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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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February 19, 2016
 
 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
The Priestly Heart of Jesus dealing with sinners is the model of the priest in the confessional.  The priest is father, doctor, teacher, and judge.  Jesus was all that.  The priest consoles, cures, and encourages souls; Jesus did all that also.
 
Amazed to find the Savior so accessible to all, and somewhat scandalized by his goodness, the Pharisees said to the apostles, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  But Jesus, hearing it, said, “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”  [Matthew 9:11-13]
 
Jesus’ kindness to sinners filled them with joy and confidence.  It encouraged them to make generous resolutions.  Among these tax collectors, indeed one of their chief men, was Zacchaeus, notorious for his unjust business methods, but later on famous for his lavish restitutions [Luke 19:1-10].
 
Let us again watch the Good Shepherd at work.  He is pursuing a stray sheep.  This time it is a Samaritan woman who is the object of his search and lively interest.  For her sake he undertakes a hard journey; he is worn out with weariness for he has trudged a long way.  He has been walking since dawn and it is noon, when the sun is highest and hottest, and the heat adds to his fatigue.  He sits down exhausted at the spot where he knows that a stray sheep will soon appear.
 
The kindness of Jesus stands out strikingly on this occasion, in his going in search of a foreigner, odious to his nation; she was, moreover, a woman who seemed unworthy of his care, being a notorious sinner.  He wearies himself, exhausts himself, and employs zealous stratagems to convert her [John 4:1-42].  “He who asked the Samaritan woman to give him a drink was thirsty for the woman’s soul,” says St. Augustine.
 
What mercy the priestly Heart of Jesus showed to the woman taken in adultery.  She is accused according to the Law.  Jesus adroitly gets rid of her accusers; then he says to her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, sir.”  And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”  [John 8:1-11]
 
In each of these incidents Jesus preceded us in the confessional.  O priests, what a delicate task is our ministry towards sinners!  How good and kind, how zealous and gentle, how devoted, how meek, how patient we must be to bring them back to Jesus Christ!

 
The Priestly Heart of Jesus, 13th Meditation

 
 
 
  
 
 

Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian Spirituality

On September 23, 2015, at the Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra, Pope Francis said, “Go out to proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father.  Go out to those burdened by pain and failure, who feel that their lives are empty, and proclaim the loving Father who wants to anoint them with the oil of hope and salvation.”
 
In 1997, I began my ministry at the Women’s Prison in Pierre, South Dakota.  When I walked through that steel door closing back on me, I was praying that the staff and most of all the women prisoners would accept me as their chaplain.  As time went on, I began to feel at ease and like part of a family.  They saw me as a “pastor” who did not judge or condemn, and who brought them the true meaning of the word, “mercy.”  By visiting them in their cellblock and in “the hole” [that is, administration segregation consisting of a 23-hour lockdown], I brought them some hope by praying and reading scripture to them.
 
My most humbling experience was doing a Fifth Step of the AA Program, which is, “My relationship with God.”  This inmate wrote seven pages about her life of crime and drugs before she entered prison.  I felt she trusted me and knew I would not condemn her for her past.  As she continued to read about her past life, I could see tears rolling down from her eyes.  In these moments, we both felt the mercy of God, and God being non-judgmental.  I shared with her that even God has tears of love for her.   
 
So as our good Pope Francis preaches and as Fr. Dehon stated for SCJs, “Go out to proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father.”
 
Gary Lantz, SCJ
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
In this Year of Mercy, how can you practice the corporal work of mercy of visiting the imprisoned?  Here are a few suggestions:
  • Consider learning about Prisoner Visitation and Support [PVS], an interfaith volunteer visitation program to federal and military prisoners throughout the United States.  Go to http://www.prisonervisitation.org/.
  • While at the website, click the tabs, “How you can help” and “Make an online donation.”
  • Explore local possibilities for participating in this ministry.
  • Support someone who does prison ministry.
 
 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer the women and men who are imprisoned, justly or unjustly, throughout the world, and those who minister to them.  You may find helpful the following prayer, one of seven based on Psalm 119, composed by Charles Flood, SCJ, and included his book, Water and Enrich My Heart, Prayers Based on the Psalms.
 
I claim no other heritage, Lord,
but you and your Law.
Through obedience to that Law
let me find that I can never be hemmed in
nor overwhelmed by people, places, or things
that would try to distort your image in my life.
In any distress,
let me look to those faithful individuals
who evidence goodness in their lives.
Therein will I experience your mercy.
Therein will I be taught to do your will.
.
 

 
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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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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