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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January 25, 2019

Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 

St. Joseph is a model and a protector for us.  His purity, humility, and innocence are models offered to souls who aspire to piety.  By his purity, he was considered worthy to be Mary's husband.  By his humility, he merited the glory of being the foster father of Jesus.  By his innocence, he was rendered worthy of the union and intimacy he needed to have with Jesus and his mother at Nazareth.
As we contemplate the love of St. Joseph for Jesus, we will understand that his heart longs for the time when Jesus will be loved as he wishes to be.  His prayers join those of Mary for the prompt realization of this desire of the Sacred Heart. He is the patron and the model of this interior life that the Sacred Heart requests.  As God the Father had appointed him the master and protector of that which was most dear on Earth, likewise, our Lord appointed him the benevolent protector of his priests, of souls devoted to his Heart, and of the friends with whom he wants to live in intimacy.
Priests or other individuals dedicated to the education of children have another reason to be devoted to St. Joseph.  St. Joseph is the special protector of the children whom they want to raise in piety.  As these children are dear to our Lord and become his favorite little siblings, St. Joseph adopts them and takes extreme care for their education.  Therefore, teachers must be united to St. Joseph.  They must learn from him to love the child Jesus.  Their purpose is to form in the hearts of the children the child Jesus. How will this happen in them, if they do not meditate daily on the mysteries of Nazareth, if they do not ask St. Joseph about his care and attention for Jesus?
After Mary, it is to St. Joseph that they must ask for the grace to understand and enjoy the childhood of Jesus in order to make his virtues reign in the hearts of their children.  Therefore
St. Joseph is a very special protector for the houses dedicated to the Christian education of children.  But Christian families must also be guided by the ideal of Nazareth and have recourse to the protection of St. Joseph for the Christian education of children.
“Go to Joseph and do all that he tells you,” said Pharaoh to his people [Genesis 41:55].  Rightly, the Church sees here a figure and a symbol of the power and the protection of our St. Joseph, husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus.
St. Joseph, very special friend of the Heart of Jesus, help me and pray for me.  Particularly each morning, I want to unite myself to you, in order to follow the path of your virtues and especially of your purity, your humility, and your innocence.  Protect the children we are raising; help us to form in them the child Jesus.

The Year with the Sacred Heart, March 1: “Devotion to St. Joseph”


Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
Father Leo John Dehon, in very difficult circumstances, provided a Catholic education at a time and in a country that was becoming more secular and making that an extremely difficult task.  He persevered and was loved by his students.  Being an educator in a catholic school for me is a great joy.  Each morning as we prepare for our day, we take time to pray and reflect on God’s will for us for that day.  Fr. Dehon provided an excellent example of what a Christian educator should work to be.
In my role as school counselor, I work each day to embody the spirit of Fr. Dehon in the ways I work with students. Throughout the day, I work with students on various issues.  Being a compassionate ear for those students, their parents, and teachers who may be experiencing a problem is a vitally important role.  Helping students to resolve conflicts, manage their studies, and navigate all of the responsibilities they have as middle school students can sometimes be daunting.   My goal is always to approach each situation with understanding and patience. Approaching each child with the love of Christ and following Fr. Dehon’s example, I am able to assist those in need in a loving and Christian way.
As I reflect on Fr. Dehon’s writings, I’m reminded of how important it is to pray and offer the works of each day to Christ. Fr. Dehon was a fantastic example of how to be a Christian educator and how to be devoted to the Heart of Jesus. Like Fr. Dehon, I have a passion for education and a desire to teach children to follow Christ by attempting to be an example to them.  For me, Dehonian spirituality means approaching each day with prayer, helping others, teaching, and showing students the love of Christ through my actions and words each day.  

Talisha Jones (pictured above, right)
Sacred Heart School, Southaven, MS


Reflection questions: seeds for understanding and growth
Fr. Dehon saw in children the potential to become Jesus’ “favorite little siblings.”  How can you encourage them to live into their identity?
How do you define the spirit of Fr. Dehon? How do you embody Dehonian spirituality each day?


Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
This year, Catholic Schools Week is celebrated from January 27-February 2.  In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers all children and their teachers, and the staff and benefactors that support them.  Your may find helpful the following prayer.
Dear Saint Joseph,
protector of children
and of institutions dedicated to their education,
may we join you in the task
of helping children
grow into Jesus’s favorite little sisters and brothers.
In the spirit of your life at Nazareth,
may our words and actions
form in the hearts of children
a loving relationship with Jesus
and a desire to be like him—
inclusive, compassionate, and self-giving.
Together with the children we are raising,
may we fulfill your dream that,
intimately united to the Heart of Jesus,
we may be witnesses
to God’s unconditional love for our world.

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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