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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 26, 2016
 
 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
At 75 years old, Fr. Leo John Dehon had recently experienced the terrors of World War I.  Yet, he wrote in his diary, “Paradoxically, these years of war have been providential for me—being less bothered by administration and traveling.  I have read many spiritual writings and edifying biographies which have helped me regain many graces.”
 
Perhaps these graces helped him to face with equanimity the herculean task of rebuilding from the rubble not only the Congregation’s institutions, but also its members’ spirits.  These graces may also have refocused his attention on simple gifts.    
 
At this time he writes, “I am finding it easier to rise up to God through the contemplation of nature.  Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever [Daniel 3:57].  The beauty of the heavens, and the infinity of the stars and the heavenly worlds make a deep impression on me.
 
“But likewise, the world of plants—the graceful foliage, flowers, and fruits.  And the children of humanity, who are also children of God: the innocence of children, the beauty of young people, the farmer, the factory worker, the person of letters, the judge, the priest; the gracefulness in a young woman, the wisdom in mature women.  Young men and women alike, old and young together!  Let them praise the name of the Lord [Psalm 148:12-13].
 
“All the canticles of the sacred liturgy help us to compose these hymns of praise and lift up our hearts to God.”
 
Daily Notes, October 1918 and February 1919  
 

 
  
 
 

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

The pierced hands and side identify this figure as the Heart of Jesus, whose love for humanity knows no bounds.  No longer stretched wide on the cross, his arms extend between heaven and earth. 
 
Instead of a traditional halo, the circular cluster of various colors and shapes could be interpreted as the cosmos orbiting around an energy core.  At Christ’s feet, flowing water, the unique feature of humanity’s home in the universe, symbolizes planet Earth. 
 
This cosmic Heart of Jesus bridges the popularly conceived divide between planet Earth and outer space, and by extension, between humanity and divinity, between the rich and the poor, and between individuals and community.  In the Heart of Jesus, all is connected and everything belongs. 
 
The challenge, articulated in the Rule of Life of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, is “to enter into this movement of redemptive love, by giving ourselves, with and as Christ, for our brothers and sisters” [#21].  On the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis asks Christians to remember their vocation as custodians of creation by giving thanks for the Creator’s handiwork, invoking God’s help in protecting creation, and seeking God’s mercy for the sins committed against the Earth and its peoples.
 
Pope Francis’ request can be seen as one aspect of the work of reparation.  Thus, “In solidarity with the Heart of Christ, and with all of humanity and creation,” the Priests of the Sacred Heart profess, “we want to offer ourselves to the Father, as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” [#22].
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

What is your experience of communing with God through the contemplation of nature?
 
In your experience, who or what most challenges the notion that, “In the Heart of Jesus, all is connected and everything belongs?”
 
As a custodian of God’s creation, how do you cultivate love, beauty, and oneness with the world?
 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

Thursday, September 1, is World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.  In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer the victims of the current ecological crisis and all those who attempt to be responsible custodians of creation.  You may find helpful this Prayer of Reparation, adapted from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
 
We adore you, Divine Creator,
and we praise you for your goodness.
Each day, you sustain the life of all creatures.
Your light and hope dawn upon us
like the rising sun.
 
By your amazing grace,
Jesus Christ became flesh
to reveal your love and your beauty,
and the oneness of all creation.
By his cross and resurrection,
he has restored the unity we had shattered.
 
Today we want to make a return of love
by thanking you for the new creation
given us in Christ,
by praising you for your Spirit,
who never stops renewing the Earth,
and by giving ourselves completely
for our brothers and sisters.
 
As custodians of your marvelous creation,
may we cultivate your love, beauty,
and oneness with the world
through the Cosmic Heart of Christ.
 
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
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