored image of God's loving concern for all creation

The dark outlines of this image, reminiscent of a leaded glass window, serve to highlight Jesus’ face, heart, and hand.  Jesus’ determined gaze, focused on the viewer, communicates love, which is at once an affirmation and a challenge.  “Do you understand my words and actions?” Jesus seems to ask.  “They only make sense if you enter into my Heart and begin to feel the sentiments that motivate my complete self-offering to my Father and to humanity.” 
The traditional iconography shows Jesus’ heart aflame and surmounted by a cross.  The intensity of love is not without the pain of misunderstanding, rejection, struggle, or seeming failure.  Reflecting his Heart’s energy, Jesus’ hand is committed to put into action the good news of God’s unconditional love.
“That Jesus loved me and gave himself for me,” as Paul professes, is a significant affirmation that comes with a necessary challenge.  To accept this love is to allow it to be transforming.  “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” [Galatians 2:20]. 
This reflection mirrors the movements in a form of meditation called, “The Prayer of Affection.”  In “Jesus before my eyes,” a person meditates not only on the words and actions of Jesus in a particular Gospel passage, but also on what moves him to speak and act thus.  In “Jesus in my heart,” a person tries to feel and make one’s own these motivating sentiments of Jesus.  And finally, “Jesus in my hands” translates the affection of one’s heart into generous action.  Meditating in such a manner naturally nurtures union with Christ.
Image by Sr. M. Palladia
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

Consider meditating on one of the following scripture passages and ask yourself three questions.  With “Jesus before my eyes,” what do I notice?  With “Jesus in my heart,” what do I feel?  With “Jesus in my hands,” what am I called to do?
  • Luke 2:39-40, 51-52 [Nazareth]
  • John 19:16-30 [Calvary]
  • John 13:1-35, Mark 14:22-25 [The Cenacle]
  • Matthew 26:36-46 [Gethsemane] 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

“Let each of us work more persistently at union with our Lord, at the habitual presence of God, and at the frequently renewed offering of our actions and little crosses to the Sacred Heart.”  To this admonition, Fr. Dehon adds, “We cannot work effectively at the reign of the Sacred Heart in souls if we do not first make him reign fully in ourselves.”  The following considerations and short prayers offer a simple way to maintain union with Jesus throughout the day:
In the morning: Let us go to Nazareth, into that quiet and hidden sanctuary, where Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, with one mind subject to the divine will, lead a life of prayer, work, and sacrifice, and cooperate in the work of the Redemption according to their mission.
United to the Heart of Jesus, in simplicity and humility, may I accomplish with much love the work that God has given me to do this day.
In the afternoon: Let us go to Calvary where Jesus, offered on the altar of the cross, completed his oblation.  Let us spend a few moments in union with those saints whose loving and compassionate presence consoled our Lord so much.
Heart of Jesus, burning with such great love for us, I wish to make a return of love to you with my gratitude and my complete surrender of self to God’s will.
In the late afternoon: Let us go to the room where Jesus eats a last meal with his disciples.  With St. John, let us rest on the Heart of Jesus, where we learn to become apostles of love.
Heart of Jesus, as one of your friends, I offer you my love, faithfulness, and devotion, especially expressed through my compassion for your people in need.
In the evening: Let us go with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane to watch and pray with him as his Heart endures unspeakable sorrow.
Heart of Jesus, I wish to pray with you as you agonize over the evil in today’s world and to be faithful like you in accomplishing God’s will to oppose such evil.  Heart of Jesus, once in agony, have mercy on the dying.

The backstory
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. 

Anyone is welcome to receive the Dehonian Spirituality email. 
Click here to add a subscriber.  
The Dehonian Spirituality updates are edited by David Schimmel, U.S. Province director of Dehonian Associates. Questions or comments for David? 
Click here

Click here to learn more about the Priests of the Sacred Heart on the US Province website. Click here to visit us on Facebook. 

CLICK HERE to send questions or comments

Copyright © 2016
Dehonian Associates Office
US Province, Priests of the Sacred Heart 
All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences