October 9, 2015
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
The simplest way of serving God is to serve by love, since it reduces everything to a single dominating motive in which all the others are eminently comprised. Love dispenses you from a host of methods and practices, which the greater number of souls seek with such haste that they change continually, embracing now one, now the other.
Love has one method, that of following the impulse of grace, which prompts us to love. It has only one practice, which is to love at all times, in all places, and in all situations. It has only one act to which all others are referred; one motive, to love because God loves; one end, to love in order to love. What is simpler?
To serve God by love is, indeed, the most gentle way. It moves the heart and the heart is made to love. It leads the will gently but efficaciously to what God desires. Love puts the heart perfectly at ease, which no other sentiment can do. Fear intimidates; hope is not without a certain uneasiness, but love knows neither the torments of fear nor the alarm of hope.
If earthly love, which has its source in nature or passion, renders humanity capable of the greatest sacrifices for father or spouse, what ought we not expect of supernatural love, which has for its object a being infinitely loveable, strengthened by the power of grace? We do willingly that which we do out of love. Love closes its eyes to difficulties; it sacrifices its own interests; it believes and makes everything possible.
Leo John Dehon, SCJ, “The Advantages of the Way of Love,” Second Meditation, The Life of Love Towards the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Heart of Jesus, Fr. Dehon's favored image of God's loving concern for all creation
The soft glow of this painting and the sense of contentment on the faces of these two figures suggest an intimate union. The subtly painted suggestion of a heart, surmounted with a cross, identifies the person of Jesus. The young man, leaning in toward Jesus, calls to mind “the one whom Jesus loved” [cf. John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20]. Although this individual remains unidentified, it is likely that John’s Gospel uses this figure as a symbol of the faithful Christian.
While the young man’s eyes seem to be focused on what is directly in front of him, Jesus’ gaze takes in a broader view. Yet, both are intent to accomplish their tasks with love. One with the Heart of Jesus, the young man is keenly aware of Jesus’ love, as well as Jesus’ willingness to sacrifice himself for humankind.
In an effort to respond, “the one whom Jesus loves” intends to love as Jesus loves, to love at all times, in all places, and in all situations. Not dissuaded by difficulties or obstacles, this faithful Christian willingly sacrifices personal interests in order to warm with love the human tendencies for greed, superiority, domination, and exclusion. Although the focus is directed toward daily responsibilities and challenges, these expressions of love, united to those of the Heart of Jesus, serve to build the Reign of God on Earth.
IMAGE: Painting by Peter Paul DiCresce
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
Reflection questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
“To serve God by love leads the will gently but efficaciously to what God desires.” What is your experience of discerning God’s will?
“We do willingly that which we do out of love.” Review and give tanks for all that you willingly do out of love.
How do you understand your expressions of love, united to those of the Heart of Jesus, building the Reign of God on Earth?
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer those who are in the process of discerning God’s will for their lives. The following prayer comes from Leo John Dehon’s, The Retreat with the Sacred Heart, 32nd meditation.
I have made the resolution to love you
and to serve you by loving you,
but I know that I will encounter
many obstacles and all sorts of temptations.
Equip me for the struggle,
show me the dangers that I will face,
and give me the means to avoid them.
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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