Seeds for personal understanding and growth
March 13, 2015
Fr. Leo John Dehon asked these questions in his meditation book, The Priestly Heart of Jesus:
Do I think seriously about seeking vocations?
Do I think seriously about lending my aid to those who are discerning their vocation?
Have I contributed to the development of some of those who are discerning their vocation?
March 6, 2015
When and where are you able to adore God in moments of silence?
How can you nurture a love that inspires and sustains your thoughts, words, and actions?
How might your life be different if your heart is a ciborium in which the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus alone reposes?
February 27, 2015
Although Fr. Dehon wrote about practicing charity within a religious community, his teaching is applicable to any relationship. Remember, your practice of charity is an act of total self-giving to God.
Whom do you find most difficult to love as Jesus loves you? In what one, specific way can you strive to understand what this person has at heart?
To what personal fault do you turn a blind eye? To what fault(s) in others do you shine a light?
February 20, 2015
What is the best way that you can “follow our Lord with love and walk joyfully on that royal road of the cross”? You might consider mediating on a Scriptural Way of the Cross, which Pope Benedict XVI approved for public use in 2007:
- Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane
- Judas betrays Jesus and facilitates his arrest
- The Sanhedrin condemns Jesus
- Peter denies Jesus
- Pilate judges Jesus
- Soldiers crown Jesus with thorns and scourge him
- Jesus embraces his cross
- Simon helps Jesus carry his cross
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
- Soldiers crucify Jesus
- Jesus promises the repentant thief a share in his kingdom
- Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
- Jesus dies on the cross
- Acquaintances lay Jesus’ body in the tomb.
Alternately, you might read and meditate on one of the Passion accounts:
As you unite yourself with “the great act of oblation of the Heart of Jesus” that culminated in his passion and death, what affirmation or challenge do you hear regarding your personal transformation?
Considering your present circumstances, how do you understand these words: “There are no big or small crosses; there is only very little love or great love”?
January 23, 2015
Of the persons, communities, cultures, religions, and ethnicities with which you are familiar, who needs “a drink” from you?
Recall those moments when you were most aware of Jesus inviting you to take the next step in your process of personal transformation. How will you respond to his invitation today?
In the daily tasks that fill up your day, how can you make visible the presence of Christ in the life of the world?
January 16, 2015
How might you stretch your heart open in continuous conversion regarding the plight of immigrants and refugees?
What is your experience of a two-way cultural enrichment and sharing?
In what one, specific way can you meet the basic needs of those around you, and by doing so, best respond to God’s love?
January 9, 2015
What is your preferred way of communicating personally with another person?
Although sending a birthday, anniversary, get-well, or Christmas card might be a conventional courtesy, how might you make it a genuine sign of affection, hope, or comfort?
How has the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus opened you as wide as possible to God’s transforming grace and empowering love?
December 5, 2014
Although it may not be written down, what is the “rule” by which you direct your life? What are your aspirations, your goals, and the non-negotiables?
Who are the people and what are the texts that inspire you, affirm you, and challenge you to continue growing into the person God created you to be?
If you haven’t given it much attention, you might consider formulating a personal rule of life that will be able to guide you in a faithful following of Christ through ever-changing circumstances.
November 14, 2014
What is your experience of a vast body of water and how does it affect you?
Comparing the immensity of the ocean to the limitless love of the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Dehon exclaimed, “How I would like to throw myself into the ocean of the mercy of the Heart of Jesus!” If you did this, what would you experience?
In the face of what immense or awesome reality are you able to acknowledge your smallness and dependence, and lift your soul to God?
November 7, 2014
To whatever role of service God has called you, how do you honor and nurture your own vocation?
Considering the great spiritual needs of people, how much time are you willing to commit to asking “the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest?
In relating to youth and adults, how can you sow the seed of vocations?
October 31, 2014
Christians do not focus often on the image of Jesus the Worker. How might your perceive your work differently if you imagined Jesus working by your side?
The act of oblation—the offering of one’s entire self to God—is usually made in the morning and ideally renewed briefly at various times throughout the day. How can you be conscious that the work you do is a physical extension of your act of oblation?
What one, specific action can you take that would benefit the well-being of common laborers?
October 3, 2014
Fr. Dehon wrote that the religious leaders were “amazed to find the Savior so accessible to all and somewhat scandalized by his goodness.” Whom do you know that attempts to follow this pastoral practice of presence?
Quoting the prophet Hosea to explain his pastoral approach, Jesus says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” How might this attitude affect the way you deal with those who are disagreeable? With those who have hurt you? With your own mistakes?
How can you support the pastoral ministers whom you know?
September 12, 2014
What cross have you taken upon yourself? What cross has unexpectedly entered your life?
What enables you to embrace this cross with love and maintain confidence in the mysterious ways of God’s Providence?
For whom or what cause are you willing to give up your body and blood to suffering and pain as Christ did?
What graces, for yourself and others, seem to flow from embracing your cross?
August 29, 2014
“Work must be an escape from poverty, not another version of it” [A Place at the Table, A Pastoral Reflection of the US Catholic Bishops, November 2002]. What do you think this quote means? Whom do you know, either personally or through the media, whose work is a form of poverty?
“On this Labor Day, let us renew our commitment to promote the dignity of the human person through work that is honorable, pays just wages, and recognizes the God-given dignity of the working person” [Labor Day Statement, 2013, US Conference of Catholic Bishops]. Interfaith Worker Justice has been a leader in the fight for economic and worker justice in the United States since 1996. Go to www.iwj.org/issues to find information and suggested actions on issues such as wage theft, minimum wage, and the right to organize. Ask yourself what God might be inviting you to do to promote the dignity of the working person.
August 8, 2014
What do you fear about death or the process of dying? What can you do in this moment of your life to address this fear?
At the moment of your death, how would you hope to express your final act of oblation?
When you are in the presence of someone who is dying, what would you like to express—with or without words?
August 1, 2014
How can you make more time to wonder at and delight in nature, and reap pleasure and relaxation from it?
What hopes and dreams have blossomed luxuriantly in your life, but have produced little fruit? What one, specific step can you take to remove an obstacle to your dreams?
At heart, you are an image and likeness of God. What spiritual practice can help you remember your true identity and continue growing into it?
July 18, 2014
Fr. Dehon recommends Mary Magdalene and the holy women as models for us in seeking Jesus everywhere even in places that feel like he is absent. What do Mary Magdalene and the holy women, on their way early in the morning to Jesus’ tomb, say to you?
Seeking Jesus faithfully and with the eager love of Mary Magdalene includes learning to serve Jesus in the person of his brothers and sisters. Whom is Jesus asking you to serve?
Making the effort to be aware of God’s presence is a means to grow spiritually. What helps you to stay attentive to God’s presence?
July 4, 2014
Consider whether or not your daily act of oblation is an overture to your daily activity. If not, try to be attentive to the continual call to interior conversion or the need to contribute to the transformation of society.
When civil authority is engaged in something that seems to be against God’s law, how can you claim your voice without vilifying those who disagree with you.
Among the countless situations where people suffer in their struggle for liberation, with whom can you stand? Where can you volunteer your time and talent to help bring about the change that you believe is necessary?
June 20, 2014
“It seems he was beside himself in his friendship for us.” What effect does this quote of St. Denis, referring to Jesus, have on your self-image?
“Jesus is the merchant in the gospel who sells all his possessions to acquire the one pearl he deems rare and of great value. This pearl is our poor heart.” What effect does this quote from Fr. Dehon have on your self-image?
In terms of your daily life, what actions of self-giving do you accomplish in memory of Jesus?
June 13, 2014
What is your experience of a Trinitarian God? What are your preferred names or images for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Using your heart rather than your intellect, how would you speak of the Trinity to a person who follows a spiritual path other than Christian?
If the Trinity is not a mystery to understand but a relationship to enjoy, how can you nurture this relationship?
MAY 23, 2014
On whom do you rely to guide your journey to inner freedom?
What will best help you to strive for union with God?
What does it feel like to accept God’s graciousness “just as you are” in the present moment? How does God’s graciousness transform you?
MAY 16, 2014
Armed Forces Day, celebrated this year on May 17, encourages citizens to come together and thank all military personnel for their service to our country. How can you honor and acknowledge someone who is serving or who has served?
What is your experience of authority and obedience? How does this experience affect your faith?
In your present circumstances, where is God calling you to sacrifice self and be available to someone in need?
MAY 2, 2014
How is your work capable of leading you to God?
One of the invocations from the Litany of the Sacred Heart is, “Heart of Jesus, source of justice and love.” The litany concludes with the prayer, “Jesus, make our hearts like your heart.” In what one specific way can you accomplish your work with justice and love?
How might St. Joseph the Worker be a mentor for you?
APRIL 25, 2014
Oblation, the daily practice of offering oneself to God’s will usually involves working to address the need at hand as lovingly as possible with the means available. In the circumstances in which you find yourself, what need seems most urgent? With the means available to you, how can you address this need as lovingly as possible?
The image of the Heart of Jesus is meant to be both affirming and challenging. As you make use of this image in prayer, what affirmation do you receive? What challenge do you hear?
APRIL 18, 2014
When contemplating Jesus’ passion, what most stirs you?
What do you consider to be the most important aspect of personal sacrifice or suffering?
What is the cross that you bear?
How would you describe the manner in which you bear this burden?
Where do you find help in bearing this burden?
APRIL 4, 2014
What is your experience of aging? How might you turn the irritations and limitations of aging into an act of self-offering? How might you turn temptation into an opportunity to profess an act of faith? What can you claim as gifts of the aging process?
MARCH 21, 2014
What is the date of your baptism? How might you celebrate the anniversary of your baptism? Whom do you consider to be your patron saint? How can she or he serve as your mentor? As a Christian, how do you try to listen to and live out God’s will?
MARCH 14, 2014
Take a few moments to gaze upon the image of Christ crucified, seen at the bottom of this page. Allow this image to help you reflect on the following statements and questions.
Dehonian spirituality seeks to join one’s oblation to Christ’s self-emptying. As you gaze upon Christ’s wounded, yet exalted body, acknowledge your own wounds and the possibility of transformation.
Created in the image and likeness of God, your body has the potential either to exploit or honor your identity. What do your thoughts and actions reveal about your body’s disposition?
Christ’s self-emptying and exaltation tells human beings who they are becoming. As a collaborator with Christ Jesus, how do you share in his ministry of restoring human dignity to a wounded and wounding world?