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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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August 4, 2017


 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
The Holy Father [Benedict XV] instituted a chair of Spiritual Theology at the Gregorian University [in 1919].  Many seminaries will want to follow this example.  As a result, much ascetical literature will appear.  We here adduce our modest contribution to this new or rather revised study.
 
We have felt ever since our youth that these courses were lacking in seminaries, but we did not have the authority needed to supply them.  This is not a subject for which one must present many new ideas.  What is necessary is to combine the testimonies of the saints and bind them together by a leading idea.  This book [The Interior Life] will furnish ample subjects for meditation and spiritual reading.
 
It is a treasure abounding in precious stones; stones which we have contented our self with gathering and placing in their proper setting.  It seems to me that by meditating on these pages we will feel drawn toward this interior life, which bears the promises of divine friendship and the best of joys for both this life and the next.
 
St. Paul, after having recalled the sufferings of the prophets and those of the Savior, said to the Hebrews, “…we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” [Hebrews 12:1].  Our readers will say, “We have heard a legion of witnesses who show us the interior life as the royal way to God.”
 
The entire interior life of a Christian can be called a life of faith, a life of the presence of God, a life of union with God, a life of union with our Lord Jesus Christ.  But his faith has different aspects to which diverse methods of the interior life correspond.
 
For example, there are souls who are seized by the thought of divine justice.  They live a life of fear and so they apply themselves by preference to meditations on death, judgment, and eternity.  Other souls occupy themselves with the remembrance of their past sins and so live a good, although not perfect life—a life of penance and sacrifice.
 
The majority of seriously minded Christian souls apply themselves to the study and practice of perfection by meditating on and imitating the virtues of our Lord.  Very few rise to a life of pure, disinterested love, to the forgetfulness of self, and to the contemplation of divine love.
 
Certain authors, following their own personal attraction, following their own opinions, or those of their times, insist by preference on one or the other of these ways.  It is good to study these diverse ways and to be acquainted with them.  In so doing we shall receive particular lights, see ourselves attracted to one or the other of these ways, and efficaciously enter upon the path that grace shall indicate.  It is understood that in all these ways we do not advance alone, but God is with us and leads us by the hand.  Without him, we can do nothing in the supernatural order.   
 

The Interior Life, Volume I, from the Preface and Chapter One
 
 
  
 

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

Union with the Sacred Heart sums up all the forms of the interior life.  It is an act of faith; it tends to the imitation of our Lord; it solicits our love, our reparations; it leads us to intimacy with the Savior.
 
It is good for one to give himself over to the Heart of Jesus, to the sentiments of the purgative way, to hatred for sin, and to tears of repentance, in union with the sorrows of our Savior at Gethsemane.  One unites himself easily to the virtues of our Lord who declared that he was meek and humble of heart and who practiced in so eminent a degree all the virtues to be found in this Divine Heart.
 
Yet, it is especially for the life of union, for the life of love that the Heart of Jesus is the hearth wherein can be enkindled the purest and most ardent love.  What a beautiful subject for prayer and meditation: to unite oneself to the dispositions, to the acts of virtue, and to the desires and prayers of the Heart of Jesus.  It is an inexhaustible subject and at the same time the sweetest, the most ravishing, the most consoling upon which we could meditate and contemplate.
 
Souls avid for the interior life, behold the best source—the Heart of Jesus.
 

Leo John Dehon, SCJ, The Interior Life, Volume I, from Chapter 32
Image: Stephen B. Whatley, an expressionist artist based in London

 
 
 
 

 
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

In speaking of the interior life, Fr. Dehon describes it variously as “the life of faith,” “the life of the presence of God,” “the life of union with Jesus Christ,” and “life as the royal way to God.”  How best can you describe your experience of the interior life?
 
Of the “legion of witnesses who show us the interior life,” who is most helpful to you and your spiritual journey?
 
For Fr. Dehon, the interior life bears the promise of divine friendship, and union with the Sacred Heart leads to intimacy with the Savior.  The SCJ Rule of Life [79] suggests that intimacy with Christ unites us with Christ’s love for people.  St. Paul writes, “For the love of Christ urges us on” [II Corinthians 5:14].  In what specific way does intimacy with Christ affect your life?
 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer all who seek an intimate friendship with Christ and allow this friendship to shape their lives.  You may find helpful the following Oblation Prayer taken from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
 
We thank you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth,
because through your Son, Jesus,
you revealed the mystery
of your love.
 
From his Heart,
opened on the cross,
we receive the gift of the covenant
and the outpouring of the Spirit.
May the Spirit make us faithful servants
and a priestly people in your reign of love.
 
In union with Christ
and his work of reparation,
we offer ourselves as collaborators
in your plan of salvation.
 
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. 

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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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