June 9, 2017
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
This is the second 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.
Practically speaking, what disturbing effect can devotion to the Sacred Heart have? Basically, devotion to the Sacred Heart implies a change of attitude which is always devastating to the complacent. It is a manifesto of action. It is more a life to be led than merely a picture to be venerated. The proper “emotional experience” centers more on courage and fortitude than pious heartburn.
Let’s reduce this to theological principles. Devotees of the Sacred Heart promise to offer God reparation for the offenses of men. God has been defrauded of the honor due to him. He has been dealt with unjustly. He has been the victim of man’s cheating ways. Justice demands that God be repaid for the coldness, neglect, and ingratitude of so many. The friends of the Sacred Heart try to supply in their own lives what has been lacking in the lives of others.
Reparation extends to Christ in the Eucharist. Holy Communions received devoutly, Masses attended with pious attention, Eucharistic adoration performed faithfully; these devotions offer love and consolation to the Heart of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. They are as essential as they are Catholic.
But the notion of reparation also extends to the Heart of Christ offended within the human race. If Christ is present in the Eucharist, he is also present in the Negro, the retarded child, the illegitimate infant, the displaced Slovak refugee. “What you do to the least of My brethren, you do unto Me,” Christ repeats, pointing his finger at the multiple objects of reparation which surround us.
This is the disturbing aspect of genuine devotion to his Heart. The repercussions are uncomfortable, inconvenient, usually downright embarrassing. The theology becomes socially distasteful when you consider Christ under the appearance of flesh and blood human beings, not hidden in the sheltered tabernacle.
The Social Reality of Sacred Heart Devotion, Second Installment, Thomas J. Sheehy, SCJ, The Reign of the Sacred Heart, October 1969
Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian Spirituality
This is the second of four reflections by David Jackson on how he grew to appreciate the social dimension of Sacred Heart devotion.
As I finished my five years of ministry in Hernando, Mississippi, in 1976, I was granted permission to join a six-week study trip to Israel, Turkey, and Greece. Since this was a trip for college credit, we had some pre-trip assignments. This research equipped me to understand better the scriptural scene. But it in no way prepared me for several encounters I had. Culture shock was abundant on this tour. Israel was a security state. Every bank had soldier guards with machine guns. Initially this was quite disorienting for me. But as I reflected on this reality, what scared me was how quickly I became accustomed to it.
Our bus encountered many security stops in our travels. On our visit to the Allenby Bridge, which connected Israel with Jordan, we encountered an area where Jordanian crossers were being interrogated behind barbed wire fences. The most shocking part was the way the Israeli soldiers treated the Arabs crossing for work. The Jordanians carried their belongings in blankets. I witnessed the soldiers grabbing the blankets, pushing the owners roughly to the side, and nastily sprawling their belongings over tables for inspection. Closer to the bridge we encountered a fortified bunker with machine guns. In our four and one half weeks in Israel, we were cautioned where not to go.
In my evening prayer, I reflected on the transition that Fr. Dehon made in his devotion to the Sacred Heart. He began referring to “The reign of Christ in souls and societies.” I was exposed to a new view of Israeli and Palestinian societies. My consciousness of the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, and the difficult complex this presents, has stayed with me to this day. The “two state” solution is very alive. Israeli settlements, wall-building, and moving the capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, are current issues. I can see these realities through the experience of this trip. The Eighth Day Center in Chicago, where Bob Bossie, SCJ, has ministered for many years, has publicized the struggle of these two societies in their work for justice, as did Fr. Leo John Dehon, SCJ, regarding the pressing issues of his day.
David Jackson, former SCJ
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
To what change of attitude is devotion to the Sacred Heart calling you?
Whom or what situation is longing for reparation to the Heart of Christ under the appearance of flesh and blood human beings?
How would you be able to recognize the “reign of the Sacred Heart in souls and societies?”
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer peoples and nations in need of the healing work of reparation. The following prayer, based on Psalm 85, is taken from Water and Enrich My Heart, Prayers Based on the Psalms, by Charles Flood, SCJ.
What amazing blessings
you have bestowed on me
to restore my and vivify me,
give me fresh life,
and rejoice my spirit.
Let me respond to your message
of peace and justice
and help me to bring about
the peace and justice
so very necessary
for your reign among men and women.
Pour out your love and kindness
and grant me the grace
to be one of your holy ones.
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.
Anyone is welcome to receive the Dehonian Spirituality email. Click here to add a subscriber.
The Dehonian Spirituality updates are edited by David Schimmel, U.S. Province director of Dehonian Associates. Questions or comments for David? Click here.
Click here to learn more about the Priests of the Sacred Heart on the US Province website. Click here to visit us on Facebook.