Dehonian Spirituality

Dehonian Spirituality

"We contemplate the love of Christ in the mysteries of His life and in the life of people. Nourished by our attachment to Him, we unite ourselves with His oblation for the salvation of the world."
Priests of the Sacred Heart, Rule of Life Number 77

Priests of the Sacred Heart > Dehonian Spirituality

Dehonian Spirituality

CLICK HERE to subscribe to the weekly Dehonian Spirituality e-publication. Mailed on Fridays, it includes prayers and reflections based in the spirituality of Fr. Leo John Dehon. Text from the most recent Dehonian Spirituality appears below. 

December 1, 2017 


Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart

Dehon line drawing

My dear sons, I could say to you, as the angel said to the shepherds of Bethlehem, “I am bringing you good news of great joy” [Luke 2:10].  This joy is brought to us by the definitive approbation of the Congregation and of its Constitutions by our Holy Father, the Pope [Pius XI].  The pontifical decree was signed on December 5.  Our Constitutions were approved in a form nearly the same as that which we submitted.  We are going to have them printed, and we will send them to you.

This year has been rich in blessings for the Congregation.  You recall the wonderful, encouraging, and fine letters we received from the Holy Father and from several Cardinals in March, on my eightieth birthday.

In August, our Fr. Buckx was consecrated Bishop of Finland by Cardinal Van Rossum.  In October, the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith entrusted to us the mission of Gariep in South Africa, and on December 3, under the auspices of St. Francis Xavier, the Holy Father signed the decree of erection for the Prefecture of Benkulen in Sumatra.

Another sign of divine blessing is the prospering of our Apostolic Schools, which are all obliged to expand.  These are indeed motives for expressing our gratitude to the Sacred Heart.  Rank imposes obligations!  Since the Church places so much confidence in us, we should redouble our efforts to respond to her plans; let us work courageously for our missions and recruit some missionaries.

However, the primary object, the essential aim for us is always the life of love and reparation towards the Sacred Heart.  The Church, through her approbation of our Constitutions, confirms us in this way.  I entreat all of you to redouble your zeal and fervor so as to live as good religious by observing scrupulously our pious customs and our Directory, which have been inspired by the Sacred Heart.

Let us pray much for our Work [Fr. Dehon’s term for the Congregation of the Priests of the Heart of Jesus], for our missions, for our recruiting, but above all for our immense spiritual needs.  May our Lord pardon all our shortcomings and may he grant us great increase in the life of love and immolation that he awaits from us.

Excerpt from Circular Letter 34: December 1923


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

Adapting the motif of grouping friends of the Heart of Jesus, this mural includes the founder, and an early and influential Novice Master of the Priests of the Heart of Jesus.

Painted mural in the SCJ community chapel in Foligno, Italy.

Although the colors of Jesus’ clothing are unusual to the eye of Western Christians, these symbolic colors are familiar in Eastern Christian iconography.  Christ is often shown wearing a blue robe over a red tunic indicating his divine [blue] and human [red] natures.  Jesus’ Heart is subtly indicated by a simple outline imprinted in white on his chest, suggesting an inner energy.

Gathered around the Heart of Jesus are, in descending order from the left, John the Apostle, Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Gertrude, and Margaret Mary.  In descending order from the right are Francis de Sales, Francis Xavier, Ignatius of Loyola, André Prevot, and Leo John Dehon.  Fr. Dehon is holding the Constitutions of the Priests of the Heart of Jesus.  The Latin text, engraved on the arch reads, “Come to me, all of you, and I will refresh you” [cf. Matthew 11:28].

No doubt, in his humility, Fr. Dehon would not approve of being depicted in a chapel mural with saints whom he considered patrons of the Congregation.  He would, however, encourage every member of the Congregation to be “united everyday [with] our models, patrons, and friends to honor, love, console, and invoke the Sacred Heart” [Spiritual Directory, Part Two, Chapter VII].



Reflection Questions: Seeds for personal understanding and growth

In what ways has this past year been rich in blessings for you?  How do you express your thanks to God for these blessings?

Who among the saints models how you can honor, love, console, and invoke daily the Heart of Jesus?

Try composing your own canticle of thanksgiving.


Oblation BW


Prayer: hands lifted in prayer, hands prepared to serve

Thursday, December 5, is the anniversary of the final approval by the Church of the Constitutions of the Priests of the Heart of Jesus.  In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer the worldwide SCJ community and its ministries.  Traditionally on this day, the Priests of the Heart of Jesus used the words of Mary’s Canticle [Luke 1:46-55] to express their thanks to God.  The following translation of this canticle was made by Fr. Patrick Cremer, SCJ [deceased 2001].

Yes, my whole life will forever reflect
the greatness of the Lord.
My whole person lies open to God, my savior,
expanding with grateful joy,
while with unhoped for tenderness
he has favored this response of his willing maid.

Generations both now and to come
will celebrate this unique favor of his saving love.
For the Almighty has singled me out
to witness his saving deed.
He is the Holy One,
who bestows his love upon all who are open to him—
to everyone and to each one personally.

Of old, he used his might to shame the proud,
withdrawing his hand because of their arrogance,
but he gave glory to those who respond to him.
Those who long for the outpouring of his love find fulfillment,
whereas the self-satisfied remain in complete frustration.

At this present moment,
his faithful servant Israel
has received full acceptance
to serve as a source of blessing for all people.
Now is fulfilled
the promise given to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his children without end.