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Léon Dehon’s contribution to the spirituality of the Heart of Christ : Dehon's understanding of this spirituality in relation to societal involvement

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Léon Dehon (1843-1925), the man of the Church at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century and the founder of the Congregation of Priests of the Sacred Heart of Saint-Quentin, refers extensively to Holy Scripture. This unceasing return to biblical texts, interpreted from a certain spirituality of the Heart of Christ, serves Dehon to explain his experience of faith. In addition, he was able to benefit from the knowledge and all the practice of the cult of the Heart of Jesus. From there, he in turn wanted to contribute and bring to his contemporaries innovations and concrete elements of this cult for the spiritual life and the societal involvement. But to what extent had this recourse to Scripture and the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus motivated and influenced his religious, social and societal commitment? It is the answer to this question that could reveal the specificity of Dehon's contribution to the spirituality of the Sacred Heart and elucidate what we nowadays call evangelization. Knowing this Dehon’s specificity certainly has a historical interest. We can indeed see that, thanks to the recurrent recourse to the Word of God and with his societal commitments as a priest, a writer and a lecturer, Dehon displayed a certain originality compared to other authors influenced by the spirituality of the Sacred Heart at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. To state this, it is important to study all of Dehon's writings called the Corpus dehonien, which contains Spiritual Writings, published between 1896 and 1923 and Social Writings published between 1894 and 1900. A comparative study should be made between Dehon's thought and other contemporary spiritual thoughts. But aside from this historical interest, there is also a theological and pastoral interest for the Church today. The study of the relation to Scripture in Dehon reveals the lively force of the Word of God which, constantly re-read and meditated, refines the key to interpretation. Just as the spirituality of the Heart of Christ evolves according to the biblical contribution that it gives itself as a task to interpret, so the perception of the contemporary world evolves according to the Gospel that it tries to bring to him.

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