December 9, 2016
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
It is Jesus himself, who gave us Mary as a mother. She has as a mission to lead us to his Heart, to his love. The affection she has for us surpasses that of the most loving of mothers. She always greets with kindness those who go to her. She continually presents to her divine Son the souls and hearts of his faithful servants.
She hastens to see the triumph of the love of our Lord. Her prayers call for its outpouring. The most powerful way to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart is to speak with Mary. She was associated with all the sorrows and all the sufferings of our Lord during his mortal life.
On Calvary, stripped of everything, our Lord had no possessions to leave to his mother; but he left her something better than temporal goods. Casting a loving glance on St. John, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son" [John 19:26]. And with love, Mary accepted this new son. In the person of John, all Christians have become her children, and in particular, priests. The apostles of the Sacred Heart are especially dear to her. She is delighted in all the love they have for her divine Son.
If the apostles of the Sacred Heart want Mary to be their mother, then they will show her their affection and confidence. She will be their advisor in all their works, their guide in all their enterprises, and especially in the great work of their sanctification. Having been associated with the foundation of the Church, she is naturally associated with its renewal. This renewal must be made by love of our Lord. Mary is the creature who has most loved him; she is the mother of his Heart.
O Mary, I dedicate myself to you forever. At the beginning of each day and each action, I want to go to you first and then through you to Jesus. Accept me as your servant, your disciple, your child, and your St. John. Lead me to the Heart of Jesus and his love.
The Year with the Sacred Heart, May 31: “On Mary’s Connection with Devotion to the Sacred Heart.”
Oblation: The daily practice of offering oneself to God's will
“On awakening,” instructs the 1954 edition of the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, “make the sign of the Cross and say, ‘Vivat Cor Jesu, per cor Mariae’ [Long live the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary].” Within the culture of the Congregation, this Latin acclamation was everywhere, as a greeting, on stationery [usually abbreviated as VCJ PCM as in this stained glass window], and even as the indication that the community was allowed to talk during a meal.
As with many customs in religious life, this one quietly receded after the reforms of Vatican II, but it has never left consciousness. Greet a group of SCJs with the words, “Vivat Cor Jesu,” and you will hear the hardy response of “Per cor Mariae.” But what meaning does this acclamation hold?
Following the French School of Spirituality, which emphasized the divine presence in Mary’s being as the mother of the Incarnate Word; and the particular development by John Eudes, who spoke of the heart as the image of interiority, Fr. Dehon honored Mary’s heart as the one that most closely reflects Jesus’ Heart. Echoing Catholic devotion to Mary of his day, Dehon believed that Mary, in her role as mother, has a certain influence over Jesus’ Heart. If Jesus is the mediator between God the Father and humanity, then Mary is the mediatrix between Jesus and humanity.
This understanding of Mary’s role is problematic for many these days. But perhaps a reinterpretation of Mary’s maternity, and the influence associated with it, might reveal some hidden treasure in the tradition. Given the scriptural evidence, Mary’s maternity is less important than her discipleship [Luke 11:27-28]. Yet, as mother of Jesus, Mary is the first person in John’s Gospel to come to faith in Jesus and trust completely in his word [John 2:1-5].
On the cross, Jesus creates a new mother-child relationship based, not on biology, but on faith [John 19:26-27] and this relationship serves as the foundation of the Church. Since Mary is associated with the foundation of the Church, she is also associated with its renewal, which for Fr. Dehon, would come about through devotion to the Heart of Jesus.
The heart of Mary, most like the Heart of Jesus, serves the Church as mother, not by seeking favors for her children, but by modeling for them discipleship, advising them how to put their faith into action, and guiding them to trust God’s Word even in the midst of sufferings and seeming defeat.
Long live the Heart of Jesus—in an ever-renewing Church, in the struggle for social justice, and in the blossoming of God’s reign—through the oblation of the heart of Mary and the oblation of the hearts of all her children!
Image: Stained glass window in SCJ community chapel, Chamberlain, SD
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
Speaking with Mary heart-to-heart, what do you notice and hear in terms of your call to discipleship, putting your faith into action, and trusting God’s Word even in the midst of sufferings and seeming defeat?
How can the oblation of your heart contribute to an ever-renewing Church, to the struggle for social justice, and to the blossoming of God’s reign?
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
Monday, December 12, is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an image of Mary as an Aztec woman, pregnant with Jesus, and carrying the true Christian message to a people brutally conquered by a “Christian” nation. In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer people who bear the weight of oppression and who wait for the renewal of the world’s heart. You may find helpful the following prayer, composed by Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini, SJ.
mother of Jesus and our mother,
we place ourselves with you
at the foot of your Son’s cross,
asking you to help us enter
into the mystery of his life and death;
to dwell in his heart;
to remain at his feet
in an attitude of listening and contemplation.
Arouse in us, Mary,
your sentiments of participation
in the suffering of Christ and of the world.
You see how imperfect our words are
and how far removed our concepts are
from the truth that you live.
Help each one of us;
help everyone who is united with our prayer
and our adoration.
Grant us joy in your Son by the Holy Spirit’s grace,
which we implore from the power of the Father.
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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