Reflection from Taubate, February 6


Anthropologia Cordis, Taubaté, Brazil

Thursday, February 6

Today’s presentation was by Marcello Neri.  His topic was “The Style of Dehon’s Anthropology.  While recognizing that Fr. Dehon is a product of his place and time, there are still elements of his writings and insights into the human person that are very valuable today.

In the context of his time, Dehon was trying to confront the problems of modernity, especially as they were being made manifest to the Church and society. Dehon would draw inspiration from the Sacred Heart as a symbol of how to respond to those problems.  Since Fr. Neri’s talk will be available on the general website, I will reflect on only one part of his talk here.

Marcello Neri
Marcello Neri

Fr. Neri suggested we ask the question, “Who is this God, a God who has the dignity to be loved and makes himself vulnerable to us?” and then, we can consider Dehon’s answer to this.  Neri suggested Dehon’s response was in part to believe that God’s spirit is already present in the world (Cst. 12).  Therefore, we can speak of a Dehonian anthropology as being those who search to love the world and are committed to seeing the light of God in people, even though people are caught and ensnared in sin (Cst 22).  Dehonian anthropology is committed to helping people to be free from sin and sinful structures so that love is able to emerge more clearly and concretely.

I believe this suggestion of God’s presence in the world and helping people to experience that love is central to Dehonian ministry and mission today.  By taking a fundamentally positive view of humanity and creation, we can understand the Sacred Heart as a human heart, a heart that wants to be united to our struggles for liberation.  This is a Heart that truly wants to be touched by and moved by the struggles of humanity.

As Dehonians in ministry today, I believe our mission is not to make up for past sins, but to help people be free from sin – personal and systemic – so that they themselves are able to share the love of God already present in their hearts, which sin obscures.  By sharing our love, our care, our ministry, we allow others to discover the agape love of Christ and to share that same love.  It is by this sharing of the love of Christ, each person in their context and allowing others to do the same, I believe we can come to build of reign of Christ in human hearts and human societies.

-Fr. David Szatkowski