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 11, 2015

Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
Mary is the Mother of Sorrows, she is the Queen of Martyrs; she suffered more than others did.  A few moments in the circus or the amphitheater, a few hours of suffering were enough to make martyrs.  The martyrdom of Mary lasted her whole life.  The prophecy of Simeon has been fulfilled: your soul will be pierced by a sword [cf. Luke 2:34-35].
In the days of Herod she suffers for her threatened son.  The loss of Jesus in the temple is a martyrdom which costs her days of tears.  What torture for Mary, when she learns that they want to kill her son as a criminal and when she sees him carry the cross on the way to Calvary.
Mary stands near the cross.  She does not collapse, broken by sorrow.  She is standing, she sees, she hears.  Jesus speaks to her.  What fortitude!  What heroic resignation!  She cries no doubt, she is suffering, but she is standing.  The sun darkens, the earth trembles, and all of nature is troubled.  The apostles have fled.  Only Mary is standing.  She does not speak.  She adores in silence, she prays, she offers her sacrifice in union with that of the Savior.  She understood everything.  She exchanges a few glances with Jesus, these are the glances of mutual encouragement.
The strike of the sword is still more acute when she sees him die on the cross; when, in place of the Master, she receives the disciple as son; and when she sees his divine Heart pierced by the lance.  What a terrible hour when they return him, inanimate and disfigured, into her arms.  She sees him wrapped in the shroud.  They carry him to the tomb and she leads the group of mourners.  O Mary, there is no sorrow like yours, because no mother has lost a son like yours.
She does not complain.  Her fiat [“Let it be done to me according to your word”] has always been the dominant note of her life.  She received Jesus by a fiat; she loses him by a fiat!  So many times she has heard Jesus repeat and teach the fiat, she is ready to practice it even with the greatest of sacrifices.
When we are in difficulty, let us go to Mary.  She has suffered so much from the manger to Calvary!  The ever-threatening sword of sorrow left her no respite.  Her life has been a life of immolation.  She can commiserate with all our difficulties; she knows what it costs to suffer.  She will never be insensitive to our sighs and our tears.  Because she has been the Mother of Sorrows, she deserves to be the Comforter of the Afflicted.  It is her grace; let us go to her with confidence.
Leo John Dehon, SCJ, “The Seven Sorrows of Mary,” [Meditation for March 30], The Year with the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Mother and John, wood sculpture, Herman Falke, SCJ


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

The United States of America has designated September 11 as “Patriot Day” in remembrance of a horrible loss of life and destruction of property.  The World Trade Center was completely destroyed and the Pentagon partially destroyed, but the attempt to attack the U.S. Capitol failed.  The terrorist attack on 9/11 is just one of numerous and continuous atrocities committed throughout history, many done in the name of God or national security.
It seems that no government is without some blame for genocide, imperialism, colonialism, puppet governments, slavery, human trafficking, the exploitation of human and natural resources, torture, anti-refugee and anti-migrant sentiment, the obliteration of native peoples, and the horrors of modern warfare with its aftermath of broken bodies and lives.
When we picture Mary standing at the foot of the cross, she stands, not only at the cross of Jesus, but also at the foot of centuries of pain and injustice that the cross signifies.  From all appearances, Mary is powerless.  All she can do is stand there, express the excruciating pain with her tears, and move on from such senseless destruction.  However, her presence, compassion, and resolve to move forward summarize the essence of her offering to God.
Fr. Leo John Dehon experienced the political fallout from the French Revolution, especially the government’s persecution of the Catholic Church.  He knew firsthand the destruction of the Franco-Prussian War and the First World War, and subsequently, a worldwide recession.  He witnessed the negative effects of the Industrial Revolution in the exploitation of factory workers.
Through it all, he remained standing.  By staying informed, principally through the daily newspapers, he was present to the issues of his day.  Through his writing and speaking on social issues, he expressed the felt pain of injustice.  His investment in education, his efforts at organizing clergy and laborers, and his commitment to rebuild from the ruins of war exemplified his determination to keep moving forward. 
For us, today, the daily act of oblation can be understood as a resolve to remain standing at the foot of the cross, in all its contemporary manifestations.  Being present, feeling the pain and expressing compassion, and acting, even in the face of insurmountable odds may appear rather powerless.  The promise of resurrection, however, suggests the lasting contribution of our oblation.          




Reflection questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

Mary’s “fiat,” the dominant note of her life, has earned her the titles of “Mother of Sorrows” and “Comforter of the Afflicted.”  When you invite her to stand with you at the foot of your crosses, what do you hear her saying to you?
How do you understand your daily act of oblation in relation to the centuries of pain and injustice that the cross signifies?



Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

In your kindness, throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers the memory of those who lives are cut short and the needs of those who are permanently maimed by violence.  In your compassion, pray also for the perpetrators of terror. 
You may find helpful this Act of Oblation, taken from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
Gracious God,
from the arms of Mary
you received your Son, presented in the temple,
the first fruits of a life of complete oblation.
Accept us too,
so that, sanctified by Christ’s offering,
we may live in your presence
for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.
On Calvary
you joined a mother’s compassion
to the passion of your Son,
so giving her a share in his sacrifice.
With Mary’s oblation,
accept the offering of this day
as a continuation in us
of Christ’s death and resurrection
for the redemption of the 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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