What is a Sacred Heart?

Last week was the birthday of Fr. Leo Dehon, the founder of the SCJ’s (Priests of the Sacred Heart).  This led to some discussions on campus about what it meant to be Dehonian.  I remember quizzing our St. Joseph’s kids about Fr. Dehon once.  What did they know?

Born in France!

Died in Belgium!

Had three doctorates!

Wore glasses!

While interesting, these bits of information weren’t terribly enlightening.  I had some time between picking up my runner from track practice and dropping off my baseball players at the field, so I thought I would do some research.

One really obvious fact:  Fr. Dehon did not have 10 teenage boys to contend with when he wanted a few minutes of quiet time.

I bet he never had to throw a wet sock off his desk as some giggling kid hit the floor behind the office door and whispered, “Don’t tell him I’m in here!”  All while some other kid is screaming down the hall, “Where’s Annnnndrew??”  and swinging the other wet sock with a vengeance.

My Dehonian moment was going to have to wait until after the kids had gone to bed.

In the meantime — there was dinner to eat and dishes to do.  This one had to go the tutor and that one had to find his Geography book.  The guys with privileges tried to run off all their excess energy at the Rec center and the ones who stayed back to do homework got hopped up on snacks and algebraic aggravation.  Home meeting became a debate over sharing time on the X Box and whether or not people should leave the room when they fart.

Prayer time was calmer, with intentions offered for family, friends, baseball, track, Sandy Hook and the new Pope.  And a special intention for the guy who was going to end up on the bottom of the…3..2..1…Dogpile.

I admit, I was not feeling very Dehonian at the end of the day. I was tired, cranky, and I had a pile of unfinished tasks.  I was not in a more saintly state of mind the next morning either.  When I finally plowed into Maija late in the afternoon, the only thing I had on my mind was making it to my day off and taking a long nap.  In her infinite wisdom, she said to me, “Get out of my office and don’t come back until you have your heart in your work again.”   Well, duh.

We work for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Not the Sacred Rule Book of Jesus. Or the Sacred Schedule of Jesus.

We are called to be heart-centered.  To paraphrase the Tin Woodsman, “Hearts will never be practical, until they can be made unbreakable.”  There is something reckless and un-practical about being heart-centered.  This is different from being careless or thoughtless — Fr. Dehon was a learned man and he was neither impulsive nor fickle. Rather, he was doggedly persistent, even in the face of heartbreak. Kind of like someone else we know — and whose steps we are following this Holy Week.

A Sacred Heart space is expansive and inclusive and yes, somewhat foolish — letting in the lost, the weak, the so-called outsiders.

There is room for a kid who lost his mom and a kid who feels like he has to be the man of the house.  There’s room for honor-rollers and homework procrastinators. There’s room for wall punchers and cookie bakers, emo-kids and hip-hoppers.

As a matter of fact, there’s room in there for everyone, including a somewhat exasperated houseparent and her laundry list of seemingly “important” things to do.   If we all squish together, there’s space for you too.  Just leave the room if you fart.  ‘Cause that’s one rule we are going to keep.

– Peace   Claire N.

The Lakota (Sioux) boys at St. Joseph’s Indian School have fun together.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

6 thoughts on “What is a Sacred Heart?”

  1. Claire, what incredible meditation you wrote. Thanks so much for sharing it. This Holy Week was the perfect time for me to read your words. Blessings on you and the boys in your care.

  2. Well you certainly are my daughter. My heart got a little salty and slipped out of my eyes when I read about who we work for. Mother Teresa once told the cardinals to “stop talking about Jesus and start being the Christ,” I see that is what you are doing. I love you, Happy Easter!

    1. Yes there is no denying the family resemblance: we both have unique vocations that involve a lot of driving and a sense of humor. Plus we both have great kids. (Humblebrag!) I love you too!

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