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.
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November 27, 2015

Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
Am I ready?  Have I thought often about death?  Have I provided for the needs of souls and of the works for which I am responsible?  Is my soul ready to appear before God?  In one moment, the light clarifies the things in life which are finished, and those of eternal life which begin.
Render your account, O my soul.  Where are you in this?  There is room here for a lengthy review.  I review my whole life.  What have I done in my youth?  Have I kept my innocence?  Have I allowed myself to be formed by God’s representatives?  Have I prayed and served God every day?  How have I involved myself in the reception of the sacraments?  Have I kept chastity according to my state? 
Have I been just and charitable toward my neighbor?  Was not my tongue lacking a thousand times in charity, truth, and modesty?  Have I completed the duties of my state?  Have I not scandalized my neighbor?  Have I not abused divine grace a hundred times and a thousand times?  Have I not grieved the Holy Spirit in remaining deaf to his inspirations?   
I'm embarrassed and repentant.  I want to change my life and return to an exact service of my God.  I request the assistance and mercy of the infinitely good Heart of Jesus.  I begin again to keep myself attentively united to him.
Leo John Dehon, SCJ, The Year with the Sacred Heart, “The Death of Jesus and My Death,” Second Introductory Meditation for the Month of April.


Oblation: the daily practice of offering oneself to God

For Priests of the Sacred Heart, who make a daily offering of themselves to God’s plans, death serves as the final act of oblation.  Death in the Heart of Jesus is the culmination of a lifetime attitude of trusting love.
Born in Trois Riviѐres, Québec, in 1882, Rudolph Hould was the only son in a family of ten children.  Although he attended a diocesan seminary for a time, he eventually followed his father in the study of law.  When his father died, however, he assumed the responsibility to support his mother and sisters and worked as a math teacher for over 23 years.
After meeting in Montréal with Fr. Gaborit, SCJ, who was seeking vocations, he decided to travel west to Edmonton, Alberta, to join others in the first SCJ Novitiate class in Canada.  Following his first profession of vows, he travelled to Louvain, Belgium, for his theological training.  In 1932, at the age of 50, he was ordained a priest in Lille, France, and remained for several years to teach within the SCJ French Province.
Fr. Hould’s teaching career continued when he returned to Montréal.  Although his specialization was in mathematics, he also taught Latin and French, first at St. John Vianney College and then at Paschal Baylon College, a Franciscan adult vocation seminary.  In the United States, he taught at the SCJ high school seminaries in Donaldson, IN, and Lenox, MA.
Affable and humorous, he would brag about his “fourth degree of humility” [Editor’s note: St. Ignatius counted only three].  An accomplished musician, he enjoyed playing the piccolo, clarinet, and harmonica.  Everyone called him, “Hoody.”  After his teaching career, Fr. Rudolph Hould, SCJ, ministered as a chaplain in East Chicago, IN, and ended his days as a chaplain at St. Joseph Home for the Elderly in Detroit, MI.  After 45 years of religious life, he died at the age of 91.
Joseph Belanger was born in Sherbrook, Canada in 1893.  He married and devoted himself to his family, being the proud father of six children.  He joined several Catholic organizations, including the League of the Sacred Heart.  One of his two sons became a Jesuit, the other a Holy Cross Brother.
When his wife died in 1946, Joseph considered entering religious life.  He sought the direction of a Jesuit priest, who eventually suggested that he join the Priests of the Sacred Heart because this religious community was just establishing itself in Canada.  Perhaps, the priest noted, he could do more good with them than with a well-established community.
He made his novitiate in Ste. Marie, IL, and professed his vows on March 19, 1953, the Feast of St. Joseph, at the age of 60.  Returning to his home country, Br. Joseph worked as a carpenter at Sacred Heart Seminary in Pointe-au-Chêne, Québec.  His superiors disclosed that he lived a very simple life.
In preparation for his final profession of vows, he returned to Ste. Marie in 1955.  While there, he fell ill, and a doctor discovered that he had cancer.  Br. Joseph endured two operations with the hope that he could work a few more years for the Congregation.  In the hospital, he made his profession of final vows before the Provincial Superior.  Although his health seemed to improve a bit, his condition quickly became critical.  After only three years of religious life, Br. Joseph Belanger, SCJ, died at the age of 63.

Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian Spirituality

On April 26, 1956 we (my parents with twelve children) arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from the Netherlands, and went by train to Chatham, Ontario.  Within two weeks my Dad and a cousin took me to the minor seminary in Delaware, Ontario.  It was my first contact with the Priests of the Sacred Heart.  I had been in the seminary in the Netherlands with the Holy Spirit Fathers.  We were met by Fr. Leo Hermans, the superior.  Afterwards my dad said, "He is the nicest priest I ever met."  Leo indeed was an exceptional person.  He was unassuming, with a good sense of humor, considerate and with an attitude of "live and let live."  He had a tremendous influence on the students and the other priests by his way of being human.  He died much too early, at the age of 55 from a heart attack.
In the minor seminary, we were taught by a group of very dedicated priests.  Many of them were not prepared for teaching, but they were able to provide us with a good education, so that later on we were well equipped for further studies.  Jim Casper, John van den Hengel, and Paul Vernooy were students at Delaware as well, and later on became Priests of the Sacred Heart.
The novitiate at Ste. Marie, IL, was a new experience.  It was pre-Vatican II, with a strong German influence—still very strict and according to the rules.  Fr. Noonan, the novice master, prepared us for Religious Life—strict but with a sense of reality.  He made a great impression on all the novices, and was spoken of with great affection afterwards.  He suffered a major heart attack during our novitiate, and died also very young at the age of 46.
After the novitiate, I came to Ottawa to study Philosophy and Theology.  They were again very good years.  The atmosphere in the house was relaxed and friendly.  Leo Hermans, mentioned above, was the superior at that time.  Our formation at St. Paul University was in the classical style: neo-thomistic.  During my studies there, the Second Vatican Council took place.  This had a major influence in the community.  The Dutch influence was also evident.  It became a time of renewal and hope for the church. 
Our minor seminary in Delaware was being closed, and Fr. Adrian Visscher, the provincial superior, asked several of us to go for further studies.  I went to Lumen Vitae in Brussels and underwent a Copernican revolution.  From a dogmatic, deductive approach to life and theology at St. Paul University, to an experiential and inductive approach.  This has served me very well for the rest of my life and ministry.  I am forever grateful to Adrian for asking me to go for further studies.
After various ministries in the Church and in the Congregation, I am now semi-retired and look back on my life with gratitude to the confreres I have been with over the years.  They all had an influence upon me, each in their own way.  It is a very good and happy life and I would not want to change it for anything.
Peter Sanders, SCJ

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer all deceased SCJs as well as their deceased relatives, friends, and benefactors.  Pray also for your own grace-filled moment of death.  You may find the following prayer helpful.
Infinitely good Heart of Jesus,
you continually call us,
throughout our years,
to follow you wholeheartedly.
Grant us the grace of perseverance
to keep ourselves attentively united to you,
so that at the moment of death
we may render a favorable account of ourselves,
graciously leave behind the concerns of earthly life,
and embrace the communion of eternal life.

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. 

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The Dehonian Spirituality updates are edited by David Schimmel, U.S. Province director of Dehonian Associates. Questions or comments for David? 
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