June 10, 2016
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
“But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers opened his side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water” [John 19:33-34].
All the holy Fathers [of the Church] note the expression St. John uses. He does not say the side of the Savior was struck or wounded, but that is was opened. What is the meaning of this opening? St. Bernard, summing up the whole Catholic tradition explains it thus, “He was wounded so that his visible wounds would reveal the invisible wound of love.”
For those who understand, for those whom the Holy Spirit enlightens—it is the gate of life that opens; it is the secret of God that is revealed. The wounded Heart of Jesus signifies that it was for love of us, and only out of love, that Jesus accomplished all he did—living in our midst, dying for us, and still living for us in heaven and in the Holy Eucharist.
In its own language, the lance repeats what the Savior said to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” [John 3:16]. He made him our possession; everything belongs to us—his merits, his mysteries, his life, his death, his grace, his glory, and especially his love. For, as St. John further says, those whom Jesus loved, he loved unto the end, that is, without end and without measure [cf. John 13:1].
The grace of devotion to the Sacred Heart is a certain facility in this life of love. This is what St. Bernard meant when he said, “The Divine Heart was opened so that we might dwell in it, sheltered from all troubles.” In revealing his Heart [to Margaret Mary] at Paray-le-Monial, our Lord has, so to speak, opened it more fully. He has opened it to everyone by the manifestations of this devotion that the Church has adopted.
St. John says, “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us” [I John 4:16]. All the friends of the Sacred Heart may repeat: We believe in God’s love for us; we continually contemplate its symbol, which is the divine Heart of Jesus. Our faith is vivid and efficacious. It makes us live for love of the good Master.
Crowns of Love for the Sacred Heart II, 5th Mystery, 1st Meditation
Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
The SCJ Rule of Life # 2 says, “The open side and the pierced heart of the Savior most wonderfully expressed for Fr. Dehon a love whose active presence he experienced in his own life.” This has always been one of my favorite sentences from our Constitutions. For me, this is a reminder that the Heart of Jesus is willing to share the sufferings of others and calls us to share their sufferings as well. As a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, I find this willingness to share the sufferings of others as central to my religious vocation.
I remember when I was first ordained being called to the home of a family in our parish in the early morning. The family had a son who suffered from bi-polar disorder. He had committed suicide that morning and his family had found him.
I remember being afraid of not knowing what to say, or what to do. There are no words that can be said, no prayer that can be offered that will change the grief that the family is experiencing. The only thing I could offer was being present with them, and in some way to share their grief, acknowledge the pain they were experiencing, and trust that God was present in our midst.
Much later, the family told me that what they most appreciated was that I had come to spend time with them. They did not remember any of the prayers that we prayed. They did not remember much of the funeral. They did remember that someone was willing to share their grief and sadness.
It was from this that I began to understand that as a Priest of the Sacred Heart one of the gifts that God has given our community is the ability to enter into the sufferings of others. It is not necessary to “have had” the same experience, it is only important to be willing to honor and share the grief and pain of those to whom we minister.
David Szatkowski, SCJ
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
It was only out of love for us that Jesus was able to accomplish all he did. As you consider your own faith experience, what has Jesus accomplished for you?
What do you think Fr. Dehon means when he claims that friends of the Sacred Heart “live for the love of the good Master”?
When have you been present to the sufferings of another? How might you be able to expand this sensitivity to include others who are suffering?
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer all people who are wounded by broken relationships, prejudice, violence, and war. Pray also for the grace to understand how to be present to someone who is wounded. You may find helpful this Act of Reparation for the Solemnity of the Heart of Jesus, taken from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
God of love,
when we abandoned you
for a world make in our image,
you did not forget us.
Nor did you ignore the violence, the injustice,
and the misery caused by our sin.
Instead, you sent your only Son,
who is the image of your love for us.
He allowed his Heart to be pierced,
that we might live.
we thank you for your mercy.
In grateful love,
we offer you our lives in reparation.
We commit ourselves
to the work of justice and life,
the good news of reconciliation,
and the task of showing the world
the depths of your abundant grace,
through Christ our Lord.
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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