Dehonian Spirituality includes a monthly reflection and prayer based in the spirituality of Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians).
Reflections from Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” [Mark 6:31]. Our Lord asks his apostles and especially his priests for these days of calm, repose, reflection, and prayer. It seems that he asked of his apostles a retreat each year.
In the first year of his public life, their first training takes place on the Mount of the Beatitudes. In the second year, it is in the desert, before sending them forth to preach penance everywhere. In the third year, it is before the great Passover and the passion, in order to lift up their souls to the level of these great mysteries. He spoke to the people daily in the Temple. He had most intimate conversations with his disciples at Gethsemane and Bethany.
Furthermore, he asks them to make the retreat in the Upper Room before sending them to conquer the world for the Gospel. “Stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” [Luke 24:49]. And they prayed there, united and persevering with Mary [cf. Acts 1:14].
The saints keep this tradition. St. Paul recommends to priests in the person of Timothy to have days of prayer, of reading, of renewal in the grace and doctrine of salvation. “Continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.” Improve yourself in the knowledge and understanding of Holy Scripture; strive for perfection [cf. II Timothy 3:14-17].
St. Jerome, the priest’s model, meditates on the mysteries of Bethlehem. St. Francis becomes absorbed in the contemplation of the passion at Alverno and Cerceri. St. Francis de Sales outlines a program of retreat in his Devout Life.
St. Ignatius practices and teaches the Spiritual Exercises. He gives us definite rules on what to do at a retreat: Once more come face-to-face with the purpose of the Christian and sacerdotal life, to examine one’s errors and shortcomings, to express regret to our Lord and weep over our sins, and to give thanks for graces received. To contemplate our models: Jesus especially, Mary, and also the saints; to make resolutions; and to pray and store up graces.
In the Book of Revelation, we find that our Lord invited the seven bishops of Asia to reflect as if on a retreat. There are discomforts to heal, works to foresee and regulate for our sanctification and that of souls. There are decisions to make, difficulties to foresee, dangers to avoid, and fortifying rules of spiritual life to be worked out.
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers retreat centers and the staff that provide the space and encouragement for individuals to “come away and rest a while.” You may find helpful the following Act of Oblationtaken from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in the U.S. Province.
as your kingdom dawns,
we come to you,
for without you we can do nothing.
Give us the living water
which flows from within you.
We offer you our lives.
Send us into the world
as you were sent by the Father.
May doing God’s will
be our food and drink.
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit,
may our words and deeds show the world
God’s compassionate love.