May 5, 2017
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
Jesus is called the great high priest. He had been called from the beginning: “In the head of the book” [cf. Psalm 40:7, 8 “Then I said, ‘Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart’.”]. God the Father has always issued this call, he prepared it, and he repeated it often through his promises to the patriarchs, through signs and prophesies.
The angels come to reveal this call in the mysteries of the Annunciation and the Nativity. God renews it at the baptism of the Savior before his public life and on Mt. Tabor before the sacrifices of the cenacle and the passion: “This is my beloved Son…listen to him” [Matthew 17:5].
Christ calls his apostles: “He called to him men of his own choosing,” St. Mark writes, “and he appointed twelve” [Mark 3:13-14]. He says to St. Peter and St. Andrew, “Come, follow me,” and he repeats this to St. James and St. John [Mark 1:16-20]. He calls St. Matthew from his tax collector’s place [Mark 2:13, 14]. He says to Nathaniel, “I saw you under the fig tree, as I was preparing to call you” [cf. John 1:48]. He even calls Judas who betrays him [Mark 3:19], and another good young man who refuses the vocation [cr. Mark 10:17-22].
For us, it is the Holy Spirit who calls us by his grace and Providence, which directs the events that are going to lead us to the priesthood. St. Paul reminds Timothy how his vocation had been prepared through the devout influence of his grandmother and his mother [cf. II Timothy 1:5]. All of us can recall the exquisite influence of God on ourselves.
Our Congregation has a special vocation: the life of love and reparation to the Sacred Heart. God has made this known to us and has strengthened us in this by his mystical graces and by the approbation of the Church. Let us respond to these many graces. Our Lord calls the apostles his “friends” [John 15:15]. Like St. John, the Priests of the Sacred Heart are his intimate friends.
Daily Notes, January 1922
Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
Fr. Joseph Philippe, SCJ, sent this letter to the students in Ste. Marie, Illinois, after his visit there in his role as Superior General.
Rome, January 8, 1932
My dear sons of Ste. Marie,
I was very pleased with your fine letter and rich spiritual bouquet which each one of you offered to me on the occasion of Christmas and the New Year. I thank you with all my heart. Often, very often, I think of you and I become homesick, as it were. You know, therefore, that you are loved by your Father General. May this thought encourage you in the efforts you make during these study years in preparation for your beautiful vocation. You will already have received a little souvenir of Rome blest by the Holy Father.
Your friend, Elphege Leduc, said to me, “I bring you my heart.” It is true that it was a heart of sugar, of maple sugar from Canada. But what beautiful words! I retain and think of them often. I say to you the same as Leduc. Do let us remain united as we were during those fifteen days when I was among you. I often look at the photograph and I still know all of you.
Especially dear to me are the older students who will soon leave to enter the novitiate. It is too bad that I cannot give them the holy habit of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Do pray that Father General may be able to visit you more frequently, and often make the voyage across the sea and encourage his sons of Ste. Marie.
My return trip was very turbulent due to a storm that lasted the entire crossing, but I was not sick and was able to say Holy Mass every day. I went to Pris to visit your little brothers of Viry who were celebrating on November 21 the 49th anniversary of the foundation of the first mission school [St. Clement] of the Congregation. How many schools do we have since then?
I also went to St. Quentin to pray for you and for all my sons at the tomb of our saintly Founder. Do you have a photograph of him? I shall send one to each of you. Then I went to the novitiate at Amiens where we have twenty French students who are preparing themselves for the religious life. At Lille we have a seminary where I met our three Canadians [two of them were Damase Caron, SCJ, and Rudolph Hould, SCJ]. They were happy to receive from Father General souvenirs of their country and especially the “sugar hearts” from Leduc.
Afterwards I went to Trent to visit the little Italian school with thirty-four students, little ones. They had never seen Father General. What a feast, as in Ste. Marie! All the houses wanted to see me. I showed them the fine photographs all of them admired. The next time I come to see you, we shall understand each other better; unfortunately I shall forget the English I learned with you. Do pray for me, my sons. I bless you with all my heart and remain,
Affectionately yours, P. Joseph Philippe, Superior General
P.S. This is the letter writing paper our Founder used. I took the last sheets for you.
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
Making important decisions is a difficult task. Choosing a way of life and one’s life work is daunting in a culture that holds so many possibilities and so few certainties. While God continues to call men and women to Church vocations as Brothers, Sisters, or priests, it is possible that some of them don’t recognize or know what to make of the call. If you notice people whom you think would be excellent ministers in the Church, take the time to tell them. You just might help to put the voice of God in their ears.
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
May 7, 2017, is World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers those men and women who are open to considering a vocation as a religious or priest. You may find helpful the following prayer.
Attentive and caring God,
from the moment you created Eve
as helper for Adam,
you have continued to call
countless women and men
to collaborate with you
in addressing human need.
Moses, Deborah, Jeremiah, and Esther
worked by your side
to assist your chosen people.
Mary Magdalene, Peter, and Phoebe
helped you make known
the revelation of Jesus.
As your partners,
Benedict, Joan, Francis, and Catherine,
Leo John Dehon, Dorothy Day, and Oscar Romero
made visible your compassion for all.
Who is it, God, whom you call
to collaborate with your today?
Give them ears to hear your voice,
a mind to understand your will,
and a heart to embrace your call
for the good of the world.
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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