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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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September 9, 2016
 
 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
Our Lord’s Heart is full of tenderness for his mission.  “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28].  He knows what it means to suffer.  He has experienced exile, persecution, hunger; he has always before his eyes the torments reserved for the end of his life.
 
Watch Jesus at work.  He meets the widow of Nain.  She is weeping.  He too weeps.  “He had compassion for her” [Luke 7:13].  He restores her son to life.  One day Martha and Mary tearfully announced the death of their brother.  Again, he wept.  “When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.  Jesus began to weep” [John 11:33-35].
 
O Good Master, how can I doubt your infinite compassion when I see your tears flowing?  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” [Hebrews 4:15].  From the Heart of Jesus I shall draw compassion for all the infirmities of my brothers [and sisters].  I will remain united to this Divine Heart in order to practice the works of mercy with him and in him.  
 
The Priestly Heart of Jesus, 14th Meditation;
Crowns of Love for the Sacred Heart, 5th Mystery, 3rd Meditation 
 

 
  
 
 

Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality

It is really quite significant that our country sets a specific day apart to recall one of our recent tragedies as a nation.  September 11 is a National Day of Mourning and Remembrance for the destruction of the twin towers in New York that killed more than 3,000 people and scarred the lives of many more.
 
Remembering sad events is one way that helps me grow as an SCJ priest.  Sad events have a big impact on my life and I try to recall them in a redemptive manner, not in a morbid, negative manner.  It also challenges me to live out the spiritual work of mercy of comforting the afflicted or sorrowful.
 
An early example of this for me was my grandmother on my mother’s side.  I was told that she wore black dresses consistently after her husband [my grandfather] died and that she visited his grave every week even though it involved a long streetcar ride in Chicago.  I couldn’t talk to my grandmother about this since she spoke no English and I spoke no Italian, but it did impress me.
 
As an SCJ priest I have had many graced opportunities to comfort the afflicted or sorrowful—funerals, accidents, and all kinds of losses.  In my Army days as a chaplain, I was part of many memorial services for dead soldiers.  During Desert Storm we had eight soldiers in my Brigade killed.  Being with my fellow soldiers, praying with them, and listening to them was a powerful form of ministry for me.
 
For the last six or seven years I have been involved in a different environment which allows me to reach out in comfort to the afflicted or sorrowful.  I am speaking of prison ministry to the incarcerated.  There is a lot of affliction and sorrow in prison.  This level of pain is often ignored because there are so many other issues.
 
I feel so blessed that my offering Mass and hearing confessions is so meaningful to so many inmates.  Just making the effort to show up regularly and go through the tough security procedures means so much to the inmates.  Most importantly, it is relatively easy for me to be a source of comfort to them simply by being friendly and respectful.  A smile, greeting, handshake, a moment of listening means so much and truly does bring comfort to the afflicted and sorrowful inmates.  A truly spiritual work of mercy!
 
Frank Wittouck, SCJ
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

In this Holy Year of Mercy, how can you practice the spiritual work of mercy of comforting the afflicted?  Here are a few suggestions:
  • Make the effort to show up and sympathize with the weakness of another.
  • Listen to the afflictions of another.  In a moment of pain, he or she does not need your advice. 
  • Weep with the sorrowful.  Most people want to run away from tears.
 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

On Sunday, September 11, the United States observes a National Day of Mourning and Remembrance.  In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer all those who carry the burden of sorrow and those who are present to them in their affliction.  You may find helpful the following Prayer of Reparation taken from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
 
Lord Jesus,
love of God made flesh,
born of Mary’s fiat,
you heal the wounds that disfigure our world
and bring us God’s own reconciliation.
 
Be with us today, Lord.
Bring new life to those who have no hope.
Nourish those who hunger for your presence.
Make one in love all who believe.
 
Together with Mary,
we offer you our lives.
Send us forth
to cooperate with your reconciling love,
bearing witness to the fullness of your peace.
 
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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