June 23, 2017
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
This is the last of four installments of an article by Thomas Sheehy, SCJ, regarding the social dimension of Sacred Heart devotion, an understanding championed by Fr. Leo John Dehon.
Consider some of the frightening repercussions this devotion must have on the man who accepts the challenge of thorough reparation to Christ. His whole attitude of mind must be formed according to the sentiments of Christ. The multiple injustices he has lived with to date become glaring, festering wounds inflicted on the person of Christ. Sins, social and individual, become as personal as his own flesh and blood brother bleeding to death on a cross.
For instance, racial inequality becomes intolerable to a devotee of the Sacred Heart. Because Christ joined the human family, every man and woman became his brother and sister. The devotion implies that they be treated as such. If he receives Communion on First Friday and then continues to encourage racial injustice he is committing perjury. He is the exponent of the Big Lie, imagining that he can love our Lord in the Eucharist and despise him within his neighbor.
Unless he does something positively to bring about racial understanding and acceptance, he is offending Christ through the same “coldness, neglect, and ingratitude” which the Sacred Heart mentioned to St. Margaret Mary. The devotion calls for initiative. It is not enough to hold one’s breath until the atmosphere clears.
Families consecrated to the Sacred Heart must offer this same reparation on the family level. How much downright courage it takes for parents who have to go against the current of popular opinion just to avoid mortal sin. For them, devotion means reproducing Christ’s Heart within the family members. Everything contradicts their good example. And when the full impact of devotion to the Sacred Heart comes to light, their effort—impossible, discouraging, misunderstood, seldom appreciated—is an act of reparation to Christ for the scandalous offense offered to His children and yours.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart demands action according to talent and circumstances. The lawyer, doctor, the real estate agent, and ward alderman have a distinct form of reparation to offer to Christ. “I mind my own business” can never serve as an excuse for failing to do one’s Christian duty to effect social reparation. Frequently it means getting involved. It always speaks in terms of sacrifice.
Before you claim devotion to the Sacred Heart, find out if you are really practicing it. The test is as evident as Christ’s words, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Christ might add, “If you love my Sacred Heart, repair the injustices committed against Me in the Eucharist and in your brother—and mine.”
The Social Reality of Sacred Heart Devotion, Fourth Installment, Thomas J. Sheehy, SCJ, The Reign of the Sacred Heart, October 1969
Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian Spirituality
This is the last of four reflections by David Jackson on how he grew to appreciate the social dimension of Sacred Heart devotion.
Upon completion of my studies for a Master’s degree in Scripture, I was called to ministry at Sacred Heart School of Theology. Fr. Sebastian Muccilli was teaching a variety of Social Justice and Peace studies. We became fast friends. Through him my consciousness of social justice issues continued to develop and expand. Here are three examples.
Together with Sebastian and a Milwaukee diocesan priest, we traveled in snowy conditions to Offut Air force Base in Nebraska. This base was the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command. We protested against the possibility of nuclear war. Because of the protest and crossing the line, we were finger printed and received a ban and bar letter. But I was also able to listen to Dan Berrigan.
Seb and I also journeyed to Washington, D.C. for a retreat. The content of the retreat was to inform us about the genocide taking place in Guatemala under the military junta. The format of the retreat called for us to schedule appointments in advance with our Senators and Representative. The action part of the retreat was to visit our Congressmen to discuss this issue.
The visit with our Representative showed that he knew about the situation in Guatemala. His aide for Central America was not called on once for information. The visit at the Republican Senator’s office was with his attaché for Central American affairs. He was a former Marine. Our Representative was aware of the situation in Guatemala and was concerned. Our Senator gave us numerous “reasons” [in my estimation, “excuses”] for the U.S. policy in Guatemala.
During one cold winter, the issue of the homeless in Milwaukee was very much a concern. A group of Milwaukee residents managed to secure the use of an abandoned school to be a night shelter for the homeless. People were needed to monitor the residents at night. We SCJs lived just down the street from the facility and decided to volunteer to spend the night at the shelter.
I experienced a bit of fear of the unknown. I had observed a number of homeless people in our neighborhood. Many clearly had mental health issues and some were rather combative. Getting to know these people up close was a new experience. On the negative side was the odor and how they were paranoid about their belongings. On the positive side, I experienced people who had concern for the homeless and patiently listened to their stories detailing how they came upon hard times.
Fr. Dehon was very involved in promoting the social encyclical of Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum. I felt I was coming in contact with a neglected part of Sacred Heart devotion that Leo John Dehon called us to by his work in this area.
David Jackson, former SCJ
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
According to you talents and circumstances, what action does devotion to the Sacred Heart demand of you?
What helps you align your attitude of heart to the sentiments of the Heart of Christ?
If you claim devotion to the Sacred Heart, take stock of your actions to find out if you really are practicing it.
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer those who practice devotion to the Sacred Heart—in its personal and social dimensions. You may find helpful the following Act of Reparation taken from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
you willed that your Son become flesh
and unite himself with our human life.
In his days on earth,
Jesus loved you
and obeyed you with a human heart.
And so, in him, we have become
your adopted children.
we ask you to accept the response of love
we offer you today.
Fill us with the Spirit of your Son
that we may make his attitude our own:
loving you and our brothers and sisters
and cooperating in the work you sent him to do.
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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