May 27, 2016
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
The first marvel which astonishes us in the mystery of the Incarnation is God’s dwelling with us as one of us—Emmanuel—God with us. “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” [John 1:14]. The Eucharistic presence of our Lord is an extension of the Incarnation. The sacred humanity being no longer on earth, the fountain of grace might seem dried up, or removed to an immeasurable distance from us.
But his tender Heart knew how to arrange everything, and in order to be with us always he instituted the sacrament of Love. We do not see Jesus, but he is there as our faith teaches us. Our heart soars toward the Heart of Jesus, now more than ever the Heart of our brother and our friend. Thus the Heart of Jesus has fulfilled his promise, “I will not leave you orphans” [John 14:18].
The Eucharist continues the mystery of the Incarnation and everywhere reproduces Bethlehem and Nazareth. It places our Lord even closer to us than does the mystery of the Incarnation. For the conditions of natural presence would not allow the Savior to be present in all points of space, and in every heart that would love him and desire to visit with him. But now his Heart is everywhere. We find him in every sanctuary.
Through the Holy Eucharist, the Incarnation is reproduced everywhere on earth. Wherever we go we find the Heart of our brother and friend, always ready to receive us, to console us, to shower graces upon us, to enlighten us, to raise us up, and to forgive us. Since we cannot surpass or equal him in love, let us at least give him all the love we are capable of—all, without reserve, and then admit we are still but unprofitable servants.
The Holy Eucharist, by means of Holy Communion, makes us enter into the very mystery of the Incarnation and extends it to all the children of Adam who are disposed to profit by it. Is there anything greater? Anything more beautiful? Anything more loving or more generous? The purpose of Holy Communion, therefore, is to associate ourselves with the divinity by uniting ourselves to the holy humanity of Jesus, to his divine Heart.
This loving Heart is not satisfied with the title of brother, friend, or father, but becomes the spouse of our souls, of our very heart. To incorporate oneself into Jesus Christ, to be one with him—what a glorious privilege! The Eucharistic Incarnation indeed forms a marvelous complement to the first Incarnation.
Crowns of Love for the Sacred Heart III, 1st Mystery, 2nd Meditation
Heart of Jesus: Fr. Dehon's favored image of God's loving concern for all creation
The mythological image of the pelican depicts a mother bird, in times of famine, piercing her breast so that her chicks can receive nourishment from her blood. Seeing in this a symbol of Christ’s self-sacrifice, the early Church made use of this image to teach, not only the significance of the Eucharist, but also the consequence of Jesus’ command to, “do this in memory of me.” To the degree humanly possible, the depth of a Christian’s love must match the depth of Christ’s love.
In a meditation, Fr. Leo John Dehon prays, “O Divine Heart of Jesus, enraptured with love for us, you have suffered all for us; and we, after becoming enraptured with love for you, shall we not be capable of enduring anything for you?
“O amiable Heart we see your Passion renewed in the Eucharist. The chalice of the sufferings of this life is mingled with the chalice of your blood and your love. How captivating and delightful is this divine chalice! May the disciples of your Heart drink it and give it to a world exhausted in weakness!”
Dehon concludes this meditation, professing, “All the strength and energy in the Church comes today, as always, from the Eucharistic table. May Christ’s charity take possession of us and urge us on” [cf. II Corinthians 5:14]!
Crowns of Love for the Sacred Heart III, 1st Mystery, 3rd Meditation
Image: Pelican Mosaic, Blue Cloud Abbey Church, Marvin, SD
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
What do you think Fr. Dehon meant by saying, the Eucharist “reproduces Bethlehem and Nazareth”? What do you associate with Bethlehem and Nazareth?
Fr. Dehon says that Holy Communion brings us into contact with the divinity “by uniting ourselves to the holy humanity of Jesus, to his divine Heart.” This, he says, makes Jesus “the spouse of our heart.” What is your experience of Holy Communion?
What do you sense the love of Christ is urging you to accomplish?
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer the many children who will receive Holy Communion for the first time and for all Christians who receive regularly, that their union with Christ continues to deepen and express itself in acts of generous self-giving. You may find helpful the following prayer based upon a prayer in Crowns of Love for the Sacred Heart III, 1st Mystery, 3rd Meditation.
O my Good Master.
I am often nourished with your flesh and blood.
I must nourish myself also with the dispositions of your Heart
and with your spirit of self-sacrifice.
Drawing strength from your Eucharistic Heart,
give me the courage
to spend myself generously
addressing the urgent needs of your people.
In a world of so much coldness and indifference,
may your love take possession of me
and urge me on!
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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