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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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September 18, 2015


 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
In the company of the Sacred Heart I go to visit his Kingdom of glory.  I advance through the crowded ranks with the Sacred Heart, with the wounded and triumphant Lamb.  All the angels and saints exclaim, “Glory and blessing, thanksgiving, honor, and power to our God forever” [cf. Revelation 5:12, 7:12].  With them I repeat, “Blessed be the Sacred Heart, who has completely won over this crowd and has led it to triumph.”
 
He has illuminated prophets and doctors, he has separated from the world ascetics and confessors, he has conquered the hearts of virgins, he has strengthened martyrs, and he has inspired the zeal of apostles, popes, and priests.  Once again, praise, thanksgiving, love, and blessing to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I rejoice in your triumph, O divine Heart.  With joy, I imagine these songs with infinite and unceasing echoes of glory.
 
I see the angels and the saints putting the prayers of the Church, together with their own prayers, into their celestial censers [cf. Revelation 8:3-4].  And since I have asked for the intercession of all the saints today, it is from an infinite number of censers that my humble prayers and praise, united with the prayers of the saints, shall rise to God with endless efficacy.

St. John tells us that the virgins follow the Lamb everywhere, but since Margaret Mary, we know that there is yet another group which has an intimacy with our Lord in heaven, these are the saints of the Sacred Heart, those who have given themselves over more fully to the life of love, either in the time before the devotion to the Sacred Heart, or since it was promulgated in the very act of this devotion. 
 
St. John is not deprived of resting on the Heart of Jesus, nor is St. Gertrude, nor Margaret Mary.  St. Augustine, St. Bernard, and St. Bonaventure are not deprived of penetrating the wounded side of Jesus and establishing their dwelling in his Heart.  St. Francis, St. Paul of the Cross, and others can still press their lips to the Heart of Jesus.  St. Catherine of Siena and others have not lost the grace of an exchange of hearts.
 
Yes, there really are privileges for the saints of the Sacred Heart.  Today I greet them with tenderness and ask them to remember me in a very special way.  To the saints of the Sacred Heart, to the saints of love and reparation, a special visit with a prayer and a resolution to imitate them.
 
Leo John Dehon, SCJ, from the meditation, “A Visit to Heaven with the Sacred Heart” [November 1], A Year with the Sacred Heart of Jesus
 
 

 
 

Oblation: The daily practice of offering oneself to God's will

“I am a priest.”  Under ordinary circumstances, this declaration would be understood as a mark of dedication and service.  During the Spanish Civil War, however, it was enough evidence for imprisonment and eventual execution. 
 
While in a Valencia prison, Fr. Juan María de la Cruz, SCJ, wrote to Fr. Philippe, SCJ, the Superior General of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.  “They are keeping me here, Reverend Father, imprisoned for three weeks because I uttered a few words of protest about the horrid spectacle of the churches being burned and profaned.  May God be blessed, may his will be done in everything.  I am very happy to be able to suffer something for him who suffered so much for me, a poor sinner.”
 
On the night of August 23, 1936, after a month in jail, where he cared for the pastoral needs of many prisoners, Fr. Juan and nine others were shot to death and buried in a common grave.  In 1940, his body was exhumed and could be identified by his profession cross; his Sacred Heart scapular, which had two bullet holes in it; and a small, bloodstained diary.  Today, his body is buried at the SCJ seminary in Puente la Reina, Spain.
 
Fr. Juan María de la Cruz, born Mariano Méndez in 1891, was the eldest of 15 children.  Like their peasant neighbors, his parents eked out a living on the land.  Mariano had a friendly personality, liked to tell jokes, and possessed a beautiful singing voice.  He felt called to the priesthood at age 10, but his training was interrupted several times when he returned home to work the farm when his father was ill.
 
After ordination in 1916, he served poor peasants in the diocese of Avila.  Attracted to a contemplative lifestyle, Mariano tried at different times to join the Dominicans, the Carmelites, and the Trappists, but each attempt failed because of his poor health.  During his regular visits to Madrid, to serve as an army reservist, he would make Eucharist Adoration in a convent chapel.  The Mother Superior introduced him to Fr. Zicke, SCJ, and he was accepted by the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, professing his first vows in 1926. 
 
As an SCJ, he was assigned to beg for funds and seek vocations for the high school seminary at Puente la Reina from 1927-1936.  He wrote to Fr. Philippe asking for an assignment “more suited to recollection and solitude, far from the secular.”  Yet in his notes he writes, “In the midst of all these labors I will console myself by thinking that it is here that virtues are purified and one loves the Lord.  And so, when the thought of despair appears in my mind, I will smile and direct my gaze towards the Lord with all my trust.”
 
His great devotion to the Eucharist usually resulted in lengthy Masses, for which he earned the nickname, “the eternal Father” from the altar boys.  His favorite theme for teaching and instruction was the merciful love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.      
 
While on retreat in Rome, a year after his first profession with the Priests of the Sacred Heart, he wrote, “Sin does two grave injuries.  The first offends the holiness of God and the second offends souls.  It is the task of the priest-repairer of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to dedicate himself to these two kinds of reparation, one that we can call divine and the other human.
 
“Now the person that habitually takes loving delight in the holy presence of God and visits the Blessed Sacrament, such a one makes divine reparation.  When therefore a soul loves God and finds joy in him, it can do no less than to love and find joy in his living image, that is, his neighbor.  From this love, zeal for the salvation of souls will follow as a logical consequence.
 
“Work done in keeping with holy obedience, in apostolic ministry, in the missions, in schools, in communications, in the pulpit, in the confessional, in periodicals and books, in Catholic social action, at the bed side of the sick, and in the apostolate of prayer, will not overlook any task on behalf of poor souls, drawing them away from sin and defects, and showing them how to walk the demanding ways of perfection.  This is the second part of reparation, namely human reparation.”
 
In the spirit of oblation, Juan María de la Cruz gladly followed the call to be a priest, but also accepted gradually the reality that he was not called to a contemplative life.  Although at times a struggle, he was “very happy to be able to suffer something” for Jesus, who suffered so much for him.  His ultimate act of oblation was the gift of his life in defense of his faith.  Since the Church has acknowledged his martyrdom and named him, “Blessed,” he joins the group of saints of the Sacred Heart, whom Fr. Dehon encourages us to visit “with a prayer and a resolution to imitate them.”

 

 


 
Reflection questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

When have you been willing to identify as a Christian, even at a personal cost?
 
In your experience of offering yourself to God’s will, when have you felt delight and when have you felt despair?
 
Responding to the ravages of sin, how can you make divine reparation and human reparation?
 




 
 

 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

The Priests of the Sacred Heart celebrate the memory of Blessed Juan María de la Cruz García on September 22.  In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer all victims of civil strife and those who try to alleviate their sufferings with the gift of their own lives.  The following prayer is from the Commemoration of Blessed Juan María de la Cruz in the Liturgy of the Hours.

 
Almighty and Eternal God,
through Blessed Juan María de la Cruz, priest and martyr,
you have sent to your Church a seed of new life.
Grant that all your children
may imitate his virtue
and offer themselves lovingly
as heralds of your love and instruments of peace.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
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. 

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