March 13, 2015
Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
Before choosing his apostles, our Lord passes the night in prayer. Apostolic vocations are born in the Heart of Jesus, in his agonies over the salvation of souls, in the ardor of his zeal, and in his prayer.
All who are apostles of the Sacred Heart are so in virtue of the favor and special call of the Sacred Heart. There never was and never can be any religious, sacerdotal, or apostolic vocation that is not supernatural. You must receive a particular grace for the apostolate to which you are destined.
Do you not realize that this grace flows from that nocturnal prayer, from that prolonged vigil that our Lord made on the mountain before choosing his apostles? Do you think that he thought then only of the twelve whom he was about to call? No. He asked his Father for the grace of the apostolate for all those who would contribute to the spread of his reign, and in particular for the apostles of his Heart. Let us open our hearts to the influence of this prayer. Ask to respond to this call wholeheartedly, to understand everything to which we are called.
He who receives the divine call ought to live in continual union with the Sacred Heart. Otherwise he risks losing his vocation. A vocation born in the Sacred Heart can be preserved only there. It lives, is sustained, and developed in the Sacred Heart, as fish live in water and birds in the air.
Leo John Dehon, SCJ, The Love of the Sacred Heart I, 4th Mystery, 2nd Meditation
Lived and Shared, contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
In a letter written to Bishop Thibaudier after he received the decree of suppression from Rome, Fr. Dehon wrote, “Our Lord is now asking me to destroy what He asked me to build. I cannot entertain, not even for an instant, the slightest thought of resistance. That would be sheer folly. I can say nothing else except my fiat! [“Let it be done.”]
Fr. Dehon’s response gave an insight into the spirituality of oblation and immolation. Fr. Dehon obviously wanted his young Congregation to flourish and grow. He did not want his Congregation to be suppressed, but even in the face of destruction he would not do anything that would lessen their fidelity to God the Father. He accepted it despite the fact of how devastating it might be.
The ministry of vocation is both exciting and challenging. It can create a spiritual and emotional rollercoaster. On one hand, it can be very exciting and a privilege to accompany an individual in exploring his lifelong religious calling. On the other hand, it can be very challenging and frustrating when you look but do not seem to find someone who wants to answer the call.
The Founder’s spirituality has served as one of the guiding principles in my ministry of vocation. There are times that I have been discourged to say the least, expecially when a potential candidate has “discerned out” after a long discernment with us. Personally, I would like them to “discern in” with us; I want to “push” them forward because I believe that they could be a wonderful addition to our Congregation. However, “I can say nothing else except my fiat” even when a potential candidate is “discerned out” regardless how disappointed I may be.
Fr. Dehon’s fidelity and faithfulness to the will of God has taught me an important lesson. Even when things do not go according to my liking, God is still at work. I need to do my part; God will take care of the rest.
Quang Nguyen, SCJ
Reflection Questions, seeds for personal understanding and growth
Fr. Leo John Dehon asked these questions in his meditation book, The Priestly Heart of Jesus:
Do I think seriously about seeking vocations?
Do I think seriously about lending my aid to those who are discerning their vocation?
Have I contributed to the development of some of those who are discerning their vocation?
Prayer, hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
The Priests of the Sacred Heart have designated March 14 as International Day for Dehonian Vocations. In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer those who are discerning a call to be part of the Dehonian Family, and the Vocation Directors who facilitate that discernment. You may find helpful the following prayer for vocations from the British-Irish Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
Lord, let me hear your voice:
whispering words of love gently in my heart,
speaking to me silently in all of your creation,
crying out to me in the tears and agonies
of your children who struggle for life.
Lord, let me hear your voice.
I really want to do something worthwhile with my life.
I look around me at the world in which I live.
I see so much that is good, but I see too,
people who are lonely and in great need.
In my heart I hear your call inviting me
to share your love with others.
Give me courage.
Make me generous.
Help me to follow you.
Beginning with Ash Wednesday, the Dehonian Associates office is offering one-minute meditations on the significance of the cross. The reflections come from the writings of Fr. Leo John Dehon. There will be 14 total, sent each Wednesday and Sunday during Lent, with a final meditation on Easter. Those who are subscribed to Dehonian Spirituality will also receive the Lenten meditations.
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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