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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September 7, 2018

Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 

Spiritual books insist, and rightly so, on the care with which a pious lay person or a religious should perform one’s daily actions. If the order of a superior, or the rule, prescribes a certain work, one should bring to it all the resources of one’s intelligence.
The command, “whatever you do, do well,” cannot be overemphasized.  But care must be taken not to confuse this perfection, of a purely natural order, with the perfection recommended by the Gospel.  There is danger of believing oneself perfect because one obeyed promptly or because one respected chastity.  These are indeed virtues, but they may have no more value than the virtue of mercenaries or of philosophers.
In such case, one loses sight of the intention which should inspire all our actions in order to give them value in the eyes of God.  Perhaps in the morning a general formula of morning offering was recited in a more or less distracted way.  It is believed sufficient and one rests content with this offering.  Such a soul truly sleeps.  It has scarcely awakened from its habitual sluggishness to pronounce the morning offering.  It recited the formula without attention, without thinking, and then began a completely natural day.
One cannot pretend to have performed an act of charity, regardless of the care with which an action was performed, if it was motivated by purely human views.  To the purely human care with which one performs one’s actions there must be added the intention of pleasing our Lord, the desire of giving him, by this very care with which one performs his duties, a pledge, a token of love.  Thus, not only the attention brought to one’s work is supernaturalized, but the entire act becomes an act of charity, an act of pure love.  Our Lord therefore demands that one cultivate the habit of frequently renewing one’s offering during the day.
Those who truly love our Lord forget themselves. They do not stop to consider, and take pleasure in, their progress.  They are assiduous in performing all their actions well for the love of our Lord. They are saddened by their imperfections, not so much for themselves as for him and because they regret that they did not succeed better in pleasing him.  They feel that they could have given him a more generous token of their love. They do not ask themselves what degree of perfection they have been able to attain.  They ask pardon, rather, for not having done better, for not having thought often enough and wholeheartedly enough, of offering their weak efforts to our Lord.
To love the Sacred Heart, to prove your love for him by everything you do, such should be the constant preoccupation of one who has consecrated oneself to the divine Heart.  When you truly love him, this preoccupation is so great that your heart reproaches the slightest negligence.  You should beg forgiveness immediately, recognizing in this defect a sign that you do not love God enough, then continue tranquilly your life of oblation. We say alifeof oblation, for the true characteristic of a life of love is to offer to one’s beloved everything one does and to offer it from the heart.

The Life of Love towards the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 26th Meditation: “The Practice of the Love of our Lord in our Daily Actions”


Heart of Jesus: Fr. Dehon's favored image of God's loving concern for all creation
The main reason that devotion to the Heart of Jesus commends itself as a spiritual practice is its insistent testimony that God loves humanity without prior conditions.  This audacious Christian belief dismisses the category of “worthiness” with the longing, affection, care, and self-sacrifice commonly associated with the human heart.  Indeed, this is the starting point for a relationship with the divine, “not that we loved God but that God loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” [I John 4:10]. 
Jesus modeled this unconditional love when he identified himself as a shepherd who searches for the lost sheep and brings them home [Luke 15:4-7], and who has compassion on people wandering like sheep without a shepherd [Matthew 9:36].  When Jesus calls his sheep by name, each one recognizes his voice and follows him, for they know that he would lay down his life for them [John 10:3-18].  For all of this, Jesus is “the great shepherd of the sheep” [Hebrews 13:20].  “Put a heart on the chest of this picture of the Good Shepherd,” Fr. Dehon noted, “and you could not have a better expression of the full mystique of the Sacred Heart” [Daily Notes, January 18, 1891].
All spiritualities are a response to God’s love for humanity—in the collective and as individuals.  “We love God because God first loved us” [I John 4:19].  Those who consecrate themselves to the divine Heart of Jesus understand this and pledge to make a return of love in everything that they do.  It is their constant preoccupation to please Jesus, to forget themselves, and live “from the heart.”    

Line drawing by Ron Zeilinger


Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

How do you describe the spiritual practice of devotion to the Heart of Jesus?
What place does the notion of “worthiness” have in your spiritual practice?
What does it mean for you to live “from the heart?”


Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers all those who have consecrated themselves to the divine Heart of Jesus and who wish to please him by offering from the heart everything that they do.  You may find helpful the following Prayer of Reparation, adapted from the Community Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
Lord Jesus,
in a world grown cold and indifferent,
you draw all people to your Heart.
Where there is hatred and violence,
you offer reconciliation and love.
Where there is conflict and division,
you offer unity and peace.
we wish to please you in everything we do.
We present ourselves to you
and to the One who sent you,
asking you to bless our offering
as you send us into our wounded world.
May our families and faith communities
become a sign of the love 
which you offer to humanity.  
We wish to join our efforts
to the renewing action of your Spirit,
whom we welcome today.
May our acts of love and reparation
bear witness to the harmony 
divine grace makes possible.

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. 

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