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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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October 7, 2016
 
 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
In 1882, Fr. Dehon had the sad task of burying his father.  In the following year, he experienced the additional sorrow of burying his mother.  He was back in his hometown of La Capelle in 1886 for the burial of his uncle.  “I revisited all the graves of my family in their bright rows,” he wrote in his diary.  “May I be able to profit from these lessons.”
 
In the early 1900’s, funerals for the members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart were becoming common.  In early November 2005, he buried Fr. Rasset, SCJ.  The next month he did the same for Fr. Blancal, SCJ.  “I made all the arrangements for the funeral,” he noted, “which took place solemnly at Fayet on December 4.  He was laid to rest in our vault.”
 
On January 5, 1913, the funeral of Fr. Charcosset, SCJ was held in Val-des-Bois, where he had ministered for many years as a chaplain at a textile factory.  “An impressive and edifying ceremony,” Fr. Dehon noted, “with many tears shed.  The pastor recounted the life of the deceased.  An employee spoke on behalf of the Union, and a worker spoke in the name of the retirees; these were speeches of Christian understanding and piety.”
 
That same month, he attended the funeral of his uncle Penant, “dead at age 86, after a beautiful life of Christian practice, as well as of family and social dignity.”  At the end of November 1913, he had the funeral for Fr. Prévot, SCJ.  “Everyone was in complete agreement about him: he was a saint.” 
 
Funerals for SCJs multiplied during World War I.  In September 1915, he wrote, “Frater Rattair died in the battle at Arras.  He was an officer.  He was intelligent, highly gifted, straightforward, and good.  Frater Gilbert died at Brugelette.  He suffered a great deal and he truly offered his suffering to the Sacred Heart.  Two young Germans also died in the war, Fraters Orth and Prantauer, and the Alsatian, Gérard.  That makes thirteen dead in a year, without counting those that I do not know about.  Fiat!”
 
On learning that his brother had become very ill, Dehon rushed to his side “and comforted him in his final hours.  He had a beautiful—truly Christian—death surrounded by his entire family.  We had always been very close.  A solemn funeral in La Capelle on February 25 [1922].  Everyone in the area took part; they all held him in high esteem.  My brother had been an apostle by giving the example of a dignified and Christian life. 
 
“My parents and friends have passed on,” he concluded, “I should have profited more from their great example.  My turn is approaching.”
 
Daily Notes: October 26, 1886, December 1905, January 1913, November 1913, September 13-14, 1915, March 1917, and February 1922
 

 
  
 
 

Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality

In family life, religious life, and parish life, a vital and deepening of our call to community experience in Christ is reflected at funerals. 
 
In California, I had a funeral in a rather large church, but there were only 11 people present and half of them were hired by the funeral director to carry the casket.  How sad!  I also remember a funeral on the Indian Reservation for a teenager, who was accidentally shot.  Instead of the church, the funeral was held in the high school gym, due to the number of people attending—1,500.  The power of community love was present and experienced by each person present.
 
Sometimes, circumstances force a minister to return to the fundamental reality of the sacraments.  I was called to the hospital after one of our wayward sheep was shot by the police.  He was on life-support until I arrived for the sacraments and blessings.  After I finished, the plug was pulled and he died.
 
In parish life, most funerals are truly a celebration of the person’s life.  I remember a person, who was gifted by God with a charming personality and with a sharing of the gifts in ministry—an inspiration to the family, the parish community, and the city.
 
Richard Johnston, SCJ
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

In this Holy Year of Mercy, how can you practice the corporal work of mercy of burying the dead?  Here are a few suggestions:
  • If possible, attend the wake and/or the funeral of a relative, friend, or acquaintance, even if it is inconvenient.
  • Support those who grieve, not only at the funeral, but also in the weeks and months that follow.
Visit the gravesite, pray for the deceased, and contemplate the reality of your own death.
 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers those who will die this week, and those who mourn their passing.  You may find helpful this prayer for the deceased, from the Dehonian Associates Prayer Book.
 
Jesus,
as you completed your oblation to the Father
on the wood of the cross,
you confidently prayed,
“Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Our deceased brothers and sisters,
who have gone before us in faith,
have also completed their life of oblation.
We entrust them to your mercy,
and with steadfast hope
we pray they are with you in paradise.
 
We pledge to stay united to them through prayer,
trusting that our community,
drawn together and held together by your love,
will find its full realization in eternity.
Amen.
 
 

 
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. 
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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
US Province, Priests of the Sacred Heart 
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