June 24, 2016
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
Those whose mission it is to devote themselves to the works of mercy ought to be inspired by the tender compassion of the Heart of Jesus. In imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we must take part in the sufferings of our brothers and sisters. As we are “one heart and one soul in the Heart of Jesus”—as the Heart of Jesus is our own heart and at the same time the heart of all others—we too ought to be in some small way the heart of all our neighbors.
Recall the parable of the Good Samaritan. The good Samaritan, who poured wine and oil into the wounds of the unfortunate victim, is a figure of our Lord. Jesus gives us the oil of consolation, which flows from a Heart animated with charity; and the wine of strength, which gives good counsel, snatches souls from sin, and leads them to suffer, at least with resignation, the crosses that Divine Providence sends them.
Alas, the poor, the little ones, the children, the sick, the forsaken—all are far from the way of God because, forgetful of their duties toward them, the priest’s and the Levite’s hearts are dry, their eyes are without tears, and their hands are forgetful that they can and ought to cure. Souls escape us because we are not sufficiently kind, generous, and charitable. Our selfishness extinguishes in us the tender love of Jesus.
The continual sight of the Sacred Heart will preserve us from abuses which the practice of the works of charity may entail. Sometimes we believe that we have done everything when we have given money or have caused a sensation with words, programs, and announcements. But we do not give our heart because our heart is not united to the Heart of Jesus, so tender, so devoted, so generous, so forgetful of himself.
Those who give themselves to works of charity ought not to omit contemplation if they wish to accomplish these works as true disciples of the Heart of Jesus in the tender and continuous remembrance of this Divine Heart. Love for the Sacred Heart is profitable in all good works. It purifies them, it renders them fruitful, and it elevates them. It is the means that changes everything into gold.
Crowns of Love for the Sacred Heart I, 5th Mystery, 3rd Meditation
Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
I have worked at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology for 25 years. When I first started here, I felt as if I were in a different world. As a non-Catholic, I began to learn so much about the Monastery, the School of Theology, and what a special place this was. I asked a lot of questions and wanted to know about so many things. Sometimes all the reading and questions really don’t help until something real happens.
I was here less than six months when I received a phone call from my doctor telling me that I had cancer. I was in complete shock but I started to realize what a special place this was when so many of the priests and my co-workers would come into my office and pray with me. I would sit in the chapel and look at all the stained glass windows and focus on the Heart of Jesus window. Why me—why is this happening to me? I started to pray more—what a tool for healing! I realized that the Holy Spirit was always with me. I never felt alone during these days—it was as if Jesus was wrapping his arms around me as I went on this journey. God’s mercy was given to me—I went into remission and was cancer free for 23 years.
I was given a new opportunity in 1997. I would be the coordinator of the new Sacred Heart Visitor’s Center and Volunteer Program. During this time of my life at Sacred Heart, I wanted to learn everything that I could about Sacred Heart since it would be my responsibility to welcome visitors and tour groups, and show them how special this place was. I studied information about Fr. Dehon, learned about the SCJs, and how this building came to be. I learned the history behind the School of Theology and many other things; even the shape of the chapel, the artwork, and the new pipe organ.
I selected items for the gift shop that were meaningful, some done by local artisans. I even spent several days in Chamberlain, South Dakota at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I was able to see and learn about their Visitor’s Center. This was a time when I realized the presence and dedication of the Priests of the Sacred Heart and all the people that worked with them all over the world. Meeting the people that visited Sacred Heart and seeing how faith-filled they were was a learning experience for me—the Heart of Jesus was always with me; I just didn’t realize it.
During the 25 years that I have been at Sacred Heart, I have gone through many life experiences just like anybody else, but I started to realize how much prayer played a significant role in my life. I had nine miscarriages and have no living children. A brick near the Sacred Heart Fountain reads, “God Bless Deborah’s Nine Angels.” My husband surprised me with this brick several years ago and that has brought me much comfort. I have lived through open heart surgery, another bout of cancer, and the death of my parents in the past few years. My mother had Alzheimer’s for seventeen years and died on Easter morning last year. My faith in Jesus and a lot of prayer has helped me get through these things.
I do not define my life by the things that have happened to me. I live my life with gratitude for all the blessings that I have. I am grateful for the special moments. I have a wonderful husband of 35 years who also works at Sacred Heart, a wonderful family and many dear friends and co-workers. I have had the pleasure of meeting and knowing so many people from all over the world who have spent some time at Sacred Heart. I realize the world just isn’t my own neighborhood and that peace, love, and the Heart of Jesus belong to everyone. I am grateful and thankful to be a part of the Sacred Heart Community.
Pastoral Formation Department & Volunteer Program Coordinator
Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
“In imitation of the Heart of Jesus we must take part in the sufferings of our brothers and sisters.” Whom do I know whose burden would be lightened by my compassionate presence?
“Our selfishness extinguishes in us the tender love of Jesus.” In what circumstances am I inclined to selfishness?
“God’s mercy is like Jesus wrapping his arms around me.” What is my experience of God’s mercy?
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer all those whom you may not know personally, but whose suffering is known publicly. You may find helpful the following Prayer of Oblation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, adapted from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
God of kindness,
you sent your only Son
that all might believe
and have abundant life.
Through Jesus’ open heart
we see your boundless love for the world.
God of love,
may we proclaim the goodness of Christ to all,
especially to those who believe
they have no access to your mercy.
God of Mercy,
we bring to you all that we are,
all that we have,
and all that we do.
Make us a sign of your never-ending tenderness.
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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