October 16, 2015
Feast Day of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
“I have come to cast fire upon the earth” [Luke 12:49]. This text has acquired a new meaning since the revelations of the Sacred Heart. For these latter times our Lord has reserved a hidden fire. He revealed and explained this fire when he showed to St. Margaret Mary the flames surrounding his Heart and issuing forth from it. Here we find a new light and a new warmth. If souls will only allow it to operate, this fire will illuminate them brilliantly and produce in them a powerful flame.
This doctrine must be drawn from its true sources. The revelations of the Sacred Heart made to St. Gertrude, St. Margaret Mary, and to other privileged souls give us a new key for understanding the Sacred Scriptures. They have opened our eyes to see more clearly the great love of the Sacred Heart and his gentle invitation expressed in these Sacred Writings.
This new light gives us deeper insight into the love of God for us, the love of the Sacred Heart. This new fire is the fire of love and immolation shown by our Savior to St. Margaret Mary, the divine fire with which the Sacred Heart wishes to enkindle our hearts. “It is my desire,” he said, “that this fire be spread.”
St. Margaret Mary held herself before our Lord as an expectant canvas. On this canvas our Divine Savior, after the manner of a skilled painter, designed the image of his Heart. It was no lifeless painting, but a living image reproducing in detail the traits of the Divine Master. This soul, enlightened and purified by the Heart of Jesus, was so similar to its adorable Model that in it was realized that mysterious unity which is the final bond of union with the Heart of Jesus.
Let us likewise be a white canvas before our Lord so that he may imprint the seal of his Heart upon us. He will purify us; he will enlighten us; he will finally raise us to that perfect union in which he makes us one with him. Then shall we be able to say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I that live, it is Jesus Christ, it is his Heart, that lives in me” [cf. Galatians 2:20].
Leo John Dehon, SCJ, “Preliminary Meditation,” Crowns of Love for the Heart of Jesus, Volume One
Engraving by W. Panak
Heart of Jesus, Fr. Dehon's favored image of God's loving concern for all creation
How can one communicate an inexpressible experience that demands expression? How can one speak of a reality that seems at once so simple and so profound? Christian mystics, relying on imagery and the description of their feelings, leave a record that can seem “over-the-top” were it not for their hesitancy to make their experience public.
In communicating her experience of God’s unconditional love, Margaret Mary imaged Jesus’ heart on fire—flames surrounding it and issuing forth from it. Alternately, she likened Jesus’ five wounds to bright, shining suns, which are essentially orbs of fire. The image of fire is an apt symbol for the jumble of feelings which Margaret Mary experienced in response to God’s love.
Fire illuminates, warms, purifies, consumes, and spreads. The Heart of Jesus provides a deep insight into God’s love and counters the chilly perception of an austere judge and divine taskmaster. At the same time, the Heart of Jesus is demanding of those who nurture a relationship with him—requiring them to strip away all traces of selfishness and egotism, and to embrace the sacrifices inherent in addressing social evils, which have at their base a rejection of God’s love. Finally, the Heart of Jesus wishes to imprint the seal of his Heart upon individuals so they will be able to incarnate God’s love in the world.
This mandala employs the colors of fire to suggest a burning, radiant sun. The center is the Heart of God, the Heart of Jesus. In union with this Heart, reflecting a similar color and shape, is the heart of the believer. The green leaves are evidence of the divine energy or grace that makes possible a life of love and continuing growth. Together, the Heart of Jesus and the heart of the believer emanate into the world the gifts of love, compassion, and gentleness, and the willingness to be wounded in the process. “I have come to cast fire upon the earth,” Jesus said. “It is my desire that this fire be spread.”
Heart of Jesus Mandala, crayon on paper, David Schimmel
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
Reflection questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
What are your associations, both positive and negative, with fire? How do these associations help you understand God’s love?
Imagining yourself as a blank canvas, how would you describe the seal of his Heart that Jesus wishes to imprint upon it?
In what sense, or in what aspect of your life, can you say, “It is no longer I who live, but the Heart of Jesus who lives in me”?
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer those who are most in need of experiencing God’s love. The following prayer comes from Leo John Dehon’s, The Retreat with the Sacred Heart, 25th Meditation.
O Good Master,
come and live and reign in your servants.
I pray that you will come to me
and rule completely over my heart.
I want to purify my heart
so that it can be your temple.
I want you to make a throne there
and take hold of me.
I want to be guided by you in all things
and always to do your will.
Heart of Jesus,
live and reign in me and direct me.
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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