June 3, 2016
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
A scribe came one day to ask cunningly of the Savior, “What must I do to win eternal life?” Jesus reminded him of the basic law: love God and your neighbor. “But,” he asked, “who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus developed the delightful parable of the Good Samaritan.
Bandits attacked a Jew travelling on the road to Jericho. They take his possessions; he defends himself and is wounded. They leave him half-dead and covered in blood. A priest and a Levite pass, they do not stop. They disregard this poor, injured man. A Samaritan passes by. He is moved with pity and he multiplies his care and attention, even though his tribe was hostile to Jews. He puts the injured man on his horse, he leads him to an inn, he provides money for his care, and he will pay additional costs upon his return.
This, O Jesus, is the disposition of your Heart. This is how you act with the poor injured ones like me. You inspire this spirit of charity in all of your followers.
During the days of his mortal life, Jesus’ words and his actions were a hallmark of constant mercy. He told the woman taken in adultery, “Has no one has condemned you? Neither do I condemn you” [John 8:10]. To the paralytic of Bethsaida, he said, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin anymore” [John 5:14]. He had pity on the crowds and multiplied bread for them. He was moved by seeing the people as a flock without a shepherd or led by stern and selfish pastors [cf. Mark 6:30-44].
Among his Apostles and disciples, he calls sinners like Matthew and Zacchaeus. He is the gentle and patient God described by Wisdom and he arranges everything with mercy [cf. Wisdom 15:1]. He died forgiving his executioners, expressing this sublime cry of mercy and peace, “My Father, forgive them” [Luke 23:34]. This cry is extended throughout the centuries in favor of sinners—in favor of me—O my God!
Where am I with this virtue so bounteous and redeeming? What are my feelings towards those who offend me or hurt me, of those who criticize me or make me suffer? What mercy do I hold in my heart for those who grieve and suffer? It is with a heart moved by mercy that the Savior visited us. “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us” [Luke 1:78]. May we be good to all, as he was good to us.
Lord, I want to be good and benevolent, and to forgive everyone just as you have forgiven me. Where am I on this path? I want to clothe myself with mercy following your example as St. Paul invites me [cf. Colossians 3:12]. Divine mercy, incarnate in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, cover the world. May mercy reign in my heart.
Year with the Sacred Heart, July 10 Meditation: “Christian Virtues and Beatitudes: Mercy”
Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
[ENGLISH TRANSLATION FOLLOWS]
Il y a quelques années, je célébrais le baptême de l’enfant de l’un de mes neveux. Comme beaucoup de jeunes d’aujourd’hui, ce neveu n’était pas marié mais vivait, comme on dit aujourd’hui, en “union libre”. Mais peu importe l’âge, il semble que la morale traditionnelle judéo-chrétienne soit particulièrement tenace! Au cours de la réception qui suivit le baptême, celui-ci me prit à part et me dit: “Mon oncle, je suis étonné que tu aies accepté de baptiser notre enfant, alors que nous vivons dans le péché.”
Je lui ai demandé ce qu’il voulait dire par là, et il m’a répondu: “Mais nous ne sommes pas mariés.” Spontanément, je répondis: “Vous vous aimez, n’est-ce pas? C’est d’abord ce qui compte.” Et je pensai à cette phrase de François d’Assise dans une lettre à un supérieur: “Qu'il n'y ait aucun frère de par le monde, si pécheur soit-il, qui ne trouve de la miséricorde en regardant tes yeux. Prends soin de lui avec miséricorde, comme tu aimerais qu'on fasse avec toi, si tu te trouvais dans une pareille situation.”
Depuis l’élection de François à la tête de l’Église, comme je trouve rafraîchissant son discours plus axé sur cette extraordinaire miséricorde que sur la morale (et en particulier la morale sexuelle)!
Au cours de mes années de ministère, dans la célébration du sacrement de la réconciliation (terme que je préfère à celui de sacrement de pénitence!), j’ai, je crois, essayé d’accueillir les gens tels qu’ils sont, sans les juger, tout en rappelant l’idéal vers lequel il faut cheminer. Et, je crois, tout est contenu dans ce mot: cheminer. Et je sais, du plus profond de mon être, que je ne suis pas dans une situation différente. Je me dois aussi de cheminer, ce qui implique que parfois, je fais de “bons coups”, mais aussi de “moins bons”.
Le P. Dehon nous rappelle, dans certains de ses écrits, que Jésus, devant les malades ou les possédés qu’on lui présentait, voyait d’abord et avant tout des hommes ou des femmes qui avaient besoin de sa miséricorde, et non pas de reproches sur leur conduite ou sur leurs actions. Il les guérissait donc avant de les appeler à un idéal qu’ils ou elles n’atteindraient peut-être jamais. Puissions-nous méditer là-dessus en cette année jubilaire.
Maurice Légaré, SCJ
A few years ago, I celebrated the baptism of the child of one of my nephews. Like many young people today, this nephew was not married but lived, as we say today, in “free love.” Regardless of age, however, it seems that traditional Judeo-Christian morality is particularly tenacious! During the reception that followed the Baptism, he took me aside and said, “Uncle, I am surprised that you have agreed to baptize our child while we are living in sin.”
I asked him what he meant by that, and he replied, “Well, we’re not married.” Spontaneously, I answered: “You’re loving, aren’t you? That’s what’s most important.” And I thought of the saying of Francis of Assisi in a letter to a superior. “May there be no brother in the world, if he is a sinner, who cannot find mercy by looking into your eyes. Care for him with mercy, as you’d like to be cared for, if you found yourself in a similar situation.”
Since the election of Pope Francis, I find refreshing that his words are more focused on this extraordinary mercy than on morality [and in particular sexual morality]!
During my years of ministry, in celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation [a term I prefer to Sacrament of Penance!], I have, I believe, tried to welcome people as they are, without judging them, while recalling the ideal toward which they must journey. And, I believe, everything is contained in this word: to journey. And I know, from the depths of my being, that my situation is no different. I also must make the journey, which means that sometimes I take “good steps” and sometimes steps that are “less than good.”
Fr. Dehon reminds us, in some of his writings, that Jesus, faced with the sick or the possessed who were presented to him, saw first and foremost, men or women who needed mercy, and not a reproach for their conduct or their actions. So, he healed them before calling them to an ideal that they perhaps could never attain. May we meditate on this point during this Jubilee Year.
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
Where am I regarding the practice of this virtue of mercy so bounteous and redeeming?
What are my feelings towards those who offend me or hurt me, of those who criticize me or make me suffer?
What mercy do I hold in my heart for those who grieve and suffer?
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
Friday, June 3, 2016 is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers those who are most in need of God’s mercy as well as the mercy of fellow human beings. You many find helpful this composite prayer taken from Fr. Dehon’s meditation book, Retreat with the Sacred Heart, 5th and 20th Meditations.
O my God,
I have felt the effects of your mercy on so many occasions.
It has never ceased to watch over me and to look after me.
Every day of my life
I will recall the great mercy
you have shown me and I thank you for it.
I will give you proof of an unshakable confidence;
I will serve you with love and fidelity.
Lord, how tender and generous your Heart is!
It is the heart of a father;
it is the heart of a mother.
I want to assist your mercy
in order to obtain for others
the same grace you have shown me.
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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