July 15, 2016
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
My dear parents were making preparations for July 19 , which was to be the day of my first Mass at home. The feast was very beautiful and touching. There was a family reunion and many gifts were offered me, mostly literary works. I sang the Mass and Vespers and preached twice, in the morning on the Holy Sacrifice and in the evening on the Blessed Virgin.
The emotions of such a day cannot be described. My family and the parishioners were moved as much as I was. Everyone shed tears. I believe there was an increase of faith in souls that day, and that this increase of faith was to contribute to the salvation of several members of the parish. These beautiful days passed quickly, but left me with a deep impression which years do not obliterate.
I am not an orator and never have been, although I preach with greater ease today. Anyhow, here are some passages of my sermon of that day. It expressed how I really felt and the true sentiments of my heart.
The Heart of the Word of God wanted to dwell with us as he had dwelt with his disciples. In his infinite wisdom and power, he conceived and established this sacrifice and this sacrament of love. It was like his last testament, the last institute of his mortal life. His Heart had waited for this moment and had ardently desired it.
As he said to his apostles, “I have longed to eat this Passover with you.” Then he took some bread and when he had given thanks, broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body which will be given for you; do this as a memorial of me” [Luke 22:15, 19].
O adorable Victim! When in a few moments you descend into our midst despite our unworthiness; when we shall kneel at your feet with respect, confidence, and love, then speak, O Lord, speak to our hearts; speak to your Father. Lord, I hear you say to us, “I want you to be holy and virtuous, just and generous towards your neighbor, grateful and pious towards your God, honorable and pure towards yourself.”
Speak, Lord, and may each one of us leave this solemn gathering as a better human being. Speak again to your Father and ask him to bless his unworthy minister, to bless my parents and relatives, my teachers and pastors, my friends and fellow citizens. Ask him to bless this devout assembly and to unite us all together with him in the happy state of the elect.
Notes on the History of My Life, Fifth Period: 1868-1871
Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian Spirituality
As I am writing this reflection, my day of ordination—June 25th—is approaching. On Sunday, June 26th, I celebrated my first celebration of the Eucharist. These events bring forth two memories.
First, my association with the Ursuline Sisters of Chatham [Ontario, Canada] introduced me to religious life. Not only were they my teachers throughout my twelve years of education at Blessed Sacrament, Pius X, and Catholic Central Schools, they also were my introduction to religious life. My Aunt Rosemary Zimmer, OSU, invited the family to Glengarda and to the Pines. It was there that I saw her ministry with the mentally challenged and with her nursing skills. This was nourished by her community life and by their community prayer.
Secondly, my home parish of Blessed Sacrament helped me to understand the life of the Church through its sacramental life of Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, and Ordination. This also consisted in serving at the altar and in being a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. This participation in the life of the parish helped me to understand that Eucharist did not stop after entering the church. But it overflowed into the lives of the people within the church and beyond the doors of the church.
When I look back at these moments, I remember my working side by side with the Sisters at the Pines before entering the novitiate. This included their rhythm of prayer. When it came time for my ordination weekend, I was invited to have my meal after the ordination at the Motherhouse. The Sisters also participated in celebrating the liturgies at the parish. Our SCJ Constitutions state that our community life is the source for our spirituality and for our ministry. Both the parish community and the Ursuline community were being Eucharist. Or in Dehon’s words, we were participating in a never ending Eucharist. Moreover, I was thrown from their sacristies onto the streets in Chatham.
Wayne Jenkins, SCJ
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth
The Eucharist overflows into the lives of people within the church and beyond the doors of the church. How do you perceive the grace of the Eucharist assisting you to be
- just and generous towards your neighbor?
- grateful and pious towards your God?
- holy and virtuous, honorable and pure towards yourself?
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
July 19 is the anniversary of Fr. Leo John Dehon’s First Mass celebration in his home town of La Capelle. In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer newly ordained priests, whose role is to minister at the altar and in the streets. The following is an Oblation Prayer for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, taken from the Prayer book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
you invite us to share the gift
of your Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
Accept the offering we make of ourselves:
our work, our joys, and our sufferings.
Teach us to make ourselves available
to proclaim your mercy to the world
and so to prepare for the coming of your reign.
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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