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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 3, 2017
 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
In view of the current reflowering regarding participation of the laity in Dehonian spirituality and in Fr. Dehon’s mission in the Church, it is timely for us to make an evaluation of past experience.
 
In the years 1878-1925, the various “Reparatory Associations” were characterized by a fidelity to the spirituality and objectives of the Institute, with a constant adjustment according to the ecclesiastical context.  Over the years, participation in the charism has emphasized now one and now another aspect.  At the beginning, with the “Reparatory Association” and the “Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Souls and in Society,” all the members participated in the spirituality of the Institute and were actively engaged in the apostolate.
 
Subsequently, starting from 1897 and up to 1908, the prevailing accent was on a spirituality which was above all that of victim, at the expense of the apostolate.  From 1908 onwards and with the Rule of Life of 1913-1914, and lastly with the ”Adveniat Regnum Tuum Association” [1923], the apostolate was seen as being a part of the commitment of the members of the Association, in addition to taking part in the spirituality of the Institute,.
 
The various Reparatory Associations have always been considered as a kind of Third Order of the Congregation, and are linked directly to the Institute.  Fr. Dehon himself was the general director, and there were national directors in the individual Provinces.  In addition, other religious priests promoted and accompanied the members of the Association.
 
The members were divided into two groups: the Associates, or action groups, which made up the majority; and the Aggregates, or prayer and sacrifice group, which were the minority.  This constituted the Third Order.  The fundamental distinction between the two groups was that the Aggregates lived the spirit of the Institute more intensely, to the point of offering themselves as victims of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In addition, both laity and priests were present in all the Associations.  The distinction between the two groups was to be abolished only in 1923 when the last Association was born.
 
The Institute, and principally, Fr. Dehon, was committed to promoting the Association as an appropriation of SCJ spirituality and a collaboration in the coming of the Kingdom of the Heart of Jesus in souls and in society.  Members of the Association were asked to gather together for specific works of piety, such as creating a program for apostolic activities.
 
The members of the Associations, in addition to being linked with the Priests of the Sacred Heart, were also linked with [two communities of religious women who shared a similar spirituality with the SCJs], the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart [an apostolic community] and the Victim Handmaids [a contemplative community].
 
The Institute offered the members of the various Associations training aids, and Fr. Dehon also pointed out a progressive development of formation.  Liturgical norms were requested for Aggregations, such as the Act of Consecration to the Heart of Jesus; the wearing of the cross adorned with a Heart, and the scapular or medal of the Sacred Heart, and even to the point of taking a new name.
 
Excerpt from The Reparatory Association, A Story, A Spirituality, Umberto Chiarello, SCJ, Dehoniana 2000/2  

 

 
  
 
 

Heart of Jesus: Fr. Dehon's favored image of God's loving concern for all creation

This mandala consists of a cross, embedded with the five glorious wounds of the Risen Christ [what the early Church referred to as the gemmed cross] and encircled by phrases that highlight the SCJ spirituality of love and service.  The colors match those of the traditional shield of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.

The central wound depicts the pierced side of Jesus, and by extension, his Heart, which is topped with a stylized flame symbolizing the intensity of his love.  Filling the upper left quadrant is the phrase that Margaret Mary heard in her visions.  “Behold this Heart that has so loved humanity.”  Fr. Dehon’s faith experience began with a powerful sense of God’s love.
 
The words in the lower left quadrant come from an evening prayer in the 1956 edition of the prayer book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.  “Take my soul into your most sacred wound, so that in this school of love, I may learn to make a return of love to God, who has given me such wondrous proofs of his love.”  Fr. Dehon felt the impulse to express a generous return of love that touched not only the Heart of God, but also the hearts of God’s people.
 
With each new awareness of what that might entail in terms of his person, his priesthood, his Congregation, and his social activism, Fr. Dehon cherished as his motto, “Behold, I come to do your will,” the words within the lower right quadrant.  The ultimate goal, however, of making this return of love, was to collaborate with the Heart of Christ in restoring his reign in individuals and in society.  Thus, the upper right quadrant contains the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come!”
 
Members of the Dehonian Family participate in this SCJ spirituality, which by definition involves an active engagement in apostolic service.
 
Image: Gemmed Cross Mandala, colored markers on paper, David Schimmel


 
  
 
 

Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

How do you describe your experience of God’s love?  How do you respond to this experience of God’s love?  What would help you stay conscious, on a daily basis, of your experience of God’s love and your desire to respond?    

 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

On February 8, 1889, the Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Souls and in Society was founded, but came directly from the earlier Reparatory Association of 1878.  Among subsequent adaptations, there is today the Dehonian Family.  In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer all those who follow the spirit of Fr. Dehon.  You may find helpful the following prayer taken from the Dehonian Associate Prayer Book.
 
Loving God,
Creator and Generous Gift-Giver,
we are grateful for
the gift you entrusted to Leo John Dehon
in founding the Congregation of the Priests of the Heart of Jesus
and mindful of the continual unfolding of this charism
among Dehonians throughout the world.
 
With confidence
we ask for an additional gift
as we seek to make known the words and deeds of Fr. Dehon.
Help us perceive his spirit—your Spirit—
which motivated all his attempts to promote your reign in his day.
And when we have understood that spirit,
may it motivate us to look at our world
and address the issues of today.
Allow us a share in promoting your reign
and in passing on this gift to the next generation.
Prompted by the guidance of your Holy Spirit,
we make this prayer through the Heart of Jesus.
Amen!
 
 
 

 
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. 

Anyone is welcome to receive the Dehonian Spirituality email. 
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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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Dehonian Associates Office
US Province, Priests of the Sacred Heart 
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