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
On February 25, 1888, Pope Leo XIII granted an official approval of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by a Decree of Praise, expressed in most laudatory terms. This indication of satisfaction and of encouragement on the part of the Holy See was, as Cardinal Langenieux expressed in a letter to Fr. Dehon, “the reward of your entire submission to the will of God in a sorrowful trial so virtuously borne.”
Fr. Dehon had taken the necessary steps to obtain this first official approval and he had succeeded, thanks to his friends at Santa Chiara [the French Seminary] in Rome, and especially to his friend Cardinal Langenieux who had personally intervened in Rome on his behalf. After the trials of 1883 [the suppression of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus], many thought that the Congregation would stagnate as a diocesan institution of Soissons [France]. In fact, Fr. Eschbach, who was Fr. Dehon’s good friend and the Superior of the French Seminary in Rome, had told him, “Experience has shown more than once that Societies or Congregations of priests are exposed to vegetate when they are exclusively diocesan.”
So now, having obtained the Decree of Praise, the young Congregation felt itself reborn; Fr. Dehon could give renewed confidence and encouragement to his 60
This is the main reason that Fr. Dehon convoked the Second General Chapter that was in session from August 16-24, 1888. Among other matters considered was the duration of the Superior General’s term of office, the extent of the vow of obedience, the nature of the vow of immolation, and the project to found a minor seminary in Sittard, Holland. The chapter decided to elect Fr. Dehon as Superior General for life. religious. The approbation had been accompanied by 21 annotations that Rome had given with the Decree of Praise. The Congregation had to adapt itself to its new role as a Papal Congregation, hence universal. It had to reconsider its Rules and Constitutions so as to modify them in the light and sense of the 21 annotations.
Another important reason for this Chapter was the question of foreign missions, which Fr. Dehon was eager to raise because a favorable occasion had presented itself. Fr. Matovelle, from Ecuador, had founded a Society of priests called, “Oblates of Divine Love,” which he wished to associate with the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Upon learning some interesting details of the situation, the Chapter decided to continue negotiations, which appeared advantageous to both parties concerned. The mission in Ecuador was established in the fall of 1888, but did not succeed. Fr. Matovelle changed his mind and an anti-clerical government eventually expelled the SCJ missionaries in 1896. The Congregation, however, was definitely orienting itself towards foreign missions.
The second General Chapter of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus opened on this day in 1888. In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers all those in leadership positions throughout the Congregation. You may find helpful the following Oblation Prayer taken from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in the United States Province..
We bless you, Father,
in union with Jesus your Son,
who offered himself on the cross for us.
You have given us this day
as a gift of love
and a time of salvation.
And so, gracious God,
united with Christ,
we offer you our lives.
Accept our joys and our sorrows,
our struggles and our hopes
in priestly service
for the coming of your reign.