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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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January 27, 2017
 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
The Church beatified John Baptist de la Salle, founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, in 1888.  Fr. Dehon’s diary seems to suggest that a local community of Brothers invited him to celebrate the occasion.  “We celebrate Blessed de la Salle with the Brothers of the Christian Schools.  I say Holy Mass there and I preach a tribute to him.  May this dear saint, whom I am learning to love, help me in my great mission!”
 
Three months before the celebration, Dehon obtained a copy of de la Salle’s Rule of Life, and comments, “In what union with our Lord he kept himself!  He regarded himself as a victim for his community.”  Dehon then copied in his diary these words of John Baptist de la Salle: “When my brothers will tell me their faults, I will regard myself as being guilty before God for not having prevented them by my advice or my vigilance.  If I see myself as taking the place of our Lord in their regard, it must be to carry their sins as our Lord has carried ours.”
 
A few weeks before the celebration, Dehon writes, “I am reading the life of Blessed John Baptist de la Salle.  It encourages me.  All of his trials are analogous to our own.  Each of his achievements came at the price of a cross.  In order to become the instrument of God in his foundation, Blessed de la Salle found himself purified by Providence: conflicts with his family, scorn from his confreres, rejection by his superiors, and mockery and insults from the public accompanied his first steps in his work, whose progress was purchased through trials.” 
 
Indeed, the similarities with Dehon’s own story are striking.  Born in 1651 to a wealthy family in northern France, Jean Baptiste was ordained a priest and received a doctorate in theology.  Many people assumed he would become a bishop.  His family was shocked at his efforts to form a community where individuals of differing social status lived as equals. 
 
His reputation for staffing free schools for the poor with qualified teachers aroused jealousy and opposition from fee-paying schools.  When Church officials closed down his schools in Paris, Jean Baptiste successfully petitioned the court to have them reopened.  Lawsuits against him continued, however, and eventually the courts ruled against the Brothers of the Christian Schools, leaving John Baptist with hefty legal fees and the loss of a training college.
 
Since many schools were a one-person operation, some of the Brothers were unwilling to live in community as their Rule required.  Before the Congregation was officially approved by Rome, there was an unsuccessful attempt to remove John Baptist as the superior in favor of one appointed by the Archbishop of Paris.
 
“Should I be surprised,” Dehon asked himself, “that our Lord follows the same path in my regard?  It is a sign of the supernatural character of the Congregation.  The life of Blessed de la Salle shows me the secret of his greatness.  He was humble and constantly humiliated.  He continued his work with perseverance and profited from humiliations.  I find there a great lesson, which I need.”
 
Daily Notes, March 28 and June 6, 11, 12, 17, 1888

 

 
  
 
 

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

For the members of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, founder John Baptist de la Salle forbade bodily mortifications beyond the normal fasting rules of the Church.  Teaching, he believed, if done conscientiously, will naturally develop sufficient self-discipline.

Those involved in education know that the task is more expansive than teaching a unit of study, however creatively.  To facilitate learning, a teacher must be attentive to multiple issues that can either support or sabotage a student’s progress.
 
Does the child get enough sleep or enough to eat?  Does the child feel safe within his or her family and neighborhood?  Are there signs of bullying or abuse?  What are the effects of peer pressure?  What are this child’s dreams?  Does this child receive enough affirmation so that he or she can work comfortably with challenge?
 
Helping a classroom of children thrive is taxing work, requiring more than enough self-discipline.  Teachers, who appreciate their task as a sacred ministry, unite their gift of self with Jesus’ “total gift of self,” which the Rule of Life of the Priests of the Sacred Heart emphasizes, “re-creates humanity in the image of God” [#21].

 

 
  
 
 

Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

What might it mean for you to experience humiliation and profit from it?
 
How is your daily work, done conscientiously, a practice of self-discipline?
 
In what one specific way does your oblation [“gift of self”] contribute to the re-creation of humanity in the image of God?

 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

January 29—February 4, 2017 is National Catholic Schools Week.  Throughout this coming week, please remember all students, support staff, and teachers in Catholic schools throughout the country.  Please be mindful of the SCJ schools in the United States and Canada: Holy Family School in Holly Springs, MS, Sacred Heart School in Southaven, MS, Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Houston TX, St. Joseph Indian School in Chamberlain, SD, St. Martin of Tours School in Franklin, WI, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, Hales Corners, WI, and Séminaire du Sacré-Coeur, Pointe-au-Chêne, Québec.  You may find helpful the following prayer.
 
Divine Teacher,
welcome me into your school of love.
May I learn here
to make a return of love to you,
who have given me
such wondrous proofs of your love,
and to share this gift of love
with those who are in my care.
 
United to your total gift of self,
may my self-offering
contribute to the re-creation of humanity
in your image.
 
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. 

Anyone is welcome to receive the Dehonian Spirituality email. 
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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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