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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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May 19, 2017


 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
Fr. Stanislaus Falleur, SCJ, was one of the earliest members of the Congregation and Fr. Dehon was his Novice Master.  The notes that he took on Dehon’s conferences have been preserved [Cahiers Falleur].  In speaking of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Fr. Dehon reflects on a text from the Vulgate [the Latin translation of the Bible].  The Book of Sirach is not included in Protestant Bibles and this particular verse is not universally attested in the ancient sources.  You might find this verse in a footnote in your Catholic Bible: “I am the mother of beautiful love, of fear, of knowledge, and of holy hope; being eternal, I am given to all my children, to those who are named by him” [Sirach 24:18].
 
“After the Heart of Jesus, we have nothing more precious than the Heart of Mary.  She was blessed because she formed the Heart of Jesus physically by her heartbeats, and morally by the direction that the obedient Jesus wished to receive from her.
 
“Mary was able to say, ‘I am the mother of beautiful love’ [Sirach 24:18], that is, the love of the Heart of Jesus.  And, in a broader sense, Mary is the mother of beautiful love, that is, of the Beloved Disciple and of Christians animated by pure love.  Love has completely filled her heart with a pure love excluding any other love.  Her heart was reserved for God alone.  
 
“As the mother of fear, she had only one fear: to displease God, but this was a filial fear without agitation.  As the mother of knowledge, she studied the Heart of Jesus.  She knew the love of her God and recognized him.  She also had experienced holy hope.  These four words contain the sentiments of the Heart of Mary. 
 
“God told her, "Set me as a seal upon your heart" [Song of Songs 8:6], and this seal has been placed on her heart from her conception, and again at the Annunciation, at Nazareth, and at Calvary, when she pressed her dying and dead Jesus upon her Heart.  This seal has never been broken—neither the world, the devil, nor the passions have had access to it.
 
“What can we conclude?  Let us listen to God who also tells us, "Set me as a seal upon your heart.”  God has also put a seal on our soul at baptism, at confirmation, and at ordination.  We have broken it often.  This is no longer the sealed fountain, the closed garden [cf. Song of Songs 4:12].  
 
“The vows of religion also put on our soul a seal that, without having the nature of the sacramental character, has no less solemnity and importance.  We give ourselves to him; we are no longer our own.  So let us no longer break this seal.  Let us deny access to anyone else.  Let us renew our resolution of abandonment.  Finally, let us commit ourselves, like Mary, to beautiful love, to pure love.”
 
Cahiers Falleur, Monday, June 7, 1880, “The Day after the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary”  

 
  
 

Heart of Jesus: Fr. Dehon's favored image of God's loving concern for all creation

An apron seems an unlikely item of religious vesture, but in fact it’s a significant part of the habit of some religious communities.  The more familiar term is “a scapular” [that is, an apron that hangs on the scapulae or shoulder blades].  Symbolically, it indicates the wearer’s willingness to work for God and readiness to serve God’s people.
 
An adaptation of the one piece, full-length scapular of a religious habit is the much smaller scapular, usually two squares of colored wool that are worn under one’s clothing and which hang by ribbons on the chest and back.  An example of this type of sacramental is the scapular of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
 
The image to the left is the front of the scapular that was once worn by the Priests of the Sacred Heart, who, Fr. Dehon explains, “wear exteriorly the clothing of ordinary priests, and under it the scapular of Religious.”  Symbolically “setting God as a seal upon their hearts,” this scapular reproduces a traditional image of the Heart of Jesus, but with a marked emphasis on the flames exploding from the heart. 
 
Fr. Dehon points to the symbolic meaning of such fiery intensity and passion for the Priests of the Sacred Heart.  “Their immolation, their sacrifice is par excellence that of the heart and of the will.  Their immolation should, however, also be manifested exteriorly by action, by the purity and perfection of their life, of their priestly and religious conduct, penetrated by a lively faith and directed by pure love which has its seat and source in the Heart of our Lord” [Spiritual Directory, Part Three, Chapter VI: 1, “The Holy Habit”].
 
Today, wearing the Dehonian cross serves the same function as the scapular for many SCJs.  This “seal upon their hearts” is a constant reminder to give themselves totally to God, to take care that this seal is never broken, and to commit themselves and their ministry to “beautiful, pure love.”
 
 
 
 

 
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

What quality of the Heart of Mary encourages you to reserve your heart for God alone?
 
God’s seal was first placed upon your heart at baptism.  What can you do to maintain and strengthen this seal?
 
How is your sacrifice of heart and will manifested exteriorly by action?
 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer all religious Congregations dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Like Mary, may they and all Christians set God as a seal upon their hearts.  You may find helpful the following Prayer of Oblation, taken from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
 
God of love,
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
through the faith of Mary’s heart,
you gave us your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
He freed us from sin and death,
and he gave us the grace
to live in communion with one another
and with you.
 
God of grace,
grant us the Spirit you gave Mary.
Give us a faith like hers,
that we may hear your word and keep it.
With Mary, grant us a disciple’s heart.
Send us into the world
to show the human race
the love you revealed in the Heart of Christ.
 
Amen.
                         
 
    

 
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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The Dehonian Spirituality updates are edited by David Schimmel, U.S. Province director of Dehonian Associates. Questions or comments for David? 
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Dehonian Associates Office
US Province, Priests of the Sacred Heart 
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