This School of Love
“…take my soul into your most sacred wound, so that in this school of love, I may learn to make a return of love to God, who has given me such wondrous proofs of his love.”
See previous weeks’ reflections under the various headings on the left side of the Dehonian Spirituality page or use the drop-down menu at the top of this page under “Dehonian Spirituality.”
July 25, 2014
I paid a visit to Dr. Kelly, the affable director of the Catholic Church Extension Society. It’s a new apostolate full of promise. It was founded in 1905. Dr. Kelly combines the qualities of a perfect gentleman with the zeal of an apostle. This society has its counterparts in Europe: the St. Francis de Sales Society in France and the St. Boniface Society in Germany, whose goal is to spread the faith within their own lands.
Naturally in America, it is run the American way. Its headquarters is located in one of the finest buildings in Chicago overlooking a park. Inside its offices you find all the modern means of communication: telephones, stenographers, typewriters. It is truly a center of the American apostolate.
The purpose of the Society is to build churches and schools for the Catholic immigrants who are flocking to the United States at the rate of six or seven hundred thousand per year. If these new arrivals can be helped to preserve their faith, it seems certain that half of the population of the country will be Catholic in 25 or 30 years. A quarterly journal, Extension, informs its readers of its needs. Its current resources are about six thousand dollars a month.
The Society has its own Pullman car which serves as a chapel on wheels and it goes all throughout the country bringing missionaries to carry out their work. American railroad companies transport the car free of charge. Everyone going to the Eucharistic Congress in Montreal, including the Cardinal delegate, visited the chapel-car in the station. I had the pleasure of riding in it from Chicago to Detroit.
Leo John Dehon, Daily Notes, from the account of his trip around the world [1910-1911].
One day in the Jerusalem Temple, Jesus watched people putting money into the treasury. More than likely, he heard people putting money into the treasury. While we use collection baskets, the Temple had trumpet-shaped chests. Large coins and a large number of coins thrown simultaneously into the chest would make an impressive sound. Two small coins could only whisper.
A widow’s meager offering went unnoticed because it was the amount of noise and the individual who caused the noise that caught people’s attention. Yet, Jesus suggests another criterion for judging generosity. Calling together his disciples, he taught them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” [Mark 12:43-44].
Since Jesus had just critiqued the religious leaders who like to be in the limelight, who spend a long time in prayer just for show, and who “devour widow’s houses,” some Scripture scholars suggest that Jesus was not praising the woman, but deploring the destructiveness of corrupt religion. But Jesus’ teaching focuses on the woman, not the religious system.
The value of her contribution is enormous, Jesus suggests, indeed exceeding the sum of all donations that day. It is not the amount of the donation, but the motivation behind the giving. What impelled this woman of little means to give out of her poverty—indeed all she had to live on? For anyone who has ever been in love, the answer is simple.
To express her love for God, she desired to give what she had. If she worried about her livelihood, she would not be able to express her love. Looking in from the outside, we might say she was foolish because we know that God can read the heart and would not demand such a sacrifice. We are, of course, correct.
But people in love do foolish things—like spending their last two pennies on someone they love. They give it away lovingly because that’s what life is for. Individuals like this widow are the happiest, most fulfilled, and peaceful people in the world—and in Jesus’ mind, the most generous.
For the past 15 years I have been a part of the ministry of the Priests of the Sacred Heart through my role as Planned Giving Director. Sharing the devotion to the Sacred Heart and the charism of Fr. Dehon has evolved over the years and has recently included travel to some of our missions.
My experiences interacting with the SCJs, the people they serve, and their devoted benefactors, help me to see and share our common goal. My recent travels to India opened my eyes to the love our SCJ priests and brothers share with those in need. On the day of the dedication of the new Sacred Heart Shrine Church we served 10,000 people from all walks of life and many faiths. Meeting and seeing so many people and hearing how the church has changed their lives has moved me to raise additional funds for the education of children in India.
Through work in our Development Office and at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, including the English as a Second Language program, I can bring the call to action to those who are so very generous. It is the good work of the Priests of the Sacred Heart following Fr. Dehon’s lead that inspires people to support these worthy causes. Interacting with these devoted people, listening to their stories and hearing of their deep love of God energizes my desire to share the mission and ministry of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in a variety of ways.
Pam Milczarski, Planned Giving Director, Priests of the Sacred Heart
In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer the benefactors who support the mission of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. In using the following prayer, please remember that the Christian call to witness to God’s love is a communal effort. Each Christian is a minister, whether in the family or in a foreign land, and each Christian is a benefactor supporting the good deeds of another.
Gracious and Generous Giver of Gifts,
Thank you for the gift of life,
the touch of your love,
the support of family and friends,
and the call to be your witnesses
to the ends of the earth.
As your ministers,
we are faced with many human needs
and humbly acknowledge
that we alone cannot address them.
We thank you for the gift of benefactors,
whose generosity enables us
to undertake many good works.
May we show our gratitude
by the wise use of all your gifts
and remember in heartfelt prayer
the hopes and dreams,
and the joys and sorrows
of our benefactors.
Together, as a community of love,
may we model your reign on earth.