May 12, 2017
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
Let us recognize once more how deeply Fr. Dehon’s inspiration is rooted in the Gospel, and how he leads our attention toward what is essential and could not be more current in our Church for its mission today.
“Sint Unum” [That all may be one]! We know that these two words were one of Fr. Dehon’s favorite maxims. They were like a motto for him. They have remained so among us: an expression received which spontaneously contributes to identify us, “a password.” In any case, a pearl of our heritage, a familiar indication. Our Constitutions bring it up three times [#8, 63, 95].
The inspiration, which Fr. Dehon had slowly matured in fidelity to the Spirit and which he wanted to transmit to his Congregation, was expressed in different ways and based on a few brief formulas, all drawn from the Gospel. He wanted to refocus the fundamental lines of his plan in a more incisive and inspiriting way and to call for their transformation into attitudes of life, starting from the scriptures. Thus “Ecce Venio” [Behold, I come to do your will], “Ecce Ancilla” [Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your will], “Fiat” [May your will be done], “Adveniat Regnum Tuum” [May your kingdom come], and “Sint Unum.”
Fr. Dehon proposed the “Sint Unum” often. Less often, however than the other formulas—those that bring our attention to the priorities which have a bearing on the whole of our life according to our spirituality. The “Sint Unum” insists more particularly on fraternal charity.
It is truly the basic demand within the full understanding of our vocation. “We must practice charity,” Fr. Dehon insisted when addressing his novices in 1880. “We, we above all, must practice it because it is our vocation as Oblates of the Heart of Jesus. Religious can often be distinguished by the color of their garment; the garment which our soul wears before God must be love, and if two are needed, the second one would be compassion.
“There are no Oblates without that; it is absolutely necessary. Men of heart; we specially honor the Heart of Jesus. It must be possible to say of us, ‘See how they love each other.’ It is the spirit of our vocation which demands this. How can we honor and imitate love without love?”
An excerpt from “The Prayer of Jesus, ‘Sint Unum’ in the Plan of Fr. Dehon,” André Perroux, SCJ, in Dehoniana 1997/1
Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
There are two things that I have said many times, both to myself and to other missionary sisters who are younger than I: I have been called and am called to accompany; the fact that we have given communion such a central and decisive place in our life and in our mission means that we become aware of all breaks in relationships, even those which seem insignificant, and look upon them as something grave.
I would like to tell you about something that happened one Holy Thursday in one of our groups. It was a beautiful day which already heralded spring. We were living in a beautiful old house, where wood was abundant. We had done the cleaning and the waxed floor was shining. Here and there we had placed cascades of camellias. A great sweetness seemed to impregnate everything, even our movements.
We had planned an afternoon of adoration, to be followed by a festive supper, and then the Supper of the Lord. However, before the lunch hour, an argument started between two of the missionary sisters in the group. Foolish and exaggerated words flew which swept away the sweetness and the harmony that had existed until then, and which remained there in sharp contrast with the message and the call of such a day.
In spite of that incident, or precisely because of it, the message of Love and Communion of that Holy Thursday has remained engraved within me forever. Accepting fragility and sin, respecting the psychological time necessary to re-link a broken relationship, accepting the mysterious solidarity which binds us together, opening oneself to the Word and to the health-giving and regenerating Presence of the Lord of Life—these are the aspects which I understood more profoundly and which have now become part of the wealth of my spiritual experience.
An excerpt from “Living Communion and Becoming Communion,” Maria Lúcia Amado Correia, Dehoniana 1997/1. Maria is a member of the Missionary Company of the Sacred Heart, a Secular Institute that shares the charism of the Dehonian Family.
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
Take some quiet time to reflect on John 17, where the phrase, “that they may be one” appears three times [John 17:11, 20, and 22]. The third time, Jesus prays, “The glory that you have given me, I have given them, so that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them, even as you have loved me.” What affirmation and what challenge do you take from these words?
Fr. Dehon told the earliest novices that the spirit of their vocation was to honor and imitate the Heart of Jesus by loving each other. Whom do you find difficult to love? What steps can you take to love this person anyway?
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
From May 13-16, 2017, representatives from the Dehonian Family will participate in an international meeting in Rome. The theme is, Sint Unum: Spirituality of Communion, Life, and Mission. In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember these representatives in your prayers. You may find helpful the following prayer for the Dehonian Family.
with all our fellow Christians,
we proclaim that you are the new Man
in whom the Father has made known his love.
By the Incarnation
you have united yourself
to every human being.
You worked with human hands,
you thought with a human mind,
you loved with a human heart.
You have truly made yourself one of us,
like us in all things but sin.
We want to make your way our way through life.
May we live out the gift of our baptism,
fully aware of the vocation and mission
that you have entrusted to us.
As disciples of Father Dehon,
we want to make union with you,
in your love for the Father and for all people,
the principle and center of our life.
We ask that we may grow in your love,
that we may respond to those who suffer and are in need.
Help us to live out our commitment to justice and peace,
so that the reign of your Heart
may be achieved in souls and in societies.
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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