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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December 11, 2015

Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
This second invocation of the litany, Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, proposes for our meditation the doctrine of the adorable mystery of the incarnation.  The Catholic faith, says the creed of St. Athanasius, is to believe and profess that our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, is God and man: God begotten of the substance of the Father before all ages, man born of the substance of his mother in time.

We believe not only that Jesus Christ is truly human, but we also believe that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the Word became flesh in the womb of Mary.  The incarnation is a work of divine love, according to the word of St. John: "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” [John 3:16].
The pure blood of the Virgin Mary formed the holy humanity of the Savior.  Daughter of Adam, she communicates to her divine Son the nature of Adam.  The consequence of this doctrine is that the Blessed Virgin is the mother of Jesus, the mother of Christ; and as Christ is God, she is the mother of God.  Let us adore our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God made human in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let us venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of God and our mother.
Leo John Dehon, SCJ, Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2nd Meditation

Oblation: the daily practice of offering oneself to God's will

Distinct from most Western depictions of the Annunciation, this African interpretation is void of lush backgrounds, dramatic lighting, and fine fabrics falling in flamboyant folds.
Artist, Herman Falke, SCJ, describes the inspiration for his sculpture.  “A playful African version of the Annunciation was featured on a Vatican postage stamp issued on the occasion of the Marian Year 1987-1988.  Mary is pictured as a well-to-do young woman with jewelry—even on her sandals—and an elongated braided hairdo; she is seated on a stool, usually reserved for chiefs.  Her gestures signify, ‘What, me?’  She is receiving from the boyish angel Gabriel a divine message untouched by angelic hands.  A halo and the outpouring of grace from the Holy Spirit underline Gabriel’s first greeting, ‘The Lord is with you and has greatly blessed you!’  A modest bouquet of flowers is appropriate.”
As playful as this image is, it perhaps witnesses to the Incarnation more insistently in the Western world than the usual images of Mary that depict her as a member of a dominant culture.  “The pure blood of the Virgin Mary,” Fr. Dehon writes, “formed the holy humanity of the Savior.”  A Black African woman bears a Black African child.  Although it is true that Jesus was not African, neither was he of European stock.  That God, in the person of Jesus, became one of us is an amazing tenet of Christian faith; that God, in the person of Jesus, doesn’t necessarily look, sound, or act in ways familiar to a dominant culture is chastening. 
“Let us adore our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made human in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  As one of us, Jesus embraces humanity through the ages—all races, ethnicities, and cultures, and every distinction imaginable and potentially divisive.
“Let us venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of God and our mother.”  As one of us, Mary deserves our veneration, not primarily in her role as mother, but rather for her disposition that allowed her to fulfill that role [cf. Luke 11:27-28]. 
During this season of Advent, “a modest bouquet of flowers,” in the form of a loving availability to collaborate with God’s design for the world, “is appropriate.” 
IMAGE: African version of the Annunciation, carved mahogany, Herman Falke, SCJ

Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

How would you respond to an image of Jesus that reflects the characteristics of his Semitic ethnicity?
How does belief in the mystery of the incarnation address distinctions that are often used to divide people from one another?
Who and what will nurture your ability to “hear the word of God and obey it”?


Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer every person who feels excluded from God’s love and every person who desires to bring them a word of compassion, reconciliation, and good news.  You may find helpful the following Advent Prayer of Oblation, adapted from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
Gracious God,
you sent an angel to the Virgin Mary
to request her collaboration with your divine plan.
By her faithful response,
“Let it be with me according to your word,”
she conceived through the power of the Spirit
and brought forth a son, Jesus.
In a similar act of availability,
Jesus offered you his life of faithfulness,
even to death on a cross.
Pleased to accept his oblation,
you raised him up on the third day
and made him Lord, Christ, and Savior.
May your Spirit also overshadow us,
that we become your faithful servants,
fulfilling your will in all things
and offering ourselves with Christ
for our brothers and sisters.
By the gift of faith we share with Mary,
may we bring forth your beloved Son in our world.
Through us,
may people hear a word of compassion,
a word of reconciliation,
and a word of good news.

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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