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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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May 6, 2016
 
 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
Four years after Fr. Leo John Dehon founded the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, he began the practice of writing an occasional “circular letter” to its members, whom he most consistently addressed as “Dear sons.”  Explaining this practice, he wrote, “Henceforth, in order to inform you of what is of major importance for the Congregation, we shall adopt this form of circular letter over which all shall meditate and shall keep with care.”  Throughout the next 43 years, he would write 37 of these letters.
 
Without the accessibility and swiftness of today’s means of communication, the dissemination of the information happened communally.  In a Christmas letter, calling for renewed fervor in the new year, Fr. Dehon wrote, “This letter can be read in our houses at the next monthly retreat” [#30].  For time-sensitive matters, such as the preparations for the Eighth General Chapter, he advised, “So that this information reaches each one of you, when all have been gathered together at luncheon after the reading of Holy Scripture, there should be a public reading of this letter either in Latin or in the vernacular.  This is to take place on the first Sunday following the reception of this letter” [#23].    
 
Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Congregation, Fr. Dehon prescribed that, “This circular letter will be read in the refectory the Sunday after its reception and again on the day of the Jubilee” [#16].  When he relates the decisions of a General Chapter, he asked, “Please keep this circular letter in your archives and re-read it occasionally” [#15], or required that superiors, “if need be” explain the contents of the letter in their weekly conferences [#13].
 
A most important announcement came in the 1923 Christmas letter.  Echoing Luke’s Gospel story of the shepherds, Dehon wrote, “I announce to you a great joy.  This joy is brought to us by the final approval of the Congregation and of its Constitutions by our Holy Father, the Pope.”  Concluding, he advised, “Let us pray much for our Work, for our missions, for our recruiting, but above all for our immense spiritual needs, that our Lord may pardon all our shortcomings and that he may grant us great increase in the life of love and immolation that he awaits from us” [#34].  
 
Besides the greetings and blessings, the announcements and reports, the exhortations and remembrances, the circular letters also included calls for advice.  Preparing a practical commentary on the Constitutions, Fr. Dehon asked every SCJ to help with this task.  “We hope you will send us every idea you may judge to be of value to us, any difficulties, any questions regarding the Constitutions and their applications in our various houses and works” [#35].  In preparation for the Ninth General Chapter, Dehon asked the Provincials to “kindly encourage comments and reflections useful for the general good.  Each Father can forward his observations.  Would you please indicate for us the necessary or useful changes which should be brought about in the Constitutions?” [#37].
 
Using the name he chose when taking his first vows at the founding of the Congregation, Fr. Dehon signs most of his circular letters with, “John of the Heart of Jesus.”    
 

 
  
 
 

Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
 
"In the beginning was the Word” [John 1:1] and words have been with us ever since.
 
Communication consists of two things: information and sharing.  A new church in India, changes in administration, a youth retreat in Houston, issues of social concern, jubilees, vow renewals, prayer requests, personal reflections about ministry, and most recently, news of a devastating earthquake in Ecuador––these are just a few of the many pieces of information shared in Province communications in the past year.
 
Why bother?  Why post photos of the Lunar New Year celebrations at St. Martin of Tours?  Why write about an education meeting in Spain or recent decisions by the Provincial Council?  Is it just one of those “nice to do” sorts of things?  If there is money left in the budget, put out a newsletter?
 
Sint Unum; be one with others.  It is one of the mottos of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
 
Communication is vital in creating Sint Unum, in helping SCJs and those with whom they minister and collaborate truly feel that they are “one body in Christ, individually are parts of one another” [Romans 12:5].
 
Maybe it sounds a bit grandiose to think that something that I put on Facebook is helping people to feel like they are a part of the “one body in Christ.”  But that’s what communication is, connecting people to one another.  Information builds community, it helps people feel that they are a part of something greater than themselves, helps them to think beyond themselves.  Helps them to care about and to love one another.
 
Using words and photos to build bridges among and with people, helping us all to be a part of the “one body in Christ”––that’s my job description in a nutshell.  How I do it has changed radically since I started as a college intern in 1984 when an IBM Selectric typewriter was a modern piece of office equipment and an “apple” was something that I ate, not what I used to produce a newsletter.
 
But what I do and why I do it remains the same: Sint Unum.

 
Mary Gorski,
US Province Communications Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

Although the idea—and even the words—seem hopelessly old-fashioned in our internet culture, when was the last time you communicated with someone in an email or text message and used a “salutation” and a “complimentary close”?  Do you think it matters?
 
When was the last time you hand-wrote a card or letter and sent it by “snail mail”?  When was the last time you received a handwritten note?  Recall how you felt.
 
What way(s) of connecting and staying connected to one another do you find most satisfying and helpful?  

 
 
 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

Sunday, May 8, is World Communications Day.  In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer those whose occupation is to communicate effectively with a specific audience.  Remember as well all those to whom you wish to stay connected.  You may find helpful the following prayer.
 
Living Word of God,
through your presence, your touch,
your teaching, and your deeds,
you eloquently communicated
the divine desire to be one with humanity.
By your prayer and example,
you expressed
how we can care about and love one another.
In listening carefully,
may we grow as one body in you
and become living words of God.
Amen.
 
 
 
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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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Dehonian Associates Office
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